Candidate during interviewApplying for jobs and undergoing an assessment process is a daunting prospect, especially if this is your first job post university. I remember worrying so much about the NAO interviews and assessments that I had to practice with my husband! On the day of my NAO assessment day I was frantically trying to refresh my memory on all that I had achieved so that I could intelligently answer any questions that I could be asked. It’s definitely worthwhile understanding the application process for the job and what the organisation is looking for so you can tailor your answers. This will help you stand out from the other applicants and give you a better chance getting that elusive-seeming employment offer.

The assessment process for applying for jobs at the NAO is a three stage process involving an application form and numerical reasoning test, a competency based interview and an assessment day. At the NAO we look for eight key competencies in potential employees, which reflect the skills needed to perform the job of an Assistant Auditor effectively. These are described on the NAO graduate recruitment website, which I strongly advise you keep in mind when applying.

The application form gives you the chance to show off your educational background and workplace experience, while the test helps you demonstrate your numeric abilities. You should make sure you provide as much detail as you are asked for in the application, and tailor your answers appropriately, as this is the first impression you make and determines whether you are invited to the interview stage.

Hopefully at this point, you will be invited to the London office for your initial interview. The questions focus on recounting situations where you have demonstrated various skills that would be required in the job. For example, you might be asked to describe a time when you needed to analyse information and draw a suitable conclusion from it. To help myself prepare for this, I looked at the eight competencies, mentioned at the link above, and made notes of relevant experiences. Although you can use a situation more than once, if you can it is better to think of separate scenarios for each to show you have demonstrated them numerous times. Although the interview can be quite a nerve-wrecking experience, the interviewers will try to put you at ease. During my interview, I even found out that my interviewer actually grew up very near to where I am from – small world or what!

The final stage is an assessment day, comprising of four tasks: a group activity, a writing activity, another competency based interview and a client presentation exercise. Although I applied for a job in the Newcastle office, I attended this stage in London as it was much closer to the university I was studying at. These activities give you further opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the job, while also giving you a chance to meet and talk to current trainees who were once in your place.

Although this process may seem intimidating, taking it one step at a time will hopefully make it seem less so. Good luck to those of you who are applying – hopefully I might meet some of you in the near future!

Any questions? Join our Twitter Q&A on 18 November 2013

Have you got any questions around applying for our graduate scheme?

Rob from our recruitment team and Hannah, one of our trainee bloggers, will be available on Monday, 18 November 2013, from 4-5pm on Twitter (@naograduatejobs). Post your questions during the event and get an answer straight away.

If you cannot make the event, please tweet us beforehand @naograduatejobs and we will make sure to answer your questions during the live session.

Hashtag: #AskNAOgrads

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