- … read a report or VFM study so that you’ve got something to talk about
It helps to know which subjects the NAO base their work on, and I found reading a few reports and VFM studies before my interview meant I had a better understanding of the NAO and what they do. It also gives you something to discuss with your interviewer!
- … watch/read the news occasionally beforehand so you know what’s going on
The NAO publish reports on matters that are in the public interest – knowing what is happening in the wider world definitely won’t hurt.
- … make sure you know about the ICAEW qualification and what it entails
The ICAEW’s website has recently been updated and it is a lot easier to find out about the ACA qualification now. It’s definitely worth finding out as much as you can – it looks a lot better in the interview if you’re asked about it and can answer questions on it! You don’t need to know any specifics about what you will be studying, so anyone from outwith an accountancy background (like myself) does not have to worry.
- … prepare for competency questions in advance
Competency questions will be a huge part of your interview, just as they were a part of your application form. Make sure you have some examples for all the NAO graduate competencies, using a time where you displayed that competency well and some details around the circumstances. The NAO’s recruitment website lists the key competencies and these are a great starting place to work on. Be prepared to discuss what part you played in the competency, as well as the outcome, any problems encountered and how you would approach this differently next time. If you haven’t had a job before, don’t worry, you can use other past experiences such as university, hobbies or volunteer work. The questions are designed to tell the NAO about yourself and the type of person you are, not the jobs you have had.
- … be afraid to ask questions
Interviews are not just a chance for the NAO to find out about you and your suitability for the job, they’re also a chance for you to find out about the NAO and whether they’re the right organisation for you. Speaking to people who work there, and have often been through the same process as you could be going through (as many of them have also been through the graduate scheme), means they have a wealth of knowledge and a key insight they can give you not just on the role, but on what it’s like to work at the NAO. Think of some things you would like to know about the role, the organisation, the college experience or the scheme in general – and don’t be afraid to ask them.
- … book a hotel that’s too far away (if you have to travel)
Or if you do, give yourself plenty of time to get to the office. Arriving at your interview out of breath and jogging through the door will not only make an interesting first impression, but will just add to any nerves you’re already feeling at the prospect of running late. The best remedy is to book a hotel close to the office, but bear in mind that you’ll have to check out in the morning too so give yourself extra time in case there’s a queue.
- … forget to turn your phone on silent AND turn off any alarms
I know this is an obvious one, but a lot of people tend to forget that alarms can go off even when your phone is on silent or switched off! Don’t let it catch you out – make sure all alarms are turned off while your interview is underway.
Apply now – applications close 28 February
If you want to apply for our 2015 graduate training scheme, you can still do so until Saturday, 28 February 2015. Head over to our graduate recruitment site for further information.