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Payroll Clerk Interview Questions

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  1. As a payroll clerk, how do you follow changes regarding IRS regulations? See answer
  2. Can you tell me about your experience with using computerized payroll systems?
  3. How would you handle a situation with an employee who is upset because payroll made a withholding error?
  4. What do you think is the most valuable skill to have as a payroll clerk?
  5. As a payroll clerk, what would you do if you discovered a mistake on a coworker’s year-end report?
  6. In your opinion, what’s the best payroll schedule for part-time employees versus full-time employees?
  7. You notice that an employee’s weekly hours surpassed the 40-hour limit. What do you do?
  8. As a payroll clerk, you’ll have access to employee bank records and address information. How do you plan to maintain confidentiality with employee information?
  9. Have you ever been in charge of setting up new employee payroll? If so, what were your specific responsibilities?
  10. Do you have more experience processing direct deposits or writing out checks for employee payroll?
  11. What does CTC stand for and what items are involved in it?
  12. Why do you want to work as a payroll clerk at our company?
  13. Can you explain to me what the term “gross payment” means? How does it relate to tax deductions?
  14. What’s the largest volume of employee accounts you’ve been in charge of during your time as a payroll clerk?
  15. In your opinion, would you describe your roles as a payroll clerk as being more accounting related, human resources related or more?
  16. What is the difference between a W-2 and a W-4?
  17. An employee forgets to hand in their timesheet before the deadline. What do you do?
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6 Payroll Clerk Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Tell me about your experience with using computerized payroll systems.

A:

Payroll clerks are required to use computerized payroll systems when dealing directly with employees’ work hours and paychecks. The applicant’s answer to this question allows you to gauge how confident they are using these programs along with what types of applications they are familiar with using when calculating payroll. Does the applicant have a working knowledge of using the same systems as your company?

What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of expertise as a payroll clerk
  • Computer skills
  • Practice working with multiple types of computerized payroll systems

Example:

“I have experience using Gusto, Xero and Sage Group as a payroll clerk. I also have over six years of experience using ADP and manually computing payroll.”

Q:

How would you handle a situation with an employee who is angry because payroll made a withholding error?

A:

Human error is inevitable from time to time in payroll; however, the ideal candidate will be detail-oriented and aim to reduce mistakes. The applicant’s answer to this question will allow you to gauge how they interact with employees, their ability to remain calm and how they go about correcting mistakes.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience working with upset employees
  • Ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Problem-solving skills

Example:

“In this case, I would remain calm and allow the employee to explain the situation. I would fix the withholding error immediately and submit back payment for the additional withholding amount so that the employee will receive the additional payment on their next check.”

Q:

What do you think is the most valuable skill to have as payroll clerk?

A:

There are many skills that a payroll clerk must have to be successful. Focus on the qualities that the applicant mentions and why they believe that skill is the most important. Does the candidate value time-management because it ensures that payroll will always be submitted on time? Is the applicant excellent at problem-solving and finding errors? Determine if the skills mentioned align with your company’s message.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Decision-making skills
  • Confidence in oneself
  • Interpersonal skills

Example:

“The most valuable skill to have as a payroll clerk is one’s ability to look closely at the details. One small mistake when inputting data can result in problems that are incredibly time-consuming and costly to fix. It is better to avoid mistakes whenever possible when dealing with numbers and finances.”

Q:

As a payroll clerk, what would you do if you discovered a mistake on a co-worker’s year-end report?

A:

Payroll clerks are often required to read over other colleagues’ work. The applicant’s answer will show some experience with correcting co-workers’ reports politely and professionally. The ideal candidate will have excellent communication skills and know how to help others without underestimating their abilities. Does the applicant speak with their co-worker first or go to their manager?

What to look for in an answer:

  • Level of attention to detail
  • Ability to help others professionally
  • Excellent communication skills

Example:

“In this type of situation, I would politely inform my co-worker of the potential mistake and reminisce about a time that I made a mistake recently. I would not mention the mistake to the supervisor unless it starts to become a repetitive problem.”

Q:

As a payroll clerk, how do you follow changes regarding IRS regulations?

A:

Payroll clerks are required to follow regulations set in place by the IRS and their local government. The ideal candidate will have experience working in your local area or be able to demonstrate a willingness to learn local laws that impact the department. Does the clerk have notifications sent to their email regarding IRS regulations? Focus on the applicant’s ability to remain ahead of any changes.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Understanding of the importance of staying current on IRS regulations
  • Willingness to learn IRS regulations and local laws
  • Experience working in the area as a payroll clerk

Example:

“I have six years of experience as a payroll clerk, so I am aware of the local laws and IRS regulations that currently impact the area. I look at the IRS site weekly and examine any laws that might impact our department.”

Q:

In your opinion, what's the best payroll schedule for part-time employees versus full-time employees?

A:

Payroll clerks are responsible for processing payroll for all company employees, including those under different forms of employment like full or part-time. This question helps interviewers learn more about a candidate's experiences and which payroll schedules they worked within their previous role.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Explanations for opinion
  • Knowledge of payroll schedules
  • Previous professional experience

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"At my previous job, we had both full-time employees at the corporate level and part-time employees at retail locations. I found that full-time or salaried employees tended to benefit more from a bi-weekly payment schedule that divided their monthly earnings into two separate payments. It worked well for payroll because we could take more time to check calculations for accuracy, but it also made employees happier to get paid more often. However, it was better to pay part-time employees on a weekly basis because they typically only worked weekends or a few days each week."

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