How we hire

Step 1: The application form

Once you have created a candidate profile and applied for a position at the ECB you will need to ensure that you can be reached via the telephone numbers and e-mail address provided in your application.

Step 2: Pre-screening & shortlisting stage

For some of our recruitment procedures you will be asked to complete a series of online assessment exercises which will test both your cognitive abilities and skills. The purpose of these exercises is to determine to what degree you possess some of the competencies considered essential for the job you have applied for.

The preselection assessment may include:

Online assessment

The online assessment is a series of online capability tests. The exercises are in English and may differ in length. You can choose when to do each exercise and you may spread them out over several days, as long as they are all completed before the deadline.

You can try a practice test consisting of questions covering the areas of Numerical Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning and Abstract Reasoning.

Pre-recorded video assessment

The video interview will focus on ECB-related competencies and knowledge that are expected of the successful candidates. It provides you with the opportunity to bring your application alive and we get to know you better as a person.

During your interview you will be presented a series of questions, which you answer in their given order. You are presented with the question, given a predefined preparation time and a maximum answer time during which answer is recorded.

Remote written exercise

The written exercise will assess the competencies and skills that are expected of the successful candidates and will typically focus on the technical competencies described in the vacancy. You will be pre-advised and the questions are sent to you via email. You have to respond within the given time.

Your application form and any results from the online assessment exercises will form the basis for the decision regarding the shortlist for the interview.

If you are successful at this stage you will receive an invitation for an interview which will take place at the ECB in Frankfurt am Main, Germany or by phone/video conference. You are expected to respond within 48 hours to our invitation and to make yourself available within five working days.

Step 3: Interview stage

Standard assessment tools

We use a range of assessment tools to help us find the candidate whose profile most closely matches the requirements of the position. These tools cover a number of the key technical and behavioural competencies identified in the vacancy notice.

If you are invited for an interview, we will inform you about what to expect during the recruitment process. A number of the following assessment tools will be used:

  • written exercises (mostly run on standard, office-based software packages);
  • a presentation by the candidate (prepared either prior to or on the interview day);
  • a panel interview (we will ask you about your knowledge, experience and opinions, as well as about how you have dealt with situations in the past and how you would handle specific scenarios).

Our interview method in more detail

A competency-based interview is one of the recruitment assessment tools used by the ECB. It may take place via telephone, by video conference or in person.

During the interview, we aim to learn more about your skills, experience and behavioural competencies that are directly related to your likely success in the job.

Competency-based interviews provide us with specific examples of past performance which are regarded as a better predictor of future performance than theoretical questions. Examples of such competency-based questions are:

  • When was the last time you used your problem-solving skills to resolve an issue?
  • Tell us about an occasion when you were faced with a number of demands simultaneously without enough time to deal with them all.

Preparing for the interview

One of the best ways you can prepare for your interview is to analyse your performance in your current and past roles in the light of the competencies outlined in the job description. Take some time to think of examples from your previous work that are relevant and that provide evidence of your strengths and abilities.

You will find it easier to answer the interview questions and illustrate your strengths and experience if you have reflected on how you have performed in the past.

You may find it useful to ask yourself:

  • what were the challenges involved in a particular experience?
  • how did I address those challenges?
  • what was the result of my actions and decisions?
  • if I were faced with the same challenge again, what would I do differently?

Familiarise yourself with the ECB and its main tasks and objectives, and think about how you could contribute to the work of the ECB and what you could bring to the specific job you are applying for. Find out as much as you can about the business area you are applying to work in. Information is available on the ECB’s website.

Towards the end of the interview you will be given the opportunity to ask questions. We encourage you to refrain from asking for information that is readily available elsewhere e.g. online.

Interview expenses

If you travel to Frankfurt for an interview, we will reimburse you for your expenses according to our interview travel expenses guidelines.

Interview travel expenses guidelines

Step 4: Outcome

If you are successful, the recruiting manager will call to inform you of our intention to offer you the position and to provide feedback on how we assessed your performance throughout the interview process.

If you are unsuccessful, you will be informed by the recruiting manager, who will also be in a position to provide you with feedback upon request.

The selection committee may place suitable candidates on a reserve list, from which candidates may be appointed to similar positions within 12 months of the selection decision.

You may also ask to receive the feedback in writing by sending an e-mail to our Recruitment Team. Please provide your name and the vacancy number, and send your request from the e-mail address given in your application form.

Complaints about the outcome

In the event that you wish to formally challenge the decision of the selection committee, you should follow the procedures indicated in Articles 41 and 42 of the Conditions of Employment for Staff of the European Central Bank or Articles 32 and 33 of the Conditions of Short-Term Employment.

This involves requesting an administrative review of the decision within two months from the date on which it was communicated to you. The request should be sent to the Director General HR, Budget and Organisation. You have the possibility to make a complaint to the European Ombudsman, but this will not affect the above-mentioned deadline.

Conditions of employment
Conditions of short term employment

Only for managerial campaigns

For all managerial appointments, you will be assessed by means of the standard assessment tools. In addition, an external provider will assess your managerial and leadership skills in relation to the level of the position you have applied for.

The assessment is designed to provide an insight into candidates’ strengths and development needs.

The management assessment includes:

Stage 1: online assessments

Approximately one week before the competency-based interview is due to take place, you will receive links to the following three online assessment exercises via e-mail. The exercises take approximately one hour and 40 minutes to complete:

  • the occupational personality questionnaire (OPQ), which is a work-related self-assessment exercise that focuses on how you prefer to work and what kinds of job are most likely to make you feel more satisfied;
  • the motivational questionnaire (MQ), which is a self-assessment tool that focuses on what drives you to invest more in your job and what stops you from putting more time or effort into your job;
  • the executive scenarios test, which is designed to test your ability to take managerial decisions, as there is a proven link between managerial judgement and managerial effectiveness.

Please ensure that you can perform these assessments in a quiet environment where there will be no interruptions. It is recommended to use a desktop PC with a mouse.

Stage 2: interview as part of the management assessment

During the two-hour competency-based interview, two consultants will ask you to provide specific, behaviour-based examples. This will allow them to assess you in terms of six clusters of competencies:

  • managing teams;
  • coaching/developing;
  • guiding people;
  • adaptability/relationship-building/influencing;
  • innovation/strategic thinking;
  • communication.

The consultants will look not only at the positive aspects of the situations you describe, but also at aspects where they see scope for development.

Preparing for the management assessment

Owing to the nature of the online assessment tools used, candidates cannot really prepare for this kind of assessment. It is neither a technical assessment nor a university-style exam; it is rather about work experience, motivation and personality.

The competency-based interview aims to measure various behavioural indicators around the six clusters of competencies. You should reflect on how your own experiences relate to these competencies. Put together some ideas regarding situations in which you made a difference, how you achieved this and what the outcome was.

Stage 3: management assessment outcome

The external provider will use the results of the online assessments and the competency-based interview to provide the ECB selection committee with an assessment of your managerial potential in the form of a report. The individual assessment reports are competency-based and tailor-made to the ECB’s competency model.

The selection committee will use these reports as additional information when making its decision.

The outcome of the management and leadership assessment remains valid for consideration for other positions if the period between the date of the external provider’s assessment and the closure date for applications is less than 12 months.

Stage 4: after the management assessment

At the end of the selection process, the recruiting manager will call to inform you of our intention to offer you the position and to offer you oral feedback on its outcome.

You may also request written feedback on the other parts of the assessment and a copy of the report from the external provider. The report provides you with an opportunity to learn from the process, for example you might consider which points you may have overlooked, which aspects you can relate to and which areas you would like to work on.

We also offer a 30-minute telephone conversation with one of the consultants from the external provider in order to discuss the report in more detail.