The audit introductory meeting and interviews
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The Audit Introductory Meeting and Interviews. October 19, 2004. Learning Objectives. Importance of establishing rapport Standard introductory meeting topics Effective meeting agenda planning Phases of an interview Tips for effectively performing within each phase Practice with an exercise.

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Learning Objectives

  • Importance of establishing rapport

  • Standard introductory meeting topics

  • Effective meeting agenda planning

  • Phases of an interview

  • Tips for effectively performing within each phase

  • Practice with an exercise


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Introductory Meeting Topics

  • Purpose of the audit

  • Assigned audit staff

  • Audit protocol (e.g., review of drafts)

  • Expected timeframe for audit

  • Request information from audit client

  • Questions for client/management representatives at the meeting


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Planning a Meeting Agenda

  • Determine the topic (most people stop here!)

  • Clarify desired outcome for each topic

  • Design a process to reach each outcome


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Interviews Are Not

  • A data analysis tool

  • They are a data gathering tool


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Interviews Can Provide

  • Interviewed person’s opinion

  • Documentary evidence

  • Referrals to other people and documents


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Phases of an Interview

  • Plan the interview.

  • Conduct the interview: that means (A) open it, (B) conduct it, and (C) close it.

  • Document the interview and follow-up on contacts obtained or documents requested.


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Planning Phase

  • Identify the purpose and objectives of the interview before you conduct it and ensure that they are linked to the audit’s goals.

  • Think through who are the key people to interview.

  • Do some homework beforehand about the entity and people you’re interviewing.


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Planning Phase

  • Analyze the people you’ll be interviewing.

  • Schedule the interview at a convenient time.

  • Plan your questions!!!!!!

  • And the order you ask them in.

  • Best if you’re accompanied by a colleague

  • Appropriate dress


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Planning Phase

  • Consider the location.

  • Consider whether you want to ask the interviewee to bring something to the interview.

  • Consider sending them materials in advance to review for the interview.

  • Try to schedule the interview to last no more than an hour.

  • Give advance notice of the topic of the interview (unless it’s a fraud investigation).


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Conducting Phase Tasks

  • Keep the conversation focused on the important issues.

  • Maintain your composure.

  • Listen well enough to understand.

  • Ask effective initial and follow-up questions.

  • Verify what was said via techniques such as paraphrasing.

  • Accurately record the information.


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Conducting Phase: Opening

  • Arrive on time or slightly before

  • Bring credentials if necessary

  • Have an opening statement to “break the ice”.

  • Explain audit purpose, process, timeframe, and (sincerely!) benefits for them

  • Attendance sheet


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Active Listening

  • When the listener provides feedback (verbal and/or non-verbal) to the speaker on the extent to which the speaker’s message has been understood and will be retained.


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Verbal Active Listening Techniques

  • Using encouraging words and reassuring sounds to convey interest (“I see.”)

  • Restating in your own words what the person said.

  • Repeating exactly what the person said (“Mirroring”).

  • Reflecting to show you understand how they feel (“You were pretty upset by this…”).


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Verbal Active Listening Techniques

  • Probing the interviewee’s initial response in order to expand and/or clarify the information given (“Please tell me more about that”).

  • Summarizing (“these seem to be the main ideas you stated”).


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Non-Verbal Active Listening Techniques

(1)   Maintaining appropriate eye contact with the interviewee.

(2)   Occasionally nodding affirmatively to display understanding and interest.

(3)   Using expectant pauses to indicate to the interviewee that more is expected.


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“No-Nos”

  • Sighing

  • Frowning


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Barriers to Active Listening

  • Not keeping an open mind by letting biases interfere

  • Jumping to conclusions

  • Interrupting or debating the interviewee: seek understanding first!

  • Monopolizing the conversation (70/30 rule)

  • Thinking ahead to your next question


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Barriers to Active Listening

  • Reading documents provided by the interviewee.

  • Not suppressing disruptive habits such as finger drumming or pencil tapping.

  • Assuming you know what the interviewee meant and not requesting clarification.


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Question Types

1.      Open

2.      Closed

3.      Probing or follow-up

4.      Leading


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Open Questions

  • Can’t be answered with yes/no response.

  • Pros: Useful when you’re not sure of what information you need or if you want to know how someone feels about an issue.

  • Cons: Can take a lot of time and require ore note taking, more difficult to control, and interviewee may not be sure what you want.


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Closed Questions

  • Answer restricted to a few choices (yes/no).

  • Pros: Useful when answers require little or no explanation, saves time, and makes it easy to tabulate results.

  • Cons: Limits information that can be obtained, makes it easy to lie, can make people feel like they are on witness stand.


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Probing/Follow-up Questions

  • Asking another question to clarify or obtain further information about a interviewee’s response.

  • Pros: Useful when the interviewee provides inadequate answers, stimulates discussion, and can be used to resolve inconsistencies.

  • Cons: Can make interviewee become overly defensive.


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Leading Questions

  • Phrased to indicate a preferred response.

  • “You don’t still use that process, do you?”

  • Indicates the auditor asking the question isn’t objective.


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Other Questioning Tips

  • Avoid asking multiple questions at once.

  • Generally, it’s best to start with open questions (go from general to more specific).

  • Best questions are short, clear, objective.

  • Ask questions in logical order.

  • Allow for quiet, thinking time.

  • Take notes.


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Closing Phase

  • Wrap up the interview by summarizing what you heard.

  • Close immediately if hostility emerges.

  • Schedule any follow-up meetings.

  • Asking the interviewee if they have any questions for you.

  • Remind interviewee of any documents promised to you.

  • Thank the interviewee(s) for her/his/their time.


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Follow-up Phase

  • Look at your notes, as soon as possible after the meeting to fill in blanks.

  • Write up the interview after you’re done, the sooner the better.

  • Distinguish between purported facts and the interviewee’s stated personal views.

  • Use auditor’s notes to record personal observations and note inconsistencies.

  • List documents provided or promised by the interviewee.


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Follow-up Phase

  • Have someone else review the write-up, preferably another auditor who attended the interview.

  • Contact referrals from the interview.

  • Obtain any documents promised during the interview.

  • Obtain interviewer’s concurrence with the write-up if the topics discussed are particularly controversial or significant, or if there’s no confirming documentation.