Interview Questions You Should Ask a Bookkeeper

Checking the Accounts with calculator
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Are you interviewing candidates for a bookkeeping position for your small business? You can prepare for this interview for your bookkeeping position so that you can ask the questions that will help you identify the candidates that are most likely to succeed because they have the right experience, attitude, personality to fit within the business that you have built.

The best place to start is to organize your interview into specific areas, and then ask a series of questions within each of these areas. Start with icebreaker questions, then asking knowledge-based questions, before proceeding with technical accounting software questions, and concluding with inquiries about work experience and soft skills. You can use this as the template for all your bookkeeping interviews.

Icebreaker Questions

Your interviewee may be an entry-level candidate or an experienced candidate, but all candidates can get a little nervous about an interview from time to time. Your candidate may feel a lot of pressure and anxiety despite his or her experience, so these icebreaker questions will help get your candidate comfortable with you and your interview process.

You can ask general, open-ended questions such as “Tell me about yourself?” or “Why did you apply for this bookkeeping position?” Another good question to ask at this point is “Why are you interested in leaving your current job?” If a candidate tells you that it is due to workload or pressure to perform, and your position has the same workload or pressure, then that is a clue that the candidate may not be a right fit for the position.

Knowledge-Based Questions

You will want to verify that your candidate meets your educational or certification requirements for your bookkeeping position. Some candidates may be good at passing an exam, but not necessarily understand or be able to apply the information they have learned. You should have a list of basic accounting principles -- “What is depreciation expense?” or “What is a purchase order?” or “Define the step-by-step process you have followed for processing cash disbursements.” This job interview questions test accounting knowledge as well applied knowledge that has been learned on the job at other bookkeeping positions.

Work Experience

You will want to ask specific questions about a candidate's work experience. You may want to formulate a list of questions for entry-level candidates with little or no work experience in a bookkeeping position and questions for experienced candidates. You cannot expect an entry-level candidate to be able to answer the same questions as your experienced interviews.

Aside from asking questions about the dates, experience, and roles with previous employers to verify that a candidate's resume is accurate and reliable, you can ask pointed questions such as “What types of financial reports have you prepared and how was the data used by your previous employer?” "Which accounting software programs are you familiar with?”

Soft Skills

You will want to ask questions about your potential bookkeeper’s soft or interpersonal skills. Contrary to popular belief, your bookkeeper will likely be interacting with your employees, contractors, vendors, and other personnel. Many of these individuals may not have the accounting or bookkeeping skills to perform certain tasks, so you inevitably your bookkeeper will have to clean up some of these individual’s accounting errors.

You can ask some questions such as “A customer repeatedly submits an order sheet incorrectly. Describe how you would handle the situation with this regular customer? ” Another good inquiry is “Tell me about a difficult situation you encountered at work and how you handled the situation?”

Other Suggestions

You should consider taking notes during or immediately after the interview with each candidate to ensure that you can recall the details of your interview and the impressions you had with each candidate. You may interview more than a dozen candidates for a position so you do not want to forget what your thoughts were about each candidate. You will also be able to ensure that your interviews are consistent by writing down your responses to each question you ask to help you compare your bookkeeping candidates.