National Audit Office: Application - Offer

National Audit Office

NAO experience (Initial application to Job offer) – Assistant Auditor

UK, Commonwealth, EEA, Swiss national, 2:1 degree in any discipline, 300 UCAS points

Application Form
It was quite a standard application form with some competency questions and why you wanted to join the National Audit Office. Make sure you answer the question and your answers are as specific as possible and of course check for spelling and grammar mistakes.

1st Assessment (about 2 hours in duration)

This will comprise of a maths test and an interview

They will send you a booklet of practice questions to do. There will be quite a lot of questions in the booklet. However, if you have time to do them all beforehand then you won’t have a problem with the test. You will need to get 23 out of 30 to pass the maths test.

The interview will usually be with a HR manager or in my case an audit manager. The questions were fairly standard, why accountancy/auditing/NAO, what you understand about the ACA qualification, some competency questions (they were different from the ones on the application). I didn’t have any questions that required commercial awareness but I would recommend to at least having some knowledge about what’s going on in the economy/business world. The interview was fairly relaxed and lasted about 50 minutes for mine. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions at the end.

2nd Assessment (about 7 hours in duration)

This is essentially an assessment centre. This will comprise of an interview, a presentation, a group exercise and a written exercise. An important thing to note is that you are not in competition with other candidates, if you meet the minimum requirement standard, then you can all be offered a job. NAO intends to recruit around 70-80 graduates. As of 17 February 2010, they have only made about 20 offers, so there are still a large number of jobs to go round.

During the day you will have a brief presentation by someone from HR to talk about the training about the ACA qualification. You will also have lunch and the opportunity to meet some graduates and ask any questions that you might have.

In terms of the presentation, they will send the topic to you beforehand to prepare for. The presentation is intended to last 10 minutes with 5 minutes for the assessors to ask questions. Please note that another candidate will also listen to your presentation and can also ask you questions at the end. Each candidate will be given a different presentation topic. So don’t worry about the other candidate stealing your ideas. The topics for the presentation will not have a definitive answer to. It is looking for you to analyse the any information that you can gather and present both sides of the argument and coming up with a recommendation.

You will have an hour for the written exercise. It was fairly straight forward. You were not presented with a lot of information and you had to answer 4 questions. One of them was mathematically-based. The other 3 required some thought before you could answer them. Just make sure that you manage you time then you will not have a problem. I split the time evenly and managed to finish all the questions before the hour. So it’s not that difficult, they are looking whether you have good written communication and also you creativity in your answers.

The group exercise lasted 30 minutes. I think it will vary depending on the size of the group. My group consisted of 6 people including myself, but I think you could have groups up to 8 people. Again, this task looks at verbal communication but also the ability to work in a team and reach a group decision. The task was not too difficult, the only thing is time. Make sure someone keeps an eye on time and have a group decision before the time is up.

The interview is expected to last 30 minutes. It will be with a director usually, but if the directors are busy then you might get a HR manager. I had a director for my interview. She was very friendly and made the interview quite relaxed. However, there were quite a look of questions to get through, so don’t talk/waffle for too long on one particular question. At the end, she said she was afraid that we had run out of time, so I am not sure if that meant she still had more questions. So just bear that in mind. Again, some competency questions, why NAO specifically, make sure you are commercially aware and know in some detail about their VFM audits. Although I didn’t have any questions asked specifically about the VFM or the economy, when I mentioned it, my interviewer was impressed. There will be 2 sets of interviews going on at the same time, so you could get any one of the 2 interviewers. I was also aware that the other interviewer asked about the economy in some detail and previous candidates were asked about VFM. So make sure you are prepared for it.

I got a phone call the next day and was told that I was successful. NAO will send you the offer in writing as well as the conditions of the offer. You will usually be given 2 weeks to make the decision. However, because I mentioned to her that I have a few other assessments in the near future, she extended the amount of time that I have to consider the offer. The NAO intends to finish the whole recruitment process by April.


Hi Guys,

Anyone here gone for a UBS second round interview with the Structured Credit Derivatives team/ any position with UBS within the IB side?

I have one coming up next week, would like to know what the pattern would be like? First round was basic qns like bond lifetime, IRS, CDS, some competency, abt the company, etc… This would be with the Senior Mgt, probably with guys having 10+exp, Im sure it would be a lot technical, but any idea anyone otherwise?




sorry mate, didn not mean to use your space, new on Wiki, How do I post ,my seperate comment?


Hi Freelancer,
I have my first stage with NAO tomorrow so wondered if you could let me know what competency questions you were asked at the interview?
I know they ask the standard why aca, why nao, why audit etc, just need the competency ones they are likely to ask…
Would really appreciate if you could get back to me asap!
Thanks a lot, KLT


Hi klt

They were standard questions, if you have had other competency interviews, you will be fine. If I recall correctly, I was asked 3 competency questions. One was about organising an event, one was when I had to analyse information and one was persuading someone. I think there were other questions, it is up to the interviewer to choose.

I hope this helps and good luck with the 1st stage.


Thanks freelancer, your reply and post above are really useful, especially as there’s not a lot of info on NAO on here atm!

Cheers xx


oh and congratulations on the job offer! Did you end up taking it? and did you apply for London or Newcastle?


Thanks Klt

I applied for the London office, I am in the process of deciding which offer to take. I just worry about getting kicked out by NAO if I fail one exam.


Hi Freelancer…

I have my AC in a day…I found you post very helpful. Can you plz shed some light on what sort of competency based questions they will ask…i know its usual. just wanted to know the titles if u remember…if not its ok.

also can u plz tell me for the case study what type of questions come up…especially the numerical one.

i will appreciate ur help a lot.

i really want to get into NAO. i have worked really hard to get upto this stage. i really want to be absolutely spot on…on the day.

thanks so much.




In terms of the specific competency questions, I can only remember a few. Here’s how they go;

-a time when you had to make a decision very quickly
-a time when you got negative feedback
-a time when you had to motivate someone
-a time when you had to organise something

I am afraid those are the ones that I can remember. Just to point out, they didn’t had a set of questions they needed to ask. My interviewer simply asked the questions that she wanted and scribbled notes onto a pad. So it is possible that you get completely different questions.

The numerical questions were easy but somehow took quite long for me to complete. Maybe it was because there were quite a lot of simple calculations and it wasn’t my own calculator. In terms of the other written answers, at first sight, the questions seemed to be asking very similar things. But don’t worry, most of the other candidates in my group felt that way. Just get stuck in and answer them and I am sure you will be fine.

I hope you have prepped for your presentation. You could get asked some really doggy questions as I certainly did. All my questions actually came from the candidate as he was so interested in the topic of my presentation that he asked 3 questions. One of them was so long it almost took him a minute to get it all out and even the assessors said that was a tough question. So try to know quite extensively about you presentation topic.

Hope my experience will help you on the day.

Best of luck and let me know how you got on.


hey thanks so much…yes i have slogged hard…and researched my presentation thoroughly…i just hope any weird questions dont come up. wat wud u suggest i shud say if i cant answer them? i have done like 5 days of non stop research so the worry is i mite not be able to remember some stuff i have researched…

i hope to see u in september… :slight_smile:

thanks a lot once again.

which other places have u applied to?


you are welcome PJS. Don’t worry about the presentation if you have researched thoroughly. I only spent about 2 days preparing for the presentation. If you are worried, then you can write the some notes and hold them during your presentation. If they ask you questions that you can’t remember then you can always refer yo your notes. If you really can’t answer them then just say you honestly don’t know, but if you have to make an educated guess it will be…

If you don’t mind me asking, which presentation topic did you get?

I have applied to too many places :stuck_out_tongue:
but I have got another offer from Fujitsu and assessment centre with AkzoNobel as well as Co-Op.


hey freelancer…i dont mind disclosing it to you. But i guess it will be unfair to future candidates. can i email it to you on your personal id? would you mind dropping me your personal id? I am not sure how can i message you privately through this forum.



Good luck with your assessment centres. I can see you are going to do extremely well.


Hi guys, i’ve just been told i’m through to the group selection stage, very chuffed about that!

Just for those who are yet to go through 1st stage, here’s my take on the day (although very similar to freelancer):
There were six of us there for the first stage and we completed the maths test (30 questions to complete in 1 hr). The standard of test is just like the revision pack they send you so as long as you’re swotted up on that you’ll be fine. We were then collected by our interviewers for our competency interview. I had mine with an Audit Principal who had gone through the same graduate programme. The interview was fairly informal and he didn’t seem to have a list of questions ready, just asked what he felt like really. The questions I remember are; Describe a time when you had to persuade someone of an idea, a time I had to motivate someone. Sorry, can’t seem to remember a lot of others but they were all standard competency ones so just make sure you read other parts of wikijob about those types of questions. Oh he also asked me where i looked for information for the interview, and asked what VFM reports I had looked at. The interview for me lasted about 45 minutes, and we spent another 15 minutes on answering my questions I had about the scheme. All in all I thought I had done ‘okay’ and was quite surprised I was through to the next round!

I have my assessment centre next week so will let you know more details about that afterwards. PJS please could you provide details about your group selection after you have completed it? That would be really helpful.



Thanks for that PJS. I hope I will do well, but I am sure you will too. You seems to be always well prepared and hardworking. I think that’s the way to be successful. All the bast matey.


Hi Guys,

I’ve also got my Group Selection coming up and am a little nervous :-S
Could anyone give me an insight into what questions they asked regarding the VFM reports and/or the economy?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Hi sr3456

They didn’t ask me about any VFM reports specifically, but I was asked how I prepared for the day and brought up VFM reports then. I think its a good idea to just have a look at the ones that interest you and be able to talk about it. My interviewer and I just spoke about the reports I had looked into, didn’t ask me any specific questions, I just explained why I found it interesting. I don’t think they expect you to have read a lot or any in detail.

Another question they asked was what are the biggest challenges for NAO? Here I think you can bring in the economy and how you think the current situation is affecting NAO and how they can tackle it etc.

One piece of advice I would give is don’t mention anything you dont feel comfortable talking about - there’s no point saying one thing and not being able to elaborate. IF they ask you more probing questions around the subject you just look like a fool if you cant give an answer…

So, when is your group selection? I hope i’ve replied in time!


Hi klt/ freelancer.

Thanks for all the info you’ve posted so far.

Just to clarify, is the maths test REALLY the same standard as the revision guide they send, like you’ve mentioned?! Just seems to me that an hour is more than enough to answer the type of Q’s they suggest, e.g. expanding brackets takes about 6 seconds to do. Or are there quite a few long-worded Q’s with simple calculations? A little more insight would be much appreciated as I tend to panic in numerical tests and fudge them up completely!

Cheers x


The test will be as similar to the revision guide as you would get. It really is that simple. It took me about 30 minutes to finish it which meant I had enough time to do it again to make everything was spot on. So yeah, nothing to worry about. Good luck.