13 Payroll Specialist Interview Questions and Answers

Updated on: April 8, 2022

Acing a payroll specialist interview means being successful at gaining the position you have always wanted. While this may sound a little too much, it is not far from the truth.

Where payroll specialist cover letters and resumes are concerned, all of us make an individual effort – we take days to make sure that we are using the right formats and putting in the correct information.

Sadly, we do not do the same when we have an interview coming up!

Preparation for an interview is as necessary as it is for payroll specialist resume and cover letter writing.

Interviews are usually the last stage – an event that decides if we will or will not get the job! Do not take interviews lightly!

Indeed, most of us get quite rattled at the thought of appearing in front of strangers who will ask us intimidating questions, but this is something that we need to do even if we do not like the idea.

Nervousness is all very well, but we need to make sure that we do not show an interviewer how anxious we are.

How is this possible?

Being prepared can help you face virtually anything.

So if you are appearing at an interview for the position of a payroll specialist, the following set of questions and answers will help you prepare:

Payroll Specialist Interview Questions and Answers

1. What is the importance of accuracy when performing duties in a payroll specialist’s position?

There is nothing more important than accuracy. Since there is money at stake here, it is essential to make sure that accurate postings are done and that any inaccurate information is dealt with on an immediate basis.

2. How do you deal with employees who do not report time records to the payroll staff before a deadline?

I have trained the payroll staff to handle time-dependent problems on their own by performing strict follow-up duties. However, there are times when employees just do not comply. When I have to intervene, I become direct with the employee and usually send out an email, very politely outlining the repercussions of not reporting time records in a timely fashion.

3. What experience do you have processing special pay items?

Bonuses and incentives cannot be processed in the same manner as for regular payrolls. Individual forms need to be filled out, and additional calculations need to be made before a particular pay item can be processed.

4. Tell us four of the most important functions in a payroll specialist’s work.

All duties of a payroll specialist are essential. However, these three cannot be overlooked:

• Processing and validating employee records
• Reviewing and verifying time cards
• Reconciling payroll data and
• Processing payroll reports

5. Describe a time when your work was criticized? How did you handle it?

Back in 2018, when it was my first year of work at Harvey’s, I kept all data in compiled forms. When the date for tax filing neared, I felt that there was not enough time to sort each employee’s tax information.

My audit officer criticized the usage of compilation forms, and I took the criticism positively. After sorting the tax information with great difficulty that year, I immediately implemented separate income tax IRS forms in the department.

6. Tell me about one proud achievement as a payroll specialist?

When I joined EZ enterprises, they had no payroll processing forms in use other than the basic personal data, absence, and travel approval forms.

I designed, formatted, and initiated several other useful forms including expenditure reimbursement, promotion, incentive forms, and the like which are in use at the organization to date.

7. What are your strengths as a payroll specialist?

I believe in hard work through attention to detail. Also, I have excellent numeracy skills and computer and data entry proficiency.

8. What is the purpose of the w2 and w4 IRS forms?

IRS forms are needed by employers while processing and forwarding income tax information. W2 and W4 contain useful data regarding tax withholding and income tax eligibility ratio calculations from employees’ wages.

9. What would you do if an employee does not submit time records by the payroll deadline?

In the first place, I ensure that all employees submit their time records by the announced date each week, so they are paid timely. If someone is late, I remind them to. It is part of my duty to collect all records before the payroll processing date, and I fulfill it proficiently.

10. What is FLSA?

FLSA stands for the Fair Labor Standards Act, and it contains constitutional guidelines regarding minimum wages, overtime, absentee record-keeping protocols, and the like.

11. Name some payroll processing software you are well versed in?

Being a tech-savvy person, I usually don’t find it difficult to operate any payroll processing software. I have worked with numerous payrolls processing software, including UltiPro, BambooHR, Zenifits, and APS Online.

12. What are the most common errors made by payroll specialists? How can these be avoided?

Data input errors, especially while filing tax details are the most common. I avoid these by paying extra attention and rechecking each form with a gap of a few minutes after initial filling.

13. What kinds of payroll reporting do you know about?

I am well-practiced in making and issuing new hire reports, promotion reports, leave/absentee reports, deduction reports, LWAP reports, wage type, and deduction reports.

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