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Payroll Specialist interview questions and answers

These Payroll Specialist interview questions can assist you in designing an effective interview process. Look for those questions that will help you find what you are looking for in candidates.

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Payroll Specialist Interview Questions

Payroll specialists (or payroll clerks) can be found in-house or in consultancy firms where other companies outsource their payroll. Accounting/payroll experience is preferred most of the time. A background in customer service can be useful, whether they have to deal with internal or external clients.

Every payroll specialist should be good with numbers. They can’t succeed without a strong attention to detail, organizational ability, communication skills and commitment to confidentiality. Things get hectic around payroll time, so managing stress is very important. You can ask the following behavioral and situational questions to assess those traits.

If you don’t have time to train new hires, be on the lookout for candidates who have the kind of expertise needed in your business. For example, payroll specialists who work with public organizations may need more diverse knowledge of procedures or legislation (e.g. 403(b) plans). Others may need experience in a similar sized business or a unionized environment.

Operational and Situational questions

  • How do you ensure attendance records are reported on time?
  • If two clients came to your office to complain at the same time, how would you handle it?
  • An employee tells you that they received less money that agreed. How do you go about investigating this?
  • What would be your first week’s priorities if we hired you?
  • If an employee insisted that you tell them the salary of a coworker, how would you respond?

Role-specific questions

  • What kind of reports should a payroll specialist prepare?
  • How familiar are you with FLSA?
  • How do you follow changes regarding IRS regulations?
  • What’s included in local taxes withholdings?
  • What are the payroll source documents you need?
  • What’s your experience with union contracts?
  • Are you familiar with Kronos? What other software do you use in your job?
  • How do you maintain attention to detail when entering employee data?

Behavioral questions

  • Give me an example of a time you improved a payroll process
  • Recall a time you found it difficult to collaborate with a colleague. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time you were stressed on the job. What did you do?
  • Was there a time you didn’t manage to provide excellent customer service? What should you had done differently?
  • Tell me about a time you had to deliver negative news to a client

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