As a recruiter focused on identifying, recruiting, and placing top caliber Audit, Governance, Compliance, and Risk professions, I receive feedback on a daily basis on how candidates perform on interviews. I can say confidently that as a general rule many Audit professionals struggle mightily in interviews. We see candidates with five, ten, even 15 years experience, unable to provide a single clear example of an audit they performed. At times it feels like a solid third of the profession is somehow faking it, unable to clearly explain the basic steps of what they do on a daily basis.
What I suspect is more likely is that candidates are not preparing adequately for interviews. The nature of the work of audit/compliance can be repetitive, and thus without careful preparation, all of the examples tend to blend together in the mind into a muddy mélange of Risk and Controls Stew. This leads to interview answers that are vague and high level – and this type of answer does not win a candidate their dream job.
Your job in the interview is to paint a crystal clear picture of your skills and ability that leaves no doubt as to your ability to perform. The way to do this is with very crisp clear stories that showcase your skills and tasks – your Superstar Vignettes.
Rather than try to sift through the mélange and remember everything you have ever done, pick out 4-6 audits that showcase the best of your talents. Then, go through these examples in your notes/memory to be able to provide very clear examples of your role (scoping, testing, indentifying the key issues, persuading the client to take action). These examples should be clearly outlined prior to the interviews, and practiced aloud until they role off the tongue. Each audit/project now becomes a very clear crisp story with a clear beginning, middle, and end (hopefully a value-added recommendation that was embraced and implemented by the client). The key is to be able to provide a level of detail that makes it clear to the interviewer that you possess the skill sets to be effective member of their team.
To be even better prepared, try anticipate common Audit interview questions and then tease out examples that showcase your skills for those scenarios. For example:
- Walk me through a recent audit and describe in detail the steps you performed?
- Tell me about a time you had to deal with a very difficult Auditee, and how did you use your persuasive skills and business acumen to overcome the objections?
- Tell me about a time where you had to perform an audit in an immature environment where the processes were not clearly defined (very important for younger tech companies)?
- Tell me about a time where you had to perform a technically complex audit?
Taking the time to develop your Superstar Vignettes prior to the interview will greatly enhance your ability to dazzle and to walk away with your dream job!