The e-tray exercise simulates the everyday workplace situation of an EU official working in an office with email programme. You have a number of messages that are in the inbox, and you have to go through them in order to answer a series of questions. This test is taken on the computer and is used both for AD and for AST selection procedures.

In a first message the rough frame of the scenario is described. A colleague has become ill or is out of office for a longer period, and the candidate replaces him/her and is in charge for an urgent task. The e-tray exercise normally takes 50 minutes and is performed in English, German or French. The candidate must read (up to 20) messages and respond to (15 to 20) questions. The questions relate to the diverse background information from the various messages. More than one message may be relevant to answer a question.

By the e-tray exercise of EPSO candidates' procedural knowledge on four of eight general competencies of the EPSO competency framework is assessed: Analysis & Problem Solving, Quality and Result Orientation, Prioritising & Organising and Working with Others.

Each question is followed by three answers. You need to rank the 3 options available for each question on the scale indicated in the question:

totally disagree (-), disagree (-), neutral (+/-), agree (+), totally agree (++)

Each symbol can only be selected once per question. Answers will only be recorded if you have ranked all 3 options.

For each general competency maximum 10 points can be achieved, accordingly a maximum of total 40 points. At least once each general competency is measured separately from the others, that means that all of the three answers of one question complex refer to a certain general competence. But, it is also possible that two different competencies can be measured with one question, for example, two answers refer to the general competence working ith others and by one answer quality and results orientation is measured.

The individual points of one question arise from the agreement with or deviation from the ideal EPSO response. On one hand you must correctly and "objectively" rank each answer option on the 5-point scale. In addition, the order of preference for the three alternatives in relation to each other plays a role, for example, you agree more to C rather than to A and at least to B => Ranking C-A-B. Closer you get to the offical EPSO ranking, more points you get. The result of a task thus consists of the combination of evaluation of each answer option (objective / normative reference) and the correct ranking of all answers (relative reference).

The key challenge of the e-tray exercise is the evaluation process of the answer options. Should you totally disagree to answer, then give a "- -" or just disagree with "-". Should you rank an ansers as neutral or agree to it? You must be able to extract useful information from the news and also know the nuances of competence.

Tips for answering the tasks

  • Clarify which answer is the easiest to evaluate for you! For the remaining two answers only four ranks remain.
  • Clarify roughly, to which answer you agree or do not agree. Also for the correct sequence of all the answers you get points. Then take the time for the fine-tuning.
  • Determine the reasons why you choose which rank. Relevant information can be found in the news.
  • If you are not sure, think about to which possible answer you would more or less agree to.