5 Interviewing Techniques for Auditors

Interview Tips for Auditors

  • Prepare
  • Critical Thinking
  • Excellent Note-Taking
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Active Listening

An auditor is a person who makes a living investigating whether or not individual people, businesses, and other organizations adhere to tax laws. Since taxes are a complex area to work in, auditors have dynamic career options. 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 tax laws 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.

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 tax laws to clear up any uncertainties. They cannot enforce laws they do not understand, especially because many interviewees will attempt to challenge 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. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers detailed information on this degree.

3. Excellent Note-Taking

No final decisions are made at the moment 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 Today, 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 own 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 interpreted the information correctly. Active listening is another skill emphasized in a forensic accounting degree program.

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 will never be fun, these five interviewing techniques for auditors can make these occasions much more productive.