How to recruit the right talent

The search for qualified auditors remains a challenge for many organizations. Have you ever considered to review your recruitment practices as the head of the function? Are they updated, organized, and well structured? You can view your recruitment process as the starter solenoid. If it malfunctions, both you and the individual will struggle to succeed in the longer run.

There are three main aspects to consider if you would like to increase the likelihood of hiring the qualified auditors:

  • How do you define your organization’s ideal candidate?
  • How do you structure and execute interviews to select candidates with desired skills who can quickly adapt to your organization and culture?
  • How do you attract individuals to apply?

Define your ideal candidate

Auditors are required to demonstrate excellent technical skills – industry-specific knowledge and expertise, understanding of processes and controls – as well as critical soft skills such as interpersonal communication and conflict management.

While designing the skillset, it is extremely important to pay equal attention to technical and soft skills. Technical skills will vary based on the industry, type of assessment, and your specific needs, but soft skills would be similar across the world of auditing. It could be a good idea to benchmark with other companies or functions on soft skills, both for defining and assessing those.

Companies should also consider diversity when defining the required qualities. Having a team of people with the same background and skillsets who think the same will be toxic to your organization.

Design your process

As technical skills will vary, this article will focus on assessing some critical soft skills and providing tips that can be used as part of the interview and selection process.

It is also important to set the minimum entry criteria such as experience, and years of service in the company to avoid failures.

“Curiosity is the engine of achievement.” – Sir Ken Robinson

It is not an easy exercise to confirm the presence of the required curiosity. One way to assess would be to ask candidates about things they have learned outside of work, anything that could surface a sign of feeding their hunger for learning new things. I remember, in one of the interviews, I was asked to talk about my hobbies. The interviewer was so professional in getting the evidence she needed for a curious mind, by asking what new things I brought into my life because of my hobbies. Any knowledge not transformed into practice will fade away, therefore looking for such evidence is critical.

“There are three constants in life: change, choice, and principles.” – Stephen Covey

Self-discipline and integrity complement each other and contribute to the quality of a good auditor. Evaluating particularly integrity during an interview, when most candidates are going to be on their best behavior, is not always straightforward. One approach is to ask candidates how they have handled previous difficult discussions and ethical dilemmas. For example, if they witnessed a situation where a senior manager challenged them with the result of their assessment, how did they respond?

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.” – Ralph Nichols

Auditing requires nothing less than a “great communication” to drive the desired results both for the organization and the auditing function. One question that can be used as part of the interview process would be how the individual will be handling the situation when for example one of the auditees is very slow in providing needed documents. There will be some other visual signs of “people skills” such as body language, the tone of the voice, as part of a traditional interview process. It could be a good idea to take the candidate to lunch together with a few other members of the function or walk him/her through a factory floor to observe other signs of the skill supporting your overall judgment.

“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” – Edward de Bono

Looking for drive and creativity in candidates is extremely important. “Are they resourceful enough to figure out how to analyze and manage situations? A candidate thinking, he/she knows everything will fail as he/she would not be able to identify different patterns, welcome opportunities to grow, and challenge himself/herself.

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” – Wally Lamb

A beautifully written audit report is a result of blending science and art professionally. Writing skills are one of the most important qualities that a recruiter should be looking for. Some audit functions could introduce writing tests within their hiring processes. One way of doing this is to provide a case study to an auditor. This will help you understand the candidate’s not only writing skills but also analytical capabilities. Another point to check with the candidate could be his/her reading habits, which compliments the overall writing skills.

Be an attractive recruiter

One of the most important aspects of the recruitment process is to attract the right talent to apply. When posting about an audit position, be that an internal or external one, give the applicant a couple of good reasons to be interested and excited. Some candidates may assume auditing consists largely of checking boxes, and not realize that auditors often interact with a wide range of departments and assess a range of functions.

Also convey the goals and values of the audit function, rather than focusing solely on the position’s day-to-day responsibilities. This helps candidates envision how the position fits into the organization and potentially, their career plans. Consider and position the job as a milestone throughout your organization’s career-advancing program.

The required skills may be already available within your function, in a different department within your company, or outside of your business. If you are recruiting externally, spend enough time and effort to explain to the team why they were passed over. This will eliminate the risk of demotivation as well as turnover.

One other important aspect to consider for the recruiting manager would be to build a strong network through industry organizations, events, and communities in advance, to find the right candidate when needed.

Is your industry suffering from the work of unqualified auditors? Maybe it is time to discuss collectively auditor capabilities, development programs, and recruitment practices.

By Tülay Kahraman
October 12, 2020

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