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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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
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