Auditors are a significant pillar of good governance, risk management and controls in any organization. If you’re thinking about hiring in the future or now, what qualities of an auditor should you keep in mind to ensure you select the best candidate?

While technical skills such as accounting, auditing and assurance have long been sought after in the digital age, it is now that it’s widely accepted that the non-technical attributes (better known as ‘soft skills’) prevail as the competitive differentiator in internal audit’s overall performance. Now more than ever, companies are placing growing value on traits such as analytical skills, business and risk insight, communication, critical thinking and adaptability.

Though individual auditing styles may differ, it is without a doubt that the versatile and unique skill sets of auditors are a driving force to improve an organization.

So, before you start with the recruitment process, consider the following six qualities of a good auditor to look out for

  1. Relationship-Building
  2. Innovative
  3. Global Mindset
  4. Always Learning
  5. Integrity
  6. Teamwork

All these qualities are needed by an auditor, and how pairing them with auditing will reflect on a firm are explained below.

1.   Relationship-Building

The need to develop deep, healthy relationships with all levels of the business takes a certain amount of time. The most successful audit professionals invest countless hours building trust throughout the organization.

Fostering this credibility helps:

  • Reduce resistance during the auditing process;
  • Increase the volume and speed of information that business partners can deliver in response to internal audit requests; and
  • Encourage the business to understand and embrace audit’s role

2.  Innovation

At the heart of auditing is problem-solving, and the best problem solvers use innovation and creativity to address issues that can’t be resolved at ease. With regulatory and company demands fluctuating, processes are evolving, and new technologies being adopted all the time, audit professionals are expected to take a forward-looking or a futuristic approach in providing assurance, advisory and risk assessment services.

Innovation is not just about processes – it is also a behaviour. As such, internal auditors who think laterally, and are open-minded and are willing to take up the appropriate level of risk-taking are undoubtedly well-versed in looking beyond the here and now.

3.  Global Mindset

A global mindset lets an auditor challenge his ability to operate effectively across cultures and countries. A global mindset lets an auditor to

  • Recognize own cultural values and biases
  • Get to know personality traits, especially curiosity
  • Learn about the business and workplace expectations of relevant countries
  • Build strong intercultural relationships
  • Develop strategies to adjust your workplace

4.  Always Learning

These capabilities will include technical skills; given the pace of business and regulatory compliance changes, it is safe to note the need for auditors to acquire new technical skills and update existing technical skills will remain constant. Yet, these deep areas of expertise are less important. The management who preside over leading audit functions in a company understands the difference between technical skills and skills that truly differentiate and determine their staff. These audit functions strive to develop and attract non-technical qualities, including:

  1. The establishment of a compelling “brand” that attracts top talent;
  2. Rigorous selection processes that help in identifying a candidate’s propensity to develop these non-technical attributes;
  3. Training programs that target these skills within these attribute areas;
  4. Innovative development processes; and
  5. Performance review and evaluation programs that reward proficiency in specific non-technical attributes.

5. Integrity

Auditors need to be able to properly analyze, influence behaviour and advise the highest level of management in a company. However, this may be subject to disagreement and resistance at times.

In such situations, auditors should exhibit integrity and reach constructive solutions to any problems that arise. They need to have self-confidence and be objective in their role.

6.  Teamwork

The same attributes that auditors exhibit with the clients will also help them foster better relationships with their audit colleagues. This is crucial, and it explains why business considers teamwork as a top priority.

The ability to thrive on a team requires emotional intelligence, the skills to influence, lead and empathize are key attributes in any skill set.

To thrive in the future, organizations must choose an auditor who understands both technical and non-technical attributes that are equally important for a company’s growth.