EPSO is dead, long live the EPSOlution

Dear all,

Last week brought another surprise to our tables: EPSO’s governing body unveiled the new competition system… and the first announcement was striking (see picture below). [versión en Español]

The ‘Assessment Centre’ and its related oral tests, in place since 2010, ceases to exist

EPSO -dixit

So EPSO is dead, long live the EPSOlution (as the new evaluation model has been called by EPSO). Wait a second, before you have a stroke, if you are a candidate in an ongoing EPSO competition, forget this post, your competition sticks to the old model (and check what we can do to help you with your Assessment Centre). However, if you will be a candidate soon or you are interested in working in the EU, this post is for you as you still have plenty of questions: What is gone? What stays? Why is this happening? When is this really taking place? Let’s see if we can reply to all of them.

What is gone?

Talent Screeners are the first victims. Apparently, they will no longer be necessary because the % system that EPSO has been testing over the past months is good enough to evaluate the candidates’ experience in a given field. In some recent competitions, when filling in the section on the job experience in the application, candidates had to indicate which percentage of their working time was dedicated to a specific task. Well, this system will be now the norm as of now to conduct the eligibility checks and to quantify the relevant experience in the field. If you want to know more on this, we explained them in detail in this webinar. Whether EPSO will do the eligibility and relevant experience check both before the exams or split in two actions will be clarified when the new competitions are released.   

Second and more important, the Assessment Centre as we knew it is over. No more interviews with the board of assessors in EPSO premises (previous to COVID-19) or using the platform Cammio. No competence-based interview, oral presentation, situational competency-based interview or any other. If some of these tests re-appear, it will be under the responsibility and supervision of the Institution concerned in the final interviews… What? Keep reading to know more on this.

What stays?

Old rockers never die. The computer based test (CBT) on verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning will stay. Yes, we know it, you don’t like them so much but they can’t get rid of them. The good news is that you will no longer need a high mark in the CBT to make it to the next stage. Now you will only need to get the minimum pass mark. Whatever you get beyond that passing mark, won’t matter. If you are new to this, here in this EPSO examples you can see what kind of tests we are talking about.

What is new?

A multiple-choice questionnaire in the field for specialist competitions or an EU knowledge test or generalist competitions will be the norm now. Is that really new? Not exactly, we already had some examples, for instance with Data Protection competition, for which we did a webinar where we explained what to study for this test. In the case of the profiles like AST, most likely, there will be a digital skills test, similar to what we saw in the last Secretaries competition.

In the case of Generalist and the EU knowledge test, don’t panic, it won’t be a trivial for EU freaks. EPSO recently said: it will be on meaningful substance questions related to the functioning of the EU, its policies and procedures. So it has committed to publish the sources they will use to generate the questions and everybody will have access to them (the resources, not the questions). This formula is not new either, as the Internal Competition exams in the Commission contains a very similar (if not the same) exam.  

Written tests for all. Yes, that’s right. This is the single competence-based test that remains on this part of the process. If you have done a case study, you know what you are facing. If not, it’s a (usually) 90 min test where they give you some background documents on a topic you don’t know (and is not related to your competition) where you have to answer or fulfil some assignments given about it. Here is an official example provided by EPSO. Remember that this exam aims to assess competences, including drafting skills, but not knowledge on the subject of the competition.  

Another really important question is not what tests will be conducted, but how. All the tests (reasoning tests, multiple-choice tests and written tests will be in one day/session for all in a remote mode. Same system as the remote CBT done in the last competitions, with the difference that it will be longer now. However, important to note that, despite taking all the tests on the same day, your written exam will only be corrected only if you pass the EU knowledge/specialist test and the CBT, making the process much faster.

Our humble visualization on how the new competition model-timeline will be

On this point there is also some controversy, as candidates who were used to the old system (and had easy access to the Prometric facilities), as well as those who miss the physical calculator in the numerical reasoning tests, didn’t welcome the change to remote tests. When you had a Prometric centre near home, logistics were much simpler than online, but to be fair, the remote evaluation gave an excellent opportunity for new candidates and particularly those living far from Prometric facilities. Considering this and the fact the new method is cheaper than the old system, we better embrace it and prepare to live with the new monitored-online exams for a long time.  

After passing the tests what?

So if you pass the CBT, the knowledge test and the written test and fulfil all the experience criteria of the competition (that will be stayed in the notice), you will be placed in a reserve list. Only those on the reserve list will have access to the recruitment process organised by each institution. In this process, general competencies will still be reviewed. How? That fall under the criteria of each institution. EPSO will help them only if requested, most likely field-related type interviews will happen, nothing that we can’t not prepare in advance.

When is the change coming?

In May, the new competitions will be published – one for Economists (AD6) and a second one for Administrators in the field of intellectual property (AD6). Until then, some final changes and adjustments may happen, so with the fresh competition notices in hand, we will update this post with a precise description of the new system and how the competitions will be conducted. In the meantime, we will keep informing you on this and on all the other #eurojobs-related issues, so don’t forget to join our Telegram channel YSE to stay updated.

Why is this happening?

These changes are the final outcome of a transformation process inside EPSO to make open competitions faster and simple. This started already in 2020 and particularly after the report from the European Court of Auditors where several conclusion where reached (short summary: selection process proved not to be very efficient for recruiting specialists and it was overall too long). At the same time, due to the pandemic, we were forced to adopt telework whenever possible, which also affected the EPSO competitions.

In the meantime, competitions continued, but since November, new EPSO competitions were frozen until May 2023 and Generalist AD5 has been under re-evaluation during 2021 and 2022. And now, early 2023, we got the result of this reflection.

Stay alert! More news coming soon!

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