How to Decypher EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC Competitions the Right Way

 

Another popular function group many applicants are going for on EPSO is the EPSO AST and its close cousin, EPSO AST-SC. Suffice to say, this competition opens up multiple job opportunities that enables many people to explore various job titles.

So if your interest is peeked with this competition organized by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), then it helps to understand more about what these two competitions are about—from their similarities to their differences. And we are here to help with just that!

 

What are EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC?

EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC competitions give access to permanent contracts that enable you to become a member of the EU civil service. As such, they are awarded after a rigorous open competition procedure.

Both the EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC have distinct types of duties, sometimes some even overlap. Nonetheless, it is a must to learn how to separate the two in order to know which one best suits you.

EPSO AST Duties

EPSO AST are for Assistant careers and simply stands for European Personnel Selection Office Assistants. Those seeking to pass the EPSO AST competitions will be typically engaged in an executive or technical role in one or some of the following:

Their role is vital in the internal management of the institutions, most especially in:

EPSO AST-SC Duties

On the other hand, the EPSO AST-SC function group is for the open competition organized for the European Personnel Selection Office to draw up reserve lists from which the institutions of the European Union may recruit new members of the civil service as ‘secretaries/clerks’ (function group AST-SC).

Assistants-Secretaries (AST-SC) are generally employed in an office management and administrative support role and can take on a broad range of tasks within their departments. They often provide support to one or several people using IT tools such as word-processing, spreadsheets and databases. The duties include the following:

 

What Do the Different Grades Mean for EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC?

Applying for the EPSO AST or EPSO AST-SC competition means having to know what kind of grade you should be in beforehand. This determines the level of where you will be at in EPSO as well as the kind of duties you will be doing:

EPSO AST

The assistant career or EPSO AST ranges from grades AST 1 to AST 11.  The level of entry is at grades AST 1 or AST 3.

EPSO AST-SC

As with the EPSO AST, EPSO AST-SC starts with AST/SC 1 but ends with AST/SC 6. New staff  enter at the grade AST/SC 1 or AST/SC 2.

 

General Competencies for EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC  Competitions

Those participating in the EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC competitions will be tested in seven general competencies that will determine how talented, motivated, and highly qualified they are in their field.  Below are the competencies:

 

What Are the General Eligibility Requirements for the EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC Competitions?

Beyond the requirements that will identify what grade you will be in for the EPSO AST and EPSO AST/SC competitions, there are also some very important eligibility requirements that you must exhibit in order to qualify for the competitions.

EPSO AST

EPSO AST competitions vary greatly according to the job title you are pursuing. Hence, it is important to refer to the Notice of Competitions published in the Official Journal of the EU. It is the official and authentic document that specifies the details and conditions of the competition such as the kind of skills you should have akin to the nature of the job.

But apart from the specificities, there are some general eligibility requirements that you must meet. They are:

EPSO AST-SC

The EPSO AST-SC also requires applicants to meet the same general eligibility requirements as the EPSO AST. Beyond that are some specific conditions regarding qualifications and work experience. Refer below:

For Grades SC 1 and SC 2

or

or

For Grades SC 2 only

At least 4 years’ additional professional experience directly related to the nature of the duties.

Note: This professional experience is relevant only where it has been gained after obtaining the qualification and/or professional experience required for access to the competition

 

Selection Process: What Are the Exams Needed to Be Taken for the EPSO AST and EPSO AST-SC Competitions?

In order to fully identify the applicants who will best be suited for the job, EPSO will have them undergo multiple tests that will test various skills and competencies. Below are the following:

Computer-Based Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ) Tests

Given that you have validated the second part of your application form in your language 2, you will then be invited to sit a series of computer-based MCQ tests in one of EPSO’s accredited centres.

The computer-based MCQ tests will be organised as follows:

Tests Language Questions Duration Marking Pass mark
Verbal reasoning Language 1 20 questions 35 min Out of 20 Verbal + abstract combined 15/30
Numerical reasoning Language 1 10 questions 20 min Out of 10 5/10
Abstract reasoning Language 1 10 questions 10 min Out of 10 Verbal + abstract combined 15/30
Professional skills:

Basic IT Literacy

Language 2 30 questions 12 min Out of 30 Basic IT Literacy + prioritising and organising combined 27/54
Professional skills:

Prioritising and organising

Language 2 24 questions 30 min Out of 24

Note: These tests are eliminatory and do not count towards the other tests held during the assessment phase.

Assessment Phase

Once you meet the eligibility requirements and reached the pass marks and also scored of the highest overall marks for the MCQ tests, you will then be again invited to attend an assessment phase held in your language 2.

As mentioned above, there will be seven general competencies that will be tested. It is in this part of the competition where you will thoroughly be tested by means of four tests:

Refer to the matrices below to know more:

 

Competency Tests
1. Analysis and problem solving
e-tray
2. Communication
General competency-based interview
3. Delivering quality and results
e-tray
4. Learning and development
General competency-based interview
5. Prioritising and organising
e-tray
6. Resilience
General competency-based interview
7. Working with others
General competency-based interview
Pass mark 35/70

 

Competency Tests
Specific competencies Microsoft Office skills tests

(Microsoft Office is the main software used by the EU Institutions)

Practical test to assess your drafting skills (particularly spelling, lexical and grammar)
Pass mark 12/20 6/10

 

 

What Are the Benefits and Salary for the EPSO AST-SC?

The basic monthly permanent official salaries for newly recruited Assistant-Secretary (AST-SC 1) range from around €2,300 per month to around €5,000  for an Assistant with the highest seniority.

Automatical salary increases happen every two years corresponding with the five seniority steps of each grade. Also, basic salaries are adjusted annually in line with inflation and purchasing power in the EU countries.

Some family-related allowances are available to permanent officials according to their family situation. These include the following: