Bookkeepers perform many general accounting tasks for the organizations they work for. They may be responsible for recording general transactions and preparing files for tax accountants and financial reporting. If you’re getting ready to interview for a bookkeeping position, you can increase your chances of success by preparing in advance. In this article, we’ll explore some common and in-depth interview questions for bookkeepers with several example responses that can help you practice ahead of time.
At the beginning of your interview, your interviewer will want to get to know a little bit about you. Basic questions related to your personal interests, values and overall work ethic can help the interviewer get an idea of how you will fit into the work environment and how you will perform as a team member. Here are some examples of what to prepare for:
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
How did you hear about this position?
What interests you in working for our company?
What do you know about our company’s business operations?
How would your skills benefit our company’s financial processes?
What are your strengths?
What do you consider your biggest weakness? What have you done to improve?
What is one professional goal you are currently working to achieve?
Where do you see yourself in five to ten years from now? How do you plan to get there?
Do you have any questions about our company and the job?
Questions about experience and background
Your professional background and experience help the interviewer understand your skill level and proficiency in the bookkeeping tasks that you’ll likely perform for the role. Here are several questions about your experience that you’ll want to help you prepare:
How did you become interested in bookkeeping as a career?
Describe your previous experience working as a bookkeeper.
Do you hold any professional licenses?
The role of a bookkeeper can be repetitive and routine. How do you plan to stay motivated on the job?
What is one area of your work you would like to improve?
What do you do to ensure you are up-to-date on regulations that affect your work?
What kind of financial documents and reports did you prepare in your prior role?
What steps do you take to ensure the accuracy of your reports?
Do you have previous experience working with QuickBooks? If not, are you willing to learn?
What methods do you use to stay organized?
The interviewer will want to understand the depth of your background, and more in-depth interview questions can help them achieve that. Prepare for in-depth questions about your bookkeeping methods, how you approach different situations and your overall ability to take on the responsibilities of the job. Here are some example questions:
Explain the purpose of the balance sheet.
How would you use a general ledger account?
What’s the difference between salary and wages? How do you disperse each throughout a fiscal year?
Why would depreciation be included in an asset account?
What’s the difference between the balance sheet and income statement?
Why would depreciation differ between the income statement and the balance sheet?
How did your work contribute to revenue increases and reductions to costs at your prior organization?
Which do you feel is more efficient for business management: cash-basis or accrual reporting?
What is your process for preparing invoices for transactions?
How would you handle a discrepancy in the ledger?
Interview questions and sample answers for bookkeepers
The following interview questions for bookkeepers can help you get an idea of what to prepare for when practicing your responses:
1. How do you handle customer invoicing?
The interviewer will want to make sure you understand the differences between incoming cash flow and outgoing payments the company is liable for. Highlight your organizational skills along with your critical thinking and overall accounting skills. Take a look at the following example answer:
Example: “I first update customer payments as soon as they arrive. Then I create invoices for any outstanding balances after I reconcile customer files. After I organize this process, I can then send out customer invoices according to the assigned billing cycle.”
2. What’s the difference between a general ledger and a general journal? What do you use them for?
These are two accounting basics that the interviewer will want to ensure you’re familiar. Use your experience as an example of how you recorded and kept track of your organization’s financial information. Here’s a sample response:
Example: “The general ledger is the document that holds all of the company’s accounts while the general journal is where transactional entries post. In my last role, the general journal is where I would record entries, such as sales, purchases and cash receipts regularly. At the end of each month, I credited and debited the entries to the appropriate accounts in the general ledger.”
3. What’s the equation for calculating the balance sheet?
This question tests your basic knowledge of recording financial information and keeping track of the company’s transactions. Use examples from your prior roles and educational experience in your response. Here’s an example:
Example: “The balance sheet contains assets, equity and liabilities. Essentially, the assets are equal to the sum of the company’s liability and equity accounts. This is important for many reasons, one of which being for calculating monthly cash flow.”
4. When would it be appropriate to use the accrual method of accounting?
Sometimes cash-basis can be more efficient than the accrual method, and the interviewer wants to know that you understand when to apply each method in your bookkeeping processes. Take a look at this example answer:
Example: “The accrual method requires recording all expenses and revenues when they occur, no matter when the company receives revenue or pays expenses. Because of this factor, I tend to rely on accrual accounting to track each cash flow transaction, regardless of when payments exchange hands.”
5. When would you use the cash-basis method?
Just like asking about your application of accrual accounting, the interviewer may also want to know that you understand when it’s appropriate to rely on the cash-basis method. Use your experience and past training to highlight your skills in applying various accounting methods. Take a look at this example response:
Example: “Cash accounting is more efficient when reporting taxes, as it records receipts during the period when I receive or pay them. So instead of recording each transaction as it occurs, revenues and expenses are only recorded when they’re paid or received. At my last company, I assisted our tax accountant during tax season to report our company’s finances using cash accounting, as it’s more appropriate for tax purposes.”
6. Suppose the ledger is off by 68 cents. What steps would you take to find the error?
If you encounter a question like this one, it’s because the interviewer is assessing your ability to identify errors and fix them promptly. Use your response to highlight your ability to apply problem-solving, analytical and mathematical skills to efficiently distinguish errors in a balance sheet and find solutions to fix them. Here is an example:
Example: “I’d first check that the error isn’t due to a software error. In my experience, I did have an incident where the accounting software was corrupted during programming updates, causing several errors in the company’s account entries. After ensuring it’s not due to software issues, I would check in my monthly balance sheets to see if I can spot the issue in a single ledger account. If the problem is only in one account, and the balance is just 68 cents, I would write off the difference to a miscellaneous expenses account to save time and resources.”
7. How would you record a $1,200 annual insurance policy premium using the accrual method?
This type of question allows the interviewer to get an idea of how you process financial information for an organization. Describe your process for using the accrual method and give examples of how this can apply to effective bookkeeping for their company. Use the following example to practice your response:
Example: “I would record the $1,200 premium in the current assets account as a prepaid expense. Since insurance companies usually require six months’ payment in advance, my monthly balance sheets will show this as a $100 per month payment from accounts payable.”
8. How do you ensure confidential financial information stays secure?
Bookkeepers may frequently handle sensitive financial information regarding their organizations, clientele and vendors and suppliers. The interviewer wants to ensure that you have a process in place for keeping confidential information organized and secure at all times. Provide examples of how you will apply care and attention to detail to perform in the role. Here’s an example:
Example: “When I maintained my past organization’s records, I would enter confidential data into the company’s accounting system under password-protected files. This ensured that only authorized personnel were able to view and work with the information in these files. Additionally, I maintained confidential physical documents that I organized in a locking filing cabinet in the company accountant’s office.”
I hope you find this article helpful.