Small Business Brief


7 Smart Bookkeeper Interview Questions to Ask to Hire the Right Candidate

Has it been a while since you’ve had a bookkeeper on staff? Small business owners may have a false sense of security when it comes to applications and software designed for DIY operations. There is no question, technology can save a lot of money by operating with less staff.

It is usually around tax season when business owners realize having a bookkeeper on board may not be a bad thing. Even with the software, having a team member whose specialty is accounting cannot hurt.

Hiring a bookkeeper when you have premium accounting software may seem like a waste of money. It’s been a while, and you don’t even know what bookkeeper questions to ask if you were to hire someone.

Are the numbers not adding up? Keep reading for seven bookkeeper interview questions you should ask.

Why are Bookkeeper Interview Questions Important?

Hiring a bookkeeper is not a task that should be taken lightly. If this is your first time hiring someone to oversee your financials, you’ll want to ask the right questions. 

Accounting is a vital part of your business operations. Mismanagement can lead to financial issues for your company and it also could mean tax problems. 

The interview questions for bookkeepers need to lead to answers that leave you comfortable giving the person access to your financials. It is important to trust every employee but there are positions with higher levels of responsibility.

If someone fails to adequately perform their duties, it can impact you differently based on their role. These questions are specifically for anyone working in your finance department.

1. What is Your Formal Education in Accounting? 

Education is a question that can be answered by looking at someone’s resume. If you call them in for an interview expound more on the question. As if accounting was their original choice. Find out if they are passionate about numbers or just something they are good at.

It also doesn’t hurt to go over some of the courses they’ve taken and any certifications or licenses they hold.

2. How Many Years of Experience Do You Have?

Years of experience is a bookkeeping question that is beneficial to know. Someone could have educational credentials but never held a job in the designated field.  

Ask how many years they have held a bookkeeping position. What time periods does their employment fall in? Keep in mind, a lot has changed in business practices through the years. 

If someone last worked as a bookkeeper twenty years ago there is a lot of advancements they may not understand. Will you be able to train someone who has never worked with accounting software or isn’t aware of new tax codes?

3. What is Your Proficiency in Accounts Payable, Receivables, and Payroll?

Bookkeepers can wear many different hats in a company. Are you hiring one person to handle multiple roles, or will you have someone for each accounting role? Three main functions a bookkeeper can perform are:

Accounts Payable

This role is responsible for ensuring all invoices are paid. Payment can include writing checks, setting up online payments, and paying with a credit card.

Accounts Receivable

In this role, the person handles money coming into the business, either via sales or services provided.


The person handling payroll ensures employees are paid, benefits are taken care of, and taxes deducted.

In the past, it was considered taboo to have one person performing all three tasks. With innovation in accounting software, the job can be done by a single bookkeeper because the programs leave an audit trail of every action performed. 

4. Name the Accounting Software You Are Certified In

Since the software is a mainstay in accounting departments, you’ll want to know which programs the applicant is proficient in. Also, ask about training they have successfully completed and any certifications. 

It is a plus is they are skilled in the software you are currently using. 

5. What Industries Have You Worked In?

Questions to ask a bookkeeper should focus on the industries the individual has worked in. Performing accounting duties for a construction company will differ from accounting functions at a store.

Working in various industries is seen as plus because it shows the individual is versatile and can adjust to different situations.

With that being said, work history is also important. If they are constantly moving from job to job, it could be an indication of someone who isn’t fully trained and has other issues going on.

6. Do You Have Customer Relationship Management Skills?

In today’s climate, a bookkeeper needs to have strong customer management skills. This entails someone who is capable of speaking with people at different levels. There will be times when they speak to employees, customers, tax accounts, and CEOs of companies.

You want someone that is articulate and knowledgable, as well a problem-solver.

7. Have You Ever Been Fired and/or Arrested for Finance Related Schemes?

There are certain positions within a company that should be scrutinized more than others. Hiring someone with a criminal past may not matter with some positions. You do not want to hire someone to handle your finances who has been proven to be untrustworthy.

Crimes you want to avoid include embezzlement, fraud, theft, extortion, and tax evasion to name a few.

In addition to checking the applicant’s background, you also want to do a credit check. Some companies believe a person struggling financially and have poor credit, should not be considered for financial positions. It’s important to remember a bookkeeper will have access to your bank records and credit card information.

Finding the Perfect Match

Knowing the right bookkeeper interview questions to ask can save you a lot of time and aggravation. Hiring the right person for a position is something you want to get right on the first try. 

Do you still have questions about hiring a bookkeeper? Visit our small business forum where you can ask our community business-related questions.