Online application form

Assessment processes can be quite daunting, so we’ve provided some useful hints and tips for each of the stages.

Online Tests

The test has been designed to assess your ability to evaluate, analyse, and interpret numerical information.

The numerical test we use differs from most other tests as it is time recorded not time limited so you can spend as long as you like on each question. Your accuracy and the time taken will contribute towards your overall score.

Let us know if you need any reasonable adjustments before you start the test so we can make the necessary adjustments to support you.

It sounds obvious but make sure you are in a quiet location where you will not be disturbed. 

You might not need a calculator but have one with you just in case.  Have paper and a pen handy too.

It’s a good idea to take a practice test before completing the real test as this will give you a feel for the types of questions asked. It is a great way to prepare, helping you relax and perform to the best of your ability.  Try this short practice test by Cappfinity Assessment Demonstration (

Application Form – Competency Questions

This stage needs preparation so allow yourself time to complete. 

Our team reviews every application (it’s not read by a machine), so this is your opportunity to show us that you are right for this scheme.  You may find the following useful:

* Read the application form thoroughly before you start so you are familiar with the questions.

* Please ensure that you answer all questions in full sentences and stay within the word count.

* Use examples from your previous experience where appropriate. You may wish to use examples from outside of school/university such as work experience, part-time jobs, or perhaps extra-curricular activities you have been involved in.

* Be as specific as you can to provide as much detail as possible.

* Take your time. We may turn down potentially strong candidates at this stage because their applications lack detail and quality.

* Before submitting your application form, read it through and check it carefully. This is your chance to correct any mistakes and to include additional information. Applications cannot be amended once submitted.

* Keep a copy of your completed application form so you can review it before any interview that you may be invited to.

* Complete ALL parts of the application form regardless of your experience level.

You may find it useful to consider the following when drafting your examples:

Situation – What was the context of the situation? Who was involved? What was the task/project? Why did this occur?

Actions – What actions did you take? Why did you do this? How did you ensure success? What resources did you draw upon?

Results – What was the outcome?

Feedback – What feedback did you receive after, if any? What did you learn from the situation? What would you do differently next time?

Telephone Interview

If you are successful at the application competency questions, we will invite you to a telephone interview.  We conduct interviews by telephone because we receive applications from all over the country and attending face-to-face interviews at this stage is impractical for many candidates.

* Schedule your interview for a day/time that suits you.

* Try to relax and be yourself and speak clearly and confidently.

* A telephone interview is just as important as a face-to-face interview, so it needs the same level of preparation and involvement.

* Make sure you have set aside the required amount of time for the interview, and that you are in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.

* Review your application form and have a copy with you. This can help you think about your answers. However, avoid scripting your answers because you will sound unnatural when you say them.

* You will not be able to provide the visual cues that you would in a face-to-face interview such as eye contact and body language. This means your listening and verbal communication skills will be extremely important.

* The interview is a blend of competency based and scenario-based questions and we are looking for you to demonstrate evidence of several competencies aligned to the ‘NAO Values’. As the interviewer has a time limit and needs to get as much information from you as possible, you may find the interview somewhat structured and inflexible.

* Where possible, use a different example for each question. However, it is fine to refer to the same example more than once as long as you answer the question and provide evidence. It is also fine to use similar examples to those mentioned on your application form.

* Try to address each area of the question specifically, and provide concise, jargon free answers.

* We understand that you will need some time to think through your answers. Do not be afraid of brief silences – think about what you are going to say and make sure you answer each question fully.

* Make sure your application form includes your contact number including dialling code. Without this the interviewer will not be able to contact you!  You’ll be surprised at how many people put the wrong number or forget to include it altogether!

Assessment Centre

We run assessment centres at the NAO Headquarters in London. If you complete the telephone interview successfully, we will invite you to attend an assessment centre. However, at the moment all assessment centres are being held virtually via a digital platform.

The assessment centre will be a full day assessment that will include a combination of fictional and real-life business experiences to assess your broader business and functional expertise. The assessment is competency based and we are looking for you to demonstrate evidence of several competencies aligned to the NAO Values.

You will also have the opportunity to meet with some of our recent graduate and apprentice hires so you can ask them questions about the training scheme and the NAO. The purpose of the assessment centre is to create an environment in which you, along with other candidates, can demonstrate key skills/behaviours that we are looking for.

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