EC Traineeship – Pre-selection & Eligibility – NEWS!

Pre-sel news


Time to be active and feed more info about the latest changes related to your applications: the pre-selection and eligibility. The Traineeship Office has been full of surprises this year.


A few days ago, those of you who applied for the March 2014 session received an automatic e-mail containing some instructions. It asked you to prepare for the upcoming end of the pre-selection.



There will be a follow-up e-mail to inform you if you passed or not, but in anticipation of this follow-up e-mail,


“Should you consider that your application is solid enough to be pre-selected for the Virtual Blue Book, I would strongly advise you to start preparing copies.”


A bit too subjective… Regardless, you have to be prepared and you have to start collecting all the documents you declared in your application because you’ll have only a week or so to mail them to the Traineeship Office. The deadline is very tight, so start collecting the facts and put them in a nice A4 envelope (just as before).


As you may have noticed, the process is now reversed. In the past, you used to send a paper file, which would be checked if eligible and only then would go through the pre-selection phase. Now, you go first through pre-selection and only if you pass it, you’ll have to send your paper file. So, the eligibility is done after the pre-selection. It’s a bit tricky, because this means that there is still a chance for you to fail if you don’t send the right documents. So be extra careful!


I’ll recap below the docs you need to mail as recommended by the TO:


  • Printed copy of the application form, dated and signed (hope you saved a copy in your computer when you applied);
  • Copy of passport or identity card (NO copies of driver’s licence accepted!);
  • Copies of all university diplomas you have declared to hold in your application, together with the corresponding university transcripts  or Europass Diploma Supplement;
  • Proof of registration to ongoing studies, if applicable;
  • Official proof for each short-length study period and seminar, university exchange programme abroad, if applicable (i.e.: attendance certificates);
  • Proof of declared language/s knowledge, which could be presented in the form of language certificates or diplomas obtained in the referred language or official courses followed in that/those language/s;
  • Proof of all declared working experience.


It goes without saying that I’m rooting for all of you. 😉


Pre-selection follow-up


The previous post was not all. There is a follow-up to pre-selection. It is related to interviewing, lobbying, etc…


When the Blue Book comes out, the services of the Commission have access to it. They can see all the profiles and CVs and depending on what they need, they can decide to contact you for an interview.


It doesn’t have to be the same DG you applied for. If you are wanted, you are wanted. If you are lucky enough, you may be contacted by a couple of DGs.


In general, it’s an interview just like any other job interview. Make sure you sharpen your language skills, make sure you show lots of drive, interest, market yourself the best way you can and don’t forget to ask questions about the job, what will be the tasks, what will be the challenges, how is the team, the working hours, the dress code or anything else you deem important.


You could even have a list of questions prepared (just in case). Most importantly, at the end of the interview, if you feel that all went well, reassure them of your availability and interest in taking the job.


Also, ask for some contacts (names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers). They might not give them to you, but you can still ask to try to stay in contact.


What I learned from my advisor after I came to Brussels was that he had actually made a list of potential candidates who were fit for the job. He interviewed them, but I was his first choice. Had I refused the job, he would have given it to the second choice.


In case you are contacted by more DGs and you interview with all of them, you can tell to all that you want to take the job. But then you will have to weigh which is the one that really tickles your appetite and give them a firm answer. Don’t forget to inform the others you are no longer interested. You can always try to negotiate, just like any other job. I met trainees who told me they were contacted by different DGs. Yet, I remind you not to take any kind of promise for granted (see my posts on the Blue Book trainees and The Breakthrough) . You can only be sure of the traineeship when you receive the offer by e-mail.


When it comes for lobbying, remember that in the pre-selection e-mail you have a list of e-mails addresses from different DGs. You can contact them if you want to lobby, meaning nuke them with updated CVs and motivation letters. It’s simply up to you. I didn’t do it (maybe because I was a bit ignorant at the time) and still got the traineeship, but I know other trainees did it. You learn a lot of things and hear funny stories after you come to Brussels and meet the rest of the crowd.


One more thing, if you changed your phone number, e-mail the Traineeship Office your new number. You cannot update it by yourself in the older application form, but they will do it for you.


I know the period after pre-selection can be quite stressful, but just hang in there and have faith in you.


EC traineeship – Pre-selection


Pre-selection is the first tough round after eligibility.


At the time I am writing this post, the Traineeship Office published on their website the pre-selection results for the session starting in October 2011.


You will only see the application numbers published (the names of the people are not disclosed) and there should be around 2,500.


If you remember from my previous post about the Blue Book trainees, these 2,500 who pass pre-selection make it to the Blue Book data base, but that doesn’t mean that they will all become trainees. Only roughly 600 will make it to the end.


Coming back to pre-selection, I’ll try to explain how it works the way I made sense of it.


»During pre-selection all the application files are evaluated and graded by Commission officials.


» At first, the application files are divided by nationality. Then, juries made of officials of that respective nationality will examine the files. For example, an Italian jury will assess Italian application files, a Spanish jury the Spanish application files and so on. The members of these juries need to be of that specific nationality supposedly because they need to be familiar with the language of the country, the educational system there and other.


» Each file is assessed and graded by two officials. They will grade you for your academic background, your motivation, and other things like languages, exchanges abroad, etc. From what I have noticed and read, the marks (or weights) per each section tend to change from one session to the next. You can always check what the weights are for your session by going on the
Traineeship Office website.


» At the end of the assessment, each application file will have received 2 marks, which are further added into a final mark. Then for each nationality the files are ranked based on that final mark obtained. A quota is applied (the quota is based on a math formula published on the website) and the applicants with the highest marks are pre-selected until the quota is reached. If, for example, the number of application files with the lowest pre-selected mark is high, all of them will be pre-selected regardless.


» After the quota is applied per each nationality and the results are final, they are published on the website from the Traineeship Office. You will obviously receive an e-mail to inform you if you passed or not. In the case you did not pass, it won’t be a harm to contact the Traineeship Office and ask details about your results, etc. I recommend you do that in writing, better have things black on white. (Words uttered turn into thin air.)


In my opinion, pre-selection is particularly important because this when you need to demonstrate you stand out of the crowd, in the sense that you need to convince the jury your application is better than all others. How do you do that? By making a flawless application, an excellent motivation and first impression. In other words, let’s say that out of 300 other applicants from your own country, you must simply outshine. And this is only the first step. After pre-selection, you have to shine through selection too (if you want to be eventually recruited).


I don’t mean to scare anyone with this long talk. I am just trying to make a point that if you want to succeed, you must take this seriously.


Of course, if I forgot to mention something along the way about pre-selection (I tend to get carried away at times) and you have doubts about it or want to learn more, feel free to post a comment and I’ll try to reply the best I can.