Miranda, why did you apply to the NAO?
After I left university I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to, I just knew that I wanted a job that made a difference but also would set me up for a structured career. The NAO was the perfect fit for me, combining working with the public sector and charities and whilst gaining a world respected qualification in the ACA.
At the NAO, there is such a large range of clients and areas and I think it’s cool to be able to say I could be working on everything from farming to the MOD to the British Museum. I was also very attracted by the NAO’s impressive stats on their pass rate, higher than any of the Big Four, which seems indicative of the supportive work environment that the NAO prides itself on.
How did you find the NAO’s recruitment process (compared to others)?
When I applied the online tests were very similar to other accountancy firms and the NAO’s section on skills and experiences was very structured and clear on which competencies they were looking for so you could really tailor your answers.
The assessment day really stood out for me at the NAO. It was quite a full-on day but was much more relaxed than I was expecting. I had heard rumours that some firms continue to access you during breaks at assessment days but this was not the case at the NAO so meant as applicants we could relax. I think this really helped me keep calm and do my best in all the tasks as well as get to know quite a few people who I will be working with come September.
What do you wish you knew about us before you applied?
During lunchtime at the assessment day we received a powerpoint about the NAO where we could ask questions informally to a member of staff who had already completed the grad scheme. It was interesting to find out that there are plenty of opportunities to travel both around the UK and even do secondments abroad.
Any tips for next year’s applicants?
My tips would be to look closely at the NAO’s core competencies and think about times where you’ve demonstrated those. Make sure your examples are as clear as possible.
I would also highly recommended researching the ACA exams – they are tough exams and at the NAO you will do six exams in your first 4 months so you start studying straight away. Just make sure you’re ready to study alongside work for at least another three years.
I would also recommend looking at the NAO reports and in the news for stories on public spending, unsurprisingly there are quite a lot at the moment. It will give you a good chance to see how reports are written as well as inform you on the areas that the NAO audits.
What are you looking forward to when joining us in September?
I am going to be working in the Newcastle office so that means a moving to a new city for me which I am very excited about.
I am looking forward to meeting the rest of the grads in my intake and also everyone else already on the grad scheme as well as getting involved with as much stuff as I can, both in and outside of work.
I am also really looking forward to finding out my cluster and in which sector I will working on first. I am also quite excited to start learning again after having a year off after university but I am a bit nervous for the exams…