Bookkeeping is not as simple as it sounds. It is a skill that requires thought and accuracy. A good bookkeeper makes it easy to review and analyze information; a bad bookkeeper will leave your books in disarray and lead to bad business decisions. The saying goes, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”
Below are 5 traits that make up a good bookkeeper and interview questions to ensure they have those traits:
- Organization – Bookkeeping can be a repetitive and very routine task. There are deadlines that need to be met with those tasks. During the interview process a couple sample question to ask are “Describe a situation when your planning and preparation was a major factor in the success of a project.” or “Describe a work situation where your lack of planning and organizing had a negative effect.”
- Communication Skills – Bookkeepers are expected to discuss basic financial statements with the owner/manager of the business (i.e. Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, and basic Cash Flow). Many business owners are successful because they know their trade, not the numbers behind the business. You will want someone that can help interpret the numbers and do so confidently. During an interview you can have them describe a time when you had to explain a complex accounting issue to someone without an accounting background. Ask how did they helped the audience understand the situation.
- Being inquisitive – Bookkeeping is not all data entry, it requires thought. Bookkeepers are expected to identify and investigate significant variances within accounts. The phrase “that is the way it has always been done” is not what you want to hear your bookkeeper say when questioning an account balance. A good interview question to ask might be “Is it possible for a company to show positive cash flow but be in grave trouble?
- Honesty and Trustworthiness – As a bookkeeper, they are often going to be privy to some important and confidential information. They are part of your team and you want them to help you to do what is best for the company. During the interview process you can ask them to give you an example of how they built loyalty and trust with a co-worker or within a personal relationship. You can also have them give you an example of a time they were responsible for an error or mistake. Ask them what the outcome was and what, if anything, would they have done differently.
- Willingness to Update Skills – The accounting world appears to be always changing. Bookkeepers should keep their finger on the pulse of the current regulations as well as the changes that are occurring in their industry. Be sure to ask “How do you keep current on what’s going on in your field?” Also ask, “What skill or expertise do you feel like you’re still missing?”