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How To Hire The Right Payroll Manager

How To Hire The Right Payroll Manager

Source: IOMA's Payroll Manager's Report

  • Question payroll experience. Of course, payroll experience counts if the position is other than entry-level. But the payroll manager needs to make sure any experience listed is true payroll experience. Many job applicants list payroll as one of their job duties while, in actuality, all he or she did was help collect and input timecards. If the position you are hiring for is a timerecord entry position, then that experience may be sufficient. But if the position requires three years of full-time payroll experience, then more questions need to be asked to determine if the applicant is qualified.

One way of extracting this information from the applicant is to ask questions regarding the exact nature of the payroll tasks and how much time spent on the job was devoted exclusively to payroll. This is especially true of applicants who comefrom smaller companies and had combined job duties. Many times, an applicant believes that working once or twice a month in payroll is extensive payroll experience – mainly because he or she does not know the profession well enough. If this is the case, a payroll manager needs to pick several of the job duties for the new position and have the application relate exactly how he or she handled that duty.

To further clarify, walk an applicant step by step through each part of the functions that relate to the job duties you are trying to fill. The applicant should be using the payroll terms you would expect based on the purported experience. For example, if describing taxes, he or she should be using the proper terms for the taxes. Look for terms such as FICA taxes rather than Social Security or SUI instead of unemployment.

Ask for form names and numbers the applicant was required to complete. Never ask if an applicant has completed Form 941 . Instead, frame it as an open question in terms of the forms he or she has used. Again, you are searching for payroll terms rather than the quarterly reports. And don’t forget the states. Look for familiar terms.

If an applicant espouses experience in calculating gross pay, have him or herexplain the actual calculations. Give a figure for an employee in terms of the hours worked and have the applicant describe how to perform the calculation.

  • Question payroll knowledge. Unless an applicant has a current payroll designation, he or she likely has never had their payroll knowledge questioned or tested. Even working full time in a payroll department for five years does not necessarily equate to five years of payroll knowledge. Much of payroll is learned on the job. An applicant is only as knowledgeable about payroll as the person who trained him or her.

Prospective employers should ask all applicants to take a test to determine his or her payroll knowledge relevant to the open position in the department; that is not an unreasonable request. Base the test on the experience level for the position. This is a certification test. It should consist of 1 0 to 1 5 questions on general payroll knowledge and focus on the exact tasks the would perform.

Example: If the position never garnishments, then you would exclude garnishment questions. However, if the position is in the tax section of the department, questions on deposit requirements and quarterly tax returns are relevant.

The test can be easily created from reference guides or other sources. Taking the questions from independent sources can help in alleviating the bias of a test. Carefully constructed, multiple- choice questions can work well. The test can be written or given verbally during the interview. Your human resources department can even administer the test.

If the applicant has a current payroll designation, that feat demonstrates the applicant has acquired the basic knowledge to pass the test. With a failure rate of around 50 percent, this is an impressive achievement. But has the knowledge been maintained and increased?

If the applicant can prove that he or she has kept their knowledge current through recertification, by either retesti ng or attending the appropriate training and seminars, that goes a long way toward demonstrating their desire to maintain knowledge level.