How To Interview A Bookkeeper
Managing a business is tough and there are a lot of demands on your attention. Who’s examining your financials? Is someone monitoring cashflow; discounts being achieved for early payment; bills being paid early robbing you of cashflow; premium renewals being reviewed? Are sales forecast being done in line with business expectations, in line with workforce planning?
Filing and archiving appropriate? End of year tax situation being considered? Your external Accountant kept in the loop?
Depending on the size of your business, chances are you’re relying on your Bookkeeper to do more than simple compliance. And yes, there are Bookkeepers who can do more than simply input the data!
PS MYOB is the brand – AccountRight is the name of software most of us are using.
If accounting software and/or the bookkeeping function aren’t your forte, interviewing a “professional Bookkeeper” may prove tricky.
We’ve developed some interview questions that will sort the applicants for you: those who focus on compliance only, and those who will think about their productivity, and what the numbers mean for your organisation.
Q: Tell me about what you learnt in the last training course you completed?
Q: What ratios would you monitor if you worked here?
Q: How do you calculate break-even point, and what would you do if the business wasn’t achieving that?
At what point do they alert you there’s a problem? Telling you at the end of the month profit isn’t where it needs to be is not very helpful; but if you know the business is off-target mid-month, you have a chance to do something about it. Will this person communicate with you on the front foot; or will you have to play Detective?
Q: Tell me about how you monitor cashflow?
Q: When was the last time you completed a BAS?
Q: What KPIs are you used to working to?
1. X percentage of debts must remain within a certain timeframe (90% of receivables must be collected within 45 days)
Ask questions around turnover, staff levels, administration support, frequency of communication with the Accountant, reporting mechanisms, BAS/IAS/PAYG, super funds, wages/time billing, bank accounts and similar.
And finally, ask “Is there anything else you’d like to ask me or tell me before we finish?” (Candidates expect the opportunity to ask questions, though few prepare meaningfully. Their response here will not only give you a final impression of their preparedness for the interview, but also indicate what’s important to them. Favoured responses include: “What do you consider the priorities for the role?” and “Is there any reason you wouldn’t consider me suitable for the position?”)
When you know what your numbers are saying, you can make informed decisions and develop strategies for better financial management. Accounting for your business isn’t just about recording history; it can be about planning and management.
If your business currently lacks the talent to handle your financial management, you might consider talking to your recruitment partner about a way forward. When you can trust the financials are being monitored and problems brought to your attention while you can still do something about them … that’s proactive bookkeeping!