Portrait of beautiful young woman sitting in front of manager and senior leader during a job interview. Senior business people in conversation with a young business woman.  Recruiter checking the candidate during job interview.

How to prepare for a payroll interview

So you’ve updated your CV, tailored your cover letter for your prospective employee and have successfully landed an interview, what next? Preparation, preparation, preparation.

To land that payroll position you need to have done your homework and prepare to wow your interviewers with your knowledge of both the role, the company and yourself.

Know the company

Make sure before you walk through the office doors you know what the organisation is all about. A key mistake people make is leading a potential employer to believe that you hold no interest in the company due to your lack of research into its background. Be sure to look through the organisations’ website, take a look at any recent news they’ve released and understand what the company’s main functions are all about.

Be aware of the Job Description

When going into the interview its essential to bear in mind what the main focus of this role is. If the role focuses on soft skills such as people management and confidentiality or rather focuses on more technical aspects such as your experience using SAGE or your competency in processing p60’s.

Question Preparation

Now that you know the company inside out and you’re fully aware of what the employer is looking for, it’s time to start thinking about the questions you may be asked so that you don’t find yourself stuck for words on the day. Here are some interview questions you might be faced with.

General Interview Questions

In a hope to get to know you better and get the conversation started Interviewers may ask you some general questions that test your capability for a payroll position.

Tell me about yourself?

What are your greatest strengths / weaknesses?

Why is it you would like this position?

What are your future goals?

Why are you leaving your current job?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Why should we hire you?

What do you know about our business?

Describe a difficult work situation you have overcome.

What is an achievement you are proud of?

Can you give some examples of using good communication?

How would you deal with a situation in which you have made a mistake?

How do you handle deadlines?

Which of your skills most closely match/ transfer to this role?


Payroll Specific Questions

In order to get a grip on your competency for the role you will be asked questions more specific to the payroll position.

Junior Payroll Positions

Why did you choose to go into Payroll?

How do you deal with a high workload?

How would you deal with an upset peer?

Are you up to date with the legislation?

Are you able to process manually? Do you understand tax tables?

What are the minimum wage standards in each age group?

What are the payroll source documents you need?

What are the deductions that should be made from a gross payment before sending a final sum to the employee?

How would you handle an upset employee with inaccurate pay?

Name some differences between a contractor and an employee.


Management Payroll Positions

How would you coach a member of staff to handle an upset employee with inaccurate pay?

How would you handle an employee who does not hand in time records before the deadline?

What types of payroll reporting are you aware of?

Payroll management differs from company to company – how will you familiarize yourself with new ways of working?

What is your management style?

Due to circumstances out of your hands, pay will be delivered late – how do you deal with delivering this news to employees?

How would you deal with an upset member of staff?

How would an employee describe you?


Both Junior and Management Payroll Positions

What is the size of the payroll you are used to dealing with? Are they temporary and/or permanent workers?

What year-end processes have you carried out at year-end?

Talk us through the payroll systems you have used and what input is involved?

What are the common mistakes made during the payroll process?

How can you avoid payroll errors?

What comes under non-taxable wages?

What benefits are taxable?

What stage are you up to on excel? What functions can you competently carry out?

What is the FLSA?

How do you ensure confidentiality in your work?

What are some examples of voluntary/involuntary deductions?


These are some of the questions that may pop up in your interview so make sure you have an answer prepared beforehand so that you appear knowledgeable even if nerves get the best of you. Some companies may also include a maths or knowledge tests of different elements in the payroll position, so be prepared to be asked to complete these on the day.

Feeling ready to take on an interview for your dream payroll job? Get in touch today and we’ll help you find your next role.