Completing the online application form should take around 1 hour so please allow yourself time and prepare carefully for it.
A member of the team reads every application we receive and screens it against our criteria, so this is your first opportunity to show us that you are right for this scheme.
When completing the online application form, please consider the following guidance:
- Read the application form thoroughly before you start so you are familiar with all the questions.
- Please ensure that you answer all questions in full sentences unless otherwise stated, and stay within the word count.
- Use examples from your previous experience where appropriate. You may wish to use examples from outside of university such as work experience, part-time jobs or perhaps extra-curricular activities you have been involved in.
- Be as specific as you can to provide as much detail as possible.
- Take your time. We may turn down potentially strong candidates at this stage because their applications lack detail and quality.
- Before submitting your application form, read through and check it carefully. This is your chance to correct any mistakes and to include additional information. Applications cannot be amended once submitted.
- Keep a copy of your completed application form so you can review it before any interview that you may be invited to.
- Complete ALL parts of the application form regardless of your experience level
When completing the competency based questions it is important to consider and apply the following:
- Situation – What was the context of the situation? Who was involved? What was the task/project? Why did this occur?
- Actions – What actions did you take? Why did you do this? How did you ensure success? What resources did you draw on?
- Results – What was the outcome?
- Feedback – What feedback did you receive after the event, if any? What did you learn from the situation? What would you do differently next time?
Unfortunately feedback cannot be provided following the application form stage due to the high volume of applications we receive.
The online test is designed to assess your ability to evaluate, analyse, and interpret numerical information encountered in the modern workplace.
The numerical test we use is time recorded not time limited so you can spend as long as you like on each question. However, both your accuracy and the time taken will contribute towards your overall score.
- Let us know if you need any reasonable adjustments BEFORE you start the test.
- DO NOT use a mobile device to complete the test – use a laptop or desktop so you can view the test on a large screen.
- Make sure you are in a quiet location where you will not be disturbed.
- Have a calculator, pen and paper available.
- Take a practice test before completing the real test as this will give you a feel for the types of questions asked. It is a great way to prepare, helping you relax and perform to the best of your ability.
- Work quickly and accurately and try to avoid guessing.
Unfortunately feedback cannot be provided following the online test stage due to the high volume of applications we receive.
If you are successful at application and the online test, we will invite you to a telephone interview. We conduct interviews by telephone because we receive applications from all over the country and attending face-to-face interviews at this stage is impractical for many candidates.
- Schedule your interview for a day/time that suits you.
- Try to relax and be yourself and speak clearly and confidently.
- A telephone interview is just as important as a face-to-face interview, so it needs the same level of preparation and involvement.
- Make sure you have set aside the required amount of time for the interview, and that you are in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
- Review your application form and have a copy with you. This can help you think about your answers. However, avoid scripting your answers because you will sound unnatural when you say them.
- You will not be able to provide the visual cues that you would in a face-to-face interview such as eye contact and body language. This means your listening and verbal communication skills will be extremely important.
- The interview is a blend of competency based and scenario based questions and we are looking for you to demonstrate evidence of a number of competencies aligned to the ‘NAO Values’. As the interviewer has a time limit and needs to get as much information from you as possible, you may find the interview somewhat structured and inflexible.
- Where possible, use a different example for each question. However, it is fine to refer to the same example more than once as long as you answer the question and provide evidence. It is also fine to use similar examples to those mentioned on your application form.
- Try to address each area of the question specifically, and provide concise, jargon free answers.
- We understand that you will need some time to think through your answers. Do not be afraid of brief silences – think about what you are going to say and make sure you answer each question fully.
- Make sure your application form includes your contact number including dialling code. Without this the interviewer will not be able to contact you!
Unfortunately feedback cannot be provided following the telephone interview stage due to the high volume of interviews we conduct.
We run assessment centres at the NAO Headquarters in London. If you complete the telephone interview successfully, we will invite you to attend an assessment centre. However, at the moment all assessment centres are being held virtually via a digital platform.
The assessment centre will be a full day assessment that will include a combination of fictional and real-life business experiences to assess your broader business and functional expertise. The assessment is competency based and we are looking for you to demonstrate evidence of a number of competencies aligned to the NAO Values.
You will also have the opportunity to meet with some of our recent graduate and apprentice hires and ask them questions about the training scheme and the NAO.
The purpose of the assessment centre is to create an environment in which you, along with other candidates, can demonstrate key skills/behaviours that we are looking for