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What Is National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP)? : A Comprehensive Study Guide

If you have achieved a 2.2 in your degree and you are interested in a career in public service, the NGDP may be just what you are looking for. However, getting a place on the programme will require working your way through a challenging selection progress.

The two-year paid graduate programme with NGDP will give you the further skills you require for a career in public service. Getting on the programme will hone your abilities. You will effectively serve the public and finally put those years spent at college to good use!

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However getting on the programme requires more than submitting a simple application. As well as having the degree that is a requirement for applying to the NGDP, you will have to complete a range of assessments that will show your suitability for the programme.

You will also need to attend an assessment centre.

If you are wondering what an assessment centre is and what you will have to do, we have covered it all in this guide.

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What Happens at the NGDP Assessment Centre?

The NGDP Assessment Centre is a day where you will be invited to be assessed on your fit for the role you have applied for. You may need to take part in various activities, exercises, and assessments.

Expect to do some or all of the following:

A Presentation

You may be asked to make a presentation on a topic related to the position you are seeking. The presentation will give the assessors a picture of your communication abilities and also of your ability to organise material into a cohesive form.

A Group Exercise

The group exercise will see you working with other candidates resolving an issue the assessors present you with. Your communication and decision making abilities will be on display here as will your leadership skills. Remind yourself to express your ideas clearly but without appearing to manipulate the conversation!

A Written Exercise

You will be asked to analyse a written piece and come up with your responses to it.

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Psychometric Tests

If you haven’t already done verbal and numerical reasoning tests you can expect to do them at the assessment centre.

Try the following free sample numerical reasoning test and a free sample verbal reasoning test.

As you will notice the tests in themselves are not overly challenging. However completing them on time makes them demanding. Regular practice on sample papers will help you overcome this challenge.

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What Is the NGDP Application Process?

1. The Application Form

Consider yourself as engaging with the testing process when you complete the NGDP application. The application is not to be completed in a hurry. Many questions will demand five hundred word answers and your answers will be the basis on which you may be asked to continue further in the selection process.

Getting a clear idea of what the recruiters are looking for will help you concentrate on showing your best skills and qualities when you fill out the form.

The application form is designed to assess if you have the following qualities:

  • Do you work well with others?
  • Are you a good communicator and able to convince people of your viewpoint?
  • Have you a passion for local government and local communities?
  • Are you a decision maker?
  • Do you have leadership potential?

On the form you will be asked to describe situations where you effectively used those talents and may be asked if you reached the goals you were aiming for.

Taking the level of detail into account it is wise to begin your research and preparation before you actually apply for a place. It is also wise to bear in mind how many applicants there are for the programme and how few places there actually are.

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2. Online Assessments

An invitation to do online assessments is a signal that you have cleared the first hurdle in your search for an NGDP place. However many others will have done the same and the online assessments are a further attempt to narrow down the number of applicants who have reached that point in their application.

You can expect to do following assessments:

  • Verbal reasoning
  • Numerical reasoning
  • A personality test/ Situational Judgement Test

The verbal and numerical tests, if you are required to do them, will assess your abilities to work with numbers and words. However for somebody new to the job testing process the Situational Judgement Test SJT will be your biggest challenge.

The multiple choice test is assessing how you will respond to situations in the workplace, and how good your teamwork skills and decision making abilities are.

In the test you will be presented with a number of likely workplace scenarios and asked to choose how you would respond in each situation.

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You can expect questions along the lines of the following:

SJT Sample Questions

Sara was given a list of tasks to complete two days ago. After working fast and efficiently she has now finished her tasks. Sara’s supervisor is working from a different location today.

What is the most effective response that Sara can take?
A- Sara could find a colleague that needs help with a task- this could be more interesting than just sitting around at the office.

B- Sara could call her supervisor and ask him what she could do next- so that her work is more efficient.

C- Sara could go study materials that are generally relevant for her work.

D- Sara could ask another member of the office if there is anything she can do to help – as it’s important to help a teammate.

In selecting your answer to the question, remind yourself again of what the graduate programme is looking for in an employee. Avoid the temptation to jump in and randomly select an answer.

When it comes to doing the real test you will have to work quickly to complete the test within the time allowed. However, regular practice on sample papers will teach you how to manage your time and will also make you more familiar with the style of questioning and the answers that place you in the best light.

To get a headstart on your preparation try doing the following free sample test within the time allowed and make sure you check your scores when finished Situational Judgement Test.

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3. Video Interview

a woman in front of the laptop

Acing the online assessments will see you being invited to do an online video interview. You will have to give your answers to a pre recorded set of questions. As with all interviews, thorough preparation is the key to doing well in this interview.

Make sure you review your CV again and work on the interview preparation notes in your test prep pack.

A successful interview will see you being asked to attend an assessment centre.

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4. NGDP Assessment Centre

At the assessment day you will meet the people who operate the graduate programme face to face for the first time. Up to this point all stages of the process are conducted “blind” to ensure every candidate is treated fairly.

The assessment day where you will engage in individual and group exercises and meet your fellow applicants can be daunting but with preparation you can ensure it goes your way.

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5. In-person Interview

Prepare perhaps even more thoroughly for this interview than for the video interview. Make sure you have done your research into all aspects of local government.

Having done your research you will feel more confident going into the interview. Make sure you have some questions of your own to ask at the end of the interview. An essential part of your preparation should include a visit to the LGA website. Here you will find that the people in charge of hiring want to see the personalities and passions of the applicants.

You will also discover that in addition to the leadership, teamwork and communication skills mentioned earlier they like to see people:

  • Who are willing to continue learning
  • Who like to find solutions to problems
  • Who are resilient
  • Who have a keen interest in local government

Working with that information and the resources in your test prep pack you will be able to approach the assessments and interviews confidently knowing you have done the work to ace the process.

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How Do I Prepare for the NGDP Assessments?

Preparing for any assessment means first familiarising yourself with what the tests actually entail and secondly working on tests that are similar to the real ones.

A job test preparation company will be able to help you to succeed in the recruitment process. For this we recommend using the services of Job Test Prep.

With more than thirty years experience in preparing candidates for job recruitment processes, they will provide you with accurate information and sample test papers mirrored on the real tests to help you work your way through the system.

To get an idea of the types of tests they give you, try your hand at the following free sample situational judgement test (SJT).

Using Job Test Prep you will be provided with a test prep pack containing sample test papers for you to work on, a handy method of calculating your scores, and guides to preparing for interviews.

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Are the NGDP Assessments Hard?

Not everyone who has a yearning to spend a life in public service is admitted onto the programme. The purpose of the assessments is to select the best candidates from the many applicants to the programme.

The assessments are difficult for this reason and are very competitive due to the number of people seeking a place on the scheme. However, preparing for the tests will greatly increase your chances of getting a place.

Using the sample papers as the foundation of your preparation you will become familiar with the style of questioning in the tests and also with the timing of the papers. Working like this you will have honed your skills by the time the real tests come along and will have the confidence of knowing there will be nothing unfamiliar on the papers.

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Final Thoughts

If your ambition is to get a place on the NGDP two year graduate programme you will find all the resources you need to prepare for the interviews and assessments here.

Written by Elizabeth O Mahony

With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.

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