The discipline of internal auditing may appear to be buried in figures and spreadsheets, yet the interesting quest for value and truth goes beyond data analysis.
They are the guardians of good government, their eagle eyes looking for any chink in the defense of ethics.
I am particularly interested in the field of internal audit because it is my first passion beyond the salary it promises.
Even the entry-level position in this role pays a huge salary. Before you can start practicing, you need to apply for a role and ace the interview.
Even if there will be few applicants for the post, you can be sure that everyone invited will put out their best effort and, at the end of the interviews, sign the required employment contract. However, only one will succeed in achieving the goal. Will it be you?
We’ve compiled a list of 20 frequently asked internal audit interview questions to help you cross this mental maze. Your ideal internal audit job is waiting for you, so sharpen your critical thinking skills, improve your communication skills, and prepare to break the code!
Table of contents
- 20 Frequently Asked Interview Questions and Answers For An Internal Auditor
- 1. Why do you want to work as an internal auditor?
- 2. How do you imagine a typical day in work of an internal auditor?
- 3. Can you tell me about a time you faced a significant audit challenge and how you overcame it?
- 4. Describe your experience with COSO Internal Control Framework or other relevant frameworks.
- 5. How do you prioritize audit risks and plan your audit engagements?
- 6. How do you ensure your audit findings are clear, concise, and actionable for management?
- 7. Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult stakeholder or management team during an audit engagement.
- 8. What are your preferred methods for conducting data analysis in internal auditing?
- 9. Describe your experience with internal audit reporting standards and regulations.
- 10. How do you handle ethical dilemmas that may arise during an internal audit engagement?
- 11. Describe your experience with internal audit technology and tools.
- 12. What are your strengths and weaknesses as an internal auditor?
- 13. Can you tell me about a time you had to explain complex audit findings to non-technical stakeholders?
- 14. What are your career aspirations in the long term?
- 15. How do you keep up with emerging trends and changes in the internal audit field?
- 16. How do you think internal auditing can add value to a company?
- 17. Why are you interested in the audit field? What do you like most about this job?
- 18. Can you explain vouching?
- 19. What happens when an audit is completed?
- 20. Could you explain the auditing procedure to me?
- What are the 3 qualities of a candidate for the internal auditor position?
20 Frequently Asked Interview Questions and Answers For An Internal Auditor
These are the internal auditor interview questions you can expect to
1. Why do you want to work as an internal auditor?
This question digs into your motivation and passion for internal auditing. The interviewer wants to understand what drives you beyond a paycheck and discover if you align with the field’s core values.
Give a genuine and enthusiastic response showcasing your interest in the specific aspects of internal auditing that will appeal to them.
Use examples from your past experience or academic pursuits to illustrate your alignment with the field’s key values like critical thinking, problem-solving, and dedication to ethical practices.
“My interest in internal auditing stems from a deep desire to make a tangible impact on an organization’s success. I thrive on problem-solving, uncovering risks through methodical analysis, and proposing solutions that improve efficiency and safeguard financial health. In my previous role as the chief internal auditor [previous role], I resolved a fraud case that lasted for 5 years [mention an experience where you utilized critical thinking or problem-solving skills], demonstrating my passion for identifying and addressing vulnerabilities. Internal auditing, with its focus on risk mitigation, financial control, and ethical governance, perfectly aligns with my ambition to contribute to organizational well-being and build a strong foundation for sustainable success.”
2. How do you imagine a typical day in work of an internal auditor?
This question assesses your understanding of the daily life of an internal auditor and whether your expectations align with the reality of the job. The interviewer wants to see if you’re prepared for the diverse tasks and challenges involved.
Paint a picture of an internal auditor’s day, acknowledging both the analytical and interpersonal aspects. Showcase your understanding of core activities like planning audits, analyzing data, interviewing stakeholders, communicating findings, and collaborating with teams.
“I imagine a typical day in internal auditing as a blend of analytical and collaborative interactions. I envision mornings focused on reviewing documents, analyzing data through audit software like ACL, and crafting interview questions to gather information from key personnel. This analytical phase would then transition into meetings with department heads, discussing findings and potential control improvements. The afternoon might involve drafting written reports, collaborating with colleagues on joint audit procedures, and attending team meetings to share insights and brainstorm solutions. I find this blend of cerebral challenges and interpersonal interactions incredibly stimulating and perfectly aligns with my preference for diverse and impactful work.”
3. Can you tell me about a time you faced a significant audit challenge and how you overcame it?
This question assesses problem-solving skills, adaptability, and communication under pressure.
A clear narrative showing your ability to analyze complex situations, formulate solutions, and collaborate effectively with stakeholders.
Sample Response: “During an audit of our inventory management system, I discovered discrepancies between physical counts and recorded data. Instead of panicking, I gathered the team, reviewed audit findings, and identified potential reasons for the variance. We implemented additional control measures, improved communication between departments, and introduced automated reconciliation tools. By collaborating with the inventory management team and IT department, we resolved the issue within a designated timeframe, preventing potential financial losses and strengthening internal controls.”
4. Describe your experience with COSO Internal Control Framework or other relevant frameworks.
It checks your understanding of internal control frameworks and their application in audit planning and execution.
You’ll need to show familiarity with key principles of internal control frameworks, including risk assessment, control activities, and information and communication.
Sample Response: “I have extensive experience applying the COSO Framework in conducting internal audits. I leverage the framework’s components to identify inherent and control risks, evaluate the effectiveness of internal controls, and provide recommendations for improvement. For instance, during a recent audit of the procurement process, I used the COSO framework to map out control activities and pinpoint weaknesses in vendor selection and approval procedures. My report, based on the framework’s principles, helped the company implement stronger controls and mitigate procurement risks.”
5. How do you prioritize audit risks and plan your audit engagements?
For this question, you need to evaluate risk assessment and audit planning skills, including an understanding of materiality and impact.
The interviewer expects you to show a demonstration of your ability to analyze business activities, identify high-impact risks, and develop a focused audit plan with clear objectives and procedures.
Sample Response: “I prioritize audit risks based on their potential impact on the organization’s financial reporting, operational efficiency, and compliance with regulations. I utilize quantitative and qualitative risk assessment techniques, considering factors like inherent risk, control strengths, and potential financial losses. For a recent audit of the payroll system, I assessed risks associated with inaccurate calculations, unauthorized access, and fraudulent activity. This risk assessment informed my audit plan, focusing on key controls and data analytics to verify payroll accuracy and detect potential anomalies.”
6. How do you ensure your audit findings are clear, concise, and actionable for management?
A response should assess communication skills, and the ability to tailor reports for different audiences and provide constructive recommendations.
To answer this, give an answer that depicts your report as a well-written and impactful audit reports that communicate findings, provides evidence-based recommendations, and proposes practical solutions for improvement.
Sample Response: “I understand the importance of clear and concise communication in audit reporting. I tailor my reports to the specific needs of management, avoiding technical jargon and focusing on key findings and their impact on the business. I utilize visuals like charts and graphs to enhance understanding, and I always ensure my recommendations are specific, actionable, and aligned with company priorities. In a recent audit report, I presented findings on purchase order discrepancies in a user-friendly format, suggesting implementing automated approval workflows and vendor verification procedures. This resulted in management readily adopting my recommendations and implementing effective controls.”
7. Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult stakeholder or management team during an audit engagement.
The intent of this internal auditor interview question is to assess interpersonal skills, conflict resolution abilities, and professionalism under challenging circumstances.
The interviewer expects that you demonstrate your ability to maintain composure, communicate effectively with challenging stakeholders, and find solutions that address concerns while meeting audit objectives.
Sample Response: “During an audit of a new IT system, I encountered resistance from certain project managers who felt the audit scope was overly intrusive. Instead of escalating the issue, I identified their concerns, actively listened to their feedback, and explained the audit’s objectives clearly and respectfully.
8. What are your preferred methods for conducting data analysis in internal auditing?
This checks your technical skills, proficiency in audit data analytics tools, and ability to interpret complex data sets.
To shine here, show your familiarity with data analysis tools like ACL, IDEA, or Power BI, and the ability to use them to identify trends, anomalies, and potential risks.
Sample Response: “I’m comfortable using various data analysis tools, including ACL and Power BI. My approach starts with understanding the audit objectives and data sources. I then utilize data extraction and filtering techniques to identify relevant data points and trends. I leverage visualization tools to create charts and graphs for easier analysis and reporting. In a recent audit, I used data analytics to identify discrepancies in expense reports, which led to the discovery of fraudulent activity. This demonstrates my ability to use data effectively to uncover potential red flags and add value to the audit process.”
9. Describe your experience with internal audit reporting standards and regulations.
Intent: Is to assess compliance with relevant auditing standards and regulations, such as the IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.
Sample Response: “I adhere to the ethical principles and reporting standards outlined by the IIA’s International Standards. I ensure my reports are objective, accurate, and supported by sufficient audit evidence. I also understand the importance of clear and concise communication in compliance with reporting regulations. In a recent audit, I identified potential non-compliance with data privacy regulations during my testing. My report clearly communicated the issue, referenced relevant regulations, and provided recommendations for corrective action.”
10. How do you handle ethical dilemmas that may arise during an internal audit engagement?
Express your understanding of ethical principles, commitment to professional integrity, and ability to make sound decisions in challenging situations.
Additionally, demonstrate your adherence to the IIA’s Code of Ethics and highlight your approach to dealing with potential conflicts of interest, confidentiality breaches, or pressure to compromise audit findings.
Sample Response: “I believe in maintaining the highest ethical standards in my profession. If I encounter an ethical dilemma during an audit, I would first step back and assess the situation carefully. I would then consult with senior colleagues or the Chief Audit Executive for guidance, ensuring transparency and adherence to the IIA’s Code of Ethics. My priority would be to uphold objectivity and professional integrity while finding a solution that serves the best interests of the organization.”
11. Describe your experience with internal audit technology and tools.
The intent of this internal auditor question is to assess your familiarity with various audit software and tools, including continuous auditing and data visualization platforms.
Showcase your knowledge and proficiency in relevant technology tools, such as continuous monitoring platforms, risk assessment software, and data visualization tools.
Sample Response: “I’m comfortable using various internal audit technology and tools. I’ve utilized continuous monitoring platforms like ACL GRC to automate routine audit tasks and identify potential anomalies in real time. I’m also proficient in data visualization tools like Power BI to create intuitive dashboards and reports for management. In a recent audit, I used these tools to analyze purchase order data, identify suspicious patterns, and ultimately prevent potential fraudulent activity.”
12. What are your strengths and weaknesses as an internal auditor?
A balanced response should acknowledge your strengths, e.g., analytical skills, communication, and teamwork while expressing a willingness to learn and grow in areas you perceive as weaknesses e.g., time management, and public speaking. Express your self-awareness, honesty, and ability to identify areas for improvement.
Sample Response: “My strengths include strong analytical skills, effective communication, and a collaborative spirit. I enjoy digging into data to identify potential risks and thrive in team environments where we can brainstorm solutions and share perspectives. However, I recognize that I can sometimes struggle with prioritizing tasks and managing my time effectively. To address this, I’m actively learning time management techniques and utilizing scheduling tools to ensure I meet deadlines without compromising audit quality.”
13. Can you tell me about a time you had to explain complex audit findings to non-technical stakeholders?
Show the interviewer your ability to translate technical audit jargon into clear and concise language that non-technical stakeholders can understand. Express your communication skills, and ability to simplify complex information, and tailor your message to different audiences.
Sample Response: “During an audit of the IT department, I identified vulnerabilities in the network security system. Instead of overwhelming non-technical management with technical terms, I used analogies and relatable examples to explain the risks and potential consequences. I also created user-friendly diagrams and charts to visually represent the vulnerabilities and recommended security improvements. This approach ensured management fully understood the findings and readily supported the implementation of corrective actions.”
14. What are your career aspirations in the long term?
Express your professional aspirations in the internal audit field and show your interest in the growth and contribution to the company’s long-term success. Make sure your ambition and growth align with the company’s future goals.
Sample Response: “My long-term career goal is to become a leader in the internal audit field, someone who can not only conduct impactful audits but also mentor and inspire others. I’m particularly interested in [mention specific area of interest] and envision myself spearheading innovative projects that leverage technology and data analytics to enhance risk management and improve company performance. I believe this aligns perfectly with your company’s focus on technological advancement and continuous improvement, and I’m confident that my skills and passion can contribute significantly to your future success.”
15. How do you keep up with emerging trends and changes in the internal audit field?
Intent: The question wants to ascertain your continuous learning and commitment to professional development. Let the interviewer know that you have active learning practices, including attending conferences, reading industry publications, and participating in professional organizations.
Sample Response: “I’m dedicated to continuous learning and professional development in the internal audit field. I regularly attend conferences and webinars hosted by the IIA and other professional organizations. I also subscribe to industry publications and actively follow thought leaders on social media to stay abreast of emerging trends and best practices. This enables me to apply the latest techniques and methodologies in my audits and ensure I’m providing the most relevant and valuable insights to management.”
16. How do you think internal auditing can add value to a company?
The interviewer wants to ascertain your understanding of the core functions of internal audit. Can you clearly articulate how your work adds tangible value across different aspects of the business? Do you grasp the bigger picture and see how proactive risk management contributes to the company’s overall well-being? Can you concisely and effectively explain the impact of internal audit in a way that resonates with management and stakeholders?
“Internal auditing adds value by safeguarding assets, ensuring compliance, and boosting efficiency. We act as independent watchdogs, uncovering risks, strengthening controls, and recommending improvements. This protects your finances, avoids legal troubles, and optimizes operations, ultimately safeguarding your reputation and driving sustainable success”.
17. Why are you interested in the audit field? What do you like most about this job?
The interviewer wants to understand what drives you and what excites you about the field.
They are looking for evidence of your analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and ability to work independently and collaboratively.
In addition, they want to know if your values and interests align with the company’s mission and work environment.
“One of the things I appreciate most about internal auditing is the emphasis on independence and objectivity. As an internal auditor, I have the responsibility to provide unbiased assessments and recommendations, even when they might be challenging to hear. This independence allows me to maintain my integrity and contribute to a culture of transparency and accountability.
While internal auditors often work independently, collaboration is also a key aspect of the job. I enjoy working with colleagues from different departments, learning from their expertise, and brainstorming solutions together.
Witnessing the tangible impact of my work is incredibly satisfying. Whether it’s implementing improved controls that prevent financial losses, streamlining processes for greater efficiency, or contributing to a more ethical and compliant organization, seeing my efforts make a positive difference is what truly motivates me.”
18. Can you explain vouching?
This is a technical question meant to see how well the interviewer understands the auditing concepts given by the inspector. The interviewer wants a short answer that doesn’t use a lot of words or scientific terms. Explain what “vouching” means in a way that someone who isn’t an auditor can understand.
Vouching is a method of checks and balances used in auditing. Every recorded transaction must include proof that vouches for it. The voucher is proof that the deal was done correctly, like when a bank account shows that $500 was spent on office supplies.
19. What happens when an audit is completed?
This question is geared to check your knowledge of the audit process.
“Once the audit procedure is finished, an auditor’s work does not end. Following an audit, some steps are:
- Ensure the client fully comprehends the final report.
- Offer your help to the customer with any suggested changes to the report or any resulting questions.
- To help the client understand the need to make adjustments, thoroughly explain the planned changes”.
20. Could you explain the auditing procedure to me?
The interviewer is looking for evidence of a firm grasp of the principles. In a clear and non-technical manner, describe the auditing process. Ultimately, you want to demonstrate that you can interact with professionals who aren’t auditors in an effective way.
Research, planning, and ensuring that the client is aware of the auditing process are the first steps in the auditing process. After that, I visit the location and start my fieldwork, making thorough notes on every document that I examine. I then provide the client with a summary of my findings. I follow up with the customer to make sure there are no unresolved issues following the audit, and I prepare a report for their review.
What are the 3 qualities of a candidate for the internal auditor position?
- Attention to detail
- Ethical integrity, and
- Strong analytical skills.
The internal auditor role is a sensitive one. It requires skill and integrity. We advise you to develop those or at least learn to answer questions that depict you having them during your interview.
We hope this guide was helpful.
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