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7 key skills of an internal auditor

23 May 2019

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7 key skills of an internal auditor

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Internal audits can be a complicated process. We’ve pinpointed the seven key skills of an internal auditor to ensure you know what’s needed to successfully complete the task.

Everyone knows the purpose and value of being audited, and it's something which drives improvements for employees across the organisation, therefore internal audit skills are vital when it comes to a successful audit.

In reality, every auditor knows their reputation- someone who is apathetic, unyielding, and interrupting you in your daily life. Employees dread the invitation to undergo an internal audit. However, by grasping the following skills, you can help change these stereotypes and bring a more human approach to auditing. 

7 auditing skills to progress

1. Use all your senses 

Don’t always take everything at face value. As an internal auditor, you must navigate complex social cultures and hierarchical structures. You need to use your gut feeling if something doesn't feel right - what people say is not always what they mean. 

Here at Ideagen, we advise you to:

  • Keep your eyes open
  • Listen closely
  • Follow your nose 

2. Embrace technology 

As we enter the 4th Industrial Revolution, often dubbed , we know that no job can flourish without embracing technologies. Technical skills are key. 

Auditors must be creative at acquiring data from a range of sources, pulling this through into a single source of truth, and understanding the trends. 

At Ideagen, we offer Champion training for the key implementation team, when you purchase any of our products.

3. Research 

There is nothing more embarrassing than not having the right data and information. 

Internal auditors need to be constantly updating their knowledge, approaches and evaluation methods. How? Through research. 

If you continually ask the same questions, you'll always get the same responses. Internal auditors should be systematically doing SWOT analysis for each area of the business to use a risk-based approach to auditing. Calendar block time in your diary to do research before every single audit. This ensures there is a fresh perspective each time.

4. Work ethic

Internal auditors often need to deal with complex issues which cannot be resolved in a day. You need to be good at diffusing conflict, handling frustration, and mentoring others. This takes time, energy and commitment. Internal auditors need to be tenacious to get the results they want. 

5. Empathy 

As important as having the personal drive to see a project through is the ability to empathise with other people who may be resistant to change. Being able to see their side of the story - whether it's deliberately not complying or their attitude towards their roles, is a key skill in being able to change behaviour and motivate others. 

6. Marketing skills 

How do you get the most out of other people? You tell them what's in it for them. 

Many auditors schedule audits in their diaries without rallying the troops and without letting them know how they are going to benefit. 

Before any audit, establish a rapport with the person beforehand, detail three ways they'll benefit from an audit (their ideas / challenges / opinions), and relate it to something going on in the wider industry. 

7. Communication 

Healthy conflict between departments is a good thing and something to be promoted. It's the people who say nothing we should be more aware of. As well as jargon and body language, we let emotions and bias influence our conversations. 

Many internal auditors complain that their audit findings haven't been resolved. Think about how the audit findings have been communicated - has it gone to the right person? Have they understood? Was the tone right? 

Audit reports need to be sign posted with key calls to action - don't let your core message be lost! 

Now that we've looked at the key skills of an internal auditor, find out more about the current world of audit in the UK by downloading our white paper on audit reform.

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Written by

Alexander Pavlović

Alex produces targeted content to help Ideagen’s readers and customers navigate the complex world of quality, governance, risk and compliance.

Alex has worked with brands such as BT, Sodexo and Unilever and is passionate about helping businesses build a cohesive, collaborative culture of quality.

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