Developing your Internal Audit team: beware the bow tie

Finding the right people can be challenging

It’s a while since I had a proper job, but I have worked in senior roles in internal audit in the past. I look back on those days with much satisfaction and fondness.  The only thing I don’t miss is the constant need to recruit.

Finding the right people was always a nightmare. I recall being told by a recruitment agency that I just had to interview a particular candidate who had recently graduated from Oxford with a first and who was in tremendous demand.  The virtual picture the recruiter painted of this individual was irresistible.

He duly arrived for interview giving all the appearance of having been dressed by his mother for a first day at school.  The gap between his shirt’s top button and the knot of his tie was alarmingly wide and he presented a lamentably limp hand / finger shake.  During the interview he managed to make eye contact with me once.  I could probably have removed my trousers and stood on my head and he wouldn’t have noticed.

I remember also once making the mistake of trying to be creative with my interview questioning and asking a candidate how her friends would describe her. Some ten minutes later I had the impression of a cross between, Mother Theresa, Miss World and Einstein. She was never knowingly undersold.

Top tips

My tips for retaining sanity during the recruitment process are:

  • Tell your recruitment firms that the first time they send you an inappropriate candidate you will never work with them again. Helps concentrate their minds.
  • Look for clues in the CV. I have always been puzzled by the phrase, “Able to communicate at all levels” for example. Does this mean on the ground floor as well the tenth? With short people as well as tall? About football and philosophy?
  • Never recruit someone who wears a bow tie to an interview.
  • Beware individuals who talk about themselves in the third person.
  • Don’t be afraid to stop the interview at a point when you become aware that the candidate is completely unsuitable / borderline delusional. It’s kinder to both parties. (Although you should probably let it go on beyond the handshake.)
  • Ask someone, whose judgement you trust to form an opinion, by meeting candidates at reception and showing them up to the room where they are to be interviewed. You can agree a series of signals to inform your interview approach. I once had a PA who was brilliant at this. A finger drawn horizontally across her throat whilst she stood behind the interviewee saved a lot of time and unnecessary questioning.

If all else fails … call the audit and review experts

If all else fails and your audit plan contains a review of a major construction or maintenance project, call The Orange Partnership for help and resources.

Our contracts of employment contain a clause which makes the wearing of novelty ties a sackable offence.