The information posted on PayrollTalk is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, payroll, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.

Challenge question for payroll interview

Can someone advise me some answer when I ask what challenge payroll specialist have? I am interview for payroll position and need some idea for this kind of question.


  • After a long day of processing 6 companies payrolls, sometimes I ask what challenges don't I have *Ü* After 7 plus years of 5-7 payrolls biweekly, I am on my 1092nd payroll processing, not including supplementals or corrections *Ü*

    I would say my biggest challenge is to have the managers/employees communicate clean data and publish any anomalies in payroll to me when they send in the data, rather than after the cycle is finished. Once that "send" button is hit, it is much harder to correct. Unfortunately they rely way too much on me to find their mistakes. I could let them make them, but then I would be the one who has to calculate the changes and fix them. And they know it!

    My other biggest challenge is when managers want to pay employees in a way that our software system doesn't support or is harder to deal with. Our current timeclocks don't auto-translate data to the system. So the more original the manager gets, the harder it is for me to program and process.
  • Yeah, HR can be an issue. I am lucky in the fact that I do that side too. I started out in HR and added in payroll later on. So I tend to look at issues with both sets of glasses. But HR can be as bad as managers on what they want and how they want it done!
  • Most difficult part of Payroll for me is that HR is the group writes and develops policy without talking to Payroll.

    Then HR asks Payroll to implement the policy in the system so everything calculates and is taxed properly.

    When Payroll asks HR what the policy means there is general confusion as to what everyone agreed to, which leads to futher confusion and delays.

    If you have a challenge question, give them IRS Publication 15b and ask them to calculate a pay check. As an example use some Cafe 125 deductions and 401(k). This will test if they can properly calcualte tax and taxable wages. This would be a good question to start with.