Employer Questions for Bookkeeper Interviews

by Kristine Tucker

Employers hire bookkeepers to help with financial administrative needs and accounting tasks. Bookkeepers keep track of income and outgo and handle accounts payable and accounts receivable. They often use software to report and record financial transactions. Some bookkeepers help with inventory and order new supplies or products. They communicate with department heads to ensure documentation and maintenance of all transactions. When interviewing for a bookkeeping job, expect the employer to ask about your math skills and detail-oriented strengths.

Math and Accounting Skills

In job interviews, employers often ask candidates about their mathematical and computation skills. The interviewer might ask, "What experience do you have maintaining the books for a company or organization?"; "Do you have any education or academic coursework in accounting, math or bookkeeping that has prepared you for the job?"; or "How strong are your math and accounting skills?" Bookkeepers must balance accounts, report income, record outgoing vendor payments, issue and record payroll, track inventory costs and document employee expense accounts. Employers want to ensure you're qualified to calculate, report, issue and record financial transactions.

Computer Software Knowledge

Most companies and organizations have done away with handwritten financial logs and hard-copy financial books in favor of accounting software for recording and reporting transactions. You can expect the employer to ask questions about your familiarity with accounting programs. The interviewer might ask, "What accounting software have you used in previous jobs?"; "Are you familiar with double-entry accounting software programs?"; or "Have you ever used Sage One, FreshBooks, NetSuite, Intacct, QuickBooks or Harvest software?" Discuss specific types of software you've used, even if the programs are outdated and newer versions are in use. Basic accounting principles are generally the same with any software, even though terminology, functions and entry methods differ.

Communication and Administrative Strengths

Bookkeepers play a central role in their companies or organizations, because they work with nearly every department and interact with employees, supervisors and upper management on a regular basis. The hiring manager might ask, "How do you communicate with workers and managers to ensure all financial transactions are accounted for?"; "Explain how you use your detail-oriented strengths and communication style to interact with department heads."; or "Give me an example of how your detail-oriented strengths and problem-solving abilities helped you in previous bookkeeping positions."

Understanding of Tax Laws

Some bookkeepers maintain tax records and issue payroll in addition to reporting daily financial transactions. As a result, they must be familiar with tax laws, government-issued employment forms, payroll requirements, unemployment compensation requirements, income withholdings, exemptions, business tax, sales tax, deductions, health insurance stipulations, retirement plans and worker's compensation. The interviewer might ask, "What experience do you have maintaining tax records and filing tax documents?"; "Do you have any experience issuing payroll?"; or "Are you familiar with accounting tax laws?"

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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