Frequently asked questions (FAQ) on jobs at the EPO


What is the minimum requirement to be eligible to apply for a vacancy at the EPO?
You must be a citizen of one of the member states of the European Patent Organisation. A list of the EPO member states is available here.

I don't speak all three official languages of the EPO (English, French and German). Can I still apply?
Yes, you can. The EPO works in three official languages – English, French and German. The proficiency level required depends on the post in question. Please check the minimum qualifications in the job description.

I am proficient in only two of the three languages and wish to apply for a patent examiner post. 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 a set time frame would be required.

Is there any age limit for applicants?
There are no age restrictions; selection is based on skills and experience.
The EPO is an equal opportunities employer and supports workforce diversity as a signatory to Germany's Diversity Charter (Charta der Vielfalt) since 2010.
All applications for vacant positions will be welcomed and considered on the professional merits of the applicant against the role profile for the position, regardless of nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, parental responsibilities, age, religion or belief.

More information is available here.

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 you are free to apply again. 

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 applications?
Yes, there is. The closing date is always specified in the vacancy notice.

When is the deadline for submitting my application?
To meet an application deadline, your application must be submitted by 23.59 hrs (CET) on the deadline date specified in the vacancy notice. You are encouraged to submit your application well in advance of the deadline to avoid any unforeseen technical issues.

I saved my application but forgot to submit it. Will it be considered?
No, your draft application will not be considered.

How do I know that I have successfully submitted my application?
After you have submitted your application you will receive an email notification confirming we have received it. If you do not receive this email, please check your spam folder.

I missed the application deadline. Can I still apply?
No, not for the vacancy advertised.

Who will I be interviewed by?
You will have one or more 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 find more suitable candidates in the face-to-face interviews than there are vacancies. 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.

I haven't heard back since my interview. Does that mean I was not selected?
No, if you haven't heard back from us, it's because the selection procedure is still underway. Once it is completed, all candidates will be notified of the outcome of their application, whether positive or negative.

Will I be notified if I am not selected for the position I applied for?
Yes. If you are not selected for the position, you will receive an email in due time letting you know. Please note, however, that in accordance with the provisions of our Service Regulations, the proceedings of our selection boards are secret. Therefore, we are unfortunately not in a position to give you feedback on your individual application.

How to apply

We only accept online applications for published vacancies.

Our application process is entirely electronic. To apply for a vacancy, complete the online application form, which can be accessed by clicking the link in the vacancy notice.

Please note that if you upload your résumé/CV under My Documents in the Candidate Profile section, the software will automatically fill certain fields in your candidate profile. Please check all fields before submitting your application.

Since all communication will be conducted via email and/or telephone, please make sure the contact details you provide are correct. Also, remember to check your spam folder from time to time so you don't miss any important information from us.

What kind of information should I include in my CV?
Any CV submitted to us at the EPO should at least indicate your

  • name, date of birth and contact details
  • nationality/nationalities
  • educational qualifications
  • language skills in English, French and German (if you don't mention them, we will assume you don't have them)
  • previous work experience

Do I have to use a Europass CV template?
No, you can use any kind of template and/or format for your CV.

What is meant by "References"? Are they mandatory?
A reference is someone who can give us information about you as a potential employee. Your references must be work-related. At this stage, they are not mandatory.

Do I need to translate my certificates and documents into one of the EPO's three official languages?
At this stage, it is not mandatory.

What should I attach under Application Documents?
Upload your motivation letter, work references and certificates and any other document that you consider relevant to your application as a combined (1) PDF file here.

What should I attach under Transcript of your grades?
Upload the diplomas relevant to your application here.

What is the maximum file size for documents?
Your PDF should not exceed the maximum file size limit of 10 000 kB.

Where can I learn more about the EPO's data privacy policy?
Please read our data privacy policy for job applicants.

Applying online

How should my browser be configured?
The SuccessFactors recruitment platform 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. 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 before finally clicking Create account. 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 Sign In page. You will receive an email with a URL where you can reset your password.

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 Apply 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 as a draft.

Where can I find my saved applications?
First sign in. Then, select Options/My Profile to open the Candidate Profile page, where 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.


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 as well as extensive training opportunities. Please also note that, in addition to the basic salary, you may be eligible for certain allowances (for example expatriation allowance, childcare allowance, rent allowance, etc.).
More information is available here

What kind of contract can I expect at the EPO?
As a general rule, you will be appointed for a period of up to five years, subject to a one-year probationary period, initially on a full-time basis (40 hours per week). The fixed-term appointment may be extended and may be converted into a permanent appointment under the conditions laid down by the appointing authority, such as the needs of the service, satisfactory performance and quotas. 

Information on jobs at the Boards of Appeal can be found here.


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