Top 25 Payroll Specialist Interview Questions
1. If an employee called in with a payroll complaint, how would you handle it?
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Ryan Brown
Mockquestions.com
 
Contributing Author
Christine Pasqueretta
HR Executive
Payroll Specialist
March 27th, 2014

Payroll specialist handles a clients payroll needs, and can advise them on the best practices. When preparing for this interview, follow up on your states payroll rules and have a great knowledge of payroll.
Payroll Specialist Interview Questions
2 of 37
Describe to me any payroll process that you have developed or revised?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Daily practice of verbal communica.
 
2.
Be prepare and knowledgeable of the topic you are speaking about.
 
3.
Being a great listener and paying attention to detail.
 
4.
I have taken communication courses and have a very long history of customer service skills.
 
5.
I am taking language art classes.
 
Question
3 of 37
What have you done to improve your verbal communication skills?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Daily practice of verbal communica.
 
2.
Be prepare and knowledgeable of the topic you are speaking about.
 
3.
Being a great listener and paying attention to detail.
 
4.
I have taken communication courses and have a very long history of customer service skills.
 
5.
I am taking language art classes.
 
Question
4 of 37
What is the largest payroll you have been in charge of?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
The largest payroll I have been in charge of was a manual payroll project using excel and the firm consisted of six employees.
 
2.
Over 250 employees from various municipal departments, both union and non union.
 
3.
I was in charge of 1000 staff working full time , part time and in shifts.
 
4.
The largest payroll when I had to do a retro pay for merit increases that were 6 months late.
 
5.
I have been in charge of 1500 employees.
 
Question
5 of 37
Give me examples of the payroll reports you have prepared?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
An example will be the deduction reports, payroll reports, payments report, statutory reports, bonus report, loan report.
 
2.
I have prepared Time Labour Entry Audit reports that reflect Job codes, wages, Gl accounts, time repoting codes, rates.
 
3.
Manpower report, absenteeism report, late coming report, leave report.
 
4.
Change report, pre and post reports, employees not paid, leave etc...
 
5.
One of the payroll reports that I prepared is the deduction listing, statutory report.
 
Question
6 of 37
What is a fiscal year?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
An organization budget or financial year.
 
2.
Your companies accounting or tax year.
 
3.
Year a year as reckoned turning profit for year end.
 
4.
It can be different depending on the company.
 
5.
Fiscal year is used for calculation of yearly financial statement.
 
Question
7 of 37
How do you keep updated on all the payroll rules and techniques?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Going into website of labor law.
 
2.
By reading payroll professional magazines, attending payroll conferences and visiting the hmrc websites.
 
3.
I am required by the CPA to keep my education up to date and in order to keep my PCP certification current and valid. The CPA offers webinars and seminars that I am able to attend.
 
4.
State and federal payroll laws.
 
5.
Reviewing payroll news with reports from third party ( ADP etc)
 
Question
8 of 37
How does higher management benefit from payroll reports?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
It enables them to monitor their expenditure and assess if a particular department is over spending or underspending.
 
2.
Accuracy and transparency.
 
3.
Accuracy, budget, listings.
 
4.
In making decisions with budget how many employees current.
 
5.
Use payroll reports for salary or hourly information.
 
Question
9 of 37
Why are you interested in this position?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
To get more experience in the budgeting and payroll.
 
2.
My interest in this position is that it will give me the opportunity the better manager the operation of the unit so that the work is done effectively and efficient in accordance with the ministry objective and core value.
 
3.
To work for a thriving and growing company, I am always learning new task, opportunity of advancment and company profile and word of mouth has been very impressive.
 
4.
Payroll and benefits is what I like to do and I know I will do a great job for this company.
 
5.
I like working with numbers that have to come out perfect in the end.
 
Question
10 of 37
We have 9 major union contracts, each with unique special pay items, How will you ensure that everything is paid correctly and on time?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Making sure I enter correct information for each contract and submit before due date.
 
2.
By checking and validating data.
 
3.
Process them as soon as possible.
 
4.
Create a batch and set it to run on a particular pay date. Week 1 etc..
 
5.
Double check all data before submission.
 
Question
11 of 37
What salary are you seeking?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
I would consider a salary of 30,000 pounds.
 
2.
I like to have 35,000 year.
 
3.
I seek a Nett salary of not less than R12000.00
 
4.
A competitive salary range for someone with my background and experience.
 
5.
A competitive salary range for someone with my background and experience.
 
Question
12 of 37
Can you explain when you would want to pay an employee through accounts payable rather than payroll?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
When the employee did not submit time card before payroll was processed.
 
2.
Employees should not be paid through accounts all payments should be made via the payroll to ensure that IRP information is accurate.
 
3.
Only if is an error on check that's already been process. Or term of an employee.
 
4.
If the did not have a social security card.
 
5.
When they had paid for something for the company out of their own pocket.
 
Question
13 of 37
Have you had responsibility for state and federal tax payments?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
No I haven't, but willing to learn.
 
2.
Yes and it is very important that they are paid on time, otherwise fines are given to the company.
 
3.
I was responsible to register with states, pay taxes on state sites.
 
4.
Yes, weekly and bi-weekly tax deposits and quarterly tax deposits.
 
5.
Annual leave.
 
Question
14 of 37
What are the payroll inputs?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
The payroll inputs are salary, allowances, acting, compensation a. D any other allowances.
 
2.
Payroll inputs include monthly, yearly, adjustments.
 
3.
Overtime. Shift allowances, commission, salary, medical aid, provident/pension fund etc.
 
4.
Hours, paid time off, bonuses, sick leave, bereavement leave, jury duty,
 
5.
Employee codes. Whether they are salary, hourly or monthly.
 
Question
15 of 37
What is the general ledger?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
This is a ledge that you record all transaction that takes place with in the company.
 
2.
An accounting record system where all the companies income and expenses and assets and liabilities are kept.
 
3.
Records of financial transactions to prepare financial statements.
 
4.
A general ledger is a complete record of financial transactions of the company.
 
5.
General ledger stores the balance sheet and income statement info.
 
Question
16 of 37
If you have done bookkeeping in the past for small businesses, tell me about your experience doing that.
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
I have always used quickbooks for small business.
 
2.
Havent done bookkeeping. Been responsible for reconciling payroll related accounts.
 
3.
No bookkeeping in the past.
 
4.
Very eye opening and a good way to learn on a smaller scale.
 
5.
I was recording each and every transactions and doing some reconciliations if needed.
 
Question
17 of 37
What experience do you have implementing a new payroll system?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Been involved with the upgrading of the payroll system. Have not changed from a payroll system in the last 20 years.
 
2.
I have implemented a few new systems-paychex, quickbooks.
 
3.
None at this time but willing to learn.
 
4.
I have set up peachtree software for the computer at a business.
 
5.
I have been in volved in several.
 
Question
18 of 37
Describe to me your familiarity with the administration of 403b or 457 plans?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
These are retirement plans.
 
2.
403b is a us tax advantage savings plan and 457 is a deferred compensation employee/change form.
 
3.
A 403(b) plan is a U.S. Tax-advantaged retirement savings plan available for public education organizations, some non-profit employers (only Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) organizations), cooperative hospital service organizations, and self-employed ministers in the United States.The 457 plan is a type of non-qualified tax advantaged deferred-compensation retirement plan that is available for governmental and certain non-governmental employers in the United States. The employer provides the plan and the employee defers compensation into it on a pre-tax basis. For the most part the plan operates similarly to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan most people are familiar with in the US
 
4.
Both are retirement plans and are taxable when they are distributed.
 
5.
These retirements are for 501c.
 
Question
19 of 37
Describe how would you familiarize yourself with our payroll system?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Would have to get to know the system thoroughly, Will go through the screens and the explanations and try to understand the logic of the system.
 
2.
I would refer to and study payroll manuals and job manuals as well as seek out information from other specialists/supervisors.
 
3.
I would first go through the program on the computer- I would call the specialist of the system provided with any questions. Research questions on computer.
 
4.
Take notes, paying attention to detail, a good listener and hands on training.
 
5.
To research the program, learn hands on, do what ever it took to become familiar and good at it.
 
Question
20 of 37
Tell me about the payroll forecasting you have been responsible for?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Forecasting estimates what your fixed and variable expenses might be.
 
2.
I have been responsible for indicating the nursing total hours for the fiscal year.
 
3.
Created spreadsheet based on prior years and increases and new positions.
 
4.
I was responsible for forecast according to the number of employees and the amount of hours how much we will need to cover for payroll.
 
5.
Payroll forecasting is depends on the growth of employees number and wages.
 
Question
21 of 37
From your past experiences, describe a typical payroll day?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Processing payroll, taking phones call staff requesting PTO and printing schedules for clinical staff.
 
2.
Answering employee questions.
 
3.
Get all time sheets or computer records, compare to the office records, imput all the information to the payroll program, look and double check the information that has been given.
 
4.
Checking hour with time cards making sure the calculations are correctly, input of the hours in the system checking the hours before they are summited.
 
5.
Add up each employees time and vacation time used. Check to see if they have Vacation time to use. Input the info into ADP.
 
Question
22 of 37
Define a bad employee.
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
I don't consider an employee as being bad. we all have our bad days, I look for solutions to help them thru the day.
 
2.
Constant complaining without providing solutions.
 
3.
Always late, comes to work with outside issues, a poor outlook on work and life in general.
 
4.
An employee that will not follow company policy. Does not read company handbook. Think that all companies have same benefits.
 
5.
There is no bad employee, there are poorly train and no motivated employees.
 
Question
23 of 37
Do you plan to open up your own accounting or payroll firm?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
This interview question is simple to answer. I would obviously begin by picking out a work related problem I have faced and that I knew turned out to be a problem that I was able to solve.
 
Question
24 of 37
Each of our buildings has a designated payroll timekeeper, who reports bi-weekly. Two reports are late, what do you do?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
I will inform my supervisor prior to reports being late and explain why.
 
2.
I would call the timekeepers and ask them what the delay is and is there any way I can help them meet their deadlines.
 
3.
Contact them and explain how important it is send report to be able to pay on time and correctly.
 
4.
Go personally to the buildings and see what the issue is.
 
5.
Input everybody else and email the payroll timekeeper for the reports, meanwhile I make aware to the supervisor of this employees of the situation so they can get help to finish the reports.
 
Question
25 of 37
Can you describe the use of forms W2, W4, and 941?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
W2 is what you will use to file your taxes. W4 is used for employees how many deductions they are claiming doing the year and 941 is employers that holds federal tax income tax on employees.
 
2.
W2 is a summary record given to employee showing their earnings taxes paid and any other deductions, W4 is what the employee fills out letting the payroll department know how many depending they are claiming, 941 is the report filled out each quarter and year end showing everything paid and deducted through payroll.
 
3.
W4 is the form they fill out for the employee to with old . W2 is the form the employer give to teh employee for taxes. 941 is the quarterly federal employers tax return.
 
4.
For tax purposes with state and federal governments, so that employees can be legal as far as our taxes are set up for the United States.
 
5.
W2 reports the amount of federal, state and other taxes withheld from a paychek. W4 is using to change tax withholding allowances of an employee. 941 is for employers quarterly federal tax return form.
 
Question
26 of 37
What cost-cutting measure have you been in charge of implementing?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
On how staff will flex their schedule.
 
2.
Not to be wasteful to be mindful of everything you do and use in a place of business.
 
3.
Helped to interview and select benefit providers.
 
4.
How we can reduce the cost of supplies, such as reducing the amount of paper we utilize. Finding solutions in reducing waste and finding different methods to help in saving the enviorment.
 
Question
27 of 37
What sorts of things have you done to become better qualified for your career?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
My education has focused on not only learning the fundamentals, but also on the practical application of the information learned.
 
2.
TKen several college courses in IT and accounting.
 
3.
Went to accounting at the Alexandria Technical and Community College.
 
4.
Webinars and keep up with the new laws.
 
5.
Keep updating my knowledge.
 
Question
28 of 37
There are times when we are placed under extreme pressure on the job. Tell about a time when you were under such pressure and how you handled it.
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
At my previous job I worked in HR and had to fire one of my closed friends. I handled it at professional level and she understood it is business.
 
2.
I work better under pressure.
 
3.
Pressure can be a motivator to some, and I am one of them that is motivated by pressure, to do well and accurate.
 
4.
Last minute change of health insurance, I handle it by doing teams to obtain the information and input it correctly to avoid any mistakes by the deadline.
 
5.
I never had experienced such situations, but I always focused on my job and do my best.
 
Question
29 of 37
Discuss your experience with payroll?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Payroll is challenging as well as educating on so many levels. Always learning which creates growth.
 
2.
I have done payroll for 3 different companies with different types of needs and different industries. This has help me to adapt quickly.
 
3.
Running payroll, doing funding reports and general ledger, doing W4 changes, benefit deductions garnishments, time and labor and FMLA.
 
4.
City of Galax weekly, bi-weekly payrolls. Reconcilation of benefits, tax deposits, W-2's, payroll govemental reporting.
 
5.
I started my career in payrolll since 2006 and I still like to do payroll.
 
Question
30 of 37
What is retro pay?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
When an annual increase is not done on time I have to retro pay an employee.
 
2.
Retroactive pay is a delayed wage payment for work already performed at a lower wage rate. It is distinguished from back pay.
 
3.
Monies due employee that received an increase after they were suppose to.
 
4.
Pay that is due an employee from past work.
 
5.
Retroactive pay is hours owned to and employee form previous paid date.
 
Question
31 of 37
What are your future plans with the company?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
I plan to be withe the company indefinitely. I plan to learn the job and become and exceptional ps so that I can successfully move up within the department.
 
2.
I plan to be withe the company indefinitely. I plan to learn the job and become and exceptional ps so that I can successfully move up within the department.
 
3.
My future plan is to become a good employee of the company in the top position.
 
4.
To be the best accountant for this company.
 
5.
To be a long-term, good standing employee, as well as a team player with the company.
 
Question
32 of 37
Describe to me a difficult situation at work and how you diffused it.
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
It was to do with maternity, someone left for maternity and payroll wasnt informed about it employee was overpaid, had to put in loads of efforts to calm the employee down and arrange payment plan to reslove this.
 
2.
One difficult situation that happen was managing conflict how that was dealth with is that the situation was presented before all the individuals and a resolution was brought in to play the handle the matter at hand.
 
3.
When census is at a low, staff is not happy if we have to go to a flex schedule. I offer to have staff to work other days other than their schedule day to get their hours.
 
4.
Where employees told one another how much they made per hour. So set up and rewards and needs improvement pay scale and rewards system.
 
5.
An associate that feels they have not been paid properly. Walk through the calcuations of the payroll. Never become offensive. Listen and respond openly.
 
Question
33 of 37
What are the most important attributes a person should have for this position?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
He or she shoud be very attentive, calculative, sharp quick learner.
 
2.
Accuracy, pay attention to detail.
 
3.
To be flexible, team player, accurate and reliable.
 
4.
The number one attribute for any position is confidentiality. Someone working with money should also be honest and trustworthy.
 
5.
Accuracy, thoroughness, dependability, concienitous.
 
Question
34 of 37
What courses did you like the best in your preparation in accounting and payroll?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Seeing everything gone soomthly and everyones got paid.
 
2.
All the courses in preparing the payroll was good for me.
 
3.
Payroll accounting as well as my communication and management course work.
 
4.
I really enjoyed the Payroll Compliance Course. I found it interesting to learn about all the provinces and how each province deals with taxes.
 
Question
35 of 37
What information do you require before you approve payroll?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Approval from higher up manager, and all reports to mattch the correct figures.
 
2.
Verification that the funds are in place and approval from the authorizing manager for process the payroll.
 
3.
The managers in other department are finish with their portion.
 
4.
Accurate time sheets or reports, current standings of all employees, the bosses approvel.
 
5.
Enough funding to meet all expenses.
 
Question
36 of 37
How did you get started in payroll?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Started as HR secretary and learn payroll along the way.
 
2.
I first got started with taking payments when I was in the insurance business. I would also make daily deposits for Nationwide. I then went on to the Head Start program and started doing their payroll in 2008.
 
3.
Get started as an Accountant in payroll.
 
4.
Moved into payroll at the City of Galax.
 
5.
I started fresher in payroll as a payroll verifier, then became payroll administrator and then senipr payrol administrator.
 
Question
37 of 37
We spend considerable time editing our time sheets to ensure no errors, if you find one, what do you do?
 
User Submitted Interview Answers
1.
Make sure its all correct before I upload it in system.
 
2.
If an error is found it will be deducted from the individual gross pay the month that the discovery takes place.
 
3.
We all make mistakes. I inform my supervisor fix the problem apologize and assure that I will pay more attention to detail.
 
4.
Reconcile the error with the correct time and the employee, get it approved by the proper boss.
 
5.
I would go back to my original calculation to figure out the error.
 
Contributing Author
Christine Pasqueretta
HR Executive
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