Brussels, 21 April 2010
Successful launch for new EPSO selection procedure for EU officials
More than 51,000 people applied for the first selection competition for EU officials under the new system launched last month by the European Personnel Selection Office. Testing of the candidates began on 6 April and will continue until 21 May. Pre-selection testing will be done in centres across the EU, as well as in non-EU countries, as there were also 389 candidates in New York, 137 in China and 55 in Australia. For the first time, testing centres were established outside the EU, in recognition of the fact that many Europeans move outside Europe to study and work. Assessment centres will take place from September to November for candidates who are successful in the pre-selection tests, and reserve lists of successful candidates will be ready before Christmas. The average age of candidates for this round of selection is 32.6 years and the gender spread is 53.5 percent women and 46.5 percent men. The greatest number (56.4 percent) applied for the European Public Administration option, with 14.2 percent applying for law, 12.4 percent economics, 11.4 percent ICT and 5.7 percent audit.
"It's great to see so many people have applied for a career in the European Institutions," commented Maroš Šefčovič, Commission Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Administration. "Despite the huge demand, I am pleased to say that EPSO's IT systems worked perfectly and EPSO was able to handle efficiently a huge surge in applications. Testing has begun already and we are scheduled to have lists of successful candidates by Christmas. First impressions are that the new system is working very smoothly."
On 16 March, EPSO launched a modernised and streamlined selection procedure for EU officials, with its first competition for Administrators under the new arrangements. The new system establishes 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 is faster and more efficient, involving fewer steps than the previous set-up. And it shifts the emphasis from knowledge to competency-based assessment, which is proven to be one of the best predictors of future job performance.
EPSO has introduced a three-year rolling plan where institutions regularly assess their staffing needs. There will be annual 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.
EPSO's new selection procedure improves the quality and reliability of the process. A key principle is the shift from knowledge to competency-based assessment of job candidates. There are now just two stages in the procedure – computer-based pre-selection testing in individual 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 still involves tests of cognitive ability and situational judgement, plus professional and language competency, depending on the profile sought. The previous test on EU knowledge no longer features in the first stage, but this will be assessed at the second stage alongside job-related exercises during the assessment.
The assessment phase allows all key competencies to be properly and reliably tested, with the emphasis on job-related abilities rather than factual knowledge. Exercises are selected to evaluate the desired skills, each of which are assessed at least twice. This stage comprises a full day or half day of tests depending on the type of competition. This is done in the candidate's second language (English, French or German), except for profiles requiring specific language skills. This replaces the lengthy two-stage written and oral test process. In addition to specific professional skills and knowledge, a number of core competencies are 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 permanent officials to act as selection board members, following targeted high-quality training and certification in competency-based assessment plus a greater use of expertise in HR. 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.