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If you’re anything like me, being offered an interview will come with mixed emotions. On the one hand, you are of course delighted to be one step closer to the job; but you are then faced with the daunting task of preparing for it as best as you can. However, there are some easy steps […]

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How best to prepare for an interview

Posted on January 16, 2015 by

Interview preparationIf you’re anything like me, being offered an interview will come with mixed emotions. On the one hand, you are of course delighted to be one step closer to the job; but you are then faced with the daunting task of preparing for it as best as you can. However, there are some easy steps you can take, which will give you the confidence and background that will give you a fighting chance for the job! These can usefully be divided into sections that I have aptly named “Know the Job” and “Know Yourself”.

Know the Job

It is important to show the interviewer that you have really clued yourself up on the position that you are applying for and the work of the NAO itself.

For this, I would recommend using the NAO graduate website as your primary source of information. However, if you want to gain some extra knowledge, have a read of the NAO’s main website and look through media websites such as BBC News for examples of when the NAO has really made a public impact. In particular, I would recommend gathering reasons together for why you are applying for the NAO in particular, as opposed to other graduate schemes.

Another useful activity will be to research a few of our recent value for money reports; these will provide great talking points in your interview and display a genuine interest in the type of work that we do.

In addition, sources such as WikiJob, Facebook, the “Meet our trainees” section of the graduate scheme website and the graduate blog itself will give you an understanding of what trainees themselves think about the job and what experiences they have had.

Finally, I would bear in mind that your accountancy studies will form a large part of your life as a trainee, so it is a good idea to research the ACA, what it involves and what sets it apart from alternative qualifications.

Know Yourself

Secondly, you will want to show the interviewer that you have the potential to work well in the job.

The NAO’s eight core competencies can be found on the graduate scheme website and I have previously written about when I have personally applied them since joining. The competencies will hopefully provide real structure in this part of your interview preparation; I would aim to think of perhaps two incidents of when you have applied each competency, during your previous experience. Do bear in mind, however, that it is perfectly acceptable to apply the same previous role to multiple competencies.

I would also recommend looking over your CV in advance, so that you can confidently talk about your background. Finally, I would recommend being aware of the news prior to your interview, paying special attention to issues affecting the public sector; these will give you great anecdotes to drop into your answers and will display the all important quality of being genuinely interested in the job!


Apply now – applications close 28 February

If you want to apply for our 2015 graduate training scheme, you can still do so until Saturday, 28 February 2015. Head over to our graduate recruitment site for further information.

If you’ve got any questions around the application process, please leave a comment below. You can also contact our recruitment team by email, via our Facebook page, or on Twitter.


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