9-step checklist for hiring a bookkeeper

Small Business Guides

3 min read

Bookkeepers handle daily financials to keep your cash flow healthy. They record transactions and watch over cash flow. Even if you have an accountant, it pays to hire a bookkeeper. Here's how to find one.

Hiring a bookkeeper helps you manage your business

Running a business involves many everyday tasks to do with payroll and accounting. These include:

  • managing staff payments and setting up new employees
  • sending invoices and reminders
  • reviewing payments and expenses
  • reconciling accounts
  • tracking sales and revenue
  • managing cash flow reporting
  • handling other regular transactions.

By handing these tasks to a bookkeeper, you can concentrate on building your business.

A good bookkeeper can save you a lot of time. They will also flag any financial issues long before they become problems. But how do you find a good bookkeeper?

  1. Clearly define your bookkeeping requirements – then interview on those terms

    Write down what you need. Outline your pain points or tasks you don’t want to spend time on anymore. Be clear about the type of person you want to hire. They should have:

    • great organisational abilities
    • problem-solving skills
    • the ability to work independently
    • good people skills as they’ll interact with your suppliers, partners and employees.

    To save time and effort, only interview people who meet these requirements.

  2. Make sure applicants have experience with your accounting software

    It helps to hire someone who has experience of your particular industry. They'll understand the fine details of your work. Make sure they have experience of your accounting software, too. Don't waste time training them to use new tools.

  3. Check their professional qualifications and memberships

    Most professional bookkeepers undertake professional qualifications and are usually part of a membership body that supports their profession. Like accountants, bookkeepers take their professional development very seriously and continue to study to keep their expertise and qualifications up-to-date. See if they are members of bookkeepers' associations.

  4. Draw up a set of challenging interview questions – and listen to the answers

    Research online to find questions that will help you learn about each applicant for the job. You'll need to find out about their work attitude and how they’ll fit into your team. Ask about their experience and personality too.

  5. Once you have a shortlist, ask each person to complete a hiring test

    If you're not a bookkeeping expert yourself, get help to evaluate each applicant's skills. Sample hiring tests can be found on professional bookkeeping sites. If you’ve been doing your own books, ask the candidate to process some pieces of your work while you observe.

  6. Ask for references and check them carefully

    You will be entrusting your bookkeeper with sensitive financial information. It's only wise to ensure that they are trustworthy. Don’t be afraid to ask if the bookkeeper has (or had) access to client bank accounts. Contact all their referees and find out what they have to say. Make sure you can trust the person you hire. Do your due diligence.

  7. Find out whether they keep up to date with tax and payroll issues

    Bookkeepers should have up-to-date knowledge about current rules and regulations. Otherwise they may make mistakes that your accountant will have to fix – and that will cost you. Ask them about the rules, especially the ones relating to your business.

  8. Make sure their availability suits your business requirements

    Some bookkeepers have multiple clients. Communicate your expectations about the level of service you’re counting on. What hours do you expect them to be available? How will you reach them when you need them outside of those hours?

  9. Start with a three-month evaluation period

    Working with someone on a daily basis is very different to interviewing them. You might strike it lucky and hire the right bookkeeper the first time. But you might not be that lucky, so a trial period is a sensible precaution.

Hiring a bookkeeper can give you more freedom to run your business. The right person will look after the details, so you can concentrate on the big picture. They'll liaise with your accountant, manage your suppliers, and chase late payers. They'll give you the information you need to see where your business is now – and where it could go next.

Let us help you find that right person. Get connected with an experienced bookkeeper in the Xero advisor directory.

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