Interviewing Techniques for Effective Audits

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  • Q1 2023
  • Interviewing Techniques for Effective Audits

Why are interviews or techniques necessary?

Organizations adhere to designed rules, structures and slated polices. Since the regular business environment can be complex to work in, then auditors have dynamic career experiences. One of the most frequent, as well as challenging, tasks an auditor carries out is the interview. These interviews are typically investigations to determine if a person or group has broken rules, designed structures or polices and what the consequences should be. It is therefore imperative for auditors to be accurate and factual while maintaining the appropriate demeanor. These five interviewing techniques for auditors will help…

Necessary Techniques

1. Prepare

Some interviews are better to enter with a blank, roll with the punches, and just be oneself. Conducting an audit interview is on the opposite end of that spectrum. Auditors must review the policies and structure surrounding the current issues to clear up any uncertainties. They cannot enforce laws they do not understand, especially because many interviewees will attempt to manipulate or work around the laws. Auditors must prepare responses for

a wide variety of reactions. The last thing either party wants is for the interview process to drag on any longer than necessary, so the auditor must come prepared with as many foreseeable questions as possible and all required materials

2. Critical Thinking

Of course, one of the main reasons to be prepared is so that one can effectively tackle the unexpected. Interviewees will always throw curve balls, whether intentional or not. Their responses will reveal questions that the auditor did not think of prior but must address in the moment. This requires strong critical thinking skills, the ability to analyze and direct the course of the interview moment by moment. Earning a forensic accounting degree or certificate as part of the auditing education is a fantastic way to hone critical thinking skills from the beginning.

3. Excellent note taking

No final decisions are made now of the interview. This means that auditors must have accurate, detailed, and comprehensible notes to review and share with their teams. This is not as simple as just taking down every word the interviewees, say. It means capturing the most crucial information in as few words as possible while also writing down the most important questions and ideas that come to mind as the interviews unfold. This all must occur while remaining in the present moment, without missing anything important

4. Emotional Intelligence

As described in Psychology, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and appropriately respond to one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. Auditors spend a great deal of their academic and professional careers buried in facts and numbers, so this is often the most difficult skill to sharpen. It is nevertheless a necessary one, as auditing interviews are riddled with a full spectrum of emotions. Given the content, it is normal for interviewees to run the gamut from fear and confusion, through devastation, and all the way to explosive anger. Auditors must respond appropriately to each while acknowledging and coping with their myriad of emotions.

5. Active Listening

Auditing interviews are not just a series of simple questions and answers. Given the critical thinking and heightened emotions discussed earlier; a successful interview requires active listening. Active listening involves repeating back certain pieces of information. When done correctly, it serves a dual purpose of making the interviewee feel heard while ensuring the auditor interprets the information correctly. Auditing interviews are intimidating for both the auditor and the interviewee. They both feel a lot of pressure to accomplish certain, often conflicting, outcomes. While they may not be achieved seamlessly, these five interviewing techniques for auditors can make these occasions much more productive.

Benefits of Interviewing techniques

1. Well planned and conducted interviews usually yield a high percentage of returns and point or exceptions seem more practical when explained to the interviewee and then remediation is better effected.

2. The information secured through interviews is likely to be more correct compared to that secured through other techniques. The interviewer who is present on the spot can clear up the seemingly inaccurate or irrelevant answers by explaining the questions to the interviewee. If the interviewee deliberately falsifies replies, the interviewer can effectively check them and use special devices to verify the replies.

3. The interviewer can collect supplementary information about the informant’s personal characteristics and environment which is often of great value in interpreting results. Interview is a much more flexible approach, allowing for posing of new questions or check questions if such a need arises

The way forward

As professionals, let ensure we conduct efficient and effective audit interviews. It will help our institutions verify conformity, evaluate effectiveness, and identify opportunities for improvement. This is key because audits monitor the management system and its processes and provide feedback for management review and action.

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