Nora, why did you apply to the NAO?
As an Accounting graduate and someone who has always had an interest in public affairs, I thought that the NAO would be the perfect place for me to pursue a career in Accounting. I have always wanted to be able to make a positive impact on society, which is why I initially appreciated the work of the NAO, as it is both impactful and influential. I felt that I could potentially make a real difference by working with government bodies to help the improvement of public services and how taxpayers’ money is spent.
I strongly believe that working for the NAO will keep me motivated throughout my career, the satisfaction of which I did not believe I could receive in a private sector company. In addition, as a trainee, you will receive the opportunity to study towards the ACA qualification, rather than a more public sector orientated one such as CIPFA. This is something that further intrigued me as an Accounting graduate, because you can find ICAEW charted accountants in all sectors and industries!
How did you find the NAO’s recruitment process (compared to others)?
Overall, I was extremely satisfied with the recruitment process. I moved quite fast through the different stages, in comparison to other companies where I found myself stuck in the process for months, which I personally found really discouraging. I would like to outline that right from the start of the process, the NAO makes it quite clear that it looks for eight competencies in every successful candidate. This was evident throughout all three stages of the process, which also made it easier to really think about your strengths and how you can demonstrate those key competencies in practice. The telephone interview was very relaxed and the interviewer made you feel really comfortable, which I think made a really good impression about the organisation as a whole. I also found the assessment centre very enjoyable, as it was nothing compared to the ones I had previously attended. There was no competition! It did not seem to be rushed and we all had the chance to have a lovely lunch with some of the current graduates, which really did make you feel better halfway through the day! I received an offer within a couple of days and I found that the communication was really good throughout the whole process.
What do you wish you knew about us before you applied?
As previously mentioned, at the assessment centre all candidates had the opportunity to speak to some of the current trainees. They really seemed to be enjoying their jobs which is something that made me even more motivated to do better during the rest of the day at the assessment centre. I think that the NAO would really allow me to have a good work-life balance which is important to me and I believe that other people would find that valuable to know too.
Any tips for next year’s applicants?
I think that all candidates need to make themselves familiar with the NAO’s eight competencies and really think about how they have demonstrated them in the past. This will be useful when completing the four competency based questions, in addition to the telephone interview and the assessment centre itself. I would make sure that I have a few different examples of how I have demonstrated those competencies in practice, but do not panic if you have not got any relevant work experience, as the interviewers know nothing about you! At the assessment centre, the director who interviewed me seemed really interested in what I had to say, which made me more comfortable to go in a little bit more detail, so do not be afraid to tell them everything that you want to say! If you are not an Accounting graduate, I would make myself familiar with what audit is all about and what the job of an auditor briefly involves, as well as the challenges/threats auditors could face. I think that knowing that little bit of extra information (which is in fact not necessary), will make the exercises at the assessment centre more enjoyable for all candidates!
What are you looking forward to when joining us in September?
For me in particular, I look forward to meeting everyone at the NAO the most, especially the 70+ trainees who will be all starting their journey at the same time as me! I am very excited for our induction week in London, where all graduates will be attending. This will be an amazing opportunity to meet everyone! I am also looking forward to learning more about the NAO and what everyone does, as well as developing my strengths and acquiring a wide variety of new skills, whilst training to become a qualified charted accountant!