The recruitment process is never an easy one and can be quite stressful at times, so it helps to be informed. In this section, you will find information and advice on the different steps in the selection process. If you can't find the information you need, then you can contact us directly.

Before Applying

Read the vacancy notice carefully before applying – most of the essential information about the criteria required, and the role (responsibilities, location, grade, etc) can be found in there. Note that candidates who do not meet essential criteria will not be shortlisted. 

Online application form

All applications must be made on-line through our online application system, apart from in exceptional and justified circumstances (if this is the case, please contact us before the deadline). We do not accept applications sent by post, fax or e-mail.

Check our FAQ section for more specific guidance on the application form.


Ability tests

As part of the selection procedure, you may be asked to complete one or more online ability tests. Ability tests are timed tests designed to measure a particular skill. At the Council we typically use tests of verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and/or logical reasoning.

Written Exams

Written exams are typically aimed at assessing candidates' knowledge and writing ability. Exams are usually held in Strasbourg, or in the capital of the country concerned. The nature of the exam can vary considerably, but a typical example might be drafting a summary of a legal analysis or writing an essay on a relevant topic.

Simulation exercises – In trays, role plays, presentation exercises.

Simulation exercises are assessments which are designed to try and replicate aspects of the role being recruited for, in order to assess essential competencies required. The most frequently used simulation exercise at the CoE is the In-tray (or in-basket) exercise.

In-tray Exercises: Candidates are given a number of documents based in a fictitious context, similar to that that they may encounter in the role (e.g. emails, reports, memos, etc). On the basis of the information provided, candidates are asked to complete a number of tasks, for example, make a recommendation to senior managers, draft a response to a letter, or evaluate a number of different options. Candidates can be assessed on a number of different competencies through such an exercise, such as planning and work organisation, problem solving, communication, concern for quality, efficiency and accuracy, etc.

Presentation exercises: Similar to above, candidates are asked to examine information about a fictitious organisation and to present views to an assessor on a number of issues. It provides candidates with an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities in a realistic context. The presentation is usually in the form of a one-to-one meeting with the assessor.

Role plays: In this type of exercise you may be asked to play a role in a fictitious context - a negotiation meeting, or staff management situation for example. You will be provided with all the necessary information at the time of the assessment.

Language tests

The Council of Europe has two official languages, French and English. Excellent knowledge of at least one of these is usually an essential requirement, with good to very good knowledge of the other an advantage. In some cases candidate may be asked to complete a language assessment to evaluate language capability.

Personality questionnaires

The personality questionnaire ‘Dimensions' is sometimes used in recruitment to give an indication of a candidates' preferred working style and typical behaviours in a working environment.

Competency based Interviews

Competency based interviews are semi-structured interviews designed to assess a candidate against a standard set of competencies required for a role. Competencies are the attributes of an individual that are important for effective performance in a role and are usually a mixture of skills, ability, motivation and knowledge. Competency based interviews enable us to understand a candidate's past behaviour, which is an excellent predictor of future behaviour.

For more information on competency based interviews, as well as some tips, please download our information sheet.