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Auditors – Be Specific in Your Interviews!

Article Background

Over the years, I have received a myriad of interview feedback for my candidates within accountancy – it’s not always positive but it’s always useful. We utilise all feedback to support and guide individual candidate’s to prepare for their next interview, as well as for other candidates interviewing in the market. One of the top reasons we get for a candidate rejection is simply that their answers are not specific enough. A prime example of this … “Can you tell me what you do when you go to lead an audit?” “Well, I… start off with the planning… and then I do the execution… and then the completion?” The interviewers looked at each other and then moved onto the next question with an automatic “no” in their heads for the candidate. Why? He was not specific enough – the candidate later explained that they were Audit Managers, they know how to lead an audit – why would they need to hear it from him, an Audit Senior? I get his point, and you might too but I will let you in on one of my tricks of the trade… ASK THEM! “Well, I do the planning, execution and completion but would you like me to break those down into steps for you? I can perhaps give you a specific audit example?” I am pretty sure with this example, they would 100% like you to break it down or give a client example as they are trying to test your knowledge and your understanding, not their own. So, if in doubt, just ask. Being specific shows confidence, for instance – when I have had to interview recruiters for competency based interviews, the most common mistake they make is rambling off loads of answers all at the same time! “Can you give me an example of when you have had to work as a team?” “Errr.. yes.. erm I played football but in a weird crowd at school, and my mates and I… err… well one year we won a charity race and another year I helped my brother move house” For an Auditor, you can guarantee it will be more along the lines of: “Can you tell me about one of the recent audits you have been on?” “Errr, yes… I’ve done a property group, and oh actually, I’ve just done a Media company and I’m on a construction one now – they are all really good!” It’s great you’ve thought of loads of answers but what the interviewer wants is a clear, confident answer so – just pick one. “I have been working on a really interesting property group, £50m turnover, working under IFRS with a team of 6 – I have been leading the audit and it has been tough because of X, Y & Z but we are going to complete the audit within budget thanks to doing A, B & C” If you think they might want another example, you’ve guessed it… just ask! Moral of the story… if you’re not sure how specific to be, just ask. If you’re unsure how many examples to provide, just ask. Finally, if you need support and guidance prepping for your career next steps, just ask, we are more than happy to help. For more information on this article, or for advice on your next career move, contact George on 07468 485 853 or