Stage 1 – Online application
The first stage consists of an online application form and numerical reasoning test. On submitting your application and provided you have met all of our minimum requirements, you will be invited to complete an online numerical test. You don’t need to be a mathematician to succeed in this, it is designed to show us how you work with data and make decisions using numerical information of the kind you might encounter when working here.
Please note: To uphold standards and maintain fairness we reserve the right to re-test candidates who reach the assessment centre stage of the process when they visit our offices.
TIP: We recommend you do at least one practice numerical reasoning test first before completing the test for real. This will give you a feel for the types of questions asked and how long they will take you to answer. Knowing this can help you to relax and perform to the best of your ability when you take the test for real.
If you are successful in the online numerical test you will be invited to complete 4 competency based questions. The questions will assess you against our 8 school leaver competencies and we are looking for specific examples of when you have demonstrated them. Examples could be from (but are not limited to) your time at university, work experience such as part-time jobs at school or university, or any extra curricular activities you’ve been involved in. We recommend that you complete the competency based questions within 5-7 days to ensure we can progress your application in good time.
TIP: Each question has a 250 word limit, which allows you to explain each example in a good amount of detail. We don’t have a minimum word limit but answers which are very short are unlikely to demonstrate the behaviour we are looking for in sufficient detail so be sure to write a decent amount. Please note that all 4 competency based questions carry equal marks. We are always impressed by people who are enthusiastic about the work of the NAO and how they feel they can contribute to it, so we would encourage people to do some research and think about how they see themselves working with us.
Once completed your answers are marked by our trained screeners. If you meet the minimum mark required, you will be progressed to Stage 2.
We aim to contact you within three weeks of you submitting your competency questions to tell you if you are to be invited to Stage 2. We will let you know if your application has been unsuccessful, however due to the large number of applications we receive, we cannot provide feedback on applications that are not put through to the next stage.
Stage 2 – Interview
Those who successfully complete the on-line application form and numerical reasoning test and have met our initial criteria, will be invited to a Stage 2 assessment which involves a 30-45 minutes competency based telephone interview and an opportunity to ask questions about the scheme.
TIP: You may find it helpful to review some tips on preparing for telephone interviews.
Stage 3 – Assessment Centre
If you are successful at Stage 2 then you will be invited to the final stage of the process which will include a number of individual and group exercises as well as an interview, all assessed against the NAO’s school leaver competencies. The assessment centre will last a full day but you will be provided with lunch and refreshments. You will also have the opportunity to speak to some of our current trainees.
TIP: Our Graduate Blog has plenty of valuable insights which will help you throughout the application process, but by clicking here you will be able to get hints and tips on our assessment centre from people who were successful in it so be sure to take a look!
Stage 4 – Offer
Offers are conditional on a number of pre-employment checks including: security vetting and verification of your academic grades entered on your application. You will be notified shortly after the assessment centre as to whether or not you have been successful.
The NAO is an equal opportunities employer. We aim to reflect the diversity of the public we serve. We are committed to a fair and objective selection process free from discrimination on the basis of the following characteristics: disability, age, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. Visit our main website to find out more about our commitment to diversity and equal opportunities.