What we’re looking for

There is no such thing as a typical NAO Graduate Trainee. Successful candidates come from a diverse range of backgrounds and may have any degree subject. We do however have some minimum criteria you will need to meet.

  • 300 UCAS points or equivalent from your top 3- A Level grades (or equivalent). General Studies does not count. If you have 280 UCAS points (or equivalent) you may be eligible to apply based on the context of your educational and personal circumstances – please email HRServiceDesk@nao.gsi.gov.uk for further details.
  • 2.1 degree or better in any subject (achieved or expected).
  • You must be a UK, Commonwealth, EEA or Swiss national to comply with Civil Service nationality rules and must hold a valid work permit. We are not able to sponsor work visas.

In addition to your academic qualifications we look at your competence in eight key areas. By competence we mean the skills and behaviours that you will need to demonstrate to be a successful Graduate Trainee at the NAO.

The competencies are assessed throughout the application process and you should familiarise yourself with them. You may want to think about how your own experiences demonstrate the desired behaviours. For example, a part-time job, academic work, hobbies or extracurricular activities are likely to give you opportunity to demonstrate the behaviours we are looking for.

The competencies, and a short description of each, are listed below. Click on the headings to read the full description.

This competency is about being able to gather and quickly absorb large amounts of information from a variety of sources as well as identifying patterns and trends in data and information. You will need to demonstrate that not only will you be able ask clients the right questions in order to get the relevant information, but that you can present conclusions in a way that is clear and easy to understand.
A successful auditor at the NAO does not take things at face value and needs to maintain objectivity and professional scepticism when making decisions. You will need to demonstrate that you can distinguish between the important and minor issues. It is also important to be able to demonstrate sound judgement by comparing what you would logically expect to the actual evidence. This competency is also about being able to identify risk areas in a client’s organisation and take steps to mitigate them.
To be a successful auditor your communication skills will be as important as your ability to analyse the data. You will need to demonstrate that you can communicate confidently at all levels, using clear and appropriate language both orally and in writing, backing up your ideas with evidence. Communicating effectively is about active listening; you will need to demonstrate the potential to actively listen to clients’ and team members’ opinions and needs and respond accordingly.
Studying for your accountancy qualification whilst working full time will, at times, be very challenging. We therefore require graduates who can demonstrate that they have the drive and commitment to deal with this challenge. As a graduate trainee at the NAO, you will be involved in delivering all aspects of our work from the very start, albeit with the appropriate levels of support and guidance. We are therefore looking for people who are able to work without close supervision and are able to present potential solutions as well as problems. You’ll also be passionate about your own development and will be pro-active in taking ownership for it.
We’re looking for team players who will support peers and team members by offering help and encouraging participation and contribution. At the same time you’ll be pro-active in seeking support from others when necessary. Self-aware, you’ll effectively manage your impact on other team members and will be adaptable to change in working with different teams, in different environments.
Building and maintaining effective client relationships are vital if we are to deliver lasting improvements in public service delivery. You’ll therefore need to demonstrate that you can communicate clearly and openly with clients. You also need to be able to build rapport quickly by demonstrating a friendly and professional approach being assertive and confident in a non confrontational way when the situation demands it.Building and maintaining effective client relationships are vital if we are to deliver lasting improvements in public service delivery. You’ll therefore need to demonstrate that you can communicate clearly and openly with clients. You also need to be able to build rapport quickly by demonstrating a friendly and professional approach being assertive and confident in a non confrontational way when the situation demands it.

This competency is all about your ability to prioritise work sensibly and logically by understanding how long tasks will take, how tasks fit together and what information is required. In forming your approach to tasks you will apply your learning from previous experience. Not easily distracted from the task at hand, you deal with issues promptly so that they do not impact on the deadline. When set backs and obstacles do arise, you will have the resilience to maintain your focus and pace.

This competency is all about your understanding of how wider issues affect the NAO’s work. We need people who will seek to understand how our clients’ organisations work and will use this knowledge to drive their approach. Similarly you will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the NAO’s organisational objectives and be able to articulate how you will help contribute towards helping achieve them.