The Conseil d'État has approximately 300 members recruited by competitive examination or by external appointment. Each year, five positions of auditeur (auditor) are made available to the top graduates of the National School of Administration (ENA). After four years, an auditeur is promoted to maître des requêtes (master of petitions) and after twelve years, to Conseiller d'État. Promotion is based exclusively on seniority which assures independence and impartiality in the promotion of members.
Recruitment by external appointment accounts for one out of four maîtres des requêtes and one out of three Conseillers d'État. A number of external appointments, upon the nomination of the Vice-President of the Conseil d'État, is reserved for members of the administrative tribunals and the administrative courts of appeal. Conseillers d'État on special service are appointed for four years and belong only to the advisory departments. External and special service appointments provide the Conseil d'État with a rich diversity of member profiles and skills.
Members are appointed to serve in the Litigation department, and/or in an advisory department. Certain members choose to work outside the Conseil d'État, for example by assisting the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister or other members of the cabinet. They may also be seconded to key posts in the French administration. Certain Conseillers d'État sit as judges in the International Court of Justice, the Court of Justice of the European Communities and the European Court of Human Rights. Members also have the option of taking leave of absence in order to work in the private sector for a limited period of time.