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So I won’t be a Commission official

The results of the concours for administrators are now out, and – surprise, surprise – I did not manage to pass. Here’s the extract of the letter:

The selection board for the above competition has now finished marking the pre-selection tests in which you participated. I regret to inform you that although the marks you obtained in these tests were above or equal to the pass mark, you were not amongst the top 630 candidates.

Point B.1 of the competition notice stipulates that only those candidates with the 630 highest marks in the pre-selection tests would be asked to submit a full application with a view to their possible admission to the competition.

Your marks are as follows (1):

Test a): 38.333 /60 (pass mark 30)
Test b): 15.263 /20 (pass mark 10)
Test c): 30.769 /40 (pass mark 20)

Total: 84.365/ 120

For your information, the candidates who obtained the 630 highest combined scores had at least 92.611 points.

I would add that the Selection Board’s decision does not preclude you from taking part in any future competitions organised by the European Personnel Selection Office.

It’s beyond me how one can get 15.263 / 20 when there were 40 questions, but anyway, c’est la vie. All the best to all the geeks who know who won the Sakharov prize in the year X or other equally useful everyday facts.

FILE DOWNLOADS
Blog commenter ‘viking’ has made some new test files available for download, and he had also supplied the manual for electronic Reserve Lists. Some additional test files have been provided by Sorina (see comment #1003) – download 342kb, ZIPped. Enjoy!

SOCIAL NETWORKS
If anyone is a member of Facebook there’s the ‘So I won’t be a Commission official’ Facebook Group, and the EU Integration Traveler IQ challenge (you need to add the Traveler IQ Facebook application) – a more fun way to revise for the concours…

NOTE
Due to such an enormous number of comments here I have had to divide the comments function. The latest few hundred comments are below, and all the older comments are archived here. All should work technically now.


1,547 Comments

  • Rayos |

    ***Preparation for Epso Assessment Center***

    Hello,
    as I am in the situation of being invited to the assessment center for one of the 2010 AD concours, I have built up a network of people who are in the same situation, or who have already had their AC appointment. For the moment we are 6 people, living in different countries, and not all in the same concours. Some with previous work experience (CA, TA, AST) in the Institutions. All with a high motivation to make it in the AC.

    If anyone out there feels like joining in, for exchange of papers provided by our respective national contact points, literature advice, coaching experience (if any), and eventually our own AC experience, send a message to yeppa ( at ) web.de

  • PB |

    If you’re offered a position, what is the latest start date that you can select?

  • Amor |

    How can I read all the posts? It seems that the older posts are not available any more?

  • Antonio |

    hello to Everybody,

    My name has been placed in a Reserve List after a successful selection procedure for an AD 7 vacancy in a EU Agency.

    I would like to ask to who can have some information on the matter the following questions?

    In the case the Agency requires to recruit more people for the same job positions like the one I’ve have successful applied, they have first to choose a name forom the Reserve List or they are free to ignore it and announce a new selection procedure?

    Are they in any way legally obliged to select candidate from the list before initiating a new selection procedure for the same job?

    Thank you very much

  • ContractAgentRevealing |

    There is no global answer to that, as each agency has different implementing rules on recruitment.
    Especially statutory agencies are not necessarily bound to Commission rules.

  • AD |

    @ Antonio

    They have no obligation to hire you before doing anything else. Being on a reserve list does not afford you any rights to a job.

  • m7 |

    @Amy

    thanks Amy, I know now about the EPSO response, but when I first read General Court ruling about the case, I still didn’t know about the EPSO’s answer/decission.

    Thanks anyway.

  • passed |

    “It’s beyond me how one can get 15.263 / 20 when there were 40 questions”

    20/38*29 = 15.263! i.e. you got 29 answers right, and two questions were struck.

    Cheers!

  • nyhk |

    Actually a lot of head of units and directors prefere not to work with people from the reserve list because these people come with their rights.

    So instead they organise internal exams to recruit their own people (who just nick for everything) or they employ temporary agents who do the same thing.

    And to the EPSO, they explain that they have contacted the person but nobody wanted to have the post!!!…so they are “obliged” to have temporary agents or internal exams (internal corruption).

  • erik |

    @ derry
    I think “passed” did it as follows
    “passed” knew that the solution was that some of the 40 questions were strucked (1,2, 3 , 4 maximum)

    15,263 on 20 equals 30,526 on 40

    so we start knowing the following :

    x and y are round numbers
    y equals 1 or 2 or 3 or 4
    the number of correct questions is x
    the number struck question is y

    and

    Y (40 /(40-x) = 30,526

    ==> y= 30.526- 0.76315 x ==> X=2 and y=29

  • astonished laureate |

    The Ombudsman has launched a public consultation on “public service principles for EU civil servants”, more info at this link:
    http://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/resources/otherdocument.faces/en/10111/html.bookmark
    It is probably not the best tool to use, but I believe that, if all readers of this forum who are aware of “horror stories” related to EPSO and EU recruitment (RL management, internal competitions and so on) will contribute and share these stories, then the Ombudsman may not continue to ignore this issue as it has done until now (see the case of the Italian plaintiff).
    It won’t do any harm anyway!

  • Elated |

    New people, same old stories.

    Nyhk, internal exams aren’t really usual… they had a few the last 5 years to “regularize” temporary ADs from the EU12. (Apparently they “overshot” their EU12 recruitment target by 10% and were pretty self-congratulatory about that, never mind the peopel whose careers they put on hold in the mean time.)

    Only other example that comes to mind are cabinetards in need of a landing strip… there you get the occasional “internal” concours… oral only of course.

    Truth is we are now evolving from the “zero growth” to the “great shrink” phase. We had assistants and contractuals doing AD work, the occasional EU 15 AD still making it through at AD5 level only of course…. but soon, very soon even that will be a vague memory of the past. Meanwhile EPSO stages AD comps every year now.

  • curious1 |

    @elated:
    There is something I don’t understand – EPSO claims it produces numbers of laureates based on institutions’ requirements – so if the institutions hadn’t asked for so many and so many laureates, EPSO could run a competition producing, say, 100 rather than 300+ AD laureates?
    On the pages of EPSO it is claimed that about 70% of laureates eventually landed a job …
    What percentage of the current laureates do you expect to be ‘lucky’ this year?

  • Elated |

    All I can say is that
    1) If you break that 70% down by EU15/EU12 you wil get a 50%/95% break-down over the last 5 years. Influx of 4000 (actually 4500 given the quota overshoot) was a political deal and a one-off.
    2) if you break down by type of COMP you will see vast differences as well.. audit, econ, law… did reasonably well in descending order. Other comps such as EPA etc… have produced longstanding lists still teeming with laureates who are very unlikely ever to make of it of that list.

    To end my lamento.. post 2013 multifinancial framework will inevitably mean fewer and fewer ADs recruited… ever more contractuals… unit I am in is made up of teams… typically one AD is team leader with a few contractuals and ENDs and one AST as team members… I’ve seen the future and it looks austerious. Agencies will be asked to decimate their staff numbers, etc.

    Don’t forget a lot of officials will retire over the next decade. These people are grandfathered in on very cushy conditions (defined benefits based on life tables that would make a chain-smoking alcoholic coal miner’s prospects look bionic, all retiring at end-of-career grades, etc etc). This will have to come from the same overall budget, which spells bad news for newcomers…

    Then again, if you see 20-somethings take to the streets, they are striking in order to maintain these crazy boomer prerogatives as in France… strange generation, don’t seem to undertand there no next level in this pyramid scheme.

    My advice: vote with your feet.

  • Elated |

    And no, we can NOT absorb these people. Takes 6 months to get an AD in, if you speed things up (i.e. tell the medical test center to put you on top of the pile)… ENDs, stagiaires are churned out at regular intervals, ready for the picking, no issue about interviews, air tickets… in and out. This place can be run at the operational level with 1AD and 2 ASTs for every 10 temporary workers and that’s precisely the direction we are heading. Seen all the new post ECFIN got for handling the situation in Greece, Ireland, Hungary… any idea of the number of permament officials in this contingent of new staff?

    Don’t get your hopes up is all I am saying.

  • tard |

    so what changes are the 2013 staff regulations changes going to bring? What should people being pressing for?

  • Rayos |

    @elated

    Quote ‘Agencies will be asked to decimate their staff numbers’

    Could you please say whether you refer to statutory agencies, executive agencies or both?

    Some older statutory agencies are quite out of reach, handle things their own way. Executive agencies in theory can be shut down easily as they have a limited lifetime and there is the option to simply not extend their lifespan.
    Then again, these bodies proved to be working more efficiently, if the percentage of administrative cost including staff salary budget compared to the overall budget can be an indicator for that. So why would they shut down those entities that carry out work using less resources, and moreover employ to a large part ‘cheap’ CAs, TAs etc.?

    I would be very interested to hear your opinion on this matter.

  • Elated |

    Rayos, governance issue with some of the older, established “baronnies” I agree.

    As regards executive agencies… the devil is in the adjective “executive”. This concerns mostly technical tasks delegated away from the “mother ship”. Most of those tasks are operational (e.g. execute a programme by launching and managing projects). this is exactly the kind of variable cost that will go first… no more projects to excute, no more agency. All of those Cas TAs… may be a cost-effective deal… but you cannot disinvest elsewhere as all of these expensive ADs canot be culled, nor can their mind-numbing core administrative tasks. So in my opinion a high frequency of CAs etc. just singles your organisation out as an easy prey.

  • m7 |

    hi @elated

    You seem to know much about the EU ins and out, in fact you remind me of a former poster some months ago.

    In spite of your a little bit “acid” point of view, I must admit I think you are very close to reality, and your sincere letters are something to be grateful for.

    In any case, from your former post we can conclude that executive agencies are, in most of the cases, going to dissapear, aren’t they?

    Does the same apply to Community Agencies, some of which have proven to be a competitive model to follow, from the economic point of view?

    I do appreciate your comments very much, I hope you’ll keep on with us, even if your elation finally disappears …. :-)

  • Elated |

    General observation: for the 2014-2020 MFF, variable costs will have to be justified through a(n apparently) sound business case.
    1) Overall, variable costs will be compressed and accompanying “overheads” (that’s the poor CAST coordinating 4/5 projects) as well.
    2) Policy fields that are less easily quantified will suffer as well.

    My take: at the short run, consultants in the ex ante appraisal field will make a killing playing out various DGs in their desperation to round up economic arguments for their case. Eventually, energy, infrastructure will come out as relative (i.e. not losing in absolute terms corrected for galloping inflation) winners in the post 2013 era. If you are not in those fields, if you are into project-related work, then forget it.

  • Sorprès |

    Hi,
    I would like get comments on meaningfulness of complaining about EPSO’s practices. It seems to me that as I want to take part in new competitions, EPSO always finds new ways to screw things up – and I am feeling fed up with that. I feel like writing complaints to various people who might have some influence – e.g. EPSO Management Board Chairman, Commission Vicepresident Sefcovic, some MEPs etc. However, before I do that, I would want to ponder consequences for my later potential recruitment – should my complaints make problems for my potential recruitment, I’ll rather keep silent (….)
    Any thoughts on that?
    Thanks,

  • ContractAgentRevealing |

    @Sorprès

    The following is just my personal opinion and the advice I would give to a friend.

    If you have been treated unfairly compared to other candidates who have been treated better (objectively, not subjectively) then file a normal standard complaint following the instructions on page 13ff of this document http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:184A:0001:0014:EN:PDF
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with filing a complaint that fulfils the criteria laid out in this document.

    If you have general criticism on the selection procedure, think first about what you believe you can reach by complaining to people of influence. Your position will be the one of an unsuccessful candidate complaining about a procedure which selected other candidates instead of yourself. The procedure per se was not ‘screwed up’ as you write, unless it didn’t produce any successful candidates. The institutions want Epso to deliver reserve lists of successful candidates. If this has been done for the competition(s) you participated in, then there is relatively little ground for complaint, objectively speaking.

    Look at it this way: Can you know that the candidates who made it onto the RL were really less skilled than you for the job? Are you sure about it?

    Complaining about Epso’s selection procedure because it selected other candidates and not you doesn’t shed a good light on you. Once you are known as a troublemaker, having complained to all people listed in your message, do you think that there will be many Heads of Unit who will want to recruit you? I would not take the risk. They usually prefer to hire highly skilled and unpretentious, humble people. These people are more reliable and happy in their job, also more able to work in teams. They will think that as a highly skilled and socially intelligent candidate you will make it to the list of a competition, sooner or later, just by proving your skills during the selection process, without needing to complain.

    Some people might make the following judgement: If a candidate is not able to sustain the comparatively low pressure and comparatively simple and transparent specifics of Epso selection procedures, how can this candidate perform well within the Institutions lateron? Given the fact that there may be a heavy institutional burden, complex workflows and decision making processes, not always immediately leading to instant gratification of an individual staff member (read: frustration potential)…? Resilience is one of the soft skills required in new laureates for a reason.

    Again, this is just my opinion. Go and proceed as you wish.

  • Ugly Duckling |

    @ContractAgentRevealing
    Very interesting analysis and I feel sure that your analysis is correct.

    @Sorprès
    In my opinion you will not get any personal benefit by complaining. However there is a small (very very small) chance you might get some improvements made for other future candidates. You will get a response if you complain but be prepared for a blanket denial that anything is wrong with the system or that anyone in the EU Institions ever did anything wrong.
    In my opinion the real problem now is not so much with the Epso Process but with the way laureats are selected for a job offer where lobbying through friends and contacts is the accepted practice (see older posts earlier on this blog). I think it is demeaning for laureats to be obliged to make personal approaches to people working in the Institutions even to find out which job openings they can apply for. Quite astonishing really that in a Union of modern democracies this medieval system of patronage still has an important influence on who gets hired and who doesn’t.

  • Elated |

    Job offer?

    Which job offers?

    Only margin is for SNEs (unless you are into some TROIKA-related stuff, in which ECFIN can send you off as a CAST to Athens).

    ;-)

    Trust me… no margin, big countries refuse to pay unless it’s an SNE. The minute you put an SNE vacancy out there, UK/DE/IT/ES/FR colleagues are checking out whether the “post is already spoken for” and dispatch messages to “their” perm reps. This is how the “great game” will be played from now on.

    PS: my predictions on the impact of new CBT formula on the gender balance made years ago seem to have come true. You can calibrate averages, but you still can’t flatten out variances in percentile-based scheme. Larry Summers, I summon thee.

    moohahahaa

  • Shrek |

    I would say that the way the system works now, although not very fair, is good as the ones, that I think should land in a job, should be the most motivated ones or the best ones. So if you have a mediocre CV and you do not push for your candidature, I’m sorry but you should put the blame on you only. Passing a competition means that you are eligible, but if you have passed by mere chance and your CV is not interesting for the institutions, then too bad for you.

  • yawn |

    @sorpres – you are an applicant, and you want to ‘complain’? if complaints changed this system, you think you would be where we are today? there are countries east of warsaw that would be embarrassed by this recruitment system.

  • caro |

    @kiwi – are you still lurking here?
    I don’t know if you recall but I applied in the same concours for translators in which you were successful but I just missed the pass mark. Well I reapplied in the last concours and have now made it onto the list! Of course this doesn’t mean anything yet as I don’t know if/when I might be considered for a post, but I am seriously considering my options now. Any possibility of getting an update on your thougths now that you’ve been in your current position a while? For example relative merits of lux vs bru, working for the different institutions, experience with the European schools, help with finding a job for your partner…
    Would be grateful for any tips you or anyone else may have!
    Thanks

  • Kiwi |

    Hi Caro,

    Actually yes I am still here… wow, congratulations on getting on the list, that’s brilliant news! I would say you have a good chance of getting a job quite quickly as there is definitely a shortage of English translators.

    I’d probably prefer to answer your questions by email if possible – do you have an email address I could write to you at?

    Cheers,

    Kiwi

  • caro |

    Hi Kiwi,
    Great to see you’re still here!
    My email address is:
    uebersetzerincaro {at} googlemail(.)com
    Best wishes, caro

  • Another Hopeful |

    Hi Kiwi,
    I’ve also just made it to a reserve list, after maybe seven attempts.
    If the above thoughts of yours are not too personal, I’d appreciate your forwarding to me as well. If I ever make it into an institution, it would be good to know those practical issues in advance.
    Also, anyone of the resident experts care to share the recruitment contacts within the Council and Parliament? I’d be extremely grateful!
    My e-mail is epso AT globalsights DOT net.
    Many thanks in advance!

  • Andreea |

    Hello, everyone,
    My initial thoughts about a thriving European career and my satisfactory self-esteem, that I felt upon learning the news that I qualified on the reserve list for the latest AST1 have waned considerably when I started to read some comments as above. So, I’ve decided to ask for an advice: what now? I know I want this, but how can I get it, when it seems the hardest part is still in front me? Does sending CVs to various institutions (where to?) really works or I have to know somebody working there? Could anyone help me with some useful informatin, pretty please? Thanks!

  • m7 |

    Dear Andrea,
    “My initial thoughts about a thriving European career and my satisfactory self-esteem…” I completely agree with you in your appreciation.

    After being in a couple of reserve list for some 2-3 years in the IT field and being invited to more than 10 interviews, accepted 4 of them and being selected twice (one for a CA position and the other a functionary one), I have to tell you there is no magical or golden rule or steps to take. I think the most important is trying to understand the EU and the way the people in your board think.

    Do some research about the institutions of your interest (main goals, projects involved, whoiswho, linkedin…). Of course if you know someone in the institutions may help, mainly for the CA positions but not so much for the functionary posts.

    Be honest and trully during the interview (this is the real point) and do not try to sell yourself what you are not (prepare a list of your main skills, achievements…), and good luck!

    Al least, this is my own experience.

  • Another Hopeful |

    Caro,
    I won in the 2010 lawyer-linguist competition.

  • Another Hopeful |

    By the way, how am I going to learn when the reserve list containing my name has been published? And how will the flag status be visible to me – through a new dedicated link in my EPSO profile?

    Thanks.

  • astonished laureate |

    Hello,
    after more than two years in a RL it seems I am getting close to something related to a job offer since I already had the medical appointment…my question is: does anybody of you know how long should it take now? I got the confirmation of the medical aptitude two weeks after the examination, and I was wondering how long should it take before I get the formal offer (the only information from the medical service was that “the file has been sent to the administration”.
    Thank you in advance!

  • miriana |

    5 years in RELEX CAST 2007 database plus 1 unpaid internship in hope to increase recruitment chances. Will it ever happen an employment ? If I am not wrong they spend money to organize this fake selections.

  • Florence |

    To work in many institutions of the European Union you need connections. While EPSO system of recruitment might not be perfect, at least it has some unbiased and fair system. I can tell from experience that institutions which are not under the EPSO system have quite connections- orientated system.

    In such institutions it is very important who you have your coffee with such as EIB (European Investment Bank). Employees openly say that more than 50% of the internal and external competitions are pre-decided and fictitious. The question is that they are using financial, human and other resources to “make a competition” that is fictitious – just a requirement from HR as you need to open vacancy and do a competition. As a person in one of the such competition said – yes we called 10-12 people and they did numerical/verbal tests and case study, but we knew who we wanted so we did not checked these tests at all.

    They have also a lot of consultants, but very few consultants are hired through real agencies and after some unbiased selection. To become a consultant the scheme is usually the following: you need to be friend/relative to a head of unit, who in good terms with the Budget officer in his Directorate. Then you register firm on your name (sometimes by advice of the HR responsible for the consultants and temporary staff) or find an agency that work with the Bank and voilà – the Bank hire your firm or agency for 6 months, years etc. No competitions, no selection, nobody accounts for where you are coming from – that is why many relatives to budget officers, head of units or HR ex-trainees with no previous experience (some having relatives and friends in the Bank before becoming a trainees) work as consultants. The procurement procedures is not followed, but who is to check that – since there is no open contract position, no preselected candidates or firms to do a consultancy work, who knows that such thing has even happened. They usually are not in the same unit as their relatives so nobody raise a question – but it is a little bit like – I will hire your daughter, you will hire mine – very common by the way: the kids of current and former employers to get consultant or permanent position. The consultants’ contracts start with the idea – I have somebody, let’s find him a place, not with we have a need let’s find the right person.

    Just another example of this is an institution that will save us from the debt crisis – European Financial Stability Fund. It manages billions of our money. Their Secretary General, Kalin Anev, comes from EIB. This is his CV. http://www.efsf.europa.eu/attachments/cv_kalin_anev_en.pdf . The problem is that his so called CV is not in CV form, but free writing. Why? Well, he graduated in 2005 from his bachelor degree and may be around 2007 from his Masters. The work in investment bank in London is in fact internship and overall he must have no more than 3-4 years working experience (1-2 in EIB) before becoming Secretary General. He might be very smart, educated etc., there is no question about that. The question is whether it is normal to have such a fast track career growth. In Consultant companies, Big Four and IB you need 3 years as analyst and then 3 more for associate to be considered for VP. The EU managerial open positions require the candidates to have minimum 10-15 years of experience with at least 5-7 years as manager to apply to such managerial job (I mean for external candidates). Why they do not follow the same rigorous process internally and whether the rigorous external requirements are for everybody or for the people not knowing anybody inside?

    It will be good to hear from people from other institutions who know how the temporary workers and consultants in other institutions are really hired. And are these EPSO reserve lists really used or they are worthless and the heads of units are finding some way to go around them.

  • Andrea |

    @Florence
    Your testimony was really great and I’d be happy to know if you still know more. Somehow I got really passionate about the subject or European job recruiting.
    I can say that my dad many years ago worked as a consultant at the European commission. He was hired because he worked as a “permanent” consultant for a major computer company. So they turned to this company for a computer specialist and he was hired for his additional knowledge of some needed languages. I was just graduating from University and asked him if he could find me a job there but since he didn’t like very much the environment (too bureaucratic in his taste) he told me this place was not for me and didn’t put any energy into trying to get me a job there!

So, what do you think ?