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Brussels, 11 March 2010

Better, Faster, Stronger: Launch of new selection procedure for EU officials

On 16th March, the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) will launch a modernised and streamlined selection procedure for EU officials, with its first competition for Administrators under the new arrangements. The new system will be better by establishing annual competitions for the most common job profiles, thus allowing candidates to plan their applications more effectively and helping strategic human resource planning by the EU institutions. It will be faster and more efficient, involving fewer steps than the current set-up. And it will be stronger, shifting the emphasis from knowledge to competency-based assessment, which is proven to be one of the best predictors of future job performance.

"In an increasingly competitive jobs market, the European institutions have to be able to attract a diverse range of top quality applicants," said Maroš Šefčovič, Commission Vice-President for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration. "It's also important that we hang on to these people, which we will only do if they have the prospect of finding an attractive post without undue delay. The new system is based on best practice across the public sector. It will provide the EU institutions with the right people at the right time, while remaining true to the principles of fair and open competition."

Better planning

EPSO has introduced a three-year rolling plan where institutions regularly assess their staffing needs. There will be annual recruitment competitions in three cycles, for Administrators, Assistants and Linguists, complemented by individual competitions for specialists. To end the situation where successful candidates often spend years on a list without actually finding a post, reserve lists will remain valid for just one year, until the following year's competition cycle is completed. Most candidates on reserve lists will be invited for interview. Participants will be able to receive feedback on their performance in the competition, thus avoiding lengthy review procedures.

Faster and more targeted recruitment

EPSO's new selection procedure will improve the quality and reliability of the process. A key principle is the shift from knowledge to competency-based assessment of job candidates. There will now be just two stages in the procedure – computer-based pre-selection testing in individual EU countries and an assessment stage in Brussels. The new cycle will take between 5 and 9 months, rather than up to two years as is the case under the previous system.

Pre-selection will still involve tests of cognitive ability and situational judgement, plus professional and language competency, depending on the profile sought. The previous test on EU knowledge will no longer feature in the first stage, but this will be assessed at the second stage alongside job-related exercises during the assessment.

The assessment phase will allow all key competencies to be properly and reliably tested, with the emphasis on job-related abilities rather than factual knowledge. Exercises will be selected to evaluate the desired skills, each of which will be assessed at least twice. This stage will comprise a full day or half day of tests depending on the type of competition. This will be done in the candidate's second language (English, French or German), except for profiles requiring specific language skills. This will replace the lengthy two-stage written and oral test process. In addition to specific professional skills and knowledge, a number of core competencies will be assessed, including analysis and problem solving, communication, delivering results, learning and development, prioritising and organising, resilience and working with others.

Selection boards will be professionalised, through the secondment to EPSO of selection board members, the certification of board members in competency-based assessment and greater use of expertise in HR and psychology.

Successful candidates will be issued with a 'competency passport' setting out their performance in the assessment centre, which will be sent to the institutions to help with the recruitment process.

Promoting diversity

EPSO is also implementing a series of measures to promote diversity within the workforce and to improve the image of the EU institutions as an employer. These include guaranteeing the gender-neutrality of tests, improving services offered to candidates with special needs, and more pro-active handling of reserve lists.

Why a career in the EU?

EPSO wants to attract the very best candidates to work in the EU. Alongside the new selection procedure, it has developed a new logo to attract potential candidates. For its part, the Commission is determined that it should be a public administration of the highest quality. A career in the EU institutions offers a lifetime of different jobs; interesting and challenging work which makes a real difference to Europe; an environment where people are encouraged to learn new skills and languages; the opportunity to work and travel abroad, and work with people from all over Europe; and an attractive benefits package.

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