Note taking and Recording Audit Meetings

‘Notetaker’ is a system that has been developed, after extensive and on-going research, by FIS® Associate Kerry Marlow to improve the quality of interviews with stakeholders by providing a system to help interviewers:

  • plan and prepare for interviews
  • take notes during interviews
  • summarise the information from interviews
  • evaluate the quality of their interviews



During the course of any ‘investigative interview’ the interviewer is expected to gather detail.

Defining detail has relied on the experience and knowledge of the individual interviewer. Where audio and/or visual recording of interviews are not considered a viable option, Notetaker has been developed to provide a more consistent approach to the gathering of that detail.

Using the system may assist interviewers in assessing and identifying the information categories of detail differentiating between information, evidential and investigative detail (Achieving Best Evidence, 2011).

Note-Taking during Interviews when conducting interviews, interviewers (investigators) face the formidable task of having to actively listen, formulate questions, and take notes simultaneously.

In the absence of a structure to taking their notes, investigators may be inclined to try and make a contemporaneous written record of the information provided by the interviewee.

In these circumstances, the demands on the interviewer’s information processing systems are likely to be overloaded.

The consequences of this are that:

  1. The interviewer might miss pieces of information, giving rise to the additional problem of the interviewer making sense of what he or she has heard by inadvertently filling any gaps in the interviewee’s account with material from their own memory. Elements from such a reconstruction might then be introduced into the interview and give rise to a situation in which the interviewer inadvertently contaminates the interviewee’s memory of the event or a stakeholder agrees to it because it suits their purpose. In either event, this might well have serious consequences for the progress of the audit investigation, particularly damaging when considered in the context of confirmation bias.
  2. The interviewer might interfere with the spontaneity of the information flow by either explicitly asking the interviewee to slow down or implicitly conveying such a message. This might have adverse consequences for the quality of the information obtained during the interview.

It is necessary to make use of an effective system for taking notes in order to avoid these potential consequences.

The use of such a system is likely to give the interviewer the opportunity to assimilate the quality and quantity of the information provided and should provide a firm basis for the questions that are to be asked to clarify or challenge the interviewee’s account.

Notetaker can be used as the basis for such a system. Using the notetaker system can assist in structuring notetaking, analysis of the detail and briefing and debriefing of interviewers and other personnel involved in the audit investigation.

One of the key aims of investigative interviews is to obtain as much information as possible from the interviewee about the event or issue in question.

A Notetaker system has been developed, to improve the quality of the gathering of information and subsequent analysis by providing a system to help auditors, plan and prepare for interviews and gathering information; differentiate between evidential and investigative detail; take notes during interviews; summarise the information from interviews and other sources; and evaluate the quality of the interviews and sources of information (Marlow, 2002).


Course Outline

Session 1:

Detail in a fact-finding (investigative) interview.

Notetaker divides information into four categories of information.

The categories are:

  • People
  • Location
  • Action
  • Time

These are then subdivided for to obtain fine grain detail. This system can be applied to any chronological account.

Session 2:

Analysis of the detail Evaluation is the key to all audit investigations.

Using Notetaker will assist in identifying any gaps, jumps in information and anomalies of detail that require further examination

Session 3:

Using ‘notetaker’ as an active analysis tool during an investigative interview Notetaker has been designed to assist interviewers to make notes during the interview.

The system allows immediate analysis of the detail to enhance the quality of the detail gathered.

Session 4:

Producing a structured report using Notetaker subsequent to any interview or audit investigation or report may need to be constructed.

The structure of these reports is essential to any audit investigation.

The Notetaker structure assists in the production of these reports.

Session 5:

Notetaker as a planning tool conducting investigations involves two aspects.

The evidential detail is required for any Potential Risk or Issue.

The investigative information is to assist the auditor in conducting a thorough audit investigation.

Using Notetaker assist in separating the evidential detail from the investigative information.



Interviews that are professionally undertaken with effective notetaking and quality assured can have several advantages for your business.

They are:

  • Direct an audit investigation
  • Support the audit process, which saves time, money and resources
  • Increases public confidence in your business
  • Reduces reputational risk
  • Delivering high quality training to nationally recognised occupational standards will enhance the reputation of your organisation


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