Section 7: During the audit

Time management

“how was I supposed to review all of these activities in this area in the two hours allocated and what do I do about the other two departments I should have visited this morning?”

  • Apply timings to your checklist activities – know if you’re on time
  • Plan for ‘deep evaluation’ opportunities
  • Apply a logical route through the system
  • Keep control of discussions and topics
  • Avoid distractions where possible

Don’t forget your checklist

  • Keep it with you – it’s your guide to achieving objective evidence
  • Keep it flexible – use as and aid memoir
  • Leave gaps in your checklist for notes and additional items
  • Refer to your plan of timings, locations, people, etc.

Interviews and discussions

  • Ask people what they do, what information they receive and then what do they pass on
  • Structure your interviews – as much information in as little time possible
  • Choose your questions carefully depending on whether you need confirmation or evidence:
    • Conformation example question: Are you responsible for signing requisitions?
    • Evidence example question: What are your responsibilities regarding requisitions?
  • Open questions usually begin with:  HOW, WHO, WHY, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN
  • Closed questions are inevitable, but since they gather little information, should be kept to a minimum

The interview structure should ideally follow the route of information.

After establishing from the auditee, the inputs, processing and outputs, follow-up phrases should include:

  • Show me
  • What happens next?
  • What if…

Remember, this is not an interrogation!


When asking ‘show me’, the auditor should determine the size of the sample which is needed to demonstrate compliance.

Different ways of sampling:

  • random
  • targeted
  • statistical
  • set percentage
  • variable
  • performance based

The samples you take should be representative of the activity under review and the planned time you have available

Also, be prepared to increase the sample size in the event of finding any non-compliance which may indicate possible problems

Observations and corroboration

Observations are a key part of auditing:

  • activities
  • documents
  • discussions
  • actions

The auditor must continuously be cross-checking that the evidence ties in fully with documented procedures, specifications, standards, regulations, etc.

Verbal confirmation in isolation as evidence should be avoided.

Your awareness during the audit

Don’t just focus on the checklist item, keep your eyes open for clues which might indicate insufficient control or noncompliance. Look out for:

  • housekeeping
  • new:
    • faces, temps, etc.
    • machinery
    • products or services
    • procedures
    • layout
  • things out of place
  • a sense of panic from personnel

Body language

Auditors should be aware of body language (Visual Language) in terms of their own expressions and those presented by auditees. These are guides only and should not be relied upon during audits. Use your own judgement!

Positive visual language examples:

  • smile: expresses acceptance and puts people at ease
  • eye contact: shows interest and focus
  • body mirror: can help to put people at ease and become more trusting

Negative visual language examples:

  • frown or sucking of teeth in response to a question or answer: concerns people and may make them panic
  • lack of eye contact: indicates shyness, nervousness or potential for not telling the truth
  • hand to face or collar pull: indication that some may be unsure about what they are saying, or they may be angry or frustrated
  • arm barriers: can indicate a person is being defensive if they cross arms in response to questions or answers (noting that some people feel comfortable crossing their arms whilst sitting)

Course Content Navigation

Section 1: Understanding Annex SL and Management System Standards
Section 2: Audit requirements
Section 3: Audit objectives
Section 4: Auditor responsibilities
Section 5: Audit programming
Section 6: Pre-audit activities
Section 7: During the audit
Section 8: Audit reporting
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