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EPSO tests: myths and facts

I have a lot of professional expertise and experience but the only way to become a permanent EU official is to compete with tens of thousands of applicants.

Indeed competitions for AD generalists can attract tens of thousands of candidates every year as according to the Staff Regulations (the official document describing the rules, principles and working conditions of the European civil service), one only needs a graduate degree to apply. For candidates with a certain level of professional experience, EPSO organises many specialist competitions with specific selection criteria which take into account professional experience. These tailored selection procedures for specialists (lawyers, economists, researchers, etc.) have very specific...


If I already work for the EU Institutions, I stand a better chance of passing a selection procedure.

EPSO primarily organises open selection procedures for all EU citizens. No distinction is made between internal and external candidates at any stage and the tests, including computer-based tests, Talent Screener and written tests, are marked anonymously. All candidates undergo equivalent tests and the same eligibility criteria apply to all. The Staff Regulations (the official document describing the rules, principles and working conditions of the European civil service) define a very clear legal framework for organising competitions. Open competitions are for all EU citizens while internal...


Why does EPSO use multiple-choice computer-based tests?

The main objective of EPSO's cognitive ability tests is to measure key reasoning abilities for all future EU officials, not simply to cut down candidate numbers. Based on well-established scientific studies, these tests have the highest predictive value of future job performance (compared to purely knowledge-based tests). Even though candidates within the same competition do not receive the same questions, the level of difficulty of the individual tests delivered to each candidate is identical, thereby ensuring equal treatment. The validity and reliability of multiple-choice computer-based...


I scored low marks in the verbal reasoning skills test, despite taking it in my mother tongue.

The verbal reasoning test is not a language test, so a low score does not imply a lack of proficiency in that language; it simply measures reasoning skills. Reasoning tests play a critically important role in assessment because the daily work of EU officials relies heavily on their ability to reason and understand complex information. The difficulty levels of multiple-choice computer-based tests are decided by the selection board of each competition, and thus can vary from competition to competition, so one should not compare one's score year on year. 


The quality of the translation of test items is better in some languages than in others.

Tests and test items are translated by professional translators in the EU Institutions with rigorous quality control before being released. Multiple-choice computer-based tests score distribution and pass marks are consistent across all EU languages. Quality controls on multiple-choice computer-based tests items (language by language, question by question etc.) are carried out regularly to identify any possible issues and correct them. Test items contested by candidates are subject to review by the Selection Board and if confirmed to be flawed, they are neutralised for all candidates who have...


My scores vary in the multiple-choice computer-based tests from one competition to another.

This is quite normal. It is important to note that the difficulty levels of multiple-choice computer-based tests are decided by the selection board of each competition, and thus can vary from one competition to another, so one should not compare one's score year on year or across profiles. While some questions may look similar or may even reappear, with over 80,000 questions in its database, EPSO holds one of the largest item banks of its kind in the world according to experts in the field.


How are EPSO tests designed?

EPSO's tests are developed and monitored carefully by its team of in-house occupational psychologists together with carefully selected Selection Board Members from across the EU Institutions. EPSO consistently monitors the latest innovations in test development based on scientific research, and has in recent years introduced new tests in its selection procedures such as the e-tray and online remote video interviews. At the same time, EPSO must also take into account the complex legal framework in which it has to work as well as the requirements of testing in up to 24 languages in parallel and...


How does EPSO ensure equal opportunities?

All EPSO tests, and how they are scored, are closely analysed in order to ensure that they are fair and do not impact adversely on particular groups of candidates. EPSO is in the process of becoming compliant with the brand new ISO Standard for Assessment Procedures and is already in line with the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. A key aspect of fairness is gender balance and EPSO strives to attract and select a balanced pool of male and female applicants. In practice, men and women apply in disproportionate numbers for some profiles. In general, however, applications...


In what language must I fill in my application form?

The choice of languages you make in your application form will determine in which languages you will take the different stages of the competition or selection procedure, and in which language you must fill in your application form. For more information about the languages offered for your selection procedure, and the required level of knowledge, please refer to the Notice of Competition or Call for expression of interest. You may choose any of the languages offered, but please keep in mind  that the Selection Board and the recruiting services work in a limited number of vehicular languages (...


How is EU knowledge and motivation tested?

Commitment to Europe remains a major factor in attracting and selecting future staff. EU knowledge and motivation to work for the EU are tested at different stages during the selections procedure: via the online self-selection tool which candidates complete before they submit their application; in the application form where candidates declare any EU-related studies or professional experience and describe their motivation to work for the EU; during the Assessment Centre tests which are based on real-life EU institution work scenarios. These scenarios are devised by EU officials and based on...


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