category / Default, Tips and Tricks

Top 5 reasons to become an EU Official

When you’re a child you don’t really know what to do with your life so you start dreaming. Little do you know then that your dreams can actually become reality if you work hard enough or get the right information at the right time. Therefore, in order to actually be the person you need and want to be, you must be motivated enough. So, here is a top 5 reasons why you should become an EU Official.

  1. If you are ready to change things not only for yourself but for others too!

It is said that progress needs us as much as we need it. For it to actually happen, you must do something about it, because life does not have a habit of just happening and waiting for you to decide what to do. In a totally no selfish way of thinking, taking a job in the EU will actually help 500 million other people have a better life. How can such a thing happen? Consider yourself to be a pawn in a big table of chess and you will understand the mechanism better. The EU has been around for a very long time now, and in its almost 50 years of life, it has proven to be an advocate of freedom, character and diplomacy. Basically, the European Union is one big happy family providing for all its citizen. Being a member of this community helps you become what you always dreamed of and others to, because of your job as an official. Union means every single citizen standing together for each other.

Depending on your education, skills and of course, on your personal experience in the work field you are planning to evolve in, you can get a job in managing different projects, developing communication strategies, providing legal advice and many-many others.

  1. You can have a better salary and be a flexible and modern employee.

Of course, you have to think about yourself as well as about others and in order to get to help other people, you must first learn how to help yourself. The first thing you need in this world is enough money to get by. Having a job as an EU Official may improve your income. Not to mention that you will still have better benefits as you did with your old job in your own country, like pension and healthcare assurance. If you have children, your new situation will provide for them in terms of allowances for school, transport and other needful things. Besides, there is always a way to find new information on time, so you can profit.

  1. Self-respect is a very important ingredient.

The third reason why you should definitely become an EU Official concerns your self-esteem. Every psychologist in the world will advise you that this is a very important aspect of having a happy life. Such a job can motivate you enough to want to do even greater things and boost your confidence to an upper level.

  1. You will never stop learning.

If you want to always have a reason to wake up in the morning, you must never be content with the knowledge you have and always want to know more. Having a job as an EU Official can help you in this area, being able to develop your skills and maybe even learn some new ones.

  1. Always be in the middle of things!

Being in the middle of all the action can be a very energizing. Of course, nowadays, Europe encounters a lot of difficulties because of its migrants problem, but look on the bright side: the chaos must end one day and then you can actually tell to the people you know how you’ve been a part of this and maybe even helped things by having a EU Official job.  Be in the middle of history by participating and helping as much as you can.

In conclusion, you can improve yourself with knowledge, self-esteem, a good financial situation and the satisfaction of always helping others to have a better life.  Those should be sufficient reasons for you to consider having a job in the EU, as an official.

To help you achieve your dreams, Epsotraining prepares you for all EPSO Exams.

category / Default, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized

EPSO E-Tray Exam Guide

A guide to the EPSO E-Tray Exam

Are you interested to work in one of the European Union institutions? The EPSO is the perfect way to start! The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) handles endorsement to any European Union institution. With about 60,000 – 70,000 applications per year, how does one succeed?

He or she must definitely be able to pass the EPSO exams. For the Administrators and Assistants cycle, one of the exams that you will need to pass to succeed is the EPSO E-tray examination.

What is an EPSO E-tray exam?

An EPSO E-tray exam is a business inbox simulation activity that allows an applicant to experience the usual tasks and challenges in a position within the EU Institutions. The applicant has to take the test in his second language – English, French, or German – via a computer in which he has to answer a set of questions. The type of test, as well as the number of questions, will be dependent on the information released by the Notice of Competition published in the official Journal of the European Union, as well as the EPSO website.

This notice includes details on the criteria for selection, the job profile as well as the description, the slots for the reserve list, qualification and experience requirements, and the test format for each of the stages in the selection process.

Usually, the EPSO E-tray exam focuses on 4 out of 8 EPSO key competencies – analysis and problem solving, delivering quality and results, prioritising and organising and working with others.

Before you begin the test, you will be given a specific time to read the instructions as you can see below. Make sure to read everything carefully.The documentation that you will need to find relevant background information will be in a mailbox. You have to click on a box for your answer of choice using the mouse. You can click on another box if you decided to change your answer any time.

EPSO E-Tray

 

You need to rank the 3 options available for each question on the scale indicated in the question:

  • – – totally agree
  • – disagree
  • -+ neutral
  • + agree
  • ++ totally agree

Each ranking symbol can only be selected once per question, which means that every complete answer must have the combination of the 3 different symbols.  Your answers show not only what ranking you assign to each individual option, but also your order of preference among the 3 options. In short, answers will only be recorded if you are able to rank all 3 options.

There are between 15 to 20 questions with 3 options each to be accomplished in 50 minutes. You will be guided with your remaining time on top of the screen during the whole period. Treat each question independent from the rest. Do not take into account one question with another. The navigation through the mailbox and navigation between the questions should be treated separately. The question in front of you is not necessarily linked to the email that is visible on the screen at that time.  A question can be related either to several emails or just one.

There could be from 10 to 15 emails for you to process. To be able to navigate through the mailbox displayed at the top half of the screen, click on the email titles at the left. Remember to only use the ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons at the bottom of the screen to navigate between the questions at the bottom half of the screen.

What does an EPSO E-tray exam measure?

The EPSO E-tray exam is the best tool to determine how the selected candidates work – their style and approach. It also enables the assessor to determine if they are able to show their skills in analytics, communication, written, and delegation as well as their business acumen.

The exam also defines their competencies (only 4 out of the 8 competencies will be tested but you will also have to be familiar with the ones remaining):

(1) Analysis and problem solving,

(2) Communicating,
(3) Delivering quality and results,

(4) Learning and development,

(5) Prioritizing and organizing,

(6) Resilience,

(7) Working with others,

(8) Leadership.

The EPSO AST/SC competitions for secretaries will not test “Working with Other” competency and will only test 3 competencies.

What happens in an EPSO E-tray exam?

Candidates competing for a permanent position need to undergo three stages –admission, intermediate test and Assessment Centre.  In the admission stage (a.k.a. epso pre-selection) candidates are tested in the skills in verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning through computer-based testing (CBT).  From there, they move to the assessment of their skills in situational judgment using their secondary language with scenario-based activities. The top scorers go to the second stage – the EPSO E-tray – with the prerequisite that their profile meet the requirements.

The assessment stage consists of four tests. In the first test, candidates will need to respond to a case study in relevant fields. In the second test,  the candidates will take group exercise test, third test is the epso oral presentation, and the last is the epso comptency based interview. This test has to be taken in Brussels or Luxembourg.  The highest performers will be included in the reserved list from where the EU institutions recruit.

How is Epso E-Tray exam scored?

Epso E-tray answers are scored based on the competencies and measured through specific tasks.  For each competency a maximum of 10 points can be obtained.

 

How to prepare for EPSO E-Tray?

Every year, only 1,500-2,000 applicants are chosen and recruited to be part of the different EU institutions.  What should an aspiring candidate do to be part of the fortunate ones?  Here are a few tips to help you ace the E-tray test.

 

  • Preparation. Prepare yourself – mind, heart, and body. The exam requires a particular mindset to continuously open your mind to learning. You may have to sacrifice a bit of time for you to focus and learn as much as you can ahead of time. You also need to keep your body healthy in order to be awake and alert during your reviews and practice tests.

 

  • Research. Know which key skills you need to prioritize and which are of less priority. This will allow you to focus on significant tasks and identify situations that you need to be familiar with. The roles presented during Epso E-Tray are generic. You could be a Policy Officer for Nuclear science so you do not need in-depth knowledge is the field, but the better you understand the key skills tested and recognize them during the exam, the better prepared you are to answer all the e-tray questions.

 

  • Learn. Every day is a new opportunity to learn. Grasp the methodologies to identify the patterns, know the basics, and apply the shortcuts. You should not miss any relevant material and information. Gather strategies on how to successfully solve the required tasks of each competency. These will help you to answer the tests easier and perform better.

 

  • Intensive training is necessary for you to apply all the preparations and learning you gathered prior to your actual exam. Epsotraining offers several materials accessible for you to simulate what happens in an Epso E-tray exam. This will allow you to be more comfortable in the exam environment especially with the clicking of your answers on the screen. As you practice in answering simulation exams, you also need to practice to use your time wisely. Time management is a major factor in this exam.

 

  • Persistence. Your eyes should always be on the goal. Never let it slip. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted. No excuses. Be determined. Focus on what you want to achieve.  If you are focused enough, you’ll be able to handle the pressure with calmness and grace to follow instructions and to answer at your best.

 

Every candidate who wants to succeed and be an official of any EU institution should always look for an opportunity to learn and improve himself. Now is the time, and all we need to do is to take the first step. Practicing our EPSO E-tray tests is a good way to start!

category / Beginner's Guide, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized

Epso Tests

The European Personnel Selection Office or EPSO is an organization specifically responsible for testing and selection of potential employees for European Union institutions.  EPSO helps discover the most suitable employees for a number of European institutions and agencies, such as the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Court of Justice, the European External Action Service, the Economic and Social Committee and others. EPSO specializes in personnel selection, through the means of effective, competent and objective selection procedures. Since EPSO tests are a large part of the preselection process, it is vital for those who would like a position with a European Union agency or institution, to have a good understanding of these tests.

EPSO tests included in the Pre-selection

In order to be considered by the Assessment Center, candidates must take the EPSO pre-selection tests, which differ depending on the position one would like to apply for. This practice has been adopted to sift through the large number of candidates for European Union positions.

There are a few main types of pre-selection EPSO tests that you need to be aware of, if you would like to apply for a position at any European Union institution.

  • EPSO Reasoning skills tests

These tests assess the candidate’s ability for verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. These EPSO tests are available in 23 of the official European languages and are normally completed in the candidate’s first language.  This evaluation is based on the multiple choice method, where you have a few options and need to choose a single correct answer out of them.

In the section of intended to assess EPSO numerical reasoning, candidates are presented with graphs, charts and other numerical data, resembling what you would normally find in a report or a formal article. Candidates are then asked to assess the data and make a conclusion therefore answering the specific question with comes with every element of the test.

The section intended to assess EPSO verbal reasoning presents candidates with a short abstract from a text. Candidates are then asked to answer a logical question, based on the text they have just read. The abstracts have been selected from various types and genres of written content.

EPSO Abstract reasoning is evaluated by presenting the candidate with diagrams. Every question in this portion of the test has a series of five diagrams and five new options. It is the candidate’s task to select the diagram which would complete the series in a logical manner.

EPSO Tests - EPSO Abstract Reasoning

The EPSO Situational Judgment Test or SJT is one of the most important EPSO tests. If you would like a career with a European Union institution, it is vital to prepare for the SJT. In this assessment, you are presented with a realistic but hypothetical situation, which can occur in the professional environment. The situation requires action in order to be solved in the most efficient manner. You are then provided with four optional courses of action. As a candidate for a position with the EU, your task is to select the most effective course of action, as well as the least effective course of action. There are two options which remain neutral and should not be selected.

When it comes to the EPSO SJT, it is important to remember that one should take into account only the information which has been provided. It may be tempting to add from your own experience, but this way you run the risk of selectin inappropriate answers. The SJT is crucial for EPSO tests held during pre-selection, since it makes up for 66% of the final mark. This EPSO test is usually conducted in the candidate’s second language.

Epso Tests - EPSO SJT

  • EPSO E-tray Test

As is the case with all other EPSO tests, E-tray exercises are relevant to the organizational environment and therefore relate to what one might realistically encounter on a daily basis. This part of the pre-selection procedure includes an e-mail, addressed to the candidate, which is you. The e-mail contains a call to action of some sort – it could be a request, a complaint, an informatory e-mail or something else. You are then provided with a short description of the circumstances, which may include your position in the organization, responsibilities, etc. Finally, you are provided with a few optional courses of action and are asked to select the most efficient and appropriate one. With the EPSO E-tray exercises, you need to mark each possible course of action, deciding between the following: – – totally disagree / – disagree / – + neutral / + agree / ++ totally agree. The E-tray part of the test is conducted in the candidate’s second language, which here may be English, French or German.

EPSO Tests - Epso E-tray

Please remember that while these are the most important tests which EPSO applies in their pre-selection procedure, you should always make sure you have checked what is included in the pre-selection procedure for the specific position you would like to apply to as each competition might have – for example – different EPSO tests requirements. Some of these EPSO tests are Accuracy and precision, Prioritising and organising, Language tests, Finance skill tests, Office skill tests.

This is a uniquely designed test, to assess the skills of candidates who would like to apply for Assistant positions. The test consists of 40 questions, the allocate time is six minutes and the candidates have to be assessed in English, French or German – whichever one is their second language.

For each question, candidates are presented with two tables, containing several pieces of information, both written and drawn. The goal is to compare the two tables and discover the mistake in one of them, as quickly and accurately as possible. Here time management is a crucial skill. Although the test may not seem difficult at first, keeping in mind that there are only 6 minutes to answer all 40 questions, practice is certainly needed. The more you practice, the faster and more precise you will become.

EPSO Tests - Epso Accuracy and Precision Example

  • EPSO Prioritising and Organising

This is a test, which all candidates who want to apply for Assistant positions must take. It consists of 24 questions, which need to be answered within the timeframe of 30 minutes. This is test that assesses the speed of your deduction skills, as well as your ability to organize a schedule, while analyzing information.

Typically, a question would consist of a particular situation, where you need to use your organizational skills, in order to complete a task. The tasks are usually related to travel or commuting – for instance a question could contain information about the daily train schedule and a situation where you would need to board the most suitable train. You are then given a multiple choice question, consisting of 5 options, and are asked to choose the answer, which will help you organize your schedule in an optimal way.

Epso Tests - Prioritising and Organising

  • Office Skills Test

This is a test for candidates who want to apply for the position of Assistant (AST – SC). The test assesses your ability to use IT-based tools, to complete certain operation. It is in the candidate’s second language, and contains 30 questions, which have to be answered for 30 minutes.

An example of a question could be that a candidate is provided with 2 images – A and B. Image A should be converted into image B, using office-appropriate computer software. Below the 2 images, candidates are provided with a multiple choice question, consisting of 5 options. There you have to choose a single option, thus indicating the actions that have been taken, to transform image A into image B.

EPSO Tests - epso office skills

Epso Tests Results

When it comes to pre-selection with EPSO tests, it is important to remember that whether you pass the procedure successfully or not, depends largely on how your score compares to that of you competitors. So, if many people have scored higher than yours, you might not pass the pre-selection procedure. However, if you have high scores, compared to most other candidates, then you will likely pass the test. For some perspective, have a look at the epso competition statistics from 2013 for different competition fields. Overall, a great score would be over 85-90%.

Epso Tests Pass Marks

Finally, in order to understand pre-selection and EPSO tests better, you should know what score you need, in order to pass each part of the procedure. Note that it is mandatory to obtain the pass mark for each test you take but you will need much higher score than the pass park to advance to next phases of the EPSO competitions. The minimum scores you will need to exceed are as follows:

– Verbal reasoning: 5/10

– Numerical reasoning: 5/10

– Abstract reasoning: 10/20

– SJT: 24/40

– E-tray: 3/10 per competency

– Accuracy and precision: 20/40

– Organizing and prioritizing: 12/24

– Office skills test: 15/30

category / Default, Tips and Tricks

EPSO Oral Presentations Tips

The EPSO Oral Presentations are an excellent opportunity to offer information and connect directly to your targeted audience. They are a fantastic outlet to present yourself in the best light possible and make a good impression on the assessors.  As many benefits as oral presentations offer, some find it challenging to speak in public and perform with confidence. You will find yourself tested on competencies such as Analysis and Problem-solving, Communicating, Delivering quality & results and Resilience. With the following tips you’d be able to get a handle on oral presentations and impress your audience!

  • Consider your goal

Before any oral presentation, think about what it is that you would like to achieve. Do you need to convince your audience of something or are you simply presenting information? Are you to entertain or educate them? How would you like to be remembered? If you are able to formulate a clear goal, then you would have something objective to work towards and are more likely to be successful.

  • Do your research

Even if you are well-informed on the topic you will talk about, do some additional research. This way you might discover new, intriguing facts. More importantly, you will ensure that you are thoroughly prepared for any questions your audience might ask, which will portray you as more respectable and trustworthy. Last but not least, if you are well-prepared your confidence will sky-rocket and nerves will have a hard time settling in.

  • Organization is key

Even if the facts you will present are interesting, the effect may be lost due to poor organization. Think about the succession of individual facts on how to best tie them together. Also make sure you practice your EPSO oral presentation beforehand and consider the time frame.

  • Know your audience

Let’s face it – nobody likes to be bored. If you don’t want your assessors to experience this feeling which will be well masked by their professional attitude during the interview, make sure you know what will captivate them. You don’t have to pretend to be one of them, but try to think about what they are interested in, what they expect to hear from you and how formal they would expect you to be. Consider European Institutions culture in order to make sure you stay appropriate.

  • Captivate with your visual aid

While some people have a better vocal memory, they remember things they hear, others have a stronger visual memory – what they see remains in their mind. Having a strong visual aid will help captivate your assessors and will certainly enhance your presentation. You won’t be able to use generic slides but you could draw attention by referencing to a relevant paragraph from the papers you received before the interview – try incorporating something more colorful and creative, while staying occasion-appropriate.

  • Use language to your advantage

Language can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it. Firstly, try not to read off of support papers or to memorize every word of your presentation. Both will likely come off as fake and dull. It is best to sound natural, so have flash cards with bullet points, but paraphrase the information as you go. Use engaging words such as “listen” “look” “imagine” – these expressions help your audience spring into action and pay more attention to you.  To keep people’s interest, try to speak loudly and clearly, while avoiding a monotonous tone of voice.

  • Deal with nervousness

Taking the EPSO oral presentation exam can make you feel very nervous and undermine your self-confidence. Unfortunately, being overly nervous can make you forget information, freeze or act in undesirable ways. This cloud has a silver lining though – there are many relaxation techniques you can use to deal effectively with nervousness. Slow, calm breathing and positive visualization can really help. Try not to think of yourself and the way you might look – instead, focus on your audience and keep eye contact with them.

The EPSO Oral presentations could in the end be a great opportunity to stand out during the Assessment Centre and a fun way to get people to remember you. Although presenting might sometimes be a little stressful, with the tips above you will master this skill and captive your audience!