Acing your job interview for an internal auditor position is paramount if you want to receive an offer. Your chances for doing well are best if you anticipate the questions you'll be asked and practice giving winning answers.
The extra effort you put into giving a strong interview could pay off for years to come. According to human resource consulting firm, Robert Half International, internal auditors are in demand, with good-paying jobs available in abundance, a trend that should continue through 2028.
Yet, colleges and universities reported increasing numbers of accounting majors every year for more than a decade, with slight decreases in the 2017-18 academic year, which means the competition for these jobs is getting stiffer. One of the top mistakes job seekers make is failing to prepare for an interview, something that can easily be overcome by taking some time to understand the kinds of questions employers are likely to ask. Here we list common questions you might be asked during your internal auditor interview and some responses that should put you ahead of the competition.
- Studies show the job market for internal auditors is strong, with the number of good-paying jobs growing, a trend that should continue through 2028.
- However, competition for the best internal auditing jobs is getting stiffer as universities report an increasing number of accounting majors every year.
- Typically, employers will ask prospective candidates about positions or internships they've held, why they want to be an internal auditor, what they know about the company, and how they can help the company.
- Candidates should be prepared to answer questions about an internal auditor's role in a company and industry best practices.
Positions or Internships You've Held
Auditing is a highly technical field. Employers love to see candidates with experience because it means they are more likely to hit the ground running with minimal hand-holding and remedial training. Accounting professors stress the importance of internships to their students for this very reason; many accounting majors get their first auditing jobs at the firms they interned for in college.
Recent graduates and young professionals with no experience or internships have to get creative with this question. A strong academic résumé with a high-grade point average (GPA) can mitigate the disadvantage of inexperience. If you excelled in a specific accounting project in school, such as a mock audit, now is the time to bring it up.
Why You Want to Be an Internal Auditor
This question is common for accounting majors right out of school. The stereotypical career path for an accounting graduate is to start in a more general capacity at a Big Four public accounting firm (Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, and KPMG). Big Four jobs are demanding, particularly for entry-level employees who are often required to work 60 hours per week or more, but they look amazing on a résumé and open a lot of doors.
Given the career advantages of starting at a Big Four firm, your interviewer is probably genuinely curious why you are eschewing that path and going straight into internal auditing. Be candid with your response. Wanting more of a work-life balance, preferring to stay in one place rather than traveling from client to client, the desire to work for a smaller firm—these are all valid answers.
What You Know About the Company
Employers commonly ask what you know about the company and how you can help them. The only way you can answer this question is if you've done your research in advance. Be prepared to discuss what you know about the company, its products or services, competitors, and industry in general. Show how your experience and knowledge can help the company meet their biggest challenges, making you the ideal candidate for the job.
What You Know About an Internal Auditor's Role
At some point, your interviewer is going to test your industry knowledge and you should be prepared to answer questions of this nature. For example, they might ask you questions about how an internal auditor examines the financial records of his employer to ensure compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), IRS rules, and other government regulations.
What You Know About (Esoteric Industry Term)
Similar to the above questions regarding an internal auditor's role in a company, a prospective employer may ask more specific questions about industry practices. The purpose is to determine if you understand some of the more nuanced aspects of the job.
They might ask you to distinguish between first in, first out (FIFO) and last in, first out (LIFO) inventory valuation, or to explain the ramifications of the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. While employers don't expect your response to be as cogent as something from a 20-year veteran in the field, they do want to be confident that you possess enough industry knowledge to make an impact from day one.
Employers expect you to be well-prepared to answer questions about internal auditing best practices, so make sure you brush up on your knowledge before the interview.
Questions for the Interviewer
Asking your interviewer thoughtful questions is as important as providing thoughtful answers to their questions. Career paths, upward mobility, corporate culture, and leadership opportunities are all great topics to ask about. These types of questions imply that you are seeking a long-term career with the firm, and this is what the interviewer wants to hear.
Topics to avoid include vacation time, dress codes, lunch break policies, and other such minutiae that has no relevance to your career growth. Save these questions for the offer session.
The Bottom Line
An internal auditor plays an important role in a company's success, particularly for publicly traded companies, from which the government requires third-party, public audits. The internal auditor is the company's last line of defense to find and correct errors and departures from compliance before figures are revealed in a public audit. Because of this, you can expect employers to ask detailed questions of any prospective job candidate.
By using the suggestions outlined here and taking the time in advance to prepare for the job interview, you'll gain the confidence you'll need to successfully answer these questions.