Question 1. Can You Keep Records Fully Confidential?
With some professions, it is relieving and sometimes even rewarding to discuss the happenings of the day with friends and family members. However, when it comes to bookkeeping, there is very little that you will be able to discuss. Working within this field involves handling the company or client’s finances, and this is very sensitive information. Although some of it may be released as public record due to federal law, individual entries and expenditures are often completely classified. Your employer will ask this question in order to determine your loyalty, and you should assure your interviewer that you understand the sensitivity of certain pieces of information.
Question 2. How To Rank The Following In Order Of Importance For Business Success:
Sales, Teamwork, Quality, Integrity, Profitability, Service?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, but it will indicate whether the candidate is aligned with your business culture and also demonstrate critical thinking skills. Look for a justification for why they answered the way they did. Does it line up with how you would answer the question? For example, if they say Profitability is the most important. Why is that the case? If they say teamwork is least important, you probably want to dig a little deeper if teamwork is high on your priority list.
A bookkeeper would preferably list profitability lower on the list because you want to know that they are considering the whole business, not just their job. You would also want to see integrity high on the list. Do you really want a bookkeeper who doesn’t value integrity.
Question 3. General Ledger Account Is Out Of Balance By $.24. Describe The Process You Would Take To Discover The Error?
First, I would want to make sure the error is not due to a larger computer software glitch. I have worked with systems that were corrupted by updates or programming errors. I make sure my accounting systems are backed up regularly just in case the data gets corrupted. Also, I reconcile all balance sheet accounts during the month and as a part of my month end close process so I would be able tell if the problem is isolated to one general ledger account or if I have a larger problem.
If I discover an error in the accounting system due to an update, I would recover the most recent backup prior to the update. If the problem is only in one account and the balance is only $.24, I would write off the difference to an Miscellaneous Expense account. In my opinion, looking for a $.24 error is not the best use of my time or your resources.
Question 4. Explain Assets And Liability?
Be prepared to succinctly and clearly define all accounting related terms and explain their interdependence.
Question 5. Tell Me Which Bookkeeping Systems Have You Used And Tell Me Which One You Liked Best And Why?
I liked X system because it had a robust and easy to use report writer. I could quickly create ad-hoc reports for the President of the company or department supervisors and get them the information they needed.
Sometimes in a matter of seconds. With the X system I had the option to save the report as a .PDF document or an Excel spreadsheet and I could email the report to them.
Question 6. Which Software Are You Familiar With?
Gone are the days of keeping endless paper records; most of today’s bookkeeping is done completely electronically. Most of your clients will require you to have plenty of experience with a program like Microsoft Excel, Bookkeeper, Quick Books or Peach tree. You should first mention the programs that you are familiar with and then go on to describe the amount of experience you have with each one.
If you are not familiar with the program used by your prospective employer, point out that you are very proficient with computers and that you will be able to learn the ins and outs of the software very quickly.
Question 7. Do You Think Accrual Or Cash Basis Reporting Is Better For Business Management?
Look for an advanced bookkeeper to explain that accrual basis accounting provides better financial reports, but cash basis is usually preferred for taxes. We can keep the books on accrual basis for management reporting and the tax accountant can make adjustments for cash basis taxes. A standard bookkeeper will probably tell you what her experience has been and will not have a preference for either.
Question 8. How Would You Record A $1200 Annual Insurance Premium Using Accrual Accounting?
The correct answer here is Debit Prepaid Insurance $1200, Credit Cash or Accounts Payable. Prod them to find out when insurance expense is recognized. It should be $100/month with a Debit to Insurance Expense and a Credit to Prepaid Insurance. If the candidate cannot answer this question, don’t expect them to keep your books based on an accrual accounting. You will want to depend on someone else for management reports.
Question 9. If The Bank Account Is Off $0.92. How Long Will You Spend Looking For The Problem And What Steps Will You Take To Find It?
This problem is tricky and really depends on what you would like to see in the right bookkeeper. Some won’t stop looking until they find it. Sure, there could be numerous things causing any discrepancy so you do want them to spend some time looking for the problem. But how much time? Is spending 2 hours looking for $.92 the best use of time? If we look at return on investment, that’s absolutely a bad use of time. If they answer 2 hours, you’ll want investigate their tolerance for non-perfect circumstances. If you’re in the creative field, an extreme perfectionist may just drive you insane. If, however, they won’t look for the error at all, their attention to detail probably isn’t strong enough and you should keep looking.
When looking for the error, the ideal candidate will say it’s likely a transposition error and they would start there first (transposition errors are divisible by 9). They may just say they would check every line item against the statement, which is perfectly valid.
Question 10. How Many Gas Stations (or Coffee Shops, Etc) Do You Think There Are In Our (or Your) Country?
With this question, we’re looking for good critical thinking skills. It’s not okay to just guess a number with no explanation or to say they would “google” it. You want the candidate to have a process for getting to their guess, no matter how far off it is. There are this many gas stations in my town, I would guess this many towns in my state.
Question 11. Tell Me In Cash Basis Accounting, How To Record A $1200 Annual Insurance Premium?
The right answer for cash basis is debit insurance expense $1200, credit cash or accounts payable. All bookkeepers should get this right.
Question 12. When Are Expenses Recorded Using The Accrual Basis Of Accounting?
Show that you have a solid approach and deep understanding for dealing with varied accounting reports.
Question 13. What Is The Accounting Equation (or The Balance Sheet Equation) Or Explain The Balance Sheet?
A good bookkeeper will explain the balance sheet has assets, liabilities and equity. This is mandatory for anyone you expect to provide accurate financial reports. Ideally they will tell you the equation is: Assets = Liabilities + Equity. If they can’t explain the balance sheet, then ask them to describe an asset and liability account. You won’t want someone who doesn’t know the balance sheet responsible for month end close, but if someone else is ensuring accuracy, just knowing how assets and liabilities are used will be fine.
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