Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on jobs at the EPO

Where can I find out about job opportunities at the EPO?

Vacancies are published on the careers portal of the EPO website (

Vacancy notices include the closing date of the competition, the main duties involved, a list of requirements and a link to the online application form.

You can also join us on Facebook and LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter for the latest information on upcoming vacancies.

The application procedure

I have applied before and was rejected. Should I try again?
The EPO recruits on a post-by-post basis, so your application will only have been for the particular post advertised. This means that unless you were told otherwise, you are free to apply again. If you were rejected as a result of failing the technical assessment, then we recommend you concentrate on enhancing your skills in that area before you try again. If you made it to the second round but your languages or soft skills let you down, then we would suggest working on those before you re-apply.
If you have applied several times for the same post without being called for interview, it might be that your profile does not match our specific requirements. In that case, perhaps you should consider looking for other job opportunities.

Can I apply for more than one vacancy at a time?
Yes, you can. You should submit a separate online application for each vacancy, and indicate your other applications in it.

Is there a closing date for job vacancies?
Yes, there is. Applications are processed with a view to selecting candidates in a given timeframe.

Who will I be interviewed by?
You will have one or more Skype and face-to-face interviews, depending on the position. The interviewers will be representatives from HR and the relevant department. Their aim is to assess your suitability for the position and offer you enough time to ask all relevant questions.

I have been invited to join the EPO Talent Pool. What does this mean?
It might be the case that we don't have enough vacancies for all suitable candidates. Since we don't want to "lose" any suitable candidates not ultimately selected, we invite them to join the EPO Talent Pool so that we can stay in touch with them. Being in the Talent Pool doesn't guarantee an eventual job offer but your name will always appear at the top of our lists when we are looking to fill new vacancies in your field. No action is required on your part unless we contact you.

The information and documentation we require

What kind of information should I include in my CV?
Many job applications are unsuccessful because candidates do not write their CVs in a way that is useful for potential employers. Any CV submitted to us at the EPO should at least indicate your

  • name, date of birth, and up-to-date contact details
  • nationality/nationalities
  • educational qualifications
  • language skills in English, French and German. (if they're not mentioned, we assume you don't have them).
  • previous work experience.

This list is not exhaustive, but if the above points are not included it is unlikely that you will make it past the first phase.

What do the language tests consist of?
For some posts, you are required to sit a computer-based language test prior to the interview. This written test is followed by an assessment of your oral language skills in the actual interview. If the selection board feels you need to improve one of the official languages before you can be selected, you may be asked to take language tests some time after the interview to assess your progress.

I failed my language test. Can I re-apply?
Yes. But please work on your language skills first! If you receive a letter asking you to re-sit a language test, this means we are still interested in your application, but cannot offer you a position unless you have improved.

What is a work certificate?
This is a document showing that you worked for a particular employer for a certain period.

I do not want to ask my current employers for a work certificate yet. Can I still apply?
Yes, you can. But you will have to provide one if we offer you a position, because it will be needed as evidence of your previous experience.

What is meant by "References"?
A reference is someone who can give us information about you as a potential employee. It might be a previous employer or someone who taught you at school or university.

How many references should I give?
That is entirely up to you.

Do I need to translate my certificates into one of the EPO's three official languages?

Applying online

How should my browser be configured?
SuccessFactors runs best when accessed through Internet Explorer but can also be used with Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari.

The online application form is quite detailed. Do I have to answer all the questions?
Only the fields marked with a red asterisk are mandatory but the more information you provide, the more likely you are to increase your eligibility for a current or future vacant position. Please note that if you upload your résumé/CV under My documents, the software will automatically fill certain fields in your candidate profile.

How do I create an account?
Click Create an account on the Sign In page and fill in the required fields. You must read and accept the data privacy statement. Click Create account and you will then receive an email with a link to activate your account.

I can't remember my password. How do I retrieve or reset it?
You can regain access by clicking the Forgot your password link on the login page. You will receive an e-mail with a URL where you can reset your password.

How do I delete a document I have uploaded?
If available, click the "wastepaper basket" icon shown to the left of the name of the uploaded document.

The application form says the EPO has the right to check that the information I give is correct. Can I be sure that you will not contact my current employer until I have had a chance to inform them myself?
Yes, we can assure you of that.

I have filled in all the fields as carefully as I can. How do I send the form?
When you are ready to submit your application, click Submit on the last page. Your application will then be sent and can no longer be modified. If you are not yet ready to submit your application, click Save and your application will be saved.

Where can I find my saved applications?
First sign in. Then, under My Profile – Candidate Profile, you can see the status of applications you have already submitted, and any applications you have saved but not yet submitted.

I have applied online and would now like to change something in my application or add information to it. How do I do that?
You cannot change your application after submitting it. This is to ensure data integrity for the selection board.

What happens if I apply but do not meet the minimum requirements?
Candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements for the position in question will be automatically disqualified and will receive an immediate notification of rejection.

General requirements of candidates

Do nationality quotas apply at the EPO?
The EPO does not apply strict nationality quotas for recruitment. It does however try to ensure a good balance of nationalities at its different sites and within organisational units. This can be a factor in the selection board's recommendation.

My country is not yet an EPO member state, but I think it is going to become one soon. Can I apply?
Perhaps. We can consider applications from nationals of countries which our Administrative Council has agreed can join soon. Information about this is usually available on our website.

I learned French at school for three years, but that was ten years ago. Will this be enough?
Probably not. The EPO works in three official languages - English, French and German. Most of us don't have one of those languages as our mother tongue, so we often find ourselves communicating in a foreign language. Standards therefore have to be quite high. The required level also depends on the post in question.

I am only proficient in two of the three languages and wish to apply for a patent examiner's job. Am I wasting my time?
No, you can still apply. In such cases, the willingness to learn the third language and to reach Level B2 within three years would be required.

I wish to apply for an administrative job but have only one of your official languages. Should I bother?
Realistically, there will be a large number of other candidates who do meet the requirements, so your application would be unlikely to get very far.

Working conditions, benefits and contracts

What kind of working conditions and benefits does the EPO offer its staff?
Apart from an international and multicultural working environment, the EPO offers one of the most comprehensive and family-friendly benefits packages in Europe in addition to extensive training opportunities.

What kind of contract can I expect at the EPO?
As a rule, you will be appointed for an initial period of up to five years, subject to a one-year probationary period. Contracts may be extended or converted into permanent appointments under certain conditions (e.g. business needs, individual performance).