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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 stage

After an initial review of your application, we may ask you to complete one or more assessment exercises. This helps us to better identify the most suitable candidates to be invited to the next stages of the process. Some examples of the types of assessment we use are:

Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are administered online and assess cognitive abilities and behavioural style. The tests are in English. You can choose when to do each exercise and you may spread them out over several days, as long as they are all completed by the deadline.

You can try a practice test assessing numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and abstract reasoning.

Pre-recorded video interviews

The video interview gives you the opportunity to bring your application alive and helps us to get to know you better as a person.

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

Remote written exercise

We will inform you in advance of the start time and length of the exercise. We will send you the questions via email at the stated time and you must respond within the set time, typically one hour.

For leadership roles, our external assessment of leadership competencies may be taken into account at the pre-screening stage.

The various assessment exercises are designed to help us assess one or more aspects relevant for the position that you are applying for.

Your application form and the results of the assessment exercises will form the basis of our decision on whether to invite you to interview.

Interviews will take place at the ECB in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, or by phone/video conference. We will give you a minimum of five days’ notice and we request that you respond to our invitations within 48 hours.

Step 3: Interview stage

Standard assessment tools

If you are invited for an interview, we will let you know what to expect during the recruitment process. We may use a number of the following assessment methods:

  • written exercises (mostly run on standard, office-based software packages)
  • a presentation by the candidate (prepared either prior to or on the interview day)
  • an interview with the selection committee (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)
  • additional interviews (e.g. technical, peer-to-peer interviews, interviews with senior/local managers)

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

For leadership roles only

Your leadership competencies will be assessed by an external provider, and the assessment will take place either virtually or face-to-face at their offices in Frankfurt and, if applicable, during the panel interview at the ECB. The assessment is designed to provide an insight into your strengths and development needs. It consists of three main components:

  1. an online personality assessment – two questionnaires;
  2. a holistic interview;
  3. a business thinking exercise;

Online assessment: personality assessment

You will be invited to participate in the assessment process and receive an invitation to complete online psychometrics, which will take roughly one hour to do. The purpose of the online psychometrics is to provide insight into underlying personality factors. You will also complete two online personality measurements in advance of the assessment session, in your own time.

Virtual/face-to-face assessment: holistic interview, business thinking exercise, feedback and debrief

You will then be invited to take part in a virtual or face-to-face four-hour assessment with an external provider, which will be organised as follows.

  1. Introduction: An overview of the session and the opportunity to meet and ask questions to the assessors.
  2. Holistic interview: One-to-one biographical interview to understand your experience, motivation, work approach and aspects of your leadership style and capability.
  3. Business thinking exercise: A thinking exercise to understand the way you think about work and a number of key leadership areas that are relevant to the role applied for.
  4. Wrap-up: A feedback discussion based on the online psychometrics completed.

Preparing for the leadership assessment

The online psychometrics do not require any preparation. They are neither a technical assessment nor a university-style exam; they are simply a way to gain additional insight into the personality factors that are likely to help you to be successful as a leader. You just need to express your preferences from a series of options.

No specific preparation is required for the face-to-face/virtual assessment session. If you are scheduled for a face-to-face assessment, we ask that you arrive at the location on time for the session, as there are a number of activities that you will be completing.

Leadership assessment outcome

The assessors will use all of the elements described above to provide the ECB selection committee with an assessment of your leadership skills in the form of a report. The report forms part of the selection committee’s deliberations.

We encourage you to participate in a feedback call with the assessor and kindly ask you to inform us accordingly. You will receive a copy of your report prior to the call. The report provides you with individualised insights based on the assessment process and will give you an opportunity to learn from the process: for example strengths you want to build on or areas in which you could further develop. As part of the feedback call you will go through your individual report with the assessor, to explore key insights and themes that emerged from the assessment process. This will also be an opportunity to ask any questions you have on your report.

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 after interview, you will be informed either via email or via a phone call from 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. Management and Adviser roles are considered as similar positions when making appointments based on reserve lists.

You may also ask to receive the feedback in writing by sending an email to our Recruitment Team within two months of being notified of the outcome. Please provide your name and the vacancy number, and send your request from the email 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 Human Resources via email . You have the possibility to make a complaint to the European Ombudsman, but this will not affect the aforementioned deadline.

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