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Auditor Interview

25 Questions and Answers by Samantha Hamilton

Updated January 25th, 2019 | Samantha H. has almost three years of experience
in recruiting and loves to help people obtain their dream jobs.
Question 1 of 25
Have you ever discovered fraud in an audit?
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How to Answer
This is a yes or no question. You shouldn't dig too deep into it because you've likely signed a NDA and providing details would be inappropriate. If they do ask for details, give broad answers that don't disclose major details.

If you've never discovered any fraud, that's something to celebrate.
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Top 25 Auditor Interview Questions with Full Content
Have you ever discovered fraud in an audit?
This is a yes or no question. You shouldn't dig too deep into it because you've likely signed a NDA and providing details would be inappropriate. If they do ask for details, give broad answers that don't disclose major details.

If you've never discovered any fraud, that's something to celebrate.

Samantha's Answer #1
"I've discovered discrepancies that were later revealed to be attempts at fraud. I escalated it and upper management resolved it. Unfortunately, I signed an NDA so that's all I can say on the matter."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I've never encountered this issue and I hope that the company I work for will never have that issue. I'd hope that everyone has strong enough ethics and loyalty not to steal from the company."
If you find a process that's time consuming and frustrating, what would you do?
This is a way of asking if you'd consider improving a process or suggesting an improvement without being asked. It's important as an auditor to help client companies grow and become independent. To accomplish this, auditors are often frequently required to review and improve the processes.

If you haven't done this, admit it rather than fabricate something. This isn't something you generally learn in school so being honest is the best policy. This could be a good place to show problem solving in different way from personal experience.

Samantha's Answer #1
"When I worked with a client for about three months, I realized they were doing all their calculations manually. I created an Excel spreadsheet to show them how valuable the formulas were and how much time could be saved. They took my suggestion and implemented it, transforming a five-day process to a one-day process by removing all the menial manual work."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I've never had the opportunity in the professional world to do, that but when I was a kid both my parents were laid off within days of each other so I came up with the idea for my brother and I to start a lawn care company. At first my dad laughed when we took the mower and went door to door, but when we came home with two hundred dollars covered in grass and dirt and gave him the money, it showed him that we cared about our family's financial situation."
Everyone has to bend or break rules sometimes. Give me an example when you had to that in auditing or accounting.
This is a double-edged sword question. You don't want them to think you're a rule breaker, but if if you need to be flexible, at times it could be necessary. The best way to answer this question is to fall back on your ethics and find a compromise rather than bend or break the rules. It's a violation of SOX compliance to break the rules regarding auditing. This is how CPA's lose their licenses and even go to prison. Be careful how you answer this question.

If you have no auditing experience, this is a much safer question to answer but I'd still be very careful about anything you decide to share. No one wants to hire a criminal but they do want you to play ball.

Samantha's Answer #1
"I've never broken the auditing or SOX compliance rules knowingly because that would threaten my license. When struggling with an audit, I've made safe compromises with a client. I had one client who was in trouble with the audit and I helped them process some exemption forms before handing the documentation to the external auditors. This allowed them time to get their documentation in line but didn't break any rules."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I have no real world auditing experience, but I do know that ethically you can't break the rules of SOX compliance. There are ways to bend the rules slightly by finding middle ground or exemptions to disallow for failures on certain aspects. I'm unsure of the exact process, but I can and will find out how that's done. Ethics is what makes or breaks an accountant or auditor so you should never want someone to break the rules while working with your company because they can be criminally charged."
Why do you want a career as an auditor?
This is a subjective question. This is basically asking why you want this position. If you don't know why you want to be an auditor, then probably won't enjoy it. Auditing is reviewing the work of others and checking for errors, and finding where the documentation came from and determining if the information provided can be supported by proof for outside auditors to review and accept. It entails many caveats and details that are easily overlooked but must be understood.

This is a field for people who enjoy details and like puzzles. The more difficult the puzzle, the more you'll be paid.

Samantha's Answer #1
"I want to be an auditor because I love puzzles and mysteries. I love to find out the root cause of an issue or a document and know that I found the origin. It makes me happy to help a company be compliant with their financials and information."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I want to be an auditor because in school, that was my favorite course. I had a lot of classmates that said auditing was boring and redundant and I went into the class with the same attitude. I quickly discovered that it was like a puzzle. I love puzzles! It's like be an investigator for a company to ensure they're protected when it comes to compliance."
Have you ever had a documentation error occur during the auditing process? How did you handle it?
This is important because you'll run into documentation errors. Early in your career or even late, you'll miss something. It's human nature to overlook something, which is why most audits have several layers of auditors or reviewers to find these things. When you miss something or have a documentation error slip through that's found by another layer, it's humbling and sometimes discouraging. Use it as an important learning opportunity.

When you make a documentation error, you need to bounce back. Maybe you provided too much documentation and the external auditors are now digging deeper into a direction that you can't answer. You need to adjust and learn from the mistake.

Samantha's Answer #1
"Yes. When I was in my first year of auditing, I provided one document that should have been excluded. The external auditors ripped that apart and requested more documentation to follow up. My manager came to me and explained the error and used it as a learning moment for me. I realized that I had provide too much, which was the reason for all the last minute scrambling that we then had to endure."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I've never worked professionally as an auditor, but I learned in school while writing papers that if your asked for certain bullet points and you stray from that, it will affect your grade. Say you have to write a paper on King Tut but you stray to his wife and family and most of your paper is focused on them, your grade will reflect your distracted focus and not the "A" you were expecting."
As a CPA, have you ever signed off on an audit and if so, what does that mean to you?
This is one of the most important jobs an auditor can do. Signing off on an audit is you staking your reputation that this company passed the audit and is in good standing. You have to provide a letter from the auditor providing your opinion of the company's standing. This isn't a matter to be taken lightly. If you're wrong and provide incorrect data, you could be sued and prosecuted.

If you're not a CPA, this doesn't apply, so explain that to them.

Samantha's Answer #1
"Yes, I've signed off on an audit and it's a huge responsibility. I'm putting my name, reputation, and career on the line when I do that. I don't sign off until I'm certain that the company is in good standing or I've outlined the position in the auditor's letter released with the financial statements. I take this matter very seriously because my livelihood's on the line."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I'm not a CPA yet but I intend to become one. When you sign off, that's a big responsibility, one that I'm not ready for at this stage of my career."
Give me an example of a time you pushed back when asked for additional documentation and why.
This is important. If you've been an auditor long enough, you've pushed back on a request for additional documentation. How you push back is also important. No one wants to work with an auditor who's a jerk and just says 'No' with no explanation.

You have to be willing to explain why you don't want to provide further documentation. Sometimes, it will feel like you're falling down a rabbit hole, so take care with this.

Samantha's Answer #1
"I had some external auditors requesting documentation that was ruled out of scope in the previous quarter. I pushed back and told them that due to the previous conversation, which was recorded, the documentation had no bearing on the audit and was ruled out of scope and unnecessary. They conceded the point and dropped the matter."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I've had no professional experience with this, but in my college job working in the admissions department, we had this really nosy supervisor. She wanted to know every student's financial status even if she didn't work on their admission. I refused to let her see my admissions files one day because she had no reason to view them and she got her boss involved. When her boss talked to me, I explained my push back and the matter was dropped. She was transferred shortly after that because of her snooping."
Have you ever been burned out during an audit? How did you regain your focus?
This is a very common issue during an audit. More than once I've been burned out from working long hours of going in early and getting home late. You need something to keep you grounded and help you work through the burnout or avoid it all together.

There are several ways to avoid burnout. All of them include taking control of the situation and putting yourself in a good mindset. You can listen to music, podcasts, or joke around with a friend. Breaking the project into parts and ensuring you take a five minute break every hour will help as well.

Samantha's Answer #1
"I felt so burned out one night I was sitting at my desk just staring at the empty screen because I knew I needed to go home but there was so much work left that I couldn't leave. I ended up working through the night. My boss came in the next morning and found me in the same clothes from the previous day and pulled me into their office. They told me I was burned out and needed a break. I was new to the team and wanted to prove myself, but they knew what I needed. She told me to go home and take the day off to sleep. I came back the next day and felt refreshed and ready to get back to work. Since then, when I feel run down, I make the effort to take a break or eat a snack to help me get back on track."
Samantha's Answer #2
"When I was in my senior year of high school, I was in all AP classes. When the year was wrapping up, I had to study for the SAT's, the ASVAB (the military test), four AP finals, as well as write three two-thousand-word papers on various topics and complete an AP Economics project. I felt so overwhelmed and burned out that I couldn't focus on anything. My mom taught me the best way to handle it was to schedule my day. I'd spend my time in class only focusing on that class for study or assignment. When I got home, I'd have certain days that I worked on certain tasks. Saturdays I broke up my day to focus on everything for a little while and completed everything in stages. This is the method I've used ever since."
If you could change anything about being an auditor, what would it be?
This is a subjective question. I can't tell you what to answer here, but I can tell you whatever it is, don't not make it sound like the worst aspect of the job. If you wish SOX had never happened, don't go on about how the government is overstepping into corporate affairs. No one wants to hear a rant.

If you don't know anything you'd change, admit it. It's always refreshing to find someone who knows and loves their field.

Samantha's Answer #1
"If I had to change one thing, it would be the perception of how people see auditors. If I go to an airport and chat with a stranger and they ask what I do, they immediately recoil when they hear auditor. We have a bad reputation because people automatically think of the IRS and being in trouble."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I don't think I'd change anything. All the regulations in place are there to protect the people in the company and the field of auditing. It comes in waves. Sometimes you're really busy, other times you have more time to relax, so it's easy to plan vacation time and days off. I enjoy all aspects."
Are you okay working longer hours certain times of the year or if a job had a deadline?
This is important to know because in auditing, there are high-volume times of the year. Usually at the end of every quarter is crunch time as well as end of year. At the beginning of the quarter, you usually have a lot more time to do things and prep.

If you can't handle working late or long hours, then this may not be the career for you. This job relies heavily on other people to provide documentation for you to review. If those people take all day to get that documentation, then sometimes you have to either bring work home or stay late.

Samantha's Answer #1
"Yes, I'm fine with working long hours as long as it's understood that if it becomes habitual because another employee doesn't see the significance of the audit, we can train them on the importance. While I'm fine working long hours at certain times of the year, if it's because someone doesn't value my time, I'll say something. I have a family too, and they enjoy seeing me on a regular basis."
Samantha's Answer #2
"I don't mind at all! I love the opportunity to work late, as that's when co-workers come together to get things done. I don't mind having tight deadlines, and getting the job done is something I specialize in."
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