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Bookkeeper Interview Questions

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Bookkeepers help businesses keep their finances in order. Bookkeeping duties and responsibilities, including tracking invoices and payments, documenting transaction details, fact-checking accounting data, preparing bank deposits and managing accounts receivable and accounts payable.

When hiring a bookkeeper, look for experience with accounting software, basic accounting knowledge, data entry skills and a strong attention to detail. Great candidates for your bookkeeper role may also have the ability to juggle multiple tasks, excellent written and verbal communication skills and strong problem-solving and analytical skills.

Ask 5-10 of the following interview questions to get a better sense of a candidate’s bookkeeping skills and experience.

  1. What is your interest in bookkeeping, and what is your background in accounting? See answer
  2. What work have you previously done interacting with the public and helping them understand the numbers in bookkeeping? See answer
  3. How would you find an error if your ledger was off? What examples can you provide from your previous experiences?
  4. What accounting software and systems have you utilized, and which do you prefer? Are there any you wish you had more experience with?
  5. What are the respected merits of cash basis and accrual reporting?
  6. How would you describe a bookkeeper’s relationship to an accountant in the workplace?
  7. Can you tell me what the difference is between accounts payable and accounts receivable?
  8. How do you prepare and process invoices? What was the process like at your previous job?
  9. Does accounts payable use credit or debit? What examples can you provide?
  10. Have you ever helped your department uncover a missed payment from a client? If not, do you have similar examples?
  11. What is the balance sheet equation and when do you use it?
  12. Can you tell me about what items are included on a balance sheet?
  13. What is your experience working under tight deadlines as a bookkeeper? How would you rate your time management skills during these situations?
  14. What do you do during your personal time to stay up to date on accounting practices and procedures?
  15. You come across an accounting mistake when reconciling accounts and you know you’ll need to ask a senior accountant about their error. How do you approach the situation in a professional and respectful way?
  16. What is the difference between a balance sheet and an income statement?
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6 Bookkeeper Interview Questions and Answers


What is your interest in bookkeeping, and what is your background in accounting?


Given the intensely mental, sedentary and solitary nature of bookkeeping, it helps to know why a candidate wishes to join, or continue in, the profession, including what motivates him or her about the work. A passion for numbers and solving problems is a strong asset for a prospective bookkeeper. Bookkeeping also requires specific knowledge of finances and economics. Gauging a candidate’s existing awareness on these fronts informs you of how much or how little you may have to train this person. What to look for in an answer:

  • Relevant work history and experience
  • Bookkeeping and accounting skills and knowledge
  • Penchant for math and numbers

“I was an office assistant in an accounting firm and learned how to set up spreadsheets, reconcile ledgers and read the three main types of financial statements.”


How would you find an error if your ledger was off?


A bookkeeper can take several different approaches to a ledger error, and knowing what method a candidate would take helps you see if your methodologies are aligned. The ideal applicant has tackled problems like this before and can approach them in as efficient and effective a manner as possible. This starts with ensuring the error does indeed exist and isn’t just the bookkeeper’s human mistake. One systematic approach to verifying a ledger slipup is to calculate columns backward from bottom to top. What to look for in an answer:

  • Problem-solving skills and analytical abilities
  • A perfectionist and detail-oriented mind
  • A systematic, methodical and process-based approach to projects

“Once I confirmed the error, I’d look for an entry the same amount. From there, I’d test for more advanced errors like transposed numbers.”


What accounting software and systems have you utilized, and which do you prefer?


Bookkeeping requires using one or more software systems. If your company already uses certain programs, it could help to hire candidates already fluent in them. Learning which systems an applicant has used before sheds more light on that person’s prior experience while finding out which application they prefer gives closer insight into how they work as well as their priorities. What to look for in an answer:

  • Computer skills and technical skills
  • Ability to learn and apply new systems
  • Confidence while explaining

“I’ve used Quicken, Zoho Books and QuickBooks, but I greatly prefer Zoho because of its vast and versatile reporting features.”


What are the respective merits of cash basis and accrual reporting?


A business can report finances using two primary methods, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Knowing a bookkeeper is clear on the definitions and respective strengths and weaknesses of each tells you that the person has at least a certain baseline degree of requisite accounting knowledge. Knowing the candidate understands the uses of each shows you a versatility in approaching each situation uniquely. What to look for in an answer:

  • Specialized accounting knowledge
  • Qualities of discernment
  • Ability to use different approaches based on the circumstances

“Accrual basis is best for bookkeepers to give a clearer financial picture to management. Cash basis is better for tax accountants because it’s simpler.”


What work have you previously done interacting with the public and helping them understand the numbers in bookkeeping?


Bookkeeping is a very solitary job with many hours spent alone with a spreadsheet and calculator. Nevertheless, a bookkeeper also has to interact with clients and vendors regularly. It’s very essential to glean a candidate’s social and customer service skills. The right bookkeeper must be as personable as they are smart and analytical to help others understand what the numbers mean. What to look for in an answer:

  • Personableness, including a warm, engaging nature
  • Customer service or direct sales experience
  • Clear and articulate manner of speaking

“I have a knack for explaining accounting to non-mathematically minded people, putting it into practical, down-to-earth terms they can comprehend. I love helping people understand things better.”


How would you describe a bookkeeper's relationship to an accountant in the workplace?


Bookkeepers perform entry-level accounting work for corporations, including processing payments, reconciling bank statements and overseeing financial transactions. They also offer support to accounting staff. This question allows interviewers to determine a candidate's awareness of organizational roles and how bookkeepers contribute to daily accounting duties. A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Understanding of accounting roles
  • Previous professional experiences
  • Teamwork skills
Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

"Based on my experiences, I would say that a bookkeeper is responsible for supporting accountants by helping them complete standard accounting work like entering data, balancing financial statements and organizing financial records. I find that bookkeepers and accountants also help one another maintain the accuracy of their work by checking over financial statements and other items of importance. To add to that, at my previous job, the accountants in my department acted as mentor figures to me whenever I had questions about more advanced tasks and they really helped me enhance my skills."

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