EPSO Procedures

General rules governing open competitions (EPSO Procedures), had been published in the Official Journal of the European Union C 070 A/01 on 27.02.2015.

These general rules are an integral part of the competition notice, and together with the notice they constitute the binding framework of the competition procedure.


Open competitions

The European institutions select future officials through open competitions, which involve a series of competitive examinations.

The competitions are open to all citizens of the European Union who meet the specified requirements.

Candidates who pass a competition are placed on a reserve list from which the institutions draw recruits as and when they need them. The aim of a competition, then, is not to fill a specific post, but to constitute a reserve pool for recruitment.

A selection board is appointed to select the best candidates in the light of the requirements set out in the competition notice.

Competitions are organised in annual cycles for general job profiles, or on demand for specialised profiles to meet specific needs of the institutions.

General profile sought

The institutions are looking for candidates who are talented, motivated, and highly qualified in their field, and who can demonstrate the following general competencies:

  • Analysis and Problem Solving: Identify the critical facts in complex issues and develop creative and practical solutions
  • Communicating: Communicate clearly and precisely both orally and in writing
  • Delivering Quality and Results: Take personal responsibility and initiative for delivering work to a high standard of quality within set procedures
  • Learning and Development: Develop and improve personal skills and knowledge of the organisation and its environment
  • Prioritising and Organising: Prioritise the most important tasks, work flexibly and organise own workload efficiently
  • Resilience: Remain effective under a heavy workload, handle organisational frustrations positively and adapt to a changing work environment
  • Working with Others: Work cooperatively with others in teams and across organisational boundaries and respect differences between people
  • Leadership (for administrators only): Manage, develop and motivate people to achieve results.


In order to be eligible to participate in a competition candidates have to meet certain criteria, which are laid down by the competition notice:

  • General conditions
  • Specific conditions
  • Knowledge of languages.


  • Check carefully that you satisfy the eligibility conditions for the competition.
  • Create your EPSO account if you do not yet have one.
  • Complete the interactive sample tests.
  • Fill-in your online application.
  • Indicate any special arrangements needed for taking tests.
  • Confirm and validate your online application by the given deadline.
  • Submit a full application file.


1. Computer-based multiple-choice preselection tests

For most competitions EPSO organises computer-based multiple-choice preselection tests.

Depending on the competition you have applied for, the preselection tests may include the following:

  • a verbal reasoning test: to assess your ability to think logically and understand verbal information,
  • a numerical reasoning test: to assess your ability to think logically and understand numerical information,
  • an abstract reasoning test: to assess your ability to think logically and understand the relations between concepts involving no linguistic, spatial or numerical elements,
  • situational judgement test: to assess your typical behaviour in a working context,
  • test(s) of language skills,
  • test(s) of specific professional skills.

2. Selection based on qualifications – the Talent screener

For most specialist profiles, candidates have to go through a phase called ‘selection based on qualifications’.

In this phase, the selection board assesses the applications of the candidates and selects those whose qualifications (in particular diplomas and professional experience) best match the duties and selection criteria set out in the competition notice.

This selection is made solely on the basis of responses to specific questions in the ‘talent screener’ tab of the online application form.

The candidates with the highest total of points go through to the next competition stage.

3. Assessment Centre

Candidates who succeed at the computer-based multiple-choice preselection tests and/or the selection based on qualifications, and whose online application forms show that they meet all general and specific eligibility conditions of their competition, are invited to an assessment centre.

The assessment centre is normally held in Brussels or Luxembourg, and may take place over one or more days. Some exercises, although part of the assessment centre model, may be organised on computer in other cities.

In the assessment centre, candidates’ general competencies and their specific competencies will be tested. The content of the assessment centre tests is validated by the selection board of the competition.

Depending on the competition these tests may include the following:

  • case study: a written test based on a relevant scenario, in which you are faced with various problems that you are asked to solve or to which you must react, relying solely on the material provided,
  • oral presentation: an individual test of analysis and presentation, in which you are asked to come up with a proposal concerning a fictitious work-related problem. After analysing the documentation provided, you have to present your ideas to a small group of people,
  • competency-based interview(s): an individual exercise designed to obtain, in a structured way, relevant information about your general skills (and/or specific skills, in the case of specialist competitions), based on past experience,
  • group exercise: after absorbing a certain amount of information on your own, you are put in a group with several other participants to discuss your conclusions and reach a collective decision,
  • e-tray: a computer-based test in which you are asked to answer a number of questions using the documentation provided in an e-mail inbox,
  • practical language tests,
  • other exercises relating to specific skills,
  • verbal, numerical, abstract reasoning and situational judgement tests (if such tests were not arranged earlier in the competition, at the preselection test stage).

The tests used in each individual competition are indicated in the competition notice. A detailed explanation of these tests will also be given in the ‘Assessment Centre Manual’ that candidates receive when invited to take part in this stage of the competition.


The selection board draws up a ‘reserve list’ containing the names of those candidates who performed best and obtained the highest scores, and whose supporting documents confirm that they meet all eligibility conditions, as specified in the notice of competition.

The number of places on the reserve list is defined in the competition notice. Where a number of candidates tie for the last available place, they will all be included on the reserve list.

The list is then sent to the EU institutions, which are responsible for recruiting successful candidates from the list. Being included on a reserve list does not mean you have any right or guarantee of recruitment.

All candidates who took the assessment centre tests will be sent a document known as a ‘competency passport’, which provides both quantitative and qualitative feedback about their performance at the assessment centre. The competency passports of successful candidates will also be made available to the EU Institutions, which they may use during the recruitment procedure and with a view to career development. If you are among the successful candidates, EPSO will also provide you with additional useful information material.