External Auditor Interview Questions
The role of an External Auditor is to come into an organisation sans bias and review their financial information. From their findings they can gauge whether a company is operating efficiently and within the law. These findings are then relayed to relevant parties, including key business stakeholders, the board and in some cases, government entities.
So, what are employers and hiring managers looking for at interview? Ideally candidates who are able to demonstrate a broad knowledge of accounting standards and who can answer questions with professionalism and a proactive approach to teamwork.
The questions themselves are designed to highlight your working style, your strengths and weaknesses and how you’d fit within the company culture.
Tell us about yourself
Starting off simple with some getting to know you questions, you can expect the interviewer to ease you in asking for a little insight into you, your experience and why the world of audit and accounting appeals to you.
What challenges do you see affecting the accounting industry in the future? How will this impact external auditors?
A question like this wants to ascertain your awareness of the bigger picture of your profession and industry and whether you’re staying current on topics such as automation, AI and machine learning and their impact on external audit. Try and answer creatively and show that you have thought about solutions around adapting to this technological evolution.
How do you guarantee accuracy in your findings?
This presents an opportunity for you to highlight your sense of priority for the finer details. Your interviewer is looking to get a sense of your approach to quality control.
Give an example of how you’ve dealt with negative feedback
There may also be questions around your dealings with tricky scenarios, negative feedback or difficult stakeholders. These types of questions are designed to assess your attitude as to whether you historically tackle situations calmly and respectfully or whether you opt to deny and deflect. Focus on what you learnt, how you engaged your team in dealing with the situation and that you took responsibility for your actions. You may also be quizzed on what you consider to be the greatest challenges when working in external audit; remember to frame a potentially negative line of questioning in a positive way.
Which cloud/accounting software or online tools do you have experience with?
Preparing for questions around the technical aspect of your role, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with industry standards, look into the latest developments in software relating to audit and accounting as well as new products and platforms.
Can you give an example of how you used numbers to convey your findings?
This question may be asked more directly but essentially the interviewer is asking about your skill for storytelling through data which is a critical ability for individuals working in finance.
What type of work culture do you see yourself in and why?
This is an obvious one, they just want to know if the kind of work culture you see yourself in matches theirs. Take this as an opportunity to show how your values, methods and personality aligns with their organisation. Talk about how you approach projects, teamwork and why you do things a certain way as these insights will tell your potential employer a lot about the way you work and interact with your colleagues.
What qualifications and experience do you have?
Coming from an academic background with typically a bachelor’s and possibly master’s degree in accounting, finance, business or related field your interviewer will most likely have questions for you around your resume, starting with your education and moving on to your practical work experience. They will also want to know about your plans for CPA and any other further qualifications you have lined up. Other certifications available to external auditors include CFE, CMA, CIA, CISA and CGAP.