Start lineThe second part of our ‘Trainee-in-waiting’ series features Kia Abbasi, who accepted a place on the NAO’s 2014 graduate training scheme. In her post, Kia reflects on her application and thoughts before joining us next month.

Why did you apply to the NAO?

I have always been keen on keeping up-to-date on current affairs, so I would often see the NAO quoted here and there. Over the past couple of years, I came to realise that they played a rather important role in safeguarding the taxpayers, so it fitted in with my ultimate aim in life: make a difference to as many people as possible. I was also attracted to the notion of auditing the powerful organisations that shape our everyday lives.

How did you find the NAO’s recruitment process (compared to others)?

The recruitment stage was very simple compared to other companies I applied for. Once I filled in the application and completed the online tests, I was invited for an initial interview that proved to me and the auditor interviewing me that the NAO was definitely right for me. I felt this way as I could see that the NAO invested a lot of effort to aid the development of their employees; additional evening courses on various things, such as Excel, and additional study leave are just a few examples. The final stage of the application process was the assessment day, in which I was required to do a range of activities (a group exercise, written task, analysis and interview). The process at the NAO was different from other institutions, as every stage is designed to get the best out of you. The graduates I spoke to at the NAO interview seemed to know almost everyone in the London office, however, the graduates at a Big Four company said they felt more like a number and their interview process reaffirmed this for me.

What do you wish you knew about us before you applied?
Any tips for next year’s applicants?

The best advice someone once gave me was that I should be selective about the applications I make. I think it’s important to tailor your answers to the organisation you are applying for, rather than copy and paste from the last application.

If like me you get nervous at the interview stage, you should try to remember that it is a two way street: representatives from the organisation are there to judge you but you are there to judge the organisation too. Have questions ready and try to think can I work in this environment?

If you want to apply, I would suggest that you are clear about why you want to work in the NAO and consider the challenges of studying for a professional qualification. Before I applied, I wish that I had researched all the different routes that you can progress through, as I had only considered one route.

What are you looking forward to when joining us in September?

The current graduates have a Facebook group and I have started talking with others that I will be working with. This has been great as I was really worried about moving to London alone but speaking to others that are going through the same process has really helped me feel more confident. I have already made lots of friends via the group and I am even going to be sharing a flat with some people I met on there. I am really looking forward to meeting everyone in September and walking through the NAO doors in London as an employee. It feels like I am moving into a new phase of my life and I am finding that both exciting and petrifying. Having had loads of part-time jobs, I am really excited to be starting a ‘real’ job where I can progress all the way to the top.

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