Now hiring: 10 questions to ask bookkeeper candidates

Are you looking for someone to manage the books and records for your small business? Whether you’re operating a startup or an established business that recently lost its bookkeeper, hiring the right person for these tasks can be challenging.

Selecting a candidate in today’s job market requires a rigorous process. It’s important not to be hasty or wing it during the interview. Give your job posting adequate time to attract a healthy sample of qualified candidates. Write up a detailed job description with the help of your management team. Then brainstorm a comprehensive list of questions.

Here are 10 questions to consider in the brainstorming process.

  1. How many years of bookkeeping experience do you have, and are you familiar with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)?
  2. Do you possess any accounting-related qualifications, such as a certified public accountant (CPA) license or an undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting?
  3. What accounting software programs are you proficient in? (Alternatively, if your company has an existing software system, ask if the candidate is proficient in that program — or if he or she recommends a different one.)
  4. Do you have experience filing income, payroll and sales tax returns? If so, which tax software have you used?
  5. Can you provide additional services — for example, can you create budgets, forecasts, valuations or business plans — that might benefit our business long-term?
  6. Do you have experience streamlining existing accounting and reporting processes?
  7. How long after the close of each month does it take you to generate monthly financials, and can you provide interim reports, such as daily cash statements or weekly flash reports?
  8. Are there any areas of accounting where you need more experience or training? Are there any aspects of tax and accounting that you’d rather avoid?
  9. Have you ever dealt with any discrepancies or audit issues before? If so, how did you address them?
  10. Do you have experience working with an outside CPA firm? If so, explain the types of services the firm provided.

By asking these questions, you’ll gain a detailed understanding of each candidate’s capabilities. The questions will likely open an extemporaneous dialog about the candidates’ qualifications and your expectations.

Remember, there’s more to finding the right fit than just accounting know-how. It’s also important to consider the soft skills you’d like the bookkeeper to possess, such as trustworthiness, approachability and communication. Ask yourself: Will this candidate mesh well with the other personalities on my management team? And will this candidate bring fresh ideas and advanced skills to the table? Taking the time to choose wisely could save headaches and money later.

We can be a valuable resource during the hiring process. In addition to helping brainstorm interview questions, we can refer qualified candidates with experience in your industry who are looking for a new position. Or we can temporarily handle your bookkeeping tasks during the hiring process. Contact us at 330-453-7633, or to discuss the possibilities.

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