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Brussels, 18 July 2008

Good news for future jobseekers:
The European Personnel Selection Office adopts major improvements to its selection methods

In a bold shake up of its current practices, the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) will significantly change the way it selects people to work in the European civil service. From 2010, selection competitions will focus more on testing the personal and professional competence of candidates. The time taken to select candidates is also to be cut by two-thirds to just 5 to 9 months, compared to typically 15 months at present.

"Having seen the way other international organisations recruit people, it was very clear to me that we had to improve" said David Bearfield, Director of the European Personnel Selection Office. "We recognise that there is stiff competition for the brightest and best, and so we are determined to speed up, streamline and to better focus our efforts to attract and select people who are up to the task of serving half a billion citizens as a European civil servant".

"The changes are significant and will be very welcome news for the tens of thousands of candidates applying every year" added John Speed, Human Resources Director of the European Court of Auditors, and Chairman of the Management Board of EPSO."We have been making a strong effort to modernise EPSO's overall selection policy, and these improvements in the way it will select people are a major step forward. This will initiate a new era in interinstitutional cooperation in personnel selection".

The most significant change is the type of testing to be used to select people, from 2010. At present, written examinations and interviews focus on the specialised knowledge of candidates. In the future, focus will also be put on assessing the practical and professional competence that candidates possess, and their likely in-job performance.

The current 2-year time span for selecting and recruiting candidates is to be significantly shortened. The competition itself will take just 5 to 9 months, depending on the type of job. To achieve this, competitions will in future be organised in regular annual cycles. This will not only streamline organisation of the tests, but also considerably assist candidates to plan and to prepare themselves properly. There will be separate cycles for administrators and linguists (university graduates), and assistants (secretaries and technicians).

Each cycle is to have two stages: computer-based testing (such as abstract, verbal, and numerical reasoning, including professional skills tests) and interviews at an assessment centre. Cognitive tests are widely recognised by human resources specialists as being one of the best ways to predict in-job performance of a candidate. These tests are designed to be impartial to the culture or gender of candidates. They will also include situational/behavioural, professional competence and language testing where appropriate. Current "pre-selection" testing of candidates' prior knowledge of the EU is to be discontinued.

The second stage of assessment will include a number of group and individual exercises, allowing the candidates to demonstrate their know-how and individual expertise. For administrators and linguists, in-house assessment centres will be organised, whilst assistants and specialists will go through a set of tests focused on their professional and practical competence.

These important changes in selection procedure are to take effect from 2010.


The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) is responsible for finding and selecting suitable staff to work in all the Institutions of the European Union (European Parliament, the Council, the European Commission, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Ombudsman) and all of their external agencies. Each Institution is then able to recruit staff from the pool of candidates selected by EPSO.

All EU institutions are represented on the management board.

For more information:

Mrs. Agne Martikoniene +32-2 296 01 99

Mr. Nick Heenan +32-2 296 34 53

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