An auditor’s main task is to review the records of commercial and public sector organizations. Auditors ensure compliance with internal procedures and external regulations set by the industry and government to ensure that all financial statements are presented fairly.
Auditing positions are vital to ensuring a business follows state and federal laws. Performing audits is a specialized skill that showcases the clearest statement possible of a company’s financial state.
An auditor’s responsibilities may include:
- Providing financial control information
- Analyzing trends and data to find operational errors within the company
- Performing research on industry norms
- Preparing financial statements as quantifiable data for employers
Auditors are experts specializing in data analysis. A skilled auditor will need to be able to:
- Maintain a system that keeps track of financial statements
- Manage their time well in order to stay on top of all of their duties
- Have a keen eye for details to catch discrepancies within the business
- Conduct research and analyze data to provide accurate financial feedback
- Make inquiries within management to gain an understanding of business operations
Because auditing is a specialized job, an associate’s degree will not be enough for most companies. A bachelor’s or master’s degree will be required for most entry-level jobs, and an auditor will often need to acquire a CPA certification if they wish to work as an external auditor.
Salaries for auditors range between $41K to $81K with the median being $56K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as an auditor include:
- Degrees and certifications (i.e., CPA, CMA, EA, etc.)
- Years of experience
- Managerial responsibilities
- Skills (auditing, data analysis, finance, software tools)
- Type of firm you work for
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Auditor Interview Questions
Question: Why did you want to become an auditor, and what do you like best about this job?
Explanation: The interviewer is trying to get to know you a little and find avenues for follow-up questions through this general starter question. You will likely be asked this early in the interview. Answer it directly, honestly, and succinctly. Tell a story and describe how your passion for the profession will provide tangible benefits for the employer.
Example: “I have always enjoyed working with numbers and facts in pursuit of information that can be used to achieve an objective or make a decision. I approach this much as a detective or forensic professional would, uncovering the details in a systematic way. The outcome of the work is often the confirmation of the original thesis or business assumption which is very rewarding. However, discovering something new and unexpected then figuring out how to report (if necessary) and resolve it presents a challenge which I enjoy as well.”
Question: What are the main reasons for an audit, and what actions result in an audit being conducted?
Explanation: The interviewer is seeking to go beyond learning about your skills as an auditor in order to determine your understanding of the complete auditing process. Answering this question accurately will demonstrate your ability to interact directly with clients.
Example: “The purpose of an audit is to confirm the accuracy of an organization’s financial reports and accounting system and to evaluate any risks it may be facing. An audit can be requested at any time by the management or stockholders of a company. Audits may also be the result of requirements by the industry an organization is a part of, government regulations, or in response to legal actions."
Question: Can you describe an audit control procedure and its purpose?
Explanation: This question is typically asked of audit managers but can also be used when interviewing junior auditors. It confirms that you understand every aspect of the auditing process and each one’s impact on the work you will be doing.
Example: “Audit control procedures are a documented set of processes and policies which dictate the scope and methodology for an audit. They are usually drafted by the organization’s key stakeholders and approved by the owners or directors. The purpose of audit control procedures is to establish the goal of the audit and to set up some controls for the audit team.”
Question: What is vouching, and how is it applied in the auditing process?
Explanation: This is a technical question that is asked to confirm your auditing skills and knowledge. The interviewer is expecting a straightforward answer to this question. Make sure you don’t use jargon or terms someone not directly involved in audits may not understand.
Example: “Vouching is a process used to verify that an accounting entry or another item actually exists. This is accomplished by checking supporting documents such as receipts, invoices, etc.”
Question: What is the difference between an internal audit and an external audit?
Explanation: This is another technical question testing your knowledge of the auditing process. The same guidelines for the previous question apply for answering this question.
Example: “An internal audit is a review of the organization’s operations, often on a continuous basis, performed by internal managed staff. An external audit is performed by a firm hired by the company or other stakeholders. The objective of an external audit is to confirm the results of the internal audit or to meet regulatory or compliance requirements. This type of audit is required for publicly owned organizations.”
Question: What are the key functions of an internal audit, and how do they benefit the organization?
Explanation: Knowing how to do the job meets the basic requirements; however, the interviewer is interested in your knowledge of why the job is important and how the work you do benefits the organization which is the purpose of this question.
Example: “An internal audit is an assessment that helps management maintain control of the business. The key functions of an internal audit include:
-Monitoring processes to help manage and optimize them
-Verifying monetary and financial information
-Reviewing the company’s operations, ensuring efficiency and economy
-Assuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations.”
Question: What are some of the things you do after an audit has been completed?
Explanation: Many people believe the work of an auditor is completed once the audit is finished. However, there are several activities that can be used to improve the outcome of the audit. The interviewer wants to ensure you are familiar with these. They may also be looking for something you do that is unique and will bring value to their organization.
Example: “After an audit has been completed, I take several steps to improve the outcome of the audit and ensure the information I am presenting is used to improve the operations of the organization. These include issuing the audit report promptly, reviewing the results with the stakeholders, encouraging the adoption of the recommendations from the audit, and being available to assist with the implementation of the corrective actions.”
Question: What do you consider the key skills a staff auditor should possess?
Explanation: The interviewer may ask this question for two reasons. The first is to determine if you have the skills they are looking for since you will only talk about the skills you have. The second reason is they are interested in your self-awareness and ability to be introspective. Your answer should reflect your top skills as an auditor and should match the requirements mentioned in the job posting.
Example: “While there are many skills a staff auditor should possess, the key ones are attention to detail, analysis, organization, and communication. Attention to detail is critical because missing anything during an audit violates the purpose of the audit. The ability to analyze the information presented facilitates the process of identifying issues the organization needs to be made aware of. Organizational skills make the auditing process more efficient and effective. Finally, the ability to communicate the audit results, including any recommendations you have as a result of the audit, helps you deliver value to the organization.”
Question: What items does an internal audit plan contain?
Explanation: This is another technical question meant to determine your knowledge and understanding of the internal auditing process. It can also help the interviewer be sure that you understand the challenges of an internal audit and the importance of having a plan before you begin an audit.
Example: “A good plan for an internal company audit will describe the mission, scope, and standards of the audit. It will also define the degree of independence, objectivity, authority, and accountability of the internal auditor. Most importantly, it grants the authority to the auditor and compels the departments that need to be audited to provide the information required by the auditor. Without this plan or similar authority, most managers wouldn't see any benefit to being audited and may be reluctant to provide the information and resources the auditor needs.”
Question: Can you explain what you should do before initiating an audit?
Explanation: The interviewer is looking to confirm that you understand the complete auditing process - before, during, and after. Many auditors are prepared to answer questions about the audit itself but may not have practiced describing what happens before and after the audit. Being able to address this will set you apart from other candidates.
Example: “There are several steps you should take prior to commencing an audit that will help the audit go more smoothly. These include but are not limited to:
-Making sure the authority of the audit team is established which will increase the cooperation from the departments being audited.
-Deciding which departments of the company will be audited. This can be easier if the company creates an annual audit plan.
-Develop a plan for the audit which defines the scope and purpose of the audit and details the resources needed. It also helps to confirm the auditor’s authority.
-Hold a meeting with the organization’s management team and the auditors to discuss the plan, purpose, and scope of the audit. This provides everyone the opportunity to discuss the audit and get their questions answered.
-Review the documents you will be auditing so you are familiar with the information they contain.
-Conduct an introductory meeting with the staff of the departments being audited to discuss the purpose and logistics of the audit and answer their questions.”
Additional Auditor Interview Questions
- How would you deal with having an unreasonable deadline to complete an audit?
- If a manager you work with has a compliance issue, how would you handle it?
- What process do you go through to develop an audit plan?
- Can you tell me about your most difficult project and how you managed it?
- Can you tell me about any recent changes within the audit industry?
- What do you know about ACA qualifications?
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