What we’re looking for

There is no such thing as a typical NAO school leaver trainee. Successful candidates come from a diverse range of backgrounds and may have studied any A level subjects (or equivalent). You don’t need to have studied maths or a finance-related A level to succeed on the scheme. We do however have some minimum criteria you will need to meet .

  • 300 UCAS points or more (either achieved or expect to achieve following your exams) from your top three A level grades (or equivalent). General Studies does not count. If you have 280 UCAS points (either achieved or expect to achieve following your exams) from your top three A level grades (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.  Please note from 2017 onwards the UCAS Tariff points is changing, you will require a minimum of 120 UCAS points or equivalent from your top three A level grades (or equivalent).
  • 5 GCSEs at grade A* to C including Maths and English.
  • 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 School Leaver Trainee at the NAO.

The competencies are assessed throughout the application process and candidates should familiarise themselves with them. Candidates may also want to think about how their own experiences may demonstrate the desired behaviours. Examples may be from academic work, hobbies, employment or extracurricular activities in the last two to three years.

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

Analyses Data to Draw Sound Conclusions

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.

Demonstrates Sound Judgement

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.

Communicates Effectively With Others

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.

Demonstrates Enthusiasm, Initiative and Drive

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.

Builds and Maintains Effective Team Relationships

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.

Builds and Maintain Effective Client Relationships

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.

Plans and Organises Workload to Deliver High Quality Work to Deadline

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.

Understands the Bigger Picture

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.