(Not) Applying for a Job with the EU (European Personnel Selection Office)

There is a major application round going on for jobs in the European Commission. Basically, you apply, then go through a computer-based test and finally sort of an assessment centre.

Before you apply, you can take a sample test, and it turns out to be some basic number crunching and showing that you can understand certain types of text, I’d classify them as bureaucratic/law-related texts, which I found manageable too.

Finally I decided to apply and entered their online application form. As most larger organizations they require you to enter your complete CV into their forms, no way to submit what you already prepared. While I find this annoying, I can understand why large organizations need to do this, so I proceeded …

… until I had to enter the dates for my education. I did not believe my eyes when I was not able to simply type dates into the fields; you have to click on a calendar icon, which creates a pop-up window with a monthly calendar. You cannot change the month or year via a drop-down either, you have to go back and forth using next/previous buttons! At my age, this means a lot of clicking just to enter a single date. And I would need to enter all my professional career, presumably using the same old-fashioned interface, so I am likely to miss the submission deadline by doing this.

So in the end, I was deterred enough by their online application form to not apply.

On a second thought, this may be deliberate: this way you can easily weed out the applicants who are too old, have a long professional track record or are easily deterred by stupid, repetitive tasks.

On a third thought, I could not believe they are this stupid, so I assumed that their application might just not work with FireFox, so I tried IE 8 instead. The application threw Java Script errors on every page and I did not even manage to log in using my previously created account! (yes, I did have the correct password)

On a fourth thought: bad news - they are even more stupid than I thought.

They are looking for IT professionals at the moment. I am one, but I won’t apply for the above reasons. If you are an IT professional and you are willing to take the hurdles, manage to get in, I suggest that you make it your foremost priority to make the Commission’s user interfaces more user-friendly. If this is what they use to present themselves to the outside world, I don’t even want to start thinking about what they use for their internal day-to-day work?!?

Had I delivered an application like this at any point in my career, I would have been out of a job within the next week!

P.S.: I forgot – you really want to apply? Go here: http://www.eu-careers.eu/

P.P.S.: I felt so bad about them having gotten to get the better of me, I could not stand it! So I wrote a Greasemonkey script that would enable the date field, here’s the basic script:

var inputs = document.getElementsByTagName('input');

for (var i = 0; i < inputs.length; i++)


    inputs[i].removeAttribute("onFocus", 0);


Just finished my application :-)

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