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Senior Auditor Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by
| Brian Schuchart is a CPA with fourteen years of experience, including nine years in financial strategy roles. He has held the roles of auditor, staff accountant, manager of financial planning and analysis and senior finance partner.

Question 1 of 25

How do you mitigate and manage stress?

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Senior Auditor Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    How do you mitigate and manage stress?

      The life of an auditor can be stressful, with a lot of travel and deadlines The interviewer wants to gain insight into how you react to stressful situations.

      Brian's Answer

      "Due to tight deadlines, travel and other demands of the senior auditor role, stress is inevitable. However, there are steps I take to help mitigate stress. First, I try to be as organized as possible. I am constantly prioritizing my workload to make sure time-sensitive tasks are handled before they are due. Next, I try to leave work at work. When not at work, I enjoy exercising, reading and traveling. Being able to enjoy these activities makes me feel calmer and rejuvenated at work."

  2. 2.

    Why do you want to be a Senior Auditor?

      This question is a way for the interviewer to find out a little bit about what makes you tick. Be honest and direct - don't give a phony answer that the interviewer will see through. Try to tie the roles and responsibilities of an auditor to your background.

      Brian's Answer

      "Since I was young, I have always liked math and have been good with numbers. I took an accounting class in high school and really enjoyed it - the concepts came naturally to me. As I researched careers in accounting, auditing really appealed to me because it is almost like being an accounting 'detective'. Working as a staff auditor the last two years was a great way to test the waters, and I look forward to continuing to grow in an exciting career."

  3. 3.

    Are you open to travel with this position?

      The topic of travel will almost certainly come up during your interview. Many large firms send their auditors out in the field for a good portion of the year. Even smaller boutique firms require several overnight trips a year. Given this, be prepared to articulate how much travel you are comfortable with (for example, 25%, 50%, etc). Most job descriptions will include the expected amount of travel. The interviewer is gauging whether you are a candidate that is willing and able to meet the travel requirement, so try to align your answer with the expectation of the role.

      Brian's Answer

      "I am definitely open to travel. I saw on the job description that travel is estimated to be 25%-50%, which I am comfortable with. Since I am still growing in the profession, I think traveling would be a fantastic opportunity for me to immerse myself in the role and learn as much as possible from my colleagues."

  4. 4.

    How do you manage your manager? In other words, what steps do you take to make sure you get what you need from your boss and make both your lives easier?

      Also known as 'managing up', 'managing your manager' is a soft skill that can be developed over time. It essentially means doing whatever is necessary to make your manager's job easier. Some clear-cut benefits of managing up include increased productivity and better working relationships between boss and employee.

      Brian's Answer

      "I am a firm believer in the benefits of managing my manager. At the end of the day, I want to make the internal audit engagements we work on together run as smoothly as possible. One area where I really focus on is communicating and prioritizing workload on a regular basis. This ensures that I'm always working on the highest-priority items. Another thing that is crucial is understanding my manager's style. For example, do they like regular check-ins by email throughout the day, scheduled catch-up meetings, etc. Then I tailor my communication to their style."

  5. 5.

    Why do you want to work at ABC Public Accountants?

      This question is an opportunity to show you have done your research on the firm. Be sure to mention some of the firm's biggest clients, as well as some of the industries they specialize in.

      Brian's Answer

      "I believe continuing my career at ABC Public Accountants would be a very rewarding experience. First, the firm specializes in industries that I find interesting, such as aerospace and technology. It would be a very exciting opportunity to work with clients such as XYZ Aeronautics and American Technologies. Secondly, I have heard about ABC's amazing culture and how they promote continuing education and mold leaders. Alumni from my school have talked about ABC's Leaders of Tomorrow mentorship program, which sets the firm apart from others. For these reasons, this Senior Auditor role at ABC was very appealing to me."

  6. 6.

    What is the difference between fraud and error?

      This is a technical topic covered in the auditing standards under AU-C Section 240. The key difference between fraud and error is that the former is intentional and the latter is unintentional. There are two main types of fraud that an internal auditor should be concerned with: fraudulent reporting and misappropriation of assets (ie theft).

      Brian's Answer

      "The main difference between fraud and error is that fraud is intentional and errors are unintentional. As auditors, we are primarily concerned with financial misstatements that are caused by fraudulent financial reporting and misstatements that are caused by theft and other misappropriation of assets."

  7. 7.

    In your opinion, why is it important for organizations to have effective internal controls?

      Internal controls are rules, regulations and safeguards that an organization puts in place to ensure integrity of financial information and to prevent fraud. There are several benefits to having robust and effective internal controls, including preventing fraud/theft, improving accuracy of financial reporting, and complying with laws and regulations.

      Brian's Answer

      "Internal controls are vital for organizations of all sizes. First and foremost, internal controls are necessary to be in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. Additionally, strong internal controls are necessary to prevent fraud and theft by employees. Finally, strong and effective internal controls result in improved timeliness and accuracy of financial reporting, which makes for smoother audits."

  8. 8.

    How do you keep up with the latest developments in auditing standards?

      This question is to see if you take the initiative to stay current on the latest accounting developments. If you are a CPA, talk about how you use mandatory continuing education requirements to stay up to date on the latest trends and regulations.

      Brian's Answer

      "I stay up to date in various ways. First, I subscribe to e-newsletters from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for auditing standards updates and the Financial Accounting Standards Board for updates to generally accepted accounting principles. Additionally, since I am a CPA, I stay up to date with new standards with continuing education courses. I try to select courses that align nicely with the roles and responsibilities of my current position."

  9. 9.

    As external auditors, how can we rely on the work of internal auditors?

      As part of their responsibilities, internal auditors document policies and procedures. In some cases, external audit firms can rely on the work of the internal audit team in conducting the financial statement audit.

      Brian's Answer

      "Audit rules require auditors to obtain an understanding of a client's internal controls. As part of their responsibilities, an internal audit team often documents and assesses internal controls for their organization. In some cases, the external auditors can leverage this work in completion of their financial statement audit. In other words, they don't need to duplicate the work of the internal audit team. However, as external auditors we will often need to do our own transaction testing and therefore cannot rely on the internal audit team's work."

  10. 10.

    How would you deliver excellent customer service to clients in your role as Senior Auditor?

      Being able to interact and communicate effectively with clients is a key skill for an auditor, and also shows that the candidate possesses the ability to grow into larger roles within the organization such as manager and director. Setting a good example for more junior staff is a key responsibility of a senior auditor.

      Brian's Answer

      "I believe that being able to communicate with our clients effectively will be key from day one. Whenever I communicate with anyone, I make sure that I am responsive. If I can't give someone the information they are seeking right away, I make sure to let them know the anticipated timing. If there are unexpected delays, I provide updates. I would also make sure I review any documents or emails I send to other departments in order to build trust in my abilities. I would act professionally while out in the field at our clients' places of business. Finally, it is important for me to set a good example for more junior staff members."

  11. 11.

    What would you do if during an audit you found an accounting practice that was suspicious?

      This is an opportunity to highlight your integrity and honesty. The high-level answer should be obvious - that the concern must be addressed immediately.

      Brian's Answer

      "If I was working on an audit and discovered a practice that I found questionable, I would immediately voice my concern to the Audit Manager. It's possible that I was misinterpreting the situation. If not, my manager would provide good counsel on next steps to resolve the situation. The most important thing is to be honest and ethical - two character traits that I am proud to say I possess."

  12. 12.

    What is the purpose of audit documentation?

      This is a technical question to see if you are able to articulate the information that is gathered in the field to support the audit. According to auditing standards (pronouncement AU-C Section 230), the two primary purposes of audit documentation are 1) to provide evidence to support the auditor's conclusion and 2) to provide evidence that the audit was planned and performed appropriately.

      Brian's Answer

      "There are a couple of important purposes of audit documentation. First, the documentation needs to support the conclusion that the auditor reached in the audit report. Secondly, the documentation serves as evidence that the audit was planned and performed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards."

  13. 13.

    What is the auditor’s responsibility when planning an audit?

      Auditing standard AU-C Section 300 Planning an Audit covers what the auditor's responsibility is during the planning phase of the audit. The engagement partner and other key members of the audit team should be involved. As a staff auditor, you will be heavily involved in the planning process, so it's important to brush up on the requirements detailed in the standard.

      Brian's Answer

      "During the planning phase of an audit, the engagement partner and other key engagement team members should establish an understanding of the terms of the engagement, assess the continuance of the client relationship and develop an overall audit strategy that sets the scope, timing and direction of the audit."

  14. 14.

    What is your experience with interacting with senior executives at various organizations?

      A senior auditor will at times be expected to interact with senior leadership of the firm's clients. Highlight that you not only have experience presenting in front of leadership, but also that you are comfortable doing it. Be specific with what you presented.

      Brian's Answer

      "I have ample experience getting in front of leadership and presenting. In my previous role as staff auditor, I would meet with Controllers, CFOs and other client leadership while completing walk-through documentation. I always felt the need to prepare in advance for any questions that might arise, and would often circle back promptly on follow-ups that developed during those meetings. Even though these were low risk conversations, the interactions gave me confidence at an early stage in my career."

  15. 15.

    What are analytical procedures and what are some examples?

      Analytical procedures are techniques and methods that auditors use to obtain audit evidence which allows them to express an audit opinion. The five main types of analytical procedures are analytical review, inquiry, observation, inspection and recalculation.

      Brian's Answer

      "Analytical procedures are the techniques and procedures we use as evidence to express our audit opinion on the client's financial statements. Some common procedures include analytical review, inquiry, observation, inspection and recalculation."

  16. 16.

    What are some of the ways that you can show professionalism when out on an audit assignment?

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  17. 17.

    In an audit, who is primarily responsible for the prevention and detection of fraud?

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  18. 18.

    Have you sat for the CPA exam or are you planning to sit for the CPA exam?

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  19. 19.

    How would you handle working in an increasingly remote environment?

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  20. 20.

    Explain how the Sarbanes-Oxley Act changed the auditing profession.

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  21. 21.

    How do you feel your experience as a Staff Auditor has prepared you for the Senior Auditor role?

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  22. 22.

    What are the differences between an audit, a review and a compilation?

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  23. 23.

    Why do companies require audits?

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  24. 24.

    As a Senior Auditor, what are some steps you can take to guide new staff when out on client engagements?

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  25. 25.

    What qualities or skills do you believe a good auditor should possess?

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