With well over 50 000 candidates applying for the EPSO competitions in 2013, it is fairly safe to say that the EU is growing in popularity as an employer. The fact that an average of 120 applicants fight over a single advertised position speaks volumes about the highly competitive nature of those exams. The infographic below provides you with an overview of useful information on the so-called  EPSO exams (‘concours’ is another frequently used term) that you need to pass in order to secure a permanent contract at any of the EU agencies. EPSO is the ‘HR’ department of the EU and stands for European Personnel Selection Office.

Infograph-EPSO Exams

Suspension of EPSO competitions?

Some of you might have caught wind of the concours being suspended indefinitely as a result of a court case brought forward by Italy and Spain against EPSO’s language regime. For those of the would-be EU officials, however, who are just about to jump on the EPSO wagon, don’t worry:  EU Training has recently announced that the exams will be re-launched in early 2017. Keep yourself posted on the latest developments by checking EU Training’s website or Facebook page. Since the open competitions are published in the Official Journal and announced on the EPSO website, you might want to check that one out too.

New to the EU tests?

They say it is not easy, but the hassle is worth it. The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory, right?

Judging by the sheer amount of assessments you will have to go through, should you consider pursuing the path to becoming an EU official, it goes without saying that you must be ironclad in your commitment. Make sure you have a sound knowledge of the relevant EU terminology and institutional dynamics before hitting the send button on your application. What is of even greater importance though is fleshing out a stellar motivation as to what prompts you to seek a professional career in an EU institution.

These are a couple of points you can touch upon in your motivational letter:


  • Are you driven by a desire to learn more about the power relations and everyday operation of the system?
  • Or could it be that you find yourself thriving in a multicultural environment?
  • Perhaps you are tempted by the promise of broadening your horizons and stepping outside of your home country/region?
  • Expanding your personal and professional network is really what you are after?


All these are valid reasons for wanting to be part of the large EU institutional family, yet you must be able to concretely, concisely and confidently articulate your motivations if you want to be successful in completing all stages of the competition. Carrying on blindly without a clear motivation will not help you move past the online registration phase. In this context, it is indicative that out of the 27 000 candidates that participated in the first stage of the selection process in 2014, less than 2% were invited to the second one.

Ready for action?

So you have established by now that you are cut out for this job and ready to take on the Herculean task of preparing for the series of tests and assessments. But how do you approach it?

Jumping into the exam without having any plan or structured approach will not get you far. You need to start your preparation well ahead of time and spend at least 3-4 weeks practicing verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning questions. Do plenty of mock job interviews and simulations of the exercises that you will be presented with at the assessment center. There are tons of online resources that can help you with that, here is just a small sample:



Though the competition is largely competency-based (a constructive shift from being too technically-oriented in the past), in-depth understanding of the EU institutions is still required. Therefore, reading up on factual knowledge and keeping yourself abreast of the latest political developments in Europe is important. That being said, take note of the fact that the pre-selection test is a cognitive one and not related to your professional skills or theoretical grasp of the institutions. *a sigh of relief*

Test yourself!

Try a free online EPSO test? Here are a few links that you might find useful:



EPSO Sample tests: Free practice + Scores and Answers

EU Careers: Sample tests and training

EPSO Style Online practice tests


EU training offers free advice on EPSO exams. Fill out the request form and get a response within 24 hours here.