Deciding to hire a bookkeeper or a Maryville University online accounting degree graduate can be a very overwhelming process if you are a small business owner. Keep in mind that before the search begins, it is important to know the skills and the level of experience you are looking for. Do you need a bookkeeper that will analyze your numbers and create a monthly budget for you, or do you only need someone to enter invoices, bills and complete your taxes?
If you need an online accounting degree professional to help you make sense of the numbers, or you have an accounting background but you want someone who can assist you with your financial management, having an accountant by your side is probably a good idea. However, if you are not sure if the numbers are correct in your business, it is probably best if you hire someone with extensive accounting experience. The person you hire should be able to correctly reconcile all balances and complete a monthly close.
Generally, bookkeepers do not have the skills needed to assist you with any type of financial management beyond maintaining accurate financial records. On the other hand, a professional with a bachelor’s degree in accounting could help you.
Here are some questions to ask potential bookkeepers or accountants.
Is Cash Basis Reporting or Accrual Reporting Better for Business Management?
An experienced bookkeeper or accountant will be able to thoroughly explain why although accrual based reporting looks better on paper, cash basis reporting is preferred when dealing with taxes. Books can be maintained for management reporting for accrual basis, and an experienced tax accountant can make the necessary adjustments for the taxes. Most bookkeepers will tell you about their experiences and not have a preference for one or the other.
Can You Explain a Balance Sheet?
A bookkeeper should be able to explain that the balance sheet has equity, liabilities and assets.
The ideal answer you want to hear is Liabilities + Equity = Assets. If the candidate cannot explain a balance sheet, see if they accurately describe a liability and asset account. If you are only looking for someone who can keep accurate records, just understanding liabilities and assets will be sufficient.
The Bank Account is Off by $.50. How Will You Find the Problem and How Long Will You Spend Trying to Locate the Problem?
This is a tricky problem, and the answer will depend on what you are looking for in a bookkeeper. There are some candidates who would spend all day looking for the error. There could be numerous things that may have caused the error, so you may want someone who will spend time looking for it.
The question becomes how much time should they spend on it? Is spending three hours looking for a $.50 error the best use of their time and the most productive for your business? If you are creative, a perfectionist may drive you crazy. However, if they would not spend any time looking for the error, that may indicate they do not pay attention to detail.
There are plenty of interview questions you can ask when interviewing bookkeepers or accountants. The ones listed can give you a good indication of their knowledge and skill set. Always check references before finalizing the hiring process.