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Brussels, 14 March 2011

The 2011 graduate 'AD' Administrator Selection Procedure

The 2011 graduate 'Administrator' selection procedure will open on 16 March and the deadline for registration is midday CET (Brussels time) 14 April 2011.

This year we will be selecting at two grades:

  • AD 5 (aimed at graduates and final year students)

  • AD 7 (aimed at those with at least 6 years professional experience)

For both grades this will be across the following six fields:

  • European Public Administration

  • Law

  • Economics

  • Audit

  • Finance

  • Statistics.

The reasoning tests in the first stage (computer-based pre-selection tests) are now offered in all 23 official EU languages. The first stage situational judgment test, is done in the second language (English, French or German).

Students in the final year of their Bachelor's degree studies can now also apply provided that their diploma is awarded by 31 July 2011 (AD 5 level).

The network of CBT test centres outside Europe is being expanded to include 37 worldwide test centres across 5 continents.

As with all EU Careers selection procedures, there are no national quotas and the selection procedure is open to citizens from every EU member state.

Background on New EU Careers Selection Procedures

Annual Selection procedure Cycles

From 2010 an annual cycle of selection procedures was introduced, making it easier for candidates to plan their applications. Annual selection procedures are now organised in three cycles:

  • Spring: Administrators – AD general profiles

  • Summer: Linguists – translators and interpreters

  • Autumn: Assistants – AST general profiles

The annual selection procedure cycle is complemented by individual selection procedures for specialist profiles as required by the Institutions.

Shorter Selection procedures

A streamlined two stage process has cut the time of large selection procedures from 2 years to 10 months and smaller specialist selections from an average of 16 months to just 6 months.

Selection procedures for generalist profiles (under the annual cycles) comprise two stages: a 'pre-selection' test stage (computer-based tests in specialised test centres throughout Europe, and in around 40 international test centres) and the Assessment Centre (held in Brussels).

Improved "Pre-Selection" testing

  • Abstract reasoning test

  • Situational judgement test

  • NO EU knowledge test

Until 2010, verbal and numerical reasoning were the main cognitive testing tools. EPSO enlarged the range of tests to include abstract reasoning as this is another important element of cognitive ability. This test - which is free of linguistic elements - offers a range of advantages for conducting fair and impartial assessments of candidates from 27 different EU Member States. The reasoning tests are done in a candidate's main language.

Behavioural tests have proven to be good indicators for future job performance and are widely used. The new situational judgement tests (SJT) evaluate workplace-related behaviour and are based on core competencies of the Competency framework for working within the EU institutions. This test is carried out in the candidate's second language of English, French or German.

The EU knowledge test has been removed as memorising facts is not considered to be a valid way of predicting in-job performance. EU knowledge is instead to be assessed in a different way at a later stage of the process, in close relation with professional skills testing.

Competency-based assessment

Following a comprehensive job analysis for all entry grades of EU officials across the institutions, a competency framework has been developed. The competency framework is now used to identify the blend of skills and professional/field competencies essential for effective performance within the main recruitment profiles. The seven core competencies identified are:

  • Analysis and problem solving

  • Communicating

  • Delivering quality and results

  • Learning and development

  • Prioritising and organising

  • Resilience

  • Working with others

A further competency specific to the Administrator ('AD') level is:

  • Leadership.

Assessment centres

Under the new selection procedure procedures, EPSO uses a standard assessment centre model, based on the core competencies. This model has been chosen so as to be able to identify the most suitable and competent candidates for the profile required. The use of assessment centres has proven to be the most accurate predictor of performance on the job. Assessment centres enable all key competencies to be properly tested in a reliable manner. On the basis of the enhanced competency framework, a number of relevant exercises are now being designed to assess the desired competencies. Each competency is to be assessed through at least two methods to ensure validity and reliability. Depending on the selection procedure, assessment centre exercises may include the following:

  • Case study in the field in question

  • Oral presentation

  • Structured interview

  • Group exercise

  • Exercises relating to professional skills

  • Practical language tests

The various elements and the length of the assessment vary depending on the selection procedure. While a full assessment centre approach is appropriate at graduate level, i.e. for Administrators, Specialists and Linguists, a shorter half-day programme is run for Assistants. At this stage, assessment of the candidates is to be conducted mainly in the three working languages: English, French and German, except for profiles where specific language skills are required (for instance linguists and secretaries).

The half-day programme for Assistants includes a structured interview and practical tests to assess their respective professional skills.

The evaluation of Linguists is undertaken in a more targeted manner to focus on their core skills with practical linguistic tests appropriate for the relevant field.

The procedure for Specialists is structured to ensure that the relevant key knowledge area, which is a critical requirement for the Institutions, is made a primary criterion for the evaluation of candidates. For this reason, there are not normally general pre-selection tests for this category. Instead, candidates' applications and CVs are evaluated against a predetermined set of criteria. Candidates who are admitted to the selection procedures through this process will be directly invited to an assessment centre.

Professional Selection Board

In October 2009, EPSO completed a Call for Expression of Interest for officials to serve as full-time Selection Board members for a fixed period. These "permanent" Selection Board members are assisted by other "temporary" Selection Board members and assessors. All Selection Board members and assessors undergo thorough compulsory training with a view to accreditation in competency-based assessment.

Feedback – The "Competency Passport"

EPSO has introduced a feedback mechanism for both successful and unsuccessful candidates as an integral part of the assessment procedure. The availability of the feedback report, known as a "competency passport", helps to answer follow-up queries from candidates about the strengths and weaknesses of their performance.

For successful candidates included on a reserve list, the "competency passport" will also be available to the Institutions and can be used by them during the recruitment procedure as well as for career development.

Reserve Lists

The EU Institutions use a system of 'Reserve List' databases to match successful candidates to suitable posts. These contain candidates' competency passports as well as further details not necessarily used in the selection process itself, such as where they have worked and the exact nature of their professional experience.

In advance of each selection procedure the EU institutions carry out a significant amount of staffing needs planning to ensure that these lists are matched to real requirements, to ensure as far as possible that there are no longer situations where (as could happen in the past) many candidates were successful in the selection procedure and then left waiting on a list for one or two years or, in many cases, not recruited at all.

Key Statistics- Spring AD Selection Procedures


  • For 2011, we will be seeking 225 successful candidates at AD5 level and 90 at AD7.

  • This can be broken down as follows:

Number of successful candidates per competition and field

European Public Administration






AD 5







AD 7







  • Computer Based 'Pre-Selection' Tests will be available in 72 European and International test centres.


  • There were 51,639 applicants for the 2010 graduate 'Administrator' selection procedure.

  • 37,329 sat the first stage computer-based reasoning tests in centres around Europe and across the world.

  • 992 candidates were invited to the second stage- an Assessment Centre in Brussels where, through exercises such as group negotiations and structured interviews, expert Selection Boards were able to assess their abilities in a range of competencies.

  • The list of successful candidates comprises 308 people across 5 different fields- European Public Administration, Law, Economics, Audit and ICT.

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