A bookkeeper can be the financial lifeboat of an entire company, so it makes sense that interview questions would be complex and sometimes a bit tricky. Bookkeepers do all sorts of things -- payroll, general accounting, accounts receivable, accounts payable, collections and a host of other super-important money stuff -- so the range of questions asked in an interview can be wide. No matter your level of education and experience, it pays to be well prepared for your interview and expect both basic and more complicated questions.
Don’t have a formal education beyond high school? Don’t sweat it too much. Some positions require only a high school diploma; others may require accounting classes beyond high school. Interviewers will most likely ask what your level of education is and if you took any specialized classes in accounting in college. Be sure to focus on any on-the-job classes, seminars and training you received to show you are a well-rounded candidate.
You will, during the course of nearly any interview, be asked about your experience. Some of these questions may be general regarding your years of service and the types of bookkeeping you have done in the past. You might get some tricky questions, so be prepared to answer specific specialized questions, like “What kind of financial reports have you prepared?” or “Do you prefer a cash or accrual accounting method?” You also may be asked what accounting software programs you are familiar with and the industries you are most familiar with.
The American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers offers a “Certified Bookkeeper” title that requires industry experience and the passing of an extensive examination. Definitely not an easy undertaking -- so make sure your potential employer knows about it! You might be asked if you have professional certification; even if you aren’t asked, be sure to let your employer know.
Questions about soft skills are all the rage. Expect to be asked questions regarding how detail-oriented you are, or how you apply math or critical thinking skills to your bookkeeping. Further, you can probably expect a few questions on confidentiality and ethical considerations, as they are important in this field and are another soft skill hot topic.
Don’t you love those employers who throw out weird questions like a grenade and expect you to answer before it explodes? This is a common interview tactic, so be prepared to answer minor tricky questions, like “What is your biggest weakness?” and “What is your least favorite aspect of bookkeeping?” Some employers love asking strange questions, like “What kind of tree would you be?” or “How do you blow dry a dog?” While it is difficult to prepare for odd questions like these, just keep your cool and try to always answer questions with a positive angle related to the position in question.
Based in the Pacific Northwest, Arin Bodden started writing professionally in 2003. Her writing has been featured in "Northwest Boulevard" and "Mermaids." She received the Huston Medal in English in 2005. Bodden has a Master of Arts in English from Eastern Washington University. She currently teaches English composition and technical writing at the university level.