ApplicationApplying for a job can be a very daunting task. I can still remember, during my final year, staying up late into the night trying to find the right words to express my desire to work for Company A. In order to make these times a little less stressful for you, this post will hopefully provide you with a quick guide on how to apply to the NAO.

The application form

Contrary to popular belief, this is not actually the first stage of the application process. Before you fill out this form, it is a good idea to attend a few careers fairs and if possible speak to us. Try to get an insight into what we do and whether you want to work at the NAO. Being an avid reader of The Economist I noticed that the NAO was referenced rather frequently and this meant I had some external information which to include in my application form and impress.

The final and most important thing to do is to read the NAO’s graduate recruitment site. We assess all applications on the basis of our competency framework which we include on there. When I applied I made sure that every answer I gave had some reference to these competencies.

The interview

This is the stage whereby you get to meet a prospective colleague face-to-face. While an interview may appear scary, it is important to remember that this is your chance to impress. I remember my interview more as an informal chat. The questions were based on the NAO’s graduate competencies, so it’s helpful to have thought in advance about some examples where you have demonstrated them. These can come from university studies or any hobbies and interests you have. Seeing as the ICAEW qualification will be a significant factor in your life, were you to get onto the graduate scheme, it is fundamental that you research how the qualification works before your interview. Apart from that, I would say to enjoy your interview and use it to find out more about us too.

The assessment centre

This is the final stage of the assessment process. You will get the chance to meet other candidates as well as a few of the current trainees who you can speak to informally during the lunch break. My assessment centre consisted of an interview with a Director, a group exercise, a written case study and a short presentation.

For my assessment centre I found the amount of preparation I could do for it was limited, as I had already learned as much as I could for the interview stage. However due to the time period between the two stages I did make sure to brush over my notes, as well as familiarising myself with any NAO reports produced in the interim. I also think that being psychologically prepared is just as important as being intellectually prepared, so get a good night’s sleep beforehand, stay calm and above all just be yourself.

So these are the main three stages of the NAO’s application process. I hope this has made the process a little less daunting, and if like I was, you are reading this and about to apply at 1am, go to bed!

Apply now!

Our 2015 graduate training scheme is now open to applications (deadline 31 December 2014). Head over to our graduate recruitment site for further information on how to apply.

If you’ve got any questions around the application process, please leave a comment below. You can also contact our recruitment team by email, via our Facebook page, or on Twitter.

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