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The NGDP, or National Graduate Development Programme is local government’s graduate management development training programme. The recruitment process for the NGDP Graduate Scheme contains several stages, each with their own challenges. This article will go through the recruitment process stage by stage, highlighting the preparation resources available to you from JobTestPrep, and giving you the best chance of success.

NGDP Graduate Scheme Recruitment Process

The NGDP assessments have changed for 2015, with the addition of a series of online tests. Tell us more about the new process in the comments form below.

Throughout the NGDP application process, you are assessed against a set of competencies or skills. These are:

Working with others Persuasive Communication Planning and organisation
Drive for results Analysis and problem solving Motivation for learning and personal reliance
Commitment to local government and the wider community Leadership potential  

NGDP Application Form

The application form is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the recruiters. The NGDP application form asks for information about your education and any employment you may have had to date, as well as some more testing competency based questions. In these questions, the recruiters are looking for evidence of the competencies above. Don’t forget to give examples from your previous experience in your answers. Evidence of research into the organisations you want to work with will also improve your application form. You have 500 words to answer each question, so plan your answers out carefully beforehand, and use the STAR method to ensure that you do not miss out any crucial details.

The type of questions on the application form include:

  • Please describe a situation where you worked effectively in a team to deliver a successful task/ project. How did you approach this task/ project? What skills did you use, and how did you ensure success?
  • Please describe a situation where you used your ability to effectively communicate to overcome a difficult problem or challenge. Why did your particular approach succeed?
  • Please describe a situation where you demonstrated successful leadership to achieve positive results. What did you learn about yourself and how did you know it was a success? What actions and behaviours did you deploy to ensure success?
  • Please describe a situation where you acted on your own initiative to meet the needs of others. Explain how you balanced the cost/ benefits associated with this outcome.
  • Please describe why you are committed to working specifically in local government. What do you hope to learn and achieve by working in local government over the next two years? Explain what innovative and/ or creative ideas you could bring to a council.


Online Tests

If your application is taken forward, the next stage is an online verbal and numerical reasoning test. These tests are provided by The Test Factory.

Numerical Reasoning Test

The numerical reasoning test looks at how well you can utilise information in a numerical form, including a table, graph or chart, in order to answer a question. You are presented with different information items from which you need to make calculations to answer the question. There are three or four questions per information set. The questions are usually multiple choice, but you have to work out the answer in order to pick the correct option. You may use a calculator to answer questions. The test is timed, with 45 minutes allocated to answer 32 questions, so you have to be able to work quickly and accurately. Practice makes perfect with our online numerical reasoning test practice packs.

Verbal Reasoning Test

The verbal reasoning test is designed to assess your ability to understand and use written information in order to prove a point. In this test you are  given a short text to read and three or four questions on what you have read. Questions are usually multiple choice although they vary between choose the correct statement, or assess whether the statement is true, false, or you cannot say based on the information in the text. In this test, all questions on each text are listed below the text from the start, making it easier to choose your solving strategy. This test is timed, adding pressure for you to read the text quickly and move on to the next question. Find out more about verbal reasoning tests and how to prepare for them with our verbal reasoning test practice packs

NGDP Situational Judgement Test

If you pass the online tests, you are next invited to take an online situational judgement test. The SJT examines your responses to workplace situations. In this test you are given a scenario to read and a list of possible responses to the situation. In this test you may be asked to choose the most or least appropriate response to the situation. The scenarios will be situations you could find yourself in when on the local government graduate scheme, and they are looking for you to use the desired competencies to inform your answer. Familiarise yourself with this test and how to identify the best response with our online situational judgement test practice pack.

NGDP Assessment Centre

In 2015 there is just one assessment centre for the council graduate scheme. This assessment centre will test you through a series of both group and individual exercises. You are advised to do your research into local government before you attend the assessment day, so that you have a background knowledge for the tasks. Activities include:


In this exercise you are given some materials and time to prepare a presentation to a hypothetical leadership team in a local authority. At the end of your presentation, the panel will ask you questions on your presentation. In order to prepare for this exercise, you may want to take some practice case study tests, including advice on how to pull the information together into a presentation. For some tips on presentations, see the JobTestPrep blog post on presentation skills.

Group Exercise

This exercise is a “boardroom” exercise. Along with other candidates, you are given an agenda and papers, and asked to move through a meeting, discussing the issues in the papers. You are expected to keep to time, and to come up with clear outcomes for each problem debated and agreed. One of the purposes of this exercise is to examine how you work in a team. You will be assessed on the quality of your contributions- it is not how much you say, but what you say that counts. The assessors are looking for how you respond to comments made by your team members, how you encourage others to participate, and how you listen to what is being said. Group exercises are not easy, but devising some strategy for how you will approach the session will help you get through. JobTestPrep’s group exercises guidance pack can help you plan your day to maximum effect.

Local Authority Interview

This is the final stage of the NGDP application process. You are invited to interview at two local authorities, based on your preferences and availability of spaces. You can only be offered a position with one of these two councils. This stage is possibly the most competitive stage of them all, where you still have around a 50:50 chance of getting a position. The recruiters are looking for you to really do your best to stand out from the crowd. Don’t forget to research the council and the area that you are interviewing for, and prepare to use that research in your answers during the interview. All your previous experience is important, your role is to show how it has given you the skills to take your career forward.

Prepare for Success

Recruitment to the NGDP is extremely competitive, and places are few. The assessments you will undergo as part of the recruitment process will test your skills to the maximum. Preparation is key throughout the process, and JobTestPrep has the resources available to help you do so. 

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