Interview Advice for Payroll Professionals

Google “interview tips” right now and your search will bounce back with over 1,310,000,000 results. Too often, an overload of information online can be quite vague and often contradictory, which makes it even trickier to figure out what advice to trust.

In the next instalment of our ‘Barden Payroll Series’, Niamh Ennis, Associate in our Dublin office, shares her key tips and advice on how to improve your interview strategy and create a lasting impression as a payroll professional.

#1. Spend time getting familiar with your CV

Key to a successful interview is knowing your CV inside out and upside down. As Tara Higgins explains in our previous blog, Getting Your Payroll CV Just Right, your CV is your ticket to the interview process. With this in mind, take the time to make sure that you are very comfortable talking through your CV from start to finish with a particular emphasis on previous experience, your educational background and any professional achievements you have had.

When interviewing for a payroll position, the more detail the better as context is definitely king. Make sure you focus on the specific details like the size of the payroll team, the number of people on the payroll and the frequency of it, your specific involvement in the process, the deadlines you work to and any interaction you may have with external providers.

Other things that are becoming more and more important are being comfortable talking about the impact of real time reporting and PAYE modernisation, systems experience and any project work including systems upgrades and process improvements.

Don’t forget to mention if you have completed a course, or certificate, in payroll techniques and also the skills and knowledge you have developed from completing any further education.

#2. Prepare for situational questions

By talking through how you’ve handled previous situations, an interviewer will be able to test your skillset and will be able to get a clearer picture of future performance. So, prepare for competency-based questions where you will have to provide specific examples of things you have done in the past.

For example, some questions that could come up include:

  • How do you prioritise and manage your time to meet specific payroll-related deadlines?
  • What would you do if an employee called and is visibly upset as there has been a significant error on their payslip?
  • Due to circumstances which are outside your control, payroll will be late this period. How would you deliver this news?
  • How do you handle relationships with outsourced providers or third-party vendors?
  • Tell me about a time when you identified a problem and provided a solution or improved a process.

The best way to answer these questions is following a structured manner using the STAR method where you explain the Specific situation, Task, Action and Result.

#3. Use the job description to your advantage

If you think about it, the person that is interviewing you is more than likely the same person that sat down and invested their time in preparing the job description, so use this to your advantage. More often than not, interviewers will use the job description as their ‘go-to’ document. Make sure to take the time to go through this with a fine-tooth comb and take note of the key responsibilities and necessary skills and qualifications. For each of the relevant points outlined take the time to have examples prepared as to your relevant experience.

#4. Research the team and the business

Finally, research the business to see if they have appeared in the news recently or if they have had any significant changes or business growth, and think about what this could mean for you on the team. For example, if they have developed new divisions or are expanding their teams globally, think about what this will mean for the payroll function going forward and how that could impact your day to day work.

Also, get comfortable answering the questions “Why does this position interest you?” and “Why does this company interest you?”. These are key questions that shouldn’t be underestimated as generally the business is more likely to hire the person who demonstrates greater interest in the role and company.


By taking ownership of your interview technique as a payroll professional, you will be more likely to reap the rewards as you progress on your career journey so don’t be tempted to leave it to chance.



Need help achieving your Payroll ambitions?  

We’re laser focused on your future. Here to help you achieve your ambitions, our team of experts are ready with lots of CV, LinkedIn, interview and career advice along with cutting edge market insights. So get in touch with Payroll team today on


At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to and we will take it from there. Easy.