Are you computer literate, with strong problem-solving and critical thinking abilities? Do you have a solid understanding of maths and accounting? Then a job as a bookkeeper could be ideal for you.
Businesses are constantly seeking a reliable bookkeeper to help them manage their finances. As a bookkeeper plays a vital role in any business, it’s crucial that the right bookkeeper interview questions are asked during an interview.
As an applicant, you must be well-prepared for the interviews and leave a positive impression on the interviewers.
In this article, you will understand what skills an employer looks for in a bookkeeper. We will also share 18 common interview questions that interviewers may ask during a bookkeeper interview. Lastly, you will learn how to prepare for an interview and the STAR method to answer any behavioral interview questions.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for a bookkeeper?
Knowledge of bookkeeping principles
You should be well-versed in bookkeeping and possess the necessary bookkeeping credentials. In addition, having the required skills, experience, and understanding of financial terminology is critical in a bookkeeper role.
If you are thinking of switching careers, there are certifications that can help you build a career as a bookkeeper. For example, professional accreditation from the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) or the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB).
Having certifications from these organizations shows that your bookkeeping knowledge and skills are up to date. Additionally, having a membership in a professional organization also informs the interviewers that you are committed to your bookkeeping career.
Organization skills are essential skill for bookkeepers. It helps you to identify and prioritize your responsibilities.
As a bookkeeper, you will receive a lot of financial data you need to organize. And having good organization skills will help you to store all this information in a software or system that is easy to access.
So, when your boss or colleagues comes to you, you know where you store the information and can retrieve it for them quickly. Then, when things get chaotic, you can use your strong organizational skills to get through it.
Attention to detail
Your attention to detail is critical in your role as a bookkeeper. Your company may make vital business decisions based on the financial data and numbers you collated. Hence, it is imperative that you provide all the correct details and information.
Being meticulous will ensure that you handle your company’s financial data accurately and free of errors. Doing so can help you avoid making errors or inaccuracies that may create other mistakes in the company’s financial data.
Integrity and Transparency
As a bookkeeper, you have access to the most sensitive and finance-related information at your company that only a few have access to. It means that the company is trusting you with their company’s data. So, you must be transparent and honest to protect your company’s confidential information.
In your role, you will be approached by different stakeholders with questions about your company’s financial data. And the information you provide can be very sensitive, especially if financial transactions are involved.
So you need to disclose the requested information accurately while still upholding your integrity and maintaining confidentiality when necessary.
Most people believe bookkeepers only work with numbers and analysis, and no communication is required. But that assumption is wrong.
While most tasks revolve around numbers, they are also required to communicate with others. Bookkeepers utilize their communication skills to collaborate with others, request and clarify data from co-workers and present information to stakeholders.
You have to be comfortable communicating with others either face-to-face or virtually. And with excellent communication skills, you can obtain the necessary information that you want from others.
As a bookkeeper, part of your job scope is recognizing and resolving financial issues. Therefore, you need to be keen to spot errors and inconsistencies as you go through the documents and files. Then, you are expected to develop recommendations to help solve the issues and prevent them from affecting your company’s or client’s financial well-being.
Because of the nature of your job, you need to have the ability to handle any confidential problems professionally and with composure.
18 Bookkeeper Interview Questions with Sample Answers
1. Please share with me your experience working as a bookkeeper.
Prepare to share experiences from your previous job when asked this question during your interview. You can tell the interviewer your job title and go through your responsibilities and daily tasks.
Highlighting the job descriptions and the tasks you did in your previous role allows the interviewer to assess if you have the necessary skills and experience to perform in this position.
Remember to use this opportunity to tell them about your achievements and challenges in your past working experience. Doing so will allow the interviewer to gauge your compatibility with the requirement of this job and their company culture.
2. What were you responsible for in your previous job?
Through this question, the interviewers want to know if you are aware of the expectation of this role. They also want to understand how you manage your daily tasks as a bookkeeper in your previous company.
Additionally, the interviewers can assess whether your answer fits the profile they are searching for in a candidate.
The best way to answer this question is to ensure that you tailor your answer to the job description. Describe your responsibilities in relation to what the company is looking for in a candidate for this job position.
3. How often are you required to communicate with your colleagues, clients and vendors?
Most of the time, you will spend most of your time looking at spreadsheets and numbers. But, as mentioned above, you are also expected to communicate with different stakeholders. Hence, it is critical for interviewers to ask this question to determine if you are comfortable communicating with others.
As part of your bookkeeping role, you will need to explain and educate others on the statistics or analysis you prepared. So, you have to have good presentation skills and be comfortable around people.
An excellent way to portray your warm and friendly personality is to smile and make eye contact with the interviewer throughout the interview. Another way to impress the interviewer is by speaking and articulating things clearly during your interview.
You can share how often you communicate with your clients, colleagues or vendor in your previous job. Furthermore, you can share an example of a presentation you did in your last job. It can give the interviewer the impression that you are confident in front of a crowd and can communicate well.
4. How do you perceive your computer skills in general?
Most bookkeeping roles require the technical knowledge and skills to use computers and software. Furthermore, most organizations nowadays are storing their financial data and transactions digitally. So, it is essential that bookkeepers have the know-how and are comfortable using different accounting software.
To answer this question, you can generally describe your experience using different accounting software such as Quickbooks or Netsuite in your previous job. You can also highlight the excel skills you acquired from your past working experiences.
For example, you can share how you utilize excel to sort a large amount of data and perform calculations or analysis using a pivot table.
5. Why are you interested in joining this company?
As with other job interviews, you need to research the company before attending the interview. You have to familiarize yourself with the company’s culture, values and mission, and the services they provide. Having this knowledge at the tip of your fingers indicates to the interviewer that you have done your homework and are genuinely interested in working with them.
You can research the company by visiting its official website to answer this question. You can find much information about their services, company values and leadership team on their website.
Alternatively, you can go through their official social media page to see what they have been up to recently. Read up on the latest news about the company on the internet. If you know someone who works in the company, it’s a good time to ask them for a coffee.
6. What reporting structure do you have experience doing in your past jobs?
A company’s finances can be reported in two ways: cash basis and accrual reporting. If this is the first time you have heard of these two terminologies, please do some research on them. If asked, you should be capable of explaining what the two methods mean.
As a bookkeeper, you should know the definition of the two methods and their benefits and limitations. Then, you can describe when to use or not use them. It will show the interviewer that you have basic accounting knowledge. It also demonstrates how you can adapt and know when to use what method in different situations.
7. What kind of accounting software are you familiar with?
As a bookkeeper, you must know how to use different accounting software. You would have a higher chance of getting hired if you have experience using other software or systems from your past job.
Understanding which systems you used before can give interviewers a better understanding of your skills and knowledge. It also allows them to understand better how you work and your priorities in your previous work.
Interviewers are aware that there are many accounting software and systems out there. However, you are not expected to know how to use all of them. Instead, interviewers are looking for someone experienced in using only one or two specific software.
To answer this question, you can show the interviewers the software certifications that you acquired. Then, share the accounting software you have experience using and how you learned them. Is it through on-the-job training or attending external training?
8. Do you have any experience preparing financial reports in your previous jobs?
Interviewers ask you this question to assess your knowledge of the different kinds of financial reporting. They also want to see if you have experience creating such reports in your previous job experience.
Based on your experience, you shouldn’t have much difficulty asking this question. However, be cautious not to exaggerate your ability. And be careful not to provide too many details about the financial report you created previously. You do not want to reveal confidential information from your past company to the interviewers.
9. Have you contributed anything to help your previous company to increase revenues, cut costs, or save time?
Every employee is recruited for three reasons. First, it is to help the company increase revenue, cut costs or save time. And this question answers this directly. The interviewer is interested in you being proactive and looking to improve or add value to the company.
To answer this question, share a specific situation and the steps you took to increase revenue, improve a process or save time and cost. Your example does not have to add significant value to the company. It could be as simple as changing a manual tracking process to using excel to track.
10. What did you do to keep yourself updated with the latest trend and changes in bookkeeping or the financial industry?
The financial industry is constantly evolving with the latest technologies and development.
Interviewers want to know if you are dedicated to continuously improving yourself in bookkeeping. Showing you are committed to upskilling yourself helps build your credibility with the interviewers. It also shows that you know where the industry is moving toward in the future.
To answer this question, you need to demonstrate to the hiring manager that you are committed to keeping your skills up-to-date in this field. For example, you can share the online course you are taking to improve your bookkeeping knowledge. In addition, share how you are keeping yourself updated with the latest news and development in the industry.
11. Tell me about your strengths.
Interviewers ask this question to evaluate if you have the necessary skills for the bookkeeper role. Most of the time, companies look for bookkeepers with solid communication, problem-solving and organizational skills.
This question allows you to highlight your strengths and skills to succeed in this role. When answering this question, consider the skills you have that show that you are suitable for this role.
Remember to mention the soft skills the company is looking for in a bookkeeper—for example, attention to detail, integrity and transparency and the ability to work independently. Additionally, you can share any skills you are currently improving with the interviewers to make you a better bookkeeper.
12. Do you have experience working on tasks with multiple deadlines? And how did you prioritize your work?
The ability to work effectively and efficiently is a desirable skill that hiring managers look for in bookkeepers. You need to have this skill to manage multiple tasks while ensuring you submit your work on time,
To answer this question, you can start by sharing your working style. The way you complete your work assignments under tight deadlines will give the interviewers insights into how efficient you are at completing your tasks and how you prioritize work.
13. What have you done in the past to upskill yourself?
Interviewers are interested to know what you have completed to become more successful in your role. This question allows them to understand your motivation to improve in this field. Employers are looking to hire candidates who take the initiative to learn and have plans to further their professional development.
Remember to highlight recent examples of when you took the initiative to pick up new skills when answering this question. You can also share any plans to further your career development with the interviewers. For example, signing up for a bookkeeping software course or participating in an industry conference.
14. What steps did you take to ensure your company’s confidential information stays safe?
You will access confidential information about your company, clients or vendors as a bookkeeper. Hence, interviewers are keen to understand how you handle this sensitive information. In addition, they want to know if you have a system in place to organize and safeguard private and confidential information.
In your answer, make sure to give specific examples of how you maintain confidentiality and pay extra attention to keeping confidential information safe.
15. Are you comfortable working extra when required by the company?
Bookkeepers are usually most busy during the month-end closing calendar or financial year. And this means having to work extra long hours outside of your typical 9-5 working hours. So interviewers ask this question to assess if you are willing to work the extra hours during these peak periods.
When preparing this question, highlight that you are prepared and flexible to work the extra hours when required. You can share specific examples from your past job where you had to work extra hours to ensure financial reports were ready before the end-of-month closing.
16. What would you do if you encountered a problem in the workplace?
Interviewers ask this question to understand more about how you solve a problem when it arises at work. Furthermore, they want to evaluate your ability to think critically to solve problems you encounter at work.
When answering this question, you can consider a situation in the past where you encountered a challenging situation. Then, share step-by-step on how you handle and resolve the problem.
17. Share a difficult situation in the workplace that you encountered previously and how you managed it.
Companies value talents who can handle challenging situations, deal with conflicts and compromise to reach a mutually agreed solution.
You can respond to this question by providing an example of a difficult situation you faced in the past. For example, it could be a disagreement with your coworker or client. Then, you can provide specific information on how you resolve the disagreement. Talk about the solution you came up with to diffuse the situation and its outcome.
18. Are you comfortable working from home?
Although things are returning to normal now, remote work is becoming common across most organizations and industries. As a result, hiring managers want to know if you have experience working remotely from home. It also allows them to gauge your ability to stay focused and disciplined to complete work from home.
When answering this question, emphasize how you use apps like Microsoft Teams or Zoom to keep in touch with your team members. You can also share how you keep yourself focused and productive while working alone remotely at home.
Do you have a designated office space at your home? Do you use time management or productivity tools like time blocker apps or calendar notifications to ensure you complete your work on time? Sharing the steps you took to ensure you can work productively from home will give interviewers the confidence that you can perform in your role while working remotely.
Questions for You to Ask in a Bookkeeper Job Interview
Many candidates overlook that organizations are looking for proactive team members who can contribute to their business. They are not merely looking for high-performing employees. Ask the interviewer any questions before ending your interview.
An intelligent interview question accomplishes two goals. Firstly, it allows you to convince the interviewer once more that you are a good match for this role by demonstrating that you came prepared for the interview. Secondly, it allows you to determine if this job opportunity aligns with your expectations and career ambition.
You can impress the interviewers by asking these questions below:
- What kind of professional growth and training opportunities does your organization provide?
- What would be the most critical skills to have for this position?
- What does a high-performing employee look like in your company?
- Can you share with me what is the most challenging in this job role?
- What does an average day look like in this role?
- How does your company’s performance evaluation process work?
- What am I expected to achieve in the first three months of working in this company?
- What did you enjoy most while working for this company?
- When can I expect a response from you regarding the hiring decision for this role?
How To Prepare for a Bookkeeper Job Interview
Before attending any interviews, you need to spend time preparing for the interview. You do not want to be caught off guard by the hiring manager’s questions.
You should research and familiarize yourself with the company’s financial report and accounting procedures. Spend some time refreshing your mathematical skills and bookkeeping concepts.
Make a list of key highlights from your past bookkeeping experiences that could be beneficial to share during the interview. And remember to ask questions at the closing of your interview to let the interviewers know that you are genuinely interested in the position.
Here are more tips that you can refer to while preparing for your bookkeeper job interview:
First, ensure you have a solid knowledge of basic accounting principles.
Share any bookkeeping software you have experienced working with in the past.
Practice answering the bookkeeping interview questions above.
Emphasize your customer service and communication skills by giving examples from your past experiences.
Share examples of how you managed to multitask while staying organized and the outcome of your work is free from errors.
Finally, always give honest answers to interview questions posted by interviewers.
The STAR interview answer strategy can allow you to answer the interviewer’s questions more easily. In addition, the STAR method helps you organize your answer by providing examples of how you demonstrated particular skills or experiences in your past jobs.
With this method, you can show the interviewers that you have the necessary experience and competency to perform in the position. Furthermore, your structured answers will give the interviewers the information they want.
The STAR method is beneficial for answering behavioral or competency-based questions. These interview questions usually start with “Can you tell me a time when you…” or “Share a time when you…’
The STAR method is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action and Result. Each abbreviation refers to a step that can help you to structure your examples to provide a comprehensive response to an interview question.
Situation: Describe where you performed a task or encountered an issue. The situation can be based on your previous job experience, university life, or any other related event. Remember to be as specific as you can when describing the situation. For example, you can explain when the situation happened and what and how it happened.
Task: Next, describe what you did in that situation. What are your responsibilities or tasks? What are you expected to achieve out of that situation? For example, you may have identified a mistake in the financial statement and found a solution to resolve the error. Or you managed to complete a challenging task within the deadline given.
Action: Then, we move on to the third step, where you elaborate on the activities or steps you took to complete your tasks. At this stage, it’s essential that you describe the actions from an ‘I’ perspective, not a ‘We’ perspective. The interviewer is not interested in how you solve the problem or complete a task as a team. Their focus is on what YOU did in that situation.
Result: Lastly, you have to share the outcomes that you achieved. It is vital that you are being honest here. Whether the outcomes are positive or negative, share them honestly. Then, you can follow up with the lessons learned and how you intend to avoid repeating the same mistake in the future.