From the interviewer's point of view

Interviewers have a number of set questions which they ask every candidate. These questions are based around the requirement of the job. By asking the same questions, they can draw a direct comparison between each candidate.

The interviewer will ask questions, which are open, for example how, when, what, why etc. giving the candidate the opportunity to answer fully, rather than responding with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. They will avoid interrupting your answers or leading them in any direction. Very often they summarise the responses back to the candidate, before making notes, to ensure that they have fully understood.

Normally the interviewer shouldn't be tempted to talk too much to fill any potentially uncomfortable moments of silence. The silence can from the interviewers point of view be a very effective way of encouraging the candidate to offer up more information.

This whole pattern can seem artificial at first, but it actually gives you the chance to show what you've got. So you must prepare.

Stand out from the crowd

Prove that you are the right kind of person for the job. Employers like motivated people - so show your initiative. Qualifications are important, but employers also look for additional qualities.

Employers are looking for people who:

  • are motivated and keen
  • can work in a team
  • can learn new skills
  • are well presented
  • are confident
  • will put in time and effort
  • have a good work history
  • have relevant experience

Interviewers know though experience and research that what appears to be a more informal chat than a 'grilling' tends to put a candidate at ease to get a more honest response. This gives valuable insight into the candidate's personality traits, rather than simply an understanding of their skills and experience.


So remember that the recruiter will be noticing your body language:

  • The initial shaking of the hand and introduction tell so much about you
  • As does your ongoing seating position, use of hands and use of eye contact

Short phone interviews

Contacting organisations and companies is inevitable when searching for job. Whether you apply unsolicited, or you ask questions about an interesting job or you call the HR department after having sent application and CV, it is important to keep detailed track on the status of all your contacts. Most probably you are applying for several jobs at the same time like everybody else.

  • Keep a job search diary to keep records of those companies, which you have contacted

Don't underestimate unsolicited phone calls

Inspirational phrases you could use for unsolicited calls:

  • Hello, my name is Charles Dupont. Could you please tell me who hires your company's staff and put me through to them?
  • Hello Cecile, my name is Charles Dupont.
  • I've had a few years experience in political organisations, and I'd like to meet with you and talk about possible job opportunities with your company.
  • Would you mind if I come in and talk with you anyway, in case you have an unexpected vacancy?
  • Are you aware of any other departments who may need staff at the moment?
  • Do you have a contact name there? Would you mind if I said you suggested calling them?
  • Are you aware of your company changing structure or planning to establish new departments?
  • Have you heard that your competitor, so and so, are creating an office in Brussels to be more present before the political decisions?
  • I'd like to check back with you in a week or two just to see if anything has come up.
  • In the meantime, I'll pop my CV in the mail to you.
  • Thank you very much for your time, Cecile.

The recruitment process into the EU Institutions

Whenever there are new permanent positions to be filled in the EU Institutions, a recruitment competition (also widely known by its French name "concours") is held. There are usually 3 stages to each competition:

  • Pre-selection tests
  • Written tests
  • Interviews

Examination centres are frequently set up in each member state - sometimes more than one centre in larger countries - but the interviews are generally held in Brussels or Luxembourg.

More about performing at interviews:

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