If you’ve ever wondered what the best interview questions for bookkeepers are, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled some of the most important and valuable questions to ask when hiring.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are your hobbies outside of work? What’s something interesting about you?
Rapport-building is an important, yet, at times overlooked aspect when creating interview questions for bookkeepers and other professionals. The hiring process cannot be treated the same way as any other. For instance, you can’t do it the same way as you would go about canvassing and purchasing a coffee maker.
Yes, the goal of hiring is to find the right person to perform a certain task or fill a particular role. However, we cannot forget the human element. We are dealing with real people with real stories, real personalities, and real values.
Rapport is a relationship. We must strive to foster healthy working relationships with those we hire. The more we care about those who work for us, the more they care about the work they do for us.
2. How long have you been working as a bookkeeper?
This question gauges not only their work experience but also their exposure to the industry as a whole. Even a talented fresh graduate would navigate a professional working environment differently from someone with a few years of real-life working experience.
3. Can you please describe your bookkeeping experience with past clients? What specific software do you use? What tasks do you handle for them?
Now that you know the length of their experience, you can ask candidates to go into further detail. These questions help you learn a couple of things:
- How they discuss past clients and their experience can be telling of their character and attitude towards work and people.
- You get insight into their experience surrounding specific tasks. For instance, does your business perform similar tasks?
- This is where you learn their technical expertise. Do they already know the tools and software your company uses? Do you need to train them in using the software tools that you prefer?
In case you were wondering, we have a few recommendations for the best accounting and bookkeeping software for eCommerce businesses.
4. What’s your greatest strength as a bookkeeper? What have you had the most experience with?
These questions will show interviewers how confident the hire is in their abilities. While their answer may pertain to a particular skill, it is more often how they answer this question that matters. Do they sound unsure? Are they passionate?
Also, these questions are a good accountability tool for post-hiring. If they claim their greatest strength is their attention to detail (which is one of the most essential strengths in bookkeeping) then you will know what to keep a close eye on.
5. Do you have any experience working with a client that has a similar business to mine? (Explain your business model so they can answer off that)
This is a good question when interviewing bookkeepers as it can determine how smooth their integration will be into your company. If the tasks and processes are also similar, this means they can get to work much quicker.
6. How many clients do you currently have? How many hours are you currently working for them?
This is a necessary interview question for bookkeepers who are freelancers. The nature of freelance work can have them working on multiple projects for multiple clients at the same time. You will want to know how divided their time and attention might be.
Additionally, when you take into account the tasks they do for these other clients, you can also get a sense of how fast they work. And more importantly, without compromising accuracy.
7. We’re looking for someone that can work <<insert schedule>>, does that work for you?
Your business operations cannot be determined by the availability of your hires. You need to hire on your terms. This is especially important if you decide to hire internationally. Time zones can be both negative and positive. It’s important to consider these.
This question will also reveal the flexibility of your hire and even their desire for the job.
8. We’re looking to hire this role at <<insert rate per hour>>. Are you good with that rate?
Negotiating rates can be a daunting task. On the part of the hire, they want to ensure that they are being paid enough for their experience, skill, time, and service. On the company’s part, you want to make sure the rate is not inflated and that you can fit that into your budget. Either way, both parties should be concerned with making sure there is fairness for the rendered service. Be familiar with the general rates of bookkeepers so you know if the rate you give (and the rate they ask for) is reasonable.
This is why it’s important to clearly lay out the tasks and responsibilities of the position you are hiring for. If you want to find out more about bookkeeping basics, costs, and where to hire bookkeepers for less, we have a post on bookkeeping pricing for you.
9. Why did you choose bookkeeping as a profession? Is it something that you are passionate about? Why?
This interview question for bookkeepers might simply look like another rapport-building question at first. However, there is value in learning the underlying reason why they choose to do what they do.
Let’s put it this way. Say you have one candidate who took up bookkeeping simply because they had no other option at the time. On the other hand, you have a candidate who intentionally chose to be a bookkeeper. This one loves working with numbers and values the importance of keeping pinpoint accurate records. These candidates will likely treat the work differently. You want to hire someone that loves what they do and does what they love.
10. Are you detail oriented? Please rate yourself on a 1-10 scale and explain why.
This is a little bit of a trick question. Bookkeeping is a profession that requires accuracy and acute attention to the smallest details. Bookkeepers need to keep track of cash flow literally down to the cent. There cannot be any errors, otherwise, you are going to have a problem when tax season comes around.
That’s why you need to ask for an explanation from anyone answering below a 10. Perhaps there is a cultural reason for it, and they simply don’t want to come across as rude or arrogant. This is up to the discretion of the interviewer. Ask any follow-up questions that you deem important based on their initial explanation. If a prospect shows promise, you can also test them on their accuracy by going through a trial period.
11. When you run into issues within your work, how do you handle them?
This is an important interview question for bookkeepers and every other job. You’re essentially asking them: “How do you problem-solve?”
You can provide a hypothetical example of a problem and ask them to describe their process of finding a solution. This can potentially show you their attitude towards stressful or difficult circumstances. This reveals their ability to take initiative and responsibility even over things that were not in their control to prevent.
These issues can also be workplace-related. What if they had a conflict with a co-worker or team member? How would they solve this?
12. What are your best practices for communicating with your clients?
This is an important interview question for bookkeepers because they need to be able to effectively communicate any discrepancies as soon as possible. You will, of course, also want to get regular updates on work and not just be surprised by the numbers at the end of the year.
13. What motivates you most in life? Why?
The thing that drives a person often shows in their values and even sometimes in the way they deliver their work.
A person may be motivated by family and be able to bring those relational values to the table. A person that needs the job to make ends meet may be more determined and tenacious.
Of course, this will not be true for everyone. Again, it is up to the person interviewing to make those conclusions and judge the person’s character through their response.
14. Money or growth and stability? Which is more important to you?
The real target in interview questions for bookkeepers that revolve around money versus something else is whether a potential hire is a short-term or long-term goal-setter. This can also tie into the previous question by revealing what they value.
If they find money to be more critical, chances are they are short-term goal oriented. They need the paycheck.
If they value growth and stability, this shows that they are looking for a place they can be planted. They may be searching for a place where they can level up and scale their skills and responsibilities together with the business.
15. Are you 100% sure that you’re good with the rate that we’ve discussed for this role?
Doubling down on this question is important for 2 reasons.
First, you want to be sure that they don’t have any second thoughts about the agreed rate. Changing this down the line could cause tension. Second, you want to make sure both you and the hire believe it is fair remuneration.
Final Thoughts on Interview Questions for Bookkeepers
So, what are some lessons or insights we can gain from these 15 interview questions for bookkeepers?
- Build rapport and relationship
- Get them to detail their work experience and skills
- Make sure their rate and working hours are compatible with yours
- Understand what drives them (their passion, motivations, and goals)
- Understand how they handle difficulties and stressful circumstances