For newcomers, aspiring to work at one of the European institutions, contract agents looking forward to an advancement in function group or a permanent staff position, or officials not willing to wait too long for their next promotion, there is no other way than to participate in one of the numerous EPSO competitions.

EPSO competitions for permanent or temporary staff can be ‘open’ to everyone fulfilling the basic qualification criteria, or ‘internal’ to employees of a particular European institution[1]. EPSO also organises selections for contract agents giving right to definite or indefinite employment contracts according to the needs of the service[2].


EPSO, the European Personnel Selection Office, was founded by the European institutions in order to establish a recruitment policy able to ensure the sustainability of a competent and independent European Civil Service.

How to start?

Before jumping on to the application forms, do read the conditions in the ‘notice of competition’ and the instructions in the ‘application manual’[3]carefully. The documents help you not to waste your time and energy as they contain some practical tips.

Don’teven think of submitting your application at the last minute. You never know whetheryou will be able to connect to EPSO’s servers, as they might most certainly be overloaded by heavy traffic at that time.

The same applies to booking your tests online. Don’t wait until the last moment!Be proactive and book well ahead of time. Remember that bookings for tests, just like the application for the competition, have strict deadlines!

Finally, practiceon sample tests[4]or join relevant training sessions organised by independent service providers.

Languages to choose?

Obliged by the Court, EPSO andthe Institutions had to change the language regime in open competitions. As a consequence, registration for generalist competitions has now two phases. First, applicants need to declare all their language competencies. They are invited to the second phase of the registration and to provide further information only if they have declared sufficient language command in one of the five most frequently declared languages of all applicants at B2 level or higher in the first part of their application form. In specialist competitions, the Notice of Competition specifies the competition languages based on the language needs of the recruiting services.

Computer-based Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ) tests…

The influx of candidates to open competitions is immense. That is why a computer-based testing system was put in place, thus enabling a large number of candidates to be evaluated within a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable price. MCQ-tests are an internationally recognised method used by many public and private organisations, based on the work of internationally renowned researchers.

Improve your chances to pass the MCQ-tests successfully with our partner ORSEU. Their offers include:

  • books: for those studying independently or living in more remote places. Each volume consists of a well-structured methodology, competition-like tests and detailed corrections;
  • online-courses: outline the principle points of the methodology, some tips and about 10 exercises. They serve best to reinforce and apply the material covered by the books[5];
  • face-to-face-courses: typically include an explanation of the methodology and sample questions and corrections. You can ask questions and get personalised answers. The dates depend on the publication of the EPSO competitions;
  • webinars: recently we have started organising distance courses similar to the face-to-face ones. The participants will also have the possibility to ask their questions by chat-line and receive an answer within 72 hours maximum.

What is a Talent Screener?

In specialist competitions, candidates have to answer ‘Talent Screener questions’ as a part of their application. This additional intermediate step is used by the Selection Board to decide which candidates from those who succeeded in the MCQ-tests to invite to the Assessment Centre. They do this based ONLY on their evaluation of your competition-related experience and qualifications as provided by you in the Talent Screener. In completing your Talent Screener, use relevant and formal terminology and clear references. Give short, to-the-point descriptions, possibly structured with bullet points. A clear communication of your professional background will enable EPSO assessors to correctly appreciate your credentials.

Assessment Centre

Congratulations if you have already got that far!

To assist you in your preparation, we offer monthlytraining sessionsin small groups (max. 20 people) in cooperation with our partner ACCEU, who will teach you how to manage the techniques of the exams (written and oral tests). Taking a test can be stressful. You will receive useful tips about how to best cope with that as well.

Recruitment Interview

If you are among those who have made it onto the list of successful candidates in the competition, you will not automatically be employed by one of the Institutions. You will instead have to undergo a job interview in which your future employer would like to find outwhether you fit into the existing team, why you want to work in a particular EU institution, or whether you are prepared to live and work in another country – just to name a few points.

[1]For some agencies, job-offers can only be found on their home-page and selections are organised locally
[2] FAQ concerning the ‘permanent CAST’:

Luca Creemers
Associate member of USB (EEAS)

Chrysanthe Moschonaki
Associate member of USB (Commission)