In 1999, a Colleague of mine and I met with met with a strategic expert in a friendly meeting. It was our first year on the job as internal auditors after our graduation from the higher technology faculties (fresh graduates). During our conversation, he surprised us that he has a short test for me and my friend on internal audit. He also told us that he has a goal in mind behind such test and he will tell us about it after taking the test and having the results. Some of the questions in that test were about the theories of internal audit and working methods while others were about the qualities and skills of the internal audit. We have already submitted the tests and the result was that my friend obtained high scores in the questions relating to the theories and methods of working in the field of internal audit. For me, I obtained high scores in the questions relating to the qualities and skills of internal audit. Having analyzed the results, the expert told us that the goal behind such test is to determine which one of us is more suitable for the internal audit profession than the other on the long run. I still remember his words that knowledge and science can be acquired through studiousness and hard work while the qualities and skills required for a specialized profession will make you a distinguished person in your career. Although we could not deeply understand his words at that time, I realized the significance and importance of such test by the lapse of time.
The successful internal audit department is, first and foremost, in need of efficient auditors
Based on my expertise in the internal audit field, I realized that the successful internal audit department is, first and foremost, in need of efficient auditors. Thus, I started to give due care to the skills and qualities possessed by the candidates to work with us in order to make sure that I employ the right person and that the time and money invested in such person will be fruitful. In the following lines, I will share with you my opinion about the most important skills and qualities that must be owned by the internal auditor in order to be distinguished among his/her colleagues.
- The ability to understand the business and activities: In my opinion, this skill is the most important skill an internal auditor must possess as the nature of his/her work requires that he/she shall audit different types of business and activities within a very short period of time. In addition, the lack of this skill would greatly limit the ability of the auditor, and will adversely affect the audit results.
- The ability to analyze and reach logical conclusions: The examination works for auditors rely on the analysis and drawing conclusions as the documents or statements will give us information only, which requires the existence of this skill to pick up any signs that may lead to a risk or an opportunity.
- 3. The skill of discussion and persuasion: I’m fully convinced that (the auditee) knows its business more than the auditor. This means that the evidence and facts mentioned in the audit report are not sufficient in many cases to convince the auditee of the importance of the observations and risks related to it. Thus, the auditor must be well-versed and fully aware of the nature of the audited activity so that he/she could discuss the observations and convince the auditee of their importance.
- Endless pursuit to reach the added value: Officials/Management always estimate deep observations which show that the auditor is not simply confined with the broad lines of the observations, but he/she went the extra mile to conduct an in-depth analysis, extract data that is difficult to be extracted, or reveal facts or fact impacts on the business which are hidden from such officials. In addition, to make the officials/management more convinced of the importance of the observation and the return such official will obtain through the implementation of the auditor’s recommendation.
- Passion for the profession: This quality is my favorite because it enables the auditor to overcome the most difficult challenges of auditing tasks. Passion for the profession inspires the auditor to look forward to auditing new and more complex topics. The audit starts by thinking about the new challenge and how to address its difficulties. However, once you proceed with audit work, you will understand the activity and identify the most important processes and then analyze the risks… etc., and gradually the mission clues will be identified. This quality adds to the auditor the possibility of providing the added value to the officials/management by submitting an audit report inclusive of the most important risks and the most important problems and opportunities that the officials/management might not know about, through conducting a professional internal audit with high added value.
Finally, I’m sure that there are many other qualities and skills, but from my point of view these are the most important ones. However, the most important question is that can the candidate for the position of an internal auditor acquire these qualities and skills by practice while on the job or he/she must own them before joining the internal audit profession.
I believe that we all have these qualities and skills but at different levels, but I also believe that the person who has a good deal of such skills is a perfect candidate for this profession and he/she may be trained to enhance theses qualities and skills.