An internal auditor plays a crucial role in your company by providing an independent, objective assessment of the firm's operations. The auditor also helps accomplish your organization's objectives through a systematic, disciplined approach to risk management, control and governance processes. To fill this vital position, you need a highly skilled, objective financial expert with integrity. And to find the right person for the job, your hiring process must be precise.

Precision starts with the auditor job description. As the basis of your job posting, it must accurately communicate the position's specific responsibilities and the attributes required. The more precise you make this job description, the better your chances are of avoiding hiring mistakes.

If you omit key details of the job description, it will be just vague enough to throw open the floodgates to dozens (if not hundreds) of candidates who aren't a good match for your auditor position. You'll also decrease your chances of finding the right person. Of course, the key details of your job description will vary according to the level of auditor you're hiring. But take a look at the following sections to see examples of information that auditor job descriptions frequently include:

Entry- and staff-level internal auditors

Auditor positions at the entry and staff levels typically do not require education beyond a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance. However, the auditor must be detail-oriented and proficient in Microsoft Office applications. Auditors with up to three years of experience also need a good understanding of:

  • Accounting, finance and internal controls and standards
  • IFRS, ASPE, GAAP and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance requirements
  • Risk-assessment practices

Managers and senior audit staff

These positions build on the requirements of staff-level auditors. Therefore, managers and senior staff must have five to eight years of experience in public or private industry accounting, plus:

  • Professional designations, such as a Canadian CPA or certified internal auditor (CIA)
  • Master's in business administration (MBA) degree (for internal audit managers)
  • Critical thinking, communication and analytic skills
  • Project management skills
  • Ability to interact with upper management
  • Ability to work independently
  • Supervisory experience

Chief audit executive, internal audit director, VP of internal audit

In addition to the requirements listed for lower-level positions, executive auditor requirements include:

  • Significant experience with financial and accounting applications, and financial and operational controls
  • Objectivity
  • Interpersonal skills, including the ability to explain complex topics to audiences with no auditing experience
  • Team leadership expertise
  • Ability to guide management's decisions based on financial reporting
  • Ability to support various departments within the company, such as the legal and anti-fraud departments

How to wrap it up

Transparency is essential for an effective auditor job description — as well as a successful new hire. Keep in mind that a new employee's first performance evaluation is often based on how well he or she fulfilled the duties stated in the job description. Make sure your job description doesn't include any surprises or hidden responsibilities that can trip up audit professionals once they're hired. And if any job responsibilities or expectations change along the way, make sure they're communicated as precisely as the information in your original job description.