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Paul Herbertson completes the last profile in our ‘Trainee-in-waiting’ series. Read on to find out about Paul’s experiences with us so far, and what he’s looking forward to when his traineeship finally commences next week. We wish Paul and all the other new trainees a great start to their career! Paul, why did you apply to […]

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Trainee-in-waiting: Paul Herbertson

Posted on August 26, 2016 by

start-malePaul Herbertson completes the last profile in our ‘Trainee-in-waiting’ series. Read on to find out about Paul’s experiences with us so far, and what he’s looking forward to when his traineeship finally commences next week. We wish Paul and all the other new trainees a great start to their career!

Paul, why did you apply to the NAO?

My degree in Economics and Politics taught me how important it is that public money is spent efficiently. The ‘Value for Money’ work which the National Audit Office does is something I think I will find very interesting to do and I believe has becoming increasingly important under current economic conditions.

The opportunity to earn an ACA qualification will open many doors. I will learn about how large government departments are funded and how they undertake major projects. This knowledge is highly regarded both inside of and outside of the public sector.

How did you find the NAO’s recruitment process (compared to others)?

The NAO has a similar recruitment process to other large organisations, with an initial application form, numerical reasoning test, telephone interview and assessment centre.

I remember being very pleased with the way which the telephone interview was conducted. My interviewer was an employee at the NAO who had completed the graduate scheme himself. This meant at the end he was able to answer my specific questions about his experience on the graduate scheme which I found very helpful. Large organisations often outsource their telephone interviews to an external company, I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t the case.

I was also very impressed with the speed at which my application was processed. I found out that I had been offered a place on the graduate scheme within 48 hours of sitting the assessment centre. This compares with the Civil Service Fast Stream who took just under 5 months to get back to me.

What do you wish you knew about us before you applied?

During the lunch break at the assessment centre, current members of the graduate scheme gave a presentation on the NAO and the work which they are doing. I learnt that there are potential opportunities to work abroad and possible secondments to other areas of the public sector.

Any tips for next year’s applicants?

Make sure you are clear on exactly what the functions of the NAO are and why you want to work there. Take time to read through the website and one or two of the Value for Money reports. I would also advise being up to date on current economic and political affairs as they greatly influence the work of the NAO.

During every stage of the recruitment process it is important to keep the core competencies in mind and remember that they are what you need to demonstrate. There are specific strategies which you can use during the group work at assessment centres; asking people who have been successfully accepted onto competitive graduate schemes is very helpful.

What are you looking forward to when joining us in September?

Having worked as part of a small team for the last 6 months I am excited to become part of a large organisation and meet everyone else on my intake. I know it will be a really steep learning curve when I start and I am looking forward to the challenge of developing new skills and learning a lot of new material.


Would you like to join Paul next year?

We will soon be accepting applications for our 2017 graduate training scheme.

Sign up for our email alerts and be the first to know when the scheme opens.


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