Essential Skills for Auditors

Would you like to be an auditor? While it may not be the most glamorous of professions, being an auditor typically means steady work that is enjoyable to most. An auditor may uncover mistakes and even outright theft or fraud, and may be able to have the satisfaction of saving a company thousands of dollars in situations like these.

As with most occupations, being an auditor appeals to a certain personality and those with certain skills or traits. An auditor may work in a very rigid environment and may also work alone for many hours, and then need to question individuals throughout the course of the audit. This type of work environment doesn't appeal to everyone.

Professionalism is needed, but the auditor needs to be in charge at all times so that nothing is overlooked or dismissed.

Consider a few other factors about being an auditor as to the skills a person would need in order to be successful in this line of work.

Planning Skills

An audit, like any other large project or process, needs to be planned carefully. Those that are being audited need to be informed of what documents are needed, as well as when they themselves will be interviewed if this is part of the process.

Depending upon the industry and type of audit, it may take a few hours or several weeks to complete. And often one step of an audit needs to be completed before another can commence, so good planning and organizational skills are necessary. An auditor should:

  • Plan the audit well in advance so that he or she can outline every step of the audit. What exactly will it include and encompass?
  • Plan the steps of the audit in order; what will need to be audited first, then second, and so on?
  • Note all the documents that will be needed by an individual or department for the audit.
  • Notify all those that will be involved in the audit and communicate to them the expected length of the audit, when they need to be available, and so on.

Communication Skills

While a large part of auditing will mean working by oneself reviewing documents and data, there is also typically the need to interact with and question those involved with the audit. While an auditor may have the authority to demand certain documentations and answers from another individual, never would they want an audit to become combative. At all times, he or she should approach another individual as if they are working together as a team to reach a logical conclusion.

Of course there is a certain firmness needed when conducting an audit, in case someone does become uncooperative. Professionalism is needed, but the auditor needs to be in charge at all times so that nothing is overlooked or dismissed.

Additionally, an auditor needs to communicate clearly and in ways that another person understands. Overly technical jargon will not help the other person to understand what is needed or expected, so things need to be communicated in a clear and precise way.

Reporting Skills

The results of an audit also need to be communicated clearly. In many cases there are standard forms that are filled out to communicate those results but often much more is expected from an auditor than a standard response. Those initiating the audit are often looking for ways to cut costs, eliminate overhead, and set budget priorities. A "cookie cutter" response of monies spent in what areas will not typically help them in any of these areas.

As you can see, auditing is not just about checking facts and figures. It's about working with individuals to prepare for the audit and working with them to get the best information available. A good audit is an invaluable tool to those who call for it, so the results need to be communicated clearly as well.