When planning an Interviewing Skills for International Auditors workshop recently, my client shared with me their interviewing trouble spots. The biggie? That the team isn’t successfully achieving the objectives of their audit interviews on a consistent basis. It’s a trouble spot many of my clients find themselves in.
The audit team in this case is global, based in six countries. About 40% of the team is based in New York, 40% in Europe, and 20% in Asia. Half the team are native English speakers.
The question I faced was, how to help the team better achieve their audit objectives given the tight timelines for both the audit itself and the interviews?
During the two-day workshop, we focused on the building blocks of effective communication as well as key interviewing skills such as questioning, listening and facilitating.
It’s now three months after the workshop, and my client has just reported back to me: Audit interviews are now running smoother, taking less time, and the objectives are being achieved far more regularly than before the training. It’s time to celebrate!
If your team is not achieving their audit interviewing objectives to the degree you’d like, there are some simple techniques and strategies you can put in place to start making it happen.
Here are the techniques and strategies from the workshop that my client reports as having helped them the most:
1. Understanding their individual communication style.
If we understand our own communication style and can read our interview partner’s communication style, we are more likely to achieve cooperation and reach our objectives in a win-win style. Why? Because we can make adjustments to our own style that will help us communicate with the other person more effectively.
Consider the methodical communicator who loves to explain ideas and concepts in a linear manner. How well will they connect and communicate with someone with a ‘big picture’ communication style? We can run into frustration at best or conflict at worst.
2. Becoming more culturally aware.
If you live in a country that is not your home country or you travel extensively for work or pleasure, there’s a good chance you are fairly successful in your intercultural communication. Sometimes though, intercultural mistakes can still bite us in the, um, rear.
The intercultural model I use in my training is the Trompenaars-Hampden-Turner seven dimensions of culture. Understanding how conflict can arise from our basic assumptions, especially as it relates to relationships, can help us communicate more effectively and create better audit results.
3. Knowing their interviewee.
A huge part of any communication interaction is knowing who you will be speaking with as much as possible. Not just age, gender and nationality, but what makes them tick. Knowing what motivates them and what their pain points are can you as you conduct the interview and create value-added audit recommendations.
Remember to do your homework before the interview. There’s a lot you can learn about your interview partner from your colleagues and LinkedIn.
4. Building rapport with interviewees.
People love to work with people… like themselves. So find commonalities at the beginning of the interview. It might be work related or it might be a love of golf. It might simply mean connecting in terms of attitude and language.
Your questioning, listening and mirroring skills all come into play here to help you build a trustful relationship. Remember to stay authentic!
5. Focusing on their questioning skills.
We all know the basics: Open questions get people to tell you tons of information. Closed questions enable you to confirm and clarify. But there’s a whole range of questioning techniques, from Columbo-style looping back to the funnel technique that you can use to uncover the information you are looking for.
One of the most common issues I see in workshops is that participants tend to turn to closed questions when they aren’t sure what their next questions should be.
The biggest A-HA moment for my client during the workshop three months ago? Their auditors tended to go for the free recall ‘question’ every single time: “Tell me about … .” This kind of ‘question’ is great to elicit information. If you continually use this technique throughout the interview, you’ll run out of time and never achieve your interview objectives.
And don’t forget to practice, practice, practice…
To find out how your team can improve their interviewing skills, please get in touch. I’m happy to share some ideas with you.
Wishing you every success in your next audit interview!