If you are successful in the first EPSO computer based tests competition you will be invited to attend an EPSO assessment centre that is normally held in Brussels. Below is a rundown of the different activities you can face there.
EPSO Assessment Centre Competitions
It is worthwhile bearing in mind that this table is just a guide and as there are many different positions in the EU you may find that the process is slightly different.
The EPSO selection procedureThe EPSO tests are provided by Prometric and they have unique characteristics. Whereas many psychometric testing companies ask fairly generic questions that follow typical thinking patterns, the EPSO tests are a break from this. For example, whilst many companies using verbal reasoning tests use a true/ false/ cannot say style, the EPSO tests do not use this method and focus instead on a deeper understanding of the text. To this end, even though there is a time limit to the tests, getting the answers correct is of utmost importance. There are some tests, particularly in the AST competitions that test your ability to work under pressure such as the accuracy and precision test, but the three main EPSO tests, verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning are not so time limited.
The Difference between AST and AD Level TestsAlthough there is some overlap between the two sets of tests in the main, there is a significant difference between the two levels. There are many reasons for this but the main one is that there are different skills involved if you are an assistant than if you are an administrator. For this reason there are two different groups of EU tests. The AST level tests focus of your fact finding abilities, the ability to comprehend often complex information and find what is relevant to the task. In the AD level however, there is a focus on your ability to not only find this information, but take it to the next level as well and reach correct, thought out conclusions based on the information you have uncovered. These separate skills mirror the actual abilities that you will need to have in order to do well if you get offered a job in the EU.
There are two different EPSO interviews that you can face at the assessment centre. One is of a more general nature to see how you would fit in. It is more conversational. In the EPSO structured interview however, each candidate is asked a set number of questions based on the EPSO competency framework
. This ensures that each candidate gets a fair test. There are generally four different competencies that you are assessed on. You should check your EPSO competition notice to check exactly which competencies you will be assessed on. They include:
- Working with others
- Learning and development
- Prioritising and organising
The structure of this EPSO interview is as follows: We are now asking you about this _____ competency. Tell us about a time when ____?
For example: Regarding the competency of prioritising and organising: Describe an occasion when you have needed to change plans or reprioritise? What happened?
How to answer the EPSO Structured Interview Questions
As there is a fixed set of EPSO competencies that you will be tested on in the interview you can prepare for it. Ensure you have read your notice of competition to know exactly which ones you are being assessed on. For each competency you are only asked one question and it is directly related to the competency. Have specific examples for each of the competencies that you are being assessed on in order to answer the EPSO structured interview
questions in the best possible way. Prepare your answers in advance and use the STAR method
. EPSO want to hear how you have demonstrated each competency clearly before. Using the STAR method is the best way to ensure you can do this.
In the EPSO presentation you have to prepare a 10 minute presentation for a panel of assessors. You are given a white board or a large sheet of paper to assist you. You are given a case study that contains information on a particular subject in the field that you have applied for. For example if you have applied for a generalist role you may be given the subject of renewable energy. Your presentation needs to cover:
- A short overview of the challenges faced in order to meet the targets
- A draft action plan for stimulating renewable energy sources.
In the EPSO case study that you are given to prepare there can be as many as 20 different pages of information. This ranges from report, mail messages, screenshots of websites, forum discussions, and newspaper cuttings among others. You have 30 minutes to go through this information, making notes either directly on the case study or separately. Following this you will give a 10 minute presentation
to two assessors who are playing the roles of Heads of Unit. After you have finished your presentation there is a question and answer session where you have to field questions from the assessors.
Preparing for the EPSO Presentation
Your presentation is based on a number of different EPSO competencies. As such you need to craft your speech in a way that demonstrates these qualities. The competencies assessed are specific to each competition so you should check your notice to ensure you prepare the specific ones. They generally are:
- Analysis & Problem Solving: This means that you clearly find the problems in the case study without getting distracted by the myriad details.
- Communicating (Oral communication): You have to craft your presentation in a manner that is easy to listen to, gets to the point and most importantly makes sense.
- Delivering Quality & Results: After your analysis of the subject you have to show that you have thought of a good solution to the problems that you found.
- Resilience: You show this most in the Q&A session after the presentation. You don’t have to agree with the assessors, you should argue your points if you feel they are correct. They want you to really bring quality to the table and you do this by showing resilience and demonstrating that you really believe in your points. However, if you feel that they have made a good point that is better than yours you should embrace it as this shows flexibility.
The EPSO group exercise is divided into two sections, preparation and the actual interaction between the 6-10 participants. You are given a unique brief that contains information on a European subject that is relative to your application. For example, you are asked to prepare a recommendation on a new regulation about plant protection products. There are a number of key questions that you have to answer as a group. They generally focus on four different steps of the thought process:
- What is the situation at the moment?
- What is the problem with this position at present?
- What are the different options available and what are their pros and cons?
- Which option is the most desirable?
The brief is approximately 15-20 pages long and contains information in the form of mail messages, reports, meeting minutes and details of the other participant’s briefs. You have 15 minutes to go through the information in the brief and the actual interaction goes on for 50 minutes. This interaction is done in the presence of the assessors.
How to prepare for the EPSO Group Exercise
The EPSO group exercise focuses on a number of competencies that you have to display throughout this exercise. These include:
- Analysing and Problem solving
- Learning & Development
- Prioritising & Organising
- Working with others
- Leadership and Resilience
Have a look at our pages on group exercises
to learn more about preparing for the EPSO group exercise and group exercises in general.
At JobTestPrep we offer a range of services providing preparation for your application. These range from CV preparation, practice tests for both the AD and AST level competition and assessment centre preparation. With thousands of applicants for very few places there is a reason why you need to perform at your highest level throughout the entire process. With JobTestPrep we give you complete preparation for the application process in order to give you the skills and confidence to perform at your highest possible level throughout.
How JobTestPrep can help you?
EPSO Coaching ServicesJobTestPrep have teamed up with professional coaches who can help you prepare for the EPSO competitions, a requirement to gaining a career working for the EU. The coaches have many years of experience and are specialists in the field of the EPSO competitions and careers at the EU. The one-to-one guidance that they provide is a valuable tool in your preparations for these assessments, without which, you could be severely hampering your success in gaining your dream career. Learn about the coaching service.
In SummaryWe have described the different aspects of the EPSO competition assessment centre and gone through some of differences between the AD and the AST level competitions. If you've got any questions feel free to contact us, we aim to answer any question within 24 hours. We hope you have found this article useful and helpful in your application journey to the European Union and look forward to having you on board.
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“ I went to an assessment center in Brussels, and my overall grade was 58.9. The first candidate they took obtained 60.2 for this competition. A pity. Your help was a must to get to the assessment center and to pass on site their e-tray. So thank you so much. If I did not make it this time, it was because of things i could have done better from my end, all tests I studied from your site were of invaluable help. „
AD Level 8 competition, April 2015
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