There are hundreds of interview questions you could ask in a job interview. I have made a list of 3 questions to ask that are specific to hiring a bookkeeper. In addition to your regular interview questions, these questions will give you a glimpse into the personality and character of the bookkeeping candidate.
For most small businesses, a bookkeeper is in a position of trust and you want to make sure they are not only competent but also honest and dependable.
QUESTION 1: What have you done at your previous employers to increase revenues, reduce costs, or save time?
MY ANSWER: “I make it a practice to review every vendor invoice to make sure the amount is correct before I enter it. Company, I discovered we were being charged sales tax for an item that I knew was tax exempt. I sent our sales tax exemption certificate to the vendor and they stopped charging the sales tax. I was able to save the company approximately $2,000 a year.”
REASONING: The bookkeeping position is overhead and their department is a cost center. An experienced bookkeeper understands this and is constantly on the lookout for cost and time savings that are within their control.
QUESTION 2: Which bookkeeping systems have you used and tell me which one you liked best and why?
MY ANSWER: “I liked X system because it had a robust and easy to use report writer. I could quickly create ad-hoc reports for the President of the company or department supervisors to get them the information they needed in the matter of a few minutes. With the X system I had the option to save the report as a .PDF document or an Excel spreadsheet and I could email the report to them.”
REASONING: This answer will vary greatly depending on the systems they have used but what I look for is some enthusiasm and some detail descriptions. Your bookkeeper candidate should be an expert in the accounting systems they have used and should know every trick and every quirk.
QUESTION 3: Tell me about a time you faced an ethical dilemma.
MY ANSWER: “When I was working at X company, a vendor did not send me an invoice for material I was 100% certain we had received. I accrued the expense in the books and waited for the invoice to arrive. After a month had passed, I contacted the vendor for a copy of the invoice.
In researching the shipment, the vendor’s accountant discovered that the paperwork was lost and was never turned in to the accounting department for billing. Even though my call to the vendor ended up costing my company some money, I still feel it was the right thing to do. It was a legitimate expense that we owed to the vendor and I would not have felt right about cheating the vendor.”
REASONING: If someone is willing to cheat a vendor, customer or the government, they are just as likely to cheat you too. There might be some shades of grey in life but in the interview you don’t want to hear a hint of dishonesty from your potential bookkeeper.
Over and over I am told stories by business owners who have had bookkeeper who was stealing from them. In my opinion, honesty is the most important quality in a bookkeeper.
If you find exaggerations in their resume or their answers to your interview questions don’t sound genuine and honest, I would move on to the next candidate.
These questions will help you hire a great bookkeeper. The bookkeeper will be responsible for your money and you want to make sure you find one you can trust.