Preparing for EU Recruitment Competitions


Support & Training

EUJOBS.IE arranges information and training sessions to help Irish candidates prepare ahead of the main EU concours. These sessions are open to all Irish citizens who have registered for a specific competition, or who intend to do so, and are offered free of charge.

Separate to these sessions, we have compiled a range of tips and advice on preparing for the second stage of the concours (the assessment centre), as well as a range  of resources – online and in print - which candidates can  draw on ahead of the first stage.

While every effort has been made to ensure the integrity and accuracy of all referenced material, candidates should be aware that EU Jobs can take no responsibility for the information provided by any external source, including those listed below. Nor should the listing of any text or firm be considered an endorsement of same.

The First Stage - the Computer Based Tests

The first stage of the concours is the computer based tests (CBTs for short).  These cognitive reasoning exercises are also known as psychometric tests or aptitude tests and are used by EPSO as a filter to identify a manageable number of candidates to invite for interview at the Assessment Centre. These are general aptitude tests and do not require detailed specific knowledge of the EU.

In order to succeed at the CBTs, and make it to a competition’s second stage, you need to score amongst the top percentile taking that test. While this might sound difficult, with some advance planning and deliberate practice you can give yourself every chance of success.    

Three of the four tests – verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning - are taken in the candidates’ listed first language, which can be any one of the EU’s 24 official languages (including Irish). The fourth test – situational judgment – which counts for half the overall mark is taken in the candidates’ second language (which must be English, German or French). An overview of the first stage, including marking schemes and other useful advice, is available here. In order to help you prepare for the CBTs, we have also compiled short guides to each of the four test types, with hints and tips on how to prepare and useful links and references.

As these guides suggest, the best way to prepare for the CBTs is to familiarise yourself with the test style and format through deliberate practice. EPSO and the Public Appointments Service provide test material freely online, while material can also be purchased through various private companies, many of whom offer free samples. Additional sample questions and answers for the asbtract, numerical and verbal reasoning tests are also provided below.  

Finally, there are many books available on how best to prepare for the competition process. The following texts are some of the best known:

  • The Ultimate EU Test Book 2013, Andras Baneth: Covers both stages of the EU competition (i.e. the numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning ability and the tests to be expected in the assessment). Provides practice tests, tips and strategies.
  • Numerical Reasoning MCQ for the European Institution Competitions, Emmanuel Hetru and Jean - Luc Bizeur: Methodology, strategies and practice tests for numerical reasoning skills.
  • Verbal Reasoning MCQ for the European Institution Competitions, Emmanuel Hetru and Jean - Luc Bizeur: Methodology, strategies and practice tests for verbal reasoning skills
  • Abstract Reasoning MCQ for European Institution Competitions, Emmanuel Hetru and Benoît Crepin: Methodology, strategies and practice tests for abstract reasoning ability.
  • Situational Judgement Test for European Institution Competitions, Jean - Luc Bizeur, Pascal and Isabelle Maen Farchy: Provides information, strategies and exercises for the behavioral test in the first round
  • Ultimate Psychometric Tests, Mike Bryon: Provides over 1000 practice exercises in the field of numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning ability.

The Second Stage - the Assessment Centre

A detailed official guide to the assessment centre is available here. It consists of four key exercises, with some variation depending on the specific competition.

A case study in which candidates are provided with a text or texts of the kind you might encounter as an EU official and tasked with preparing a written document. The case study is ninety minutes in duration and primarily designed to test candidates competencies in analysis and problem solving, communication, prioritising and organising.

An Oral Presentation in which candiates are presented with a workplace scenario which requires them to analyse a text or texts and prepare an oral presentation. Again, the key competencies tested here are analysis and problem solving, communication, prioritising and organising.

A Structured Interview in which candidates are asked a series of questions about specific competencies  (and specific skills, in the case of specialist competitions). In each case, candidates should be prepared to outline concrete examples of how they have demonstrated these competencies in the past.

A group exercise, in which candidates are assigned to teams of five or six, presented with a typical EU workplace scenario and tasked with discussing conclusions and reaching a collective decision. Key competencies assessed here include working with others, prioritizing and organizing, analysis and problem solving, communicating and potential to lead.

The languages used in the AC are English, German and French – one of which the candidates will have identified as their second language ahead of the Computer Based Tests.

Two types of competencies are tested for, general and specific, with eight key competency criteria:

  • Analysis and problem solving
  • Communicating
  • Delivering quality and results
  • Learning and developing
  • Prioritising and organising
  • Resilience
  • Working with others
  • Potential to lead  

Candidates must demonstrate each of the above in the course of the assessment centre exercises.

In preparing for the assessment centre, candidates may wish to consult some of the following resources: