A cow in Willesden

Public psychotherapy for a veteran auditor

Ten ways to amuse yourself during audits

  1. Mutter dissent and disbelief under your breath when someone answers your question
  2. Include some crossword clues in your interview questions
  3. When you use someone’s name, add the phrase “if that is your real name”
  4. Let the interviewee see your notepad. Limit your written notes to mildly adverse personal comments
  5. When someone tells you a bad joke, or laughs at something they said themselves, respond with a malapropism delivered in the same tone
  6. Ask your interviewee whether it’s an issue at every opportunity
  7. Be too specific in your requests for documentation
  8. Offer your interviewee an opportunity to bag their boss
  9. End the interview by singing softly and smiling at the interviewee (unless they are of the opposite sex)
  10. Follow-up the interview by asking for a copy of your interviewee’s notes from the interview  

That was harder than I thought, I only had the first 4 in my head, I thought turning out another 6 the same would take about 10 mins. WRONG. It’s the ‘ole 80-20 principle come back to bite me. I think they should do 80-20 cricket as well. 

So anyway, and by popular demand, here’s some dialogue to demonstrate my suggestions above through example :

Auditor : Hello, I’m Bob, I’m here to talk to you about this process

Interviewee : Hi, I’m Jimmy, nice to meet you

A : OK Jimmy, if that is your real name, tell me about your process

I : What do you mean ‘if that is my real name’

A : Its called professional scepticism – I’ve only just met you, and you told me your name was Jimmy, but I haven’t corroborated that yet. Have you never been involved in an audit before?

I : er, no not really

A : Sweeeeet. Well, lets get moving, Jimmy (if that is your real name). Tell me about your process

I : OK, what do you want to know about?

A : Lets start with your day-to-day work. What do you spend your time doing each day? What is your routine of tasks?

I : Well most of the time I’m working on these reconciliations. They take up most of my time. T-

A (muted) :what a slacker

I : … That means a lot of looking up invoices and journals, and often either calling someone to check th-

A (muted) :I doubt that very much

I : …sorry, did you say something?

A : sorry?

I : I thought you were saying something

A : I’m not with you

I : Did you just write “poor diction” on your notepad?

A : I’m afraid our audit files are confidential, I’m not allowed to discuss that with you

I : There’s nothing wrong with my diction! Hey, stop – you’ve just written “in denial”

A : Calm down, my notes are just for my memory, to remind me of what I was thinking, they aren’t important for you. Why would I write stuff like that? You probably can’t read my writing. Just relax Jimmy, if that is your real name

I (laughing) : Ha ha, must be getting paranoid! They said audits could be scary

A : Ha ha, well it’s a small world, but I wouldn’t like to clean it, eh?

I : ha, yeah, very true. Anyway, I call around people and ask them for more details about the entries that don’t reconcile

A : And is that an issue?

I : Not really, I mean a lot of it is just timing issues, or vendor invoices being wrongly printed. We pretty well resolve all the items eventually

A : So is that an issue?

I : No I don’t think it is

A : I’d like you to get me a copy of an example for my file

I : sure, we keep everything on the paper file. Will I just pick a good one for you to see?

A : Ah, I’m afraid that’s not how it works. I need to choose the sample. I’d like you to give me all the doco you have relating to the thirteenth item on the thirteenth invoice which had a reconciliation problem with the thirteenth item since the start of the calendar year (in Us Eastern Standard Time if that alters the result)

I : Crikey, that will take ages to work out. I’m not sure we have that level of detail on our recs!

A : So is that an issue?

I : I, er.., I’m not sure

A (muted) :because you’re a level 1 noob and I’m a level 80 Mage

I : I’m sorry, I’m not really sure what’s happening here

A : If there are some issues that you know about, you need to escalate them

I : Escalate to who?

A : Well to your manager, of course. If you’ve told them about the problems, then its not your responsibility any more

I : You mean he will get in trouble if he hasn’t dealt with the problems I’ve told him about?

A : Well I wouldn’t put it like that, but it would certainly reflect better on you if you aren’t responsible. Have a think about it. Anyway, lets wrap it up there for now, please remember that everything we discussed is confidential and you are not allowed to tell anyone about this meeting. I’ll be back to see you when you least expect it. Just the final point from me, I’ll need a copy of the notes you took during this interview

I : My notes? I didn’t take any notes

A : Well its part of the process, I’ll need to see your record of the meeting so that I can sign it off and include it in the file. If you could type something up by the end of the day and send it through

I : OK, I’ll give it a shot

A (muted, singing and smiling) : Some enchanted evening…

I : Are we finished then?

A (bigger smile, still singing) : you might feed a stranger….

I : Er … can you leave my office please

A : la-di-da-di-doo-bi-doo …

(fade to black)

9 responses to “Ten ways to amuse yourself during audits

  1. Chris March 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I think I pull off #1 through facial expressions.

    • A Cow in Willesden March 16, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      What if it isn’t facial expressions? Perhaps you’ve developed telepathic abilities, becoming able to convey strong emotions and sarcasm through the power of thought. A worthy achievement.

  2. Sofia March 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I like to nod and um-hmm whilst seeming to take notes on my pad, only to reveal a perfect caricature sketch upon the close of the interview.

    • A Cow in Willesden March 17, 2011 at 9:14 am

      I should have put that in instead of the crossword clue one, which I forgot about.

      Do you ever find difficulty getting your workpaper reviewed, or are most audit managers Ok with a graphical representation of the key elements of the interview?

  3. The Man of the Hazel Gap March 19, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I wonder does this mean that such schadenfreude is nature or nuture?

    • A Cow in Willesden March 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Are you saying that being an auditor has made me mean and petty, or that my personality has driven me into this line of work to keep me out of trouble?

      • The Man of the Hazel Gap March 21, 2011 at 7:16 pm

        If I knew you personally I might say that you personality makes you an ideal candidate for being an auditor, if I didn’t then who knows…

  4. ITauditSecurity May 28, 2011 at 5:25 am

    This is the funniest audit related post I’ve read in a long time! Nice job.

    I would add:
    11. Ask the auditee to walk you out to his car so you can check the make, model, number of dents, and general cleaniness, to ensure he’s not living above his means via fraud.

    • A Cow in Willesden May 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Thanks you, and good one, I reckon that would be a fun audit test to try. Maybe we could expand it to a home visit, see what the client eats for dinner and whether he lives in a nice street.

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