How to ask effective questions within an EASA based Quality Environment?

Effective Questioning during the audit is very much within the control of the auditor, although we ask questions of each other all day long we seldom consider which technique works best and how we may improve our questioning skills.

So how are we going to ask questions, in such a way that we quickly get to the substance of what we are trying to audit? We have the attention of the audience (the auditee) and it is our responsibility to obtain the information necessary to make the correct determinations.

Basically by asking open question we receive stronger responses to our questions, what do we mean by open question? A question phrased in such a way that the recipient has total freedom (even an obligation) to respond in the fullest possible way.

Make sure that you are talking to the right person and also remember that often your regulatory knowledge is vastly superior to the auditee so to ask the questions in such a way as to put the auditee at ease.

For example:

Please explain how the planning system generates and delivers a work package to the planning doc.

Please explain how the load sheet is produced and delivered to the aircraft.

Asking in such a way brings the maximum amount of information and allows you to then use your knowledge and experience to make assessments of what you are hearing.

Seek justification, do not make assumptions and try not to be biased by expectation, gather together as many causal factors as possible.

Be flexible in your approach!

Once you have a good understanding of the framework of the subject in question you can start to drill down and for your questions to become more specific.

Finally you are able to ask very specific questions which you will be able to use to demonstrate non conformities when you identify anomalies either in the organization procedures, or in the compliance with the regulatory requirements.

It is extremely important to confirm any findings with the auditee to ensure there is no misunderstanding on the part of the auditor.

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