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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 & 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

For leadership roles only

Your leadership competencies will be assessed both during your interview day at the ECB as well as in an assessment with an external provider at their offices in Frankfurt. The offsite assessment is designed to provide an insight into your strengths and development needs. It is comprised of six components:

  1. an online personality assessment
  2. a self-reflection questionnaire
  3. a competency-based interview
  4. a role play
  5. a business case study
  6. a feedback loop
Online assessment: personality assessment and self-reflection questionnaire

Approximately one week before the competency-based interview is due to take place, you will receive, via email, a link to an online questionnaire called Personality and Preference Inventory. The questionnaire takes approximately 40 minutes to complete.

You will also receive a self-reflection questionnaire focusing on your professional experiences so far and your goals for the future.

Please ensure that you complete the questionnaires in a quiet environment where there will be no interruptions.

On-site assessment: competency-based interview, role play, business case study and feedback loop

During the competency-based interview, two consultants will take you through a set of questions and ask you to provide specific behaviour-based examples.

The competency-based interview aims to measure behavioural indicators linked to various leadership competencies: leading teams, developing others, communicating and collaborating, focusing on results, leveraging diversity, managing change and thinking strategically.

In the role play, you will face a simulated challenging situation where you have to showcase your leadership skills in tackling a people management issue.

During the business case study, you will be given a series of documents such as company reports, a consultant’s report, results from research on a new product, etc. You will then be asked to make business decisions based on that information. The exercise focuses on your leadership skills and as such, prior knowledge of the case study company or its activity is not necessary.

Throughout the different elements the assessors will look at your leadership strengths and where they see scope for development. In the feedback loop, they will guide you through the results of your Personality and Preference Inventory and discuss your self-reflection and identified preferences at work. They will share their key observations with you. The feedback loop is completed with a self-reflection on how the different exercises went.

Preparing for the leadership assessment

The online Personality and Preference Inventory does not require any preparation. It is neither a technical assessment nor a university-style exam; it is rather about work experience, motivation and personality. You just need to express your preferences from a series of options.

For the competency-based interview, role play and business case study, you should reflect on your own experiences, recall situations in which you have made a difference, how you achieved it and what was the outcome.

Leadership assessment outcome

The assessors will use all the above elements 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.

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

Upon your request, you can receive a copy of the report from the external provider after the process is concluded. The report provides you with an opportunity to learn from the process: for example, you might consider which points you may have overlooked, which strengths you want to build on or which competencies need some attention.

We also offer a 30-minute telephone conversation with one of the assessors if you wish to discuss the report in more detail.

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. 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 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 Human Resources. You have the possibility to make a complaint to the European Ombudsman, but this will not affect the above-mentioned deadline.