Mastering your audit interview: our top tips for candidatesAre you an internal or technology auditor looking for your next role? If so, this article is a must-read.
Preparation, preparation, preparation! We all know how important it is to walk into an interview well-prepared. Not only so you can impress your prospective employer, but so that you can feel confident and at ease too!
When you’re interviewing for an audit job, there’s a lot to think about – and competition can be fierce! But fear not: at Apollo Solutions, we’re helping candidates like you get their dream audit job every day. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide, bursting with our tips, to ensure you ace your next audit interview.
Are you a business or technology auditor looking for your next role? If so, this article is a must-read.
Prepare for typical Audit interview questions
You may be familiar with our tips for smashing an interview – but how do you know how to excel specifically in an audit interview? Let’s start with preparing you for the kinds of question responses that are most likely to impress.
(1) Walk through a typical audit lifecycle
When hiring an auditor, organisations want reassurance you know your stuff. And that’s why you’ll commonly see these kinds of competency-based questions, prompting you to describe a situation. Before attending your interview, practise talking through an audit lifecycle - start to finish - so you can confidently do so when an interviewer asks.
(2) Explain the audit methodology
Similarly to point 1, be prepared to walk through specific audit methodology. Being able to provide in-depth information on how you approach your work will prove your expertise and competency as an audit specialist.
(3) Explain your stakeholder management experience
To demonstrate your levels of competency, and how you deal with people, there’s a good chance an interviewer will ask you a question around stakeholder management. Make sure you’re armed with examples of when you’ve worked with others, and times when you’ve managed expectations. Real-life recollections of how you’ve dealt with (and overcome) conflict can be useful when responding to these kinds of questions.
(4) Talk about your mentoring/team leading experience
People management is an important aspect of auditing, particularly if you’re applying for a more senior position where you’ll be responsible for a team. But even if you’re not quite there yet, talking through examples of having led, mentored, and/or influenced others will be of interest to any prospective employer.
(5) Straight from practice?
If you’re moving straight from an accounting firm into your first Internal Audit role, it’s key you're able to highlight the depth of your Audit experience, in particular if you have gained Internal Audit experience on secondment. Make sure to shout about this during the interview and highlight it on your CV. If you haven’t been on secondment, don’t worry! Think about how you have added value to your clients as an external auditor. Have you gone above and beyond to get the job done? Shown a proactive attitude or growth mindset? What about a time you had to pick up new skills or knowledge quickly? Where you can, name the clients that you have worked with. If you can’t, due to an NDA for example, be clear on industry sectors.
(6) Highlight your niche
Have a specialism? Whether you’re working in a specific area of IT Audit, like Infrastructure, Cybersecurity, Applications, ERP systems (especially SAP), Data Analytics, Cloud or Emerging Tech, or a Business/Internal Audit specialism such as Financial, Operational or Global Markets audits, make sure you’re sharing that info! Talk your interviewers through your industry experience and knowledge of your niche area of expertise, plus any specific sector expertise.
(7) IT Auditor specialist? Include sufficient technical detail
Your potential future employer needs to know you’ve got in-depth technical knowledge. Make sure you arrive prepped and ready to explain your technical capabilities well.
(8) Remember the STAR technique
We recommend the STAR technique for all our candidates, but it’s particularly important in auditing, where interviewers are keen to assess a combination of technical and behavioural skills and competence. In preparation for responding questions, have scenarios ready and talk your interviewer through:
- the Situation (what you had to deal with)
- the Task (what you were asked to do)
- the Action (what you did)
- and, the Result (the outcome of your action and your learnings).
Following this approach will provide you with an opportunity to showcase your experiences. It will also provide those conducting the interview with an insight into not only what you do, but how you do it, along with what you’ve achieved throughout your career.
(9) Other expertise and experience
Remember to share details of skills outside auditing. Whether soft skills or professional expertise in other areas, your interview is an opportunity to sell yourself and everything you can offer to an organisation. Don’t undersell yourself – it’s important to talk about leadership skills, tech capabilities, your values and beliefs, plus anything else you think is relevant.
(10) Facts and figures
Last but not least, we often advise including statistics on your CV, and it’s no different in an interview. Providing specifics like scale, volume, types, sectors, and client names can really help add weight to your responses. It’ll bring your storytelling to life and highlight to a company exactly what you can achieve for them and within their market.
Research, research, research
Wondering what to research ahead of your audit interview? Here’s what we suggest:
(1) “Audit” the business
Do what you’re good at in preparation – essentially, audit the business you’re interviewing with! Look for every detail. What do they do? What figures can you find relating to revenue, profit, and loss? What’s their target market? And their growth targets and projected growth?
Also, look at share prices, check out their latest news (internal news items, plus any articles there may be in national and industry press), and critically, find out who their competitors are. The more information you can access, the better. And it’ll stand you in good stead for both showing your enthusiasm for the business, and asking relevant questions to help you decide on the company and the role.
(2) Understand the role
It may sound obvious but make sure you’ve fully researched the role, the job description and what your responsibilities will entail. It’s important to know which elements of auditing and your experience will be essential, so you can highlight them during the interview.
It’s also important to tailor your responses to the specific vacancy you’re applying for, the industry/sector you’ll be working in, etc. If you’re interviewing for a role in cybersecurity audit, for example, you’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate answers for any cybersecurity audit situational questions you may be asked. Consider any relevant experiences you can talk about. It’s fine to take a pad with notes to the interview should you need to.
(3) Brainstorm risks
Take some time ahead of your interview to consider any risks. These could include risks that the company could face, or that you may face within your role with them. Audit is often described as the third line of defence, and you need to be aware of these risks to add value and help the business to achieve its goals.
Interviewing with a bank, for example? It’s important to consider risks surrounding security, regulators, customers, etc. As an auditor, you review the risks, controls (IT) and processes (business), so make sure you’ve thought about them prior to your interview and are ready to discuss them when asked.
(4) Work with your recruiter
Your recruiter will prepare you with all kinds of information on the company. They’ll be able to provide you with details on the team and its size, key staff, etc., allowing you to carry out additional research online (e.g., LinkedIn profiles).
At Apollo Solutions, a fundamental part of our service for candidates is working with you to ensure you’re as prepared for your interview as possible through providing both best practice advice and market/client insight.
Some final tips to ace your audit interview
And, finally, some final general tips to succeed in your audit interview…
(1) Show a willingness to learn
Is your experience not 100% aligned with the role you’re going for? Don’t worry. So long as you have enough relevant experience, it’s still worth applying. Often employers are open to candidates from slightly different backgrounds as long as they demonstrate a good cultural fit and, importantly, a willingness to learn. Many employers will even provide training and developmental opportunities for the right candidates.
As energy giant EDF states on their website: “Nobody comes into a job already knowing how it’s done. All staff need to learn the ropes… Having the ability and willingness to learn helps you get to grips with a job…”
(2) Don't hide your areas for improvement
Don’t be afraid to show “weakness”. Why? Well, it shows self-awareness, and many companies are actually looking for people they can invest in and help to grow. They’re not always searching for the ‘finished product’ – after all, when employees can’t progress, they’re likely to leave sooner. So, think about areas in which you could improve and the skills you’d like to develop. The right employer will be keen to invest in the right people.
(3) Be enthusiastic
If you can show your interviewers you’re passionate about auditing and excited about the opportunity, you’re halfway there! Be animated, fully engaged, professional, and confident in your abilities. Aim to build a personal connection with the people you’re meeting.
(4) Consider remote interviews
82% of companies say they’re carrying out remote interviews now. So, if yours is online, it’s just as important to carry out all the above preparation tips even when you’re not meeting your potential employer in person. In fact, there are perhaps even more considerations if you’re interviewing via video call than face-to-face. All the above points apply, but also check your internet connection, close down emails, and ensure you won’t be distracted during the meeting.
(5) Think on your feet
Yes, prepare! (It’s what this blog is all about.) But also make sure the answers you’re providing are relevant to the question asked. Never try to make an entirely pre-rehearsed answer fit a different question.
Preparation is key when it comes to excelling in audit interviews. So, be sure to rehearse common audit interview question responses, carry out relevant research and follow generic interview best practice in plenty of time. Remember, Apollo Solutions is here to help with all elements of your audit career. Submit your CV or check out our latest vacancies.