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Once you have submitted your application form and undertaken the numerical reasoning test, the next stage in the assessment process (for those lucky ones amongst you!) is the initial interview. For me, this was quite a scary prospect as I hadn’t had much prior experience in attending interviews. I also opted to attend the London […]

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Preparing for an initial interview

Posted on December 6, 2013 by

Job interviewOnce you have submitted your application form and undertaken the numerical reasoning test, the next stage in the assessment process (for those lucky ones amongst you!) is the initial interview. For me, this was quite a scary prospect as I hadn’t had much prior experience in attending interviews. I also opted to attend the London office for this, which would normally mean travelling on the Underground, but I decided to walk from King’s Cross to Victoria as I wasn’t a fan of it. Walking is not a good idea at all – I had very sore feet at the end of the day!

The initial interview is a competency based interview that lasts approximately 45 minutes, held at either the Newcastle or London office, depending which one you’re nearest to. The questions you will be asked are based around the eight core competencies that are described on the NAO’s graduate recruitment website, such as demonstrating sound judgement and analysing data to draw sound conclusions. To give myself an idea of the kind of answers I could give and to think ahead about the type of questions I might be asked, I found it helpful to print out what I had written in the application form.

As the questions in the interview focus around your competencies and skills, it’s important that you can describe a range of scenarios of when you’ve demonstrated particular skills or behaviours. The scenarios do not have to relate directly to the graduate scheme or the NAO and can come from any type of work experience (paid or unpaid), university, extracurricular activities and your personal life. These examples of your competencies should also be relatively recent (i.e. within the last few years) and not re-used for multiple questions whenever possible. It’s therefore a good idea to have a think about what you’ve achieved, been involved in and experiences you’ve had over the past few years.

The questions can also be topical – so it’s also worthwhile keeping up with current affairs around the time of your interview (if you don’t already!). The interviewer, who will be a qualified Auditor or a member of the HR team, will also expect you to have some knowledge about the NAO and why you have applied for the graduate scheme.

As well as providing answers to the questions, think about the impression you give to the interviewer such as how clearly you speak, eye contact and handshake. Remember the old adage that it’s the first impression that counts! If you haven’t had much experience of interviews beforehand, try practising with a friend to lessen your nerves on the actual day or take advantage of mock interviews that some universities will offer you.

The interview also gives you an opportunity to meet the people you could be working with, to ask questions about the NAO and the role. Preparing questions also helps develop a good impression; and well thought through questions will help show your genuine interest.

More information about the assessment process was discussed in earlier blog posts about getting a job at the NAO. The assessment process contains three stages, these are the online application form and numerical reasoning test, the initial interview and assessment centre.

As always, good luck to those of you who are applying!


Any questions? Join our last Twitter Q&A on 16 December 2013

Have you got any last minute questions around applying for our graduate scheme? Join our last Twitter Q&A before we close applications on 31 December 2013.

Louisa from our recruitment team and Rachael, one of our trainee bloggers, will be available on Monday, 16 December 2013, from 4-5pm on Twitter (@naograduatejobs). Post your questions during the event and get an answer straight away.

If you cannot make the event, please tweet us beforehand @naograduatejobs and we will make sure to answer your questions during the live session.

Hashtag: #AskNAOgrads


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2 responses to “Preparing for an initial interview”

  1. Laura Wright says:

    Great idea- if only I had thought of that back then, Lis!

  2. Lis says:

    Your mention of your sore feet reminded me of my interview day: I wanted my feet to be comfortable but I also wanted to wear my new shoes: so I took them in a bag and changed into them in the precinct near the office!

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