About the National Audit Office

The National Audit Office (NAO) recruit two levels of trainees, school leavers, and graduates. The process for both schemes is the same, and will challenge you at each stage as you strive to become a NAO graduate. This article will take you through each stage of the NAO recruitment process.

The NAO graduate competencies run through the entire recruitment process. You must demonstrate your abilities against each of the eight skills and abilities using examples from your experience to date.

The competencies are:

  • Analyses data to draw sound conclusions.
  • Demonstrates sound judgement.
  • Communicates effectively with others.
  • Demonstrates enthusiasm, initiative and drive.
  • Builds and maintains effective team relationships.
  • Builds and maintains effective client relationships.
  • Plans and organises workload to deliver high quality work to deadline.
  • Understands the bigger picture.

NAO Application Form

The application form is your first opportunity to impress the recruiters, and if you don’t impress now, you will not be given the chance to impress further down the line. The application form asks about your personal details, education, and any employment experience you have had up to this point. Remember to answer every question, think about it ahead of time, and be truthful.

The application form assesses three core competencies, asking one question about each. You are asked to provide examples from your past experience which show how you meet these competencies. Plan your examples in advance, and organise your answers using the STAR method (situation, task, action, and response). Find out more about how to use the STAR method on JobTestPrep’s website, here. You are limited to 250 words per answer, so prepare carefully before you put your answers into the application form.

The competencies you are being tested on are:

  • Analyses data to draw sound conclusions.
  • Demonstrates sound judgement.
  • Demonstrates initiative, enthusiasm and drive.

Competency questions on the school leaver application form include:

  • Please describe a time when you had to bring together a range of information in order to draw a conclusion.
  • What was your objective?
  • What types of information did you use?
  • How did you ensure you were gathering the most pertinent information?
  • How did you go about collating and reviewing all the information?
  • What conclusion did you reach and how did you present this?
  • Please describe a time when you have needed to weigh-up a number of options before making an important decision.
  • What decision did you need to make?
  • What information was available to you?
  • How did you identify the key information?
  • What risks did you consider when making your decision?
  • What was the impact of your decision?
  • Please describe a time when you have had to show a high degree of initiative and determination to reach an objective.
  • What was your objective?
  • What made it so challenging?
  • Describe some of the key setbacks and obstacles encountered, and how you overcame these?
  • What was the outcome?

Two further questions you are asked are:

  • Given the range of organisations that employ trainees, why have you chosen to apply to join the National Audit Office’s school leaver scheme?
  • Please describe any other interests you have or extra curricular activities you have been involved in.

Don’t forget to research the NAO when filling in your application form, and use the information you have found into your answers. There is a strong emphasis on answering competency questions on this application form. For some tips about answering this type of question, see the JobTestPrep website.


NAO Numerical Reasoning Test

Accompanying the application form is an online numerical reasoning test. You must pass this as well as having an application form which impresses in order to pass through to the next round. The test is the same for both recruitment tracks. In a numerical reasoning test you are given information in formats such as graphs, tables, or charts, and asked questions on the information. The test is designed to assess your ability to analyse numerical data.

You are allowed to use a calculator during the test, as well as rough paper for any working out. Using a calculator can be tricky, and if you don’t know what you are doing, you can lose you valuable time in the test. See JobTestPrep’s guide to using a calculator for tips on how to make the most ouy of your calculator during the test.

The NAO numerical reasoning test is provided by Cubiks. Questions come in two formats: the first format is multiple-choice, where you must pick the correct answer from a list. In the second format you are presented with a statement regarding the information provided and you must decide whether the statement is true, false, or you cannot tell. You should base you answer on the information provided only. In this test you have 14 minutes to answer 15 questions.

There are several challenges to taking this test, from the unfamiliar questions, to the limited time available. You must answer questions quickly and accurately. Taking practice tests ensures you are familiar with the questions, and helps you relax when you take the real test. JobTestPrep has created Cubiks style numerical reasoning tests, to help you prepare for this test.


NAO Initial Interview

The next stage of the recruitment process is the stage 1 competency based interview. This interview will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes with a member of the NAO HR team. You will have an opportunity at the end of the interview to ask questions, so make sure you prepare some questions in advance that are sure to impress.

There will be at least one interview question on each of the competencies listed above, however the interviewer will also use the opportunity to ask questions about you and your career motivations. Questions can include:

  • Why do you want to work for the National Audit Office?
  • Why do you want to work in accounting?
  • Why do you want to work in audit?

This interview is your first opportunity to impress the National Audit Office face to face, so preparation is vital to ensure you make a good impression. Prepare at least one if not more example for each competency. Use the STAR method to organise your answers. Plan your outfit in advance. Prepare with JobTestPrep to boost your confidence so you can wow your assessor.