Application and selection process

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) conducts robust and fair selection procedures so that it can recruit the best -available candidates. The Agency advertises its vacancies and processes applications online.

EMA recruits its statutory staff - temporary and contract agents - mainly through its own recruitment processes, which are independent and separate from those of other European Union (EU) institutions and agencies. However, EMA may sometimes recruit temporary or contract agents from the reserve lists drawn up by the European Personnel Selection Office.

This page provides an overview of the application and selection process. For the full details, see Careers at EMA.

How to apply

You can search our current vacancies on View all jobs page. We advise you to check the portal for vacancy notices, create an alert to receive job notifications by email, or join the talent community. You can also create a candidate profile at any time, which can be used to pre-fill any future applications.

For guidance on how to use the EMA Careers portal, see EMA Careers user guide.

If you find a position you are interested in, you can apply for the job electronically on this website.

Make sure you fulfil the eligibility criteria in the vacancy notice. If you don't meet the requirements, EMA cannot progress your application.

Make sure you complete your candidate profile and application form as fully as possible, paying particular attention to the pre-screening questions and the ‘professional qualifications / experience’ section of the application form.

Pre-screening questions are customised questions that serve to assess your match with the requirements of the advertised position. They may include single choice or free text questions. The first stage of the assessment of your application will be based solely on your answers to these questions.

You can change information in your application until the deadline.

You can log into the candidate portal to track the progress of your applications at any time. EMA also recommends you regularly check your inbox and spam folder, as we communicate with candidates via email.

An online application through this portal is the only acceptable way of applying for a position at EMA.

We recommend that you:

  • read the vacancy notice carefully and ensure you meet all of the eligibility and essential criteria. The application form will include questions asking you to confirm this. If your answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, EMA will not be able to progress your application;
  • substantiate your answers to the pre-screening questions, describing all of your relevant qualifications and experience, even if you already mentioned them in other sections of your application form.

See the following example for reference:

Q: Do you have experience in leading and coaching a project and/or technical team? If yes, please describe briefly the nature of your experience (max. 150 words)

A: Yes, I have experience in leading and coaching a project team. The team I led was composed of 10 colleagues, and we worked on the implementation of e-recruitment system within my organisation. I led them by setting clear objectives…

  • tailor the description of your experience and skills to the requirement listed in the vacancy notice;
  • invest enough time in your application and make sure you submit it before the closing date. EMA is not able to accept applications submitted after the closing date;
  • make sure your answers are concise and respect character limits;
  • check your grammar and spelling before submitting your application.

Shortlisting

The Agency establishes a selection committee for each vacancy notice; itsmembers are of the same or higher grade than the advertised position.

After the closing date, this committee goes through the applications and decides which candidates to invite for the next stage(s) of the selection process. The selection committee assesses applications against the assessment criteria (including the essential and desirable criteria and behavioural competencies) defined in the vacancy notice, using solely the information provided in the responses to the pre-screening questions.

The selection committee normally makes its decision using a scoring system (on a scale of one to ten, with appropriate weighting applied to more important questions) and by setting either a minimum pass rate or a maximum number of candidates to shortlist.

Preliminary assessments

To narrow down the initial shortlist, the selection committee holds preliminary assessments, normally consisting of a virtual interview and/or a test.

Virtual interviews are conducted by the selection committee via phone, Skype or Adobe Connect and assess candidates mainly against the essential criteria and behavioural competencies listed in the vacancy notice. They usually last from 20 to 40 minutes.

Virtual tests (normally computer based, with the assistance of a remote invigilation service) assess candidates’ aptitude for the advertised position and last from 1 to 3 hours. Their format varies and may include one or more of the following:

  • a multiple-choice test;
  • one or more job-specific task(s);
  • an essay-writing or business case based task;
  • an ability assessment (e.g. a numerical and/or verbal reasoning test).

Usually, preliminary assessments are eliminatory, with only the best candidates invited for the main assessment stage of the selection process.

Read our guidelines in the section 'Final assessments' below on how to prepare for preliminary assessments.

Final assessments

The main assessment phase of the selection process normally consists of an in-person interview and/or a test at EMA’s premises. It may also include other practical or personality tests or a more comprehensive so-called ‘assessment centre’.

In-person interviews are conducted by the selection committee (3-5 people) and assess candidates against all of the criteria listed in the vacancy notice, including the essential and desirable criteria and behavioural competencies. Your interview may also include questions testing your general knowledge of European integration, EU institutions and EMA’s role in the EU. They last usually from 30 to 60 minutes.

EMA conducts interviews in English, its official working language. If English is your native language, you will also be interviewed in your second EU language.

Tests (normally computer based) assess candidates’ aptitude for the advertised position and last from 1 to 3 hours. Their format varies and may include one or more of the following:

  • a multiple-choice test;
  • one or more job-specific task(s);
  • an essay-writing or business case based task;
  • a numerical and/ or verbal reasoning test.

Assessment centres are normally reserved for managerial positions. They are full-day sessions, conducted by an external provider, based on a combination of tasks and exercises (including, for example, cognitive exercises, case studies or role play) to test candidates’ suitability for the position. Candidates have the opportunity to ask for feedback at the end of the session.

Before an interview with EMA, we recommend that you:

  • check carefully the job requirements in the vacancy notice and browse the About us section of EMA's website (in particular on What we do ). This can help you relate your answers during the interview to both the job requirements as well as EMA’s work;
  • think about what motivates you to join EMA and what you can bring to the Agency. The Selection committee may ask you these questions so that they can get an idea of how well you will fit in.
  • upload to your candidate profile copies of all diplomas and certificates relating to your education and professional experience by the date of the interview. You will also need to present originals of the supporting documents uploaded to your candidate profile when you attend an in-person interview. Failing to present these documents may result in your disqualification from the selection procedure.

On the day of the interview, arrive on time, dress and act professionally and be aware of your body language, ensuring that the way you present yourself reflects your interest in the role. Remember to switch off or mute your phone for the duration of the interview.

EMA’s interview process is designed to ensure impartiality and fairness, so do not feel intimated when meeting the selection committee. Remain honest and authentic, feel free to greet them and interact as you normally would. If you do not hear or understand a question, ask the selection committee to repeat or clarify it.

If your interview takes place virtually, ensure that you have a reliable internet or phone connection and a suitable environment without distractions. You may consider having a pen, paper and a glass of water with you.

For video interviews, ensure that your web camera is in good working order. If you experience problems with your connection or any other technical problems at any point during the interview, let the selection committee know.

Whether your interview takes place virtually or in person, the selection committee will most likely expect you to substantiate some your answers with concrete examples. You may find the so-called ‘STAR’ interview response technique helpful in structuring your thoughts. Following this method, describe in the following order:

  • the Situation or problem you solved;
  • your specific Task and the goals you were trying to achieve;
  • the Actions you took to address the situation;
  • the Results of your actions. 

Appointment and/or reserve list

In most cases, the selection committee will recommend the best candidate(s) to be appointed to the vacant position(s). Other qualified and suitable candidates might be placed on a reserve list.

If the selection committee recommends your appointment to the position, the hiring manager might invite you for another formal or informal interview, or you may receive a pre-offer letter directly.

Before EMA makes a firm job offer, you will need to undergo a medical examination to make sure that you meet the standard of physical fitness required.

Reserve list

EMA may also use the reserve list to recruit for a similar post if one becomes available.

Being on a reserve list does not guarantee a job offer or imply any entitlement to employment at EMA, but the Agency will consider your profile when it is looking to fill new vacancies in your field. No action is required on your part unless EMA contacts you.

Reserve lists are valid for a limited period of time. If EMA puts you on a reserve list, it also informs you how long it remains valid. EMA may extend the validity of the list, based on its needs.

The following documents contain information on the reserve list extensions for Temporary Agent and Contract Agent selection procedures:

If you would like to apply for another position at the Agency, you need to re-submit your application.

Requesting feedback

You may request feedback on you application and interview from EMA, by writing to recruitment@ema.europa.eu.

Please make sure to include your name and the reference of the vacancy notice in your email.