23 Payroll Clerk Interview Questions and Answers

Updated on: March 26, 2023

Payroll clerks are responsible for processing and administering employee salaries and ensuring that all employees are paid accurately and timely.

It is an important job and requires great attention to detail and accuracy. If you are preparing for a job interview for a payroll clerk position, this article will help you prepare for the same.

Payroll clerk interviews need to be dealt with intelligently. If you cannot handle them with care, you risk two things – the job that you have set your heart on and the confidence that you have built over the years.

When you are prepared for all eventualities at an interview, you can say goodbye to the risks.

The only way that you can ace an interview is if you appear confident and have prepared well for it. Preparation involves getting to know the job and the company well.

Once you research what it is that the company is looking for, you have nothing to fear at the interview because you will know what to expect.

Some job-related questions that you may be asked should be looked through before you arrive at the interview. For instance, an interviewee may be asked the following questions for a payroll clerk position:

Related: Payroll Clerk Resume

4 Common Payroll Clerk Interview Questions and Answers

1. Tell me a little about yourself.
Well, first of all, thank you for inviting me for being interviewed today for the payroll clerk position. I’d define myself as an experienced payroll clerk who is proficient in generating accurate and timely payrolls of the assigned staff members. Moreover, I am familiar with taxation laws in the state.

2. Out of all the other candidates, why should we hire you?
You should hire me because I bring a unique blend of analytical, data entry, and problem-solving skills and my previous experience in HR makes me a very suitable candidate for your newly opened setup.

3. How did you learn about the opening?
An ex-colleague told me about this job opening, he is working with you in the HR department currently in the North Region branch.

4. What type of skills do you have that qualify you for the position of payroll clerk?
Having worked as a payroll clerk for three years, I have developed great attention to detail which is the basis of this work. Possessing a firm understanding of mathematical concepts and accounting principles, along with exceptional data entry skills makes me a good choice to work as a payroll clerk.

5. What has been your greatest challenge so far?
I found myself in a quandary once when I had just acquired a new job and was familiarizing myself with the company’s unique payroll system. I discovered that one employee was being paid a large salary even though there were no corresponding timesheets available for him. The dilemma was whether to tell the authorities and risk losing my job or keep quiet and betray my position.

6. As a payroll clerk, what has been your greatest achievement?
Last year I revamped the payroll processing mechanism at the firm I was working for that resulted in a 100% error reduction and sped up the payroll processing and employee attendance analysis time by 2 hours on average. Moreover, I was responsible for developing and implementing a payroll auditing system that checked each entry to ensure its correlation to other fields. This not only leads to streamlining the entire payroll process but also reduced the time to manually check each entry for accuracy by a staggering 85%!

7. What are some of the duties that you were assigned in a similar role earlier?
Apart from collecting and summarizing timekeeping information so that payrolls can be calculated, I was responsible for obtaining overtime approvals, calculating commissions, processing garnishment requests, and dispensing employment verifications.

8. Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision. What did you do?
During my second year of employment, I disagreed with a colleague regarding the application of taxation policy. I rationally discussed the issue with him and it turned out that he was applying the federal taxation laws; he agreed with me after discussion and we were able to process the payroll timely.

9. Tell me how you think other people would describe you?
I think other people or my ex-colleagues would describe me as an accurate, meticulous, detail-oriented, highly organized, and respectful worker.

10. What can we expect from you in your first 3 months?
You can expect me to handle your weekly employee payroll efficiently, timely, and accurately in the coming three months with a highly professional work style.

11. Are you familiar with the various payroll tax laws in your state?
Yes, I am familiar with taxation prerequisites, tax laws, and labor laws applicable in various states of America including California. I have always been compliant with the same and I am also experienced in generating payroll tax reports.

12. What is your experience with using payroll software?
Throughout my career, I have been generating payrolls using various soft wares. I am familiar with most software including Quick books, Gusto, ADP, Hub-staff, and Jibble. I am also a fast learner and tech-savvy individual and I can adapt to new interfaces very quickly.

13. What experience do you have in training other individuals?
At my previous workplace, I trained 2 new payroll clerks for seven days after their hiring before their placement in their respective branches. I succeeded in training them effectively and they are now working independently.

14. What would you do if you noticed an error in an employee’s paycheck before they picked it up?
I would immediately rectify it and if the employee is there for pick up, I would apologize for the error, and politely request them to wait until the check is rectified.

15. How often do you perform payroll checks to ensure accuracy?
Typically I conduct weekly payroll checks because most companies process the payroll fortnightly or weekly and once a wrong entry goes by unnoticed it gets very difficult to claim a reimbursement.

16. If there is a bug in the payroll software that prevents you from collecting all the necessary information from employees. What will you do?
Making or processing a manual payroll is the last resort for me. If there is such a bug I try to get it rectified timely if that’s not possible I try to generate the payroll using backup software.

17. Describe a time when you had to explain complex payroll information to an employee in a way they could understand.
I had a worker a few months back who couldn’t make out the tax deductions. I explained the formula but she was still confused and insisted that there had been an error. I then simplified my language and explained to her in layman’s terms why the tax amount was applicable and why it was deducted. She was ultimately satisfied.

18. How would you handle a situation where an employee was not happy with their paycheck?
First of all, I would calm them down, and then I will listen to their complaint. After comprehending what their grievance is I will assess the status of the complaint and then if there’s an error, I would rectify it ASAP; if they are misunderstanding something, I would explain the matter calmly to them.

19. Describe your experience with managing large amounts of data.
I have been generating payrolls for 500+ employees. Main issues while handling large data include client misclassification, clerical errors, pay miscalculation and overtime tracking. These issues are best resolved if representatives of different departments cross-verify the data after entry, before processing.

20. Do you have experience with running payroll reports for managers?
Yes, I have been processing payrolls for the higher management and I am experienced in applying taxation rules according to their salary slabs as well.

21. During a payroll audit, you discover an error a coworker made. What are your next steps?
In such a scenario I would point out the mistake politely. If they do not rectify it despite indication or if it is repeated, only then I would inform the management regarding the same.

22. In your opinion, what’s the best payroll schedule for part-time employees versus full-time employees?
In my opinion, for full-time employees, fortnightly payroll is more efficient as it allows more time to ascertain attendance, etc. while for part-time employees, weekly payroll is more suitable and easy to handle. It also helps divide the burden on the finance department.

23. What would be your response to any emergency or disaster situation affecting the payroll department?
In case of any emergency or disaster, I would stick to the company’s payroll continuity policy unless otherwise directed by the authorities.