Analysis of Head of administration (AST-4) in EU Delegations EPSO/AST/153/22

Dear all,

It looks like yesterday when the last competition for Heads of Administration in EU Delegations took place… wait, it was 2018/19!! In fact the results were published in October 2019. Apparently there is still a need for brave people willing to face the challenge of working around the globe and alternating those places periodically with Brussels… to do what? Well, that is clearly explained in the image below:

[si buscas la versión en español – click aquí]

Pay attention to the security clearance, if you are a Russian spy, it might be a problem to get one

And yes! We know you count on an earlier post analysing this competition but let’s be honest, everybody was on holidays (even us). Now is the time when you are preparing your application, so we are just in time with this post… and one extra announcement: We have already released our Youtube video explaining the TALENT SCREENER.

How many spots are available? When does it begin?

A good number of spots are available (40 spots in total, same as in the previous competition) and you will have more than 2 months to apply. Be careful! The process will be open until 27 September NOON (let’s say 11.59 AM CET). Until then, you can fill in and validate your application. Approximately, you have been given more than two months, but as we said before, now that you are back from the holidays is when have probably started to fill in your application, so as of now you have 3 weeks ahead (if you are reading this around the time of publication), more than enough but don’t fall asleep.

What are the criteria to be a candidate?

The general criteria, as usual: Enjoy full rights as a citizen of one of the 27 Member States of the EU (UK is no longer an option), meet any obligations under national laws on military service, and meet the character requirements for the duties concerned.

Specific criteria – languages

Here you have the language mix for this competition.

LANGUAGE 1: You can choose among the 24 official languages of the EU and you should have, minimum, a C1 level. If you are a native speaker, you should qualify yourself as C2 and CAREFUL! Do not put any item of the level of language under C1 (otherwise you will be disqualified automatically). The CBT (verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning) test will take place in this language 1 and also we can fill in our application (except the Talent Screener) in this language.

LANGUAGE 2: ENGLISH or FRENCH (and must be different from language 1). Here we need a B2 level minimum (no need for a degree to justify it, the assessment centre will be in this language and if you can work through it, then you have the level required). Remember not to put any item (written, oral level, or any other) below B2 level in your application.

REMINDER – Language 1 and language 2 (English) cannot be the same. Even if you try, the application form will alert you. The communication with EPSO can take place in one of the languages you have declared in your application form at B2 level or higher.

preparing great cocktails doesn’t count as relevant professional experience in the field …yet

Specific conditions – Work experience and studies

Be aware! To explain the part «relevant professional experience » in this case, means that when describing your professional experience in the application (CV- work experience), you must clearly identify the experiences and activities equal or similar to those you are expected to do in the European Institutions and described in the notice (annex I – DUTIES). And don’t despair, if you find this task difficult, our free webinar (here the recording) on this competition can be key to give you some useful tips for the talent

What are the competition phases? What are the test I have to pass?

Based on the notice of competition + our experience we split the process in 5 phases : 1) Fill in the application, 2) CBT- computer based test, 3) Eligibility check, 4) The Talent evaluation, 5) the Assessment Centre and the party at the end is optional.

  • Phase 1 – Fill in the Application – You’ve got until 27 September (noon) to send your application and before that, to fill it in with love and care. This is the first step of the competition and the way to differentiate yourself from the other candidates and all their experience (honestly, we don’t think EPSO expects thousands of candidates, but a few hundreds with good and long CVs) in relation with the profile.
  • (wait we are still in phase 1) What is a TALENT SCREENER? This is a list of questions related to your academic and professional background that you must answer in your application, you can find the questions on the Annex II of the notice of competition. The board of the competition is in charge of evaluating the answers. Keep in mind that all candidates in the same profile and field answer the same questions. Like this, the responses of all the candidates are structured in the same way, which allows the board to make an evaluation (as objective as such a type of test allows) of the compared merits of all the candidates. Remember to look at annex IV or the application form for all the details, and if you think we can be of help, come to our our free webinar (here the recording – click on like if you found it useful). If not convenient, take a look to our past webinar on a Talent Screener.
  • PHASE 2 – CBT Once you submit your application, the first challenge that you will have to face is the CBT (computer-based test). We know, you thought you had escaped it (most competitions have it at the end now, but not the case for this one)… So, keep dreaming. Still, you don’t need a high mark to pass the CBT, only 20 points out of 40 are enough to pass it.
  • PHASE 3 – Eligibility. Here you can do nothing but wait until you pass the CBT, and it will take long until you know the outcome, several months at least. It is now up for the board to read your CV and check whether you have enough years of relevant experience (6 years minimum or 9 depending on your academic records) and can therefore be deemed eligible. This will be done solely based on your application (CV part) that you filled in in language 1.
  • PHASE 4 – Talent Screener evaluation. Once you have been deemed eligible (by December/January hopefully) and all candidates have been evaluated, you and all the candidates will get an email letting you know whether you made it to the Talent Screener (BUT it doesn’t mean that you are in the assessment yet). The Talent screener evaluation will be conducted using only the information you provided within the Talent Screener section (in language 2), they don’t cross reference with the rest of your application or Google. You should therefore include all the relevant information in your answers, even if already mentioned in other sections of your application form. The questions are published in annex IV of your notice of competition (see picture above), we spoke about this in phase 1. The best of all this is that up to a total of 3 times the openings will go to the Assessment Centre. We are talking about about 120 candidates in total (if our math is right… yes it is :-)!
  • PHASE 5 – Assessment Centre. Congrats! You are one of the hundred and twenty candidates with the highest marks in the Talent Screener and you have been invited to the Assessment Centre, the final round. In this round, you will also have to present all your papers in digital format (it used to be a USB memory stick before, now in the online Assessment Centre you will have to upload the pertinent papers before having the test), so prepare them in advance to avoid rushing in the last minute.
  • Now talking about the tests that you will have to face at the Assessment Centre, the competition turns into a classic. You will need to sit the Case Study and the Situational Competence Based Interview (SCBI). Between these two tests you can gather a total of 70 points, with the particularity that you need a combined overall 35/70 to pass but no minimum marks per competence. It means that you should avoid doing a bad Case Study or SCBI in general, but you have some margin to fail some of the specific questions within each test.
Some practice, some effort and a some guidance and it will be done 😉
  • The more points we get in the competences part, the better (we can help with that). Still, the key part is the field-related test, where you will have to demonstrate your knowledge, and above all, your relevant experience for this position. To do so, you will have the Interview in the Field (also structured but with a clear focus on your work experience), a test wherte you can get up to 100 points (we can help with that too).

Once you are done with the Assessment Centre, EPSO will check your documents, starting from those who got the highest score and until they got 40 candidates. Then, after 2 or a few more months waiting for it, you will get the results the final list with those chosen to go to the Olympus of the reserve list (and from the Olympus to any other part in the world, remember the Olympus is in Greece and there not EU delegations there, only in non-EU countries).

Now lets go with 3 of your most typical questions: Salary, work expectations and when EPSO will contact you (timing of the competition).

How much will my salary be?

Table of the amounts of basic monthly salaries for each grade and step in function groups AD and AST referred to in Article 66 of the Staff Regulations, applicable from 1 January 2022, in red the salary for AST4

One of the most typical questions of the candidates is the salary that you will get. An AST3 (step 2) will join the institutions with a salary starting at 4.500 € and this can be higher depending if you have family dependent on you and other conditions. To that you will have to add 16% extra of expatriation allowance and subtract the cost of the taxes (you pay taxes to the European Commission), health insurance and pension, all them proportional to your salary, so expect around the same amount, 4.500 € in net salary. By the way, we refer to step 2 as any first entrant in the institutions can’t join above that step, it means you have at least 3 years of professional experience, what in this competition, is obvious. And if you are worried about life in expensive countries the basic remuneration is supplemented by an allowance linked to the living conditions prevailing at the place of employment, so don’t worry too much.

What can I expect of this job?

We invite you to check the Annex from the notice of competition. As you can see from the image, it sends you to Annex I to find all the details of your expected tasks to be performed once you are a Head of Administration in an EU Delegation. If you are to lazy to check there, click on the images below:

When will EPSO contact me? timing of the competition?

All the situations under which EPSO will write you in your profile, not by email, although sometimes we may get a warning message.

The expected calendar for this competition is the following: after the closure date for the submission of the applications and the CBT, they will run the eligibility checks in Autumn, and then the Talent Screener during the Winter. So get ready to confront the CBT this Autumn and the Assessment Centre in Spring 2023!!

When will EPSO contact me? Many of you ask about when EPSO will tell you that you have passed to the next phase, or have been invited to the Assessment, or…. you read/heard rumors about the development of the competitions. Better to isolate yourself from that noise and focus on the real messages. EPSO commits itself (it’s in Annex II of the notice) to communicate with you after the Talent Screeners have been evaluated to inform you on the results and to invite you to the Assessment Centre. In the meantime, it can take weeks or months to receive any information, so keep calm. You can always contact EPSO too, as candidates you are entitled to do so but be careful, replies can be a bit cryptic or copy/paste from the notice.

Can you help me?

Let share some useful links for this competition and any other. First we can help you with the application (here more info). Also don’t forget our training for Assessment and our next webinar on this competition (use this form to get an invitation) .

List of useful resources

  1. El CBT o los test psicotécnicos (ES)
  2. The Assesment centre (EN)
  3. 10 free resources (EN/ES).
  4. YSE trainings
  5. YSE – youtube
  6. YSE – Telegram (info on vacancies, competitions and trainings)

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