Emily, why did you apply to the NAO?
The graduate scheme at the NAO really appealed to me because the scheme allowed me to continue to utilise the analytical and mathematical skills I developed in my degree at University. I’ve always enjoyed Maths and this seemed like a natural progression from my degree whilst working in the public sector, giving me the chance to make a difference – something which is very important to me. It also provided me with the opportunity to continue my education by studying for the ACA qualification which I saw as a great benefit as it is a respected qualification worldwide.
How did you find the NAO’s recruitment process (compared to others)?
I found the NAO’s recruitment process very smooth. The stages of the process were similar to other graduate schemes, from the competency tests to assessment centre. The main difference was that whilst most other schemes required you to complete a Skype or telephone interview to progress to assessment centre, the NAO asks you to complete two face-to-face interviews – one before the assessment centre and a director interview at the assessment centre. I preferred this method as it allowed you to see the organisation in motion and visit the offices beforehand, whilst giving you the chance to ask any questions you may have and engage in a conversation with someone who is a part of the NAO.
What do you wish you knew about us before you applied?
Application processes can be very overwhelming for those that haven’t gone through them before. I wish I had known how friendly everyone is throughout the process. If you have got through to interviews and assessment centres, the panel are not trying to trip you up or watch you fail – they want to see you thrive in a challenging situation and be able to offer you a role. My advice would be to make sure you are applying for the right reasons, do your research and if you are genuinely passionate about what you are going to be doing then make sure that comes across and learn from every step of the application.
Any tips for next year’s applicants?
I would suggest that candidates really research the NAO before any interviews or assessment centres. Show the interviewer why you are really interested in the work that the organisation undertakes and what you think you would add to the organisation. Furthermore, take note of the main competencies that the NAO are looking for and make sure you have a few practical examples showing how you demonstrate each one but most importantly, be yourself – despite the nerves. Just like University, all applicants are in the same position so embrace it and show the assessors what you can offer.
What are you looking forward to when joining us in September?
I start my role next week now and whilst joining the real world is a bit of a daunting prospect it is also really exciting to know that I will soon be starting my first full-time job and start to see all the hard work through school and uni paying off. It feels like the next stepping stone and I am really looking forward to meeting the rest of my intake and my team. I can’t wait to go to college and learn all of the background knowledge to support me in my work and to soon contribute to the work that the NAO carry out.