Certification: what’s being tested?

*Update 16.09.2022 Certification exercise 2022/23 dates are available: deadline for submission of the motivational text is Friday 7 October 2022*

All going well, the 2022/23 certification exercise call for applications should be published in the administrative notices (also here) in mid September with a deadline of early October, start drafting your pitch! We have been contacted in the meantime by colleagues who are interested in participating but who are disappointed by the lack of detailed information about the exams and the skills tested.

Sadly, the MyIntraComm European School of Administration My EuSAnet Certification page has little more than an outline to offer on this topic.

‘The examinations test the skills that candidates have learned during the training programme and that are considered indispensable for a post at [administrator] AD level. Candidates must pass three examinations in order to be successful in the Certification exercise:

E1 – Assessment by observation testing candidates’ ability of:

  • negotiating
  • reasoning and creative thinking
  • interpersonal skills.

E2 – written examination testing candidates’ ability of:

  • analysing and problem solving
  • strategic thinking/seeing the bigger picture
  • getting the message across.

E3 – oral examination testing candidates’ ability of:

  • finding, understanding and processing information
  • presenting a case logically
  • getting the message across.’

But do not worry, we are here to help you!

We have identified a very useful document that contains exactly the information that you are looking for, namely Annex 8. Examination programme and skills to be tested to the Call for tenders EPSO/2022/OP/0001 ‘Consultancy services in examination and testing techniques in the framework of the Certification procedure under Article 45a 1(c) of the Staff Regulation of Officials of the European Union’.

This document clearly explains the skills, abilities and behaviour that the candidates must demonstrate to excel in the oral and written exams and we reproduce it here:

‘Examination programme and skills to be tested

The exams assess the skills covered by the training programme. There is thus a clear link between the training programme and the exams.

In order to be certified, candidates must pass four exams. Assessment of the candidates’ level of performance during the exams is conducted by an interinstitutional Examining Board.

Overview of the exams

E1: This exam is designed to test candidates’ interpersonal skills, their reasoning ability and ability to put forward creative ideas, and their negotiating ability and powers of persuasion.

At the start of the exam, each candidate is given some background documents and a specific role (for example a specific project or point of view to defend in a group discussion). After a period of individual preparation, a group discussion takes place which must result in a decision as to which project should be recommended. The Examining Board assesses candidates’ skills by observing their behaviours during this discussion.

The exam takes place online or at a testing centre.

For this exam, candidates are seated around a table in the middle of the exam room, or alternatively, are connected on an online exam room (Zoom, Webex, etc.)

The group discussion is observed by the members of the Examining Board, who sit at tables around the outside of the room. Or in case the exam is online, who are present in the online room without being visible (camera switched off with the “hide non-video participants” option on).

Skills tested in this exam

  1. Negotiating ability

Candidates must:

  • strongly promote their project, objective or point of view;
  • play an active role in the discussion, put forward relevant arguments depending on how the discussion unfolds, and develop strategies to tackle other candidates’ arguments;
  • make a constructive contribution to help the group to make a decision.
  1. Reasoning ability and ability to put forward creative ideas

Candidates must:

  • analyse the information in their file, identifying the main strengths of their project or point of view;
  • understand the arguments of others and be able to develop new ideas in a coherent manner;
  • present original but realistic arguments in the course of the discussion.
  1. Interpersonal skills

Candidates must:

  • be assertive without being aggressive;
  • contribute to a structured and efficient discussion;
  • comprehend non-verbal behaviour and demonstrate appropriate non-verbal behaviour.

E2: This exam is designed to assess candidates’ analytical and problem-solving abilities, their strategic reasoning skills (contextualisation), and their effectiveness in written communication.

Candidates receive a file containing information they must use to draft a briefing note of three to four pages proposing one of the three possible options presented in the note, taking account of the advantages and drawbacks of each option, the different risk factors, and the existing conflicts between priorities.

Candidates must type their text on a computer.

The exam takes place online or at a testing centre.

Skills tested in this exam

  1. Analysis and problem-solving

Candidates must:

  • show that they have understood the main elements of each possible option;
  • evaluate the key data to reach an objectively justified decision;
  • adequately justify the final option proposed.
  1. Strategic reasoning/contextualisation

Candidates must:

  • show that they have understood the broader implications of the solutions proposed;
  • distinguish between important and secondary or irrelevant aspects;
  • assess the main risks related to the option proposed, taking account of the possible reactions of the various parties involved.
  1. Conveying a message

Candidates must:

  • draft a clear and well-structured text;
  • present their arguments in a logical and comprehensible manner;
  • convincingly present the final proposal.

E3: This exam is designed to assess candidates’ ability to find, understand and process information, to present arguments in a logical and coherent manner, and to communicate convincingly.

Candidates must give a presentation to the members of the Examining Board on a general topic sent to them 10 working days before the exam date. The maximum duration of the presentation will be 12 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer session lasting 10 minutes.

Candidates may choose to use a PowerPoint presentation and/or a flip-chart.

The exam takes place online or at a testing centre.

Skills tested in this exam

  1. Finding, understanding and processing information

Candidates must:

  • show that they have understood the topic;
  • give a presentation that contains key information relevant to the topic;
  • distinguish important facts from secondary ones.
  1. Presenting arguments in a logical manner

Candidates must:

  • set out and follow a clear structure, and develop points in a logical and comprehensible manner;
  • keep to the subject and not get side-tracked or bogged down in too many details;
  • handle questions succinctly and introduce new arguments in an appropriate way during the question-and-answer session.
  1. Conveying a message

Candidates must:

  • express themselves clearly and show clear interest in the topic;
  • demonstrate a receptive and engaged attitude to the audience;
  • use any support material effectively.’

Check out all of our articles on Certification to understand the process and the pitfalls.

As always, we would love to hear from you. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us or leave a comment below.

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