Since writing a blog on Supply Chain Management interview questions, I received lots of requests from people seeking to interview Buyer or Commodity Managers within the Procurement Function. Typically, such jobs are more suited for experienced managers in the field, but as newcomers or fresh buyers, these procurement interview questions are essential to start out on the right foot. If you are preparing for the next interview in the procurement function, knowing the answers of some of these questions will help you prepare better. And if you are looking for top tips how to find your next career move, you can benefit from reading 10 Ways on How to Successfully Find Supply Chain Jobs
I hope, almost everyone would agree, that having a list of wide-ranging Procurement Manager interview questions would greatly aid in preparing better. Of the extensive number and types of questions that can be asked, I will cover 21 Questions and Answers that I regard to be the most commonly asked.
‘The 21 procurement questions and Answers Guide’ can aid both supply chain graduates as well as experienced procurement professionals. In addition to these, you are guaranteed to be asked a lot of generic job interview questions too – so check out this Blog for some tips on how to tackle these. Moreover, please watch this awesome interview of The Supply Chain Show to understand what it takes to become Supply Chain TOP TALENT. So, wonder no more, check out these interview guides and practice below Procurement Interview questions!
Moreover, as a hiring manager, you can use the list below of procurement interview questions and answers if you are planning to recruit buyers and/or commodity managers in the procurement function.
Why should I read this blog? Well, my advice to anyone looking to get the best out of every procurement interview is to read this blog and understand the concepts behind each question and the proper application into the answers offers an insight into the following:
- Predictable Procurement Interview Questions.
- Knowledge-based Procurement Questions and Answers Guide
- Helpful tips for avoiding common mistakes.
- Personalized Procurement Interview Questions for Professionals, Graduates, as well as other Experienced Managers.
You might also want to refer your logistics colleagues and friends 27 Essential Logistics Interview Questions and Answers, I am sure they will find it very useful. And don’t miss out on reading 29 Best Supply Chain Resources & Tools that Help You Learn & Grow.
You can also join our first online Instructor-Led Training – Introduction to Procurement course on 18th Sep by clicking the below button.
So, let’s get started with this blog for some tips on how to successfully tackle them. And if you are looking for Top Tips on How to Prepare for your interview, you must watch Top Tips from Top Supply Chain Recruiter below!
Procurement Interview Questions and Answers Guide:
Q1: As an in procurement, what would you say is the difference between strategic sourcing and Purchase.
For a detailed answer please read my frequently read and quoted blog STRATEGIC SOURCING VS. PURCHASING – 7 KEY DIFFERENCES
The short answer of this question is as follows:
One of the key difference of Strategic Sourcing in contrast to conventional purchasing is that it extends beyond purchasing and focuses on converging and sustaining the buyer-supplier-relationships (Skjøtt-Larsen & Schary, 2001). The objective is to leverage them, exploit their capabilities, integrate and complement the core competencies of the various partners in the supply chain (interdependence) so as to provide value and cost efficiencies and uniqueness for the customer.
And you read the comparison between PURCHASING VS PROCUREMENT – KEY DIFFERENCES, to substantiate the above answer.
Also read 7 Step Strategic Sourcing Process- Proven & Practiced
If you want to learn more about Sourcing Process, you must this is awesome course by Maryna on Sourcing Process.
Q2: How would you define incoterm using some leading examples?
Amongst the Procurement Interview Questions, this is one question every professional needs to nail. You can learn more by reading LIFETIME BASICS OF FOREIGN TRADE MANAGEMENT – 3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
This blog has everything you need to know about trade management.
Q3: What approach and definition do you apply to purchasing?
Understanding the concept of buying and the processes involved while buying any product or service is essential. With this Procurement Interview Questions, you should be able to know the difference between procurement and purchasing with the provided response. Part of your response should include how suppliers are compared and awarded, specifications, which internal customers are involved, etc. With this, you also get to know if internal stakeholder’s negotiations are allowed.
The course from our SCMDOJO expert Maryna on “Introduction to Procurement“, wll be great starting point.
Q4: Which procurement problem are you currently facing and what solution have you applied?
There is a variety of problems currently facing the procurement division. The mark of excellence here is how well thought out the response is. You can maintain going deeper and more profound until you get satisfied. In this question, the interviewer wants to know how broad your experience is in solving procurement problems. Make sure you think hard and find the best problem you (not your team members) have solved, what was the scenario, what approach you have taken and what was the outcome. You can learn more here.
Q5: What was your best/favorite negotiation; and why was it your best?
The responses you get will tell you more about the candidate’s definition of value. With this Procurement Interview Question, you get a better view of his/her interpretation of values, style and interpersonal skills. There are a host of information available on CIPS regarding negotiation or you can find this forbes article useful to get you thinking outside the box!
Q6: Have you managed Indirect Procurement spend and how it is different from Direct Procurement
Knowing that procurement is a complex business function that varies from an organization to another, and is unknowingly linked to many aspects of the company’s organizational structure, revenue, cost, and production are the direct results of purchasing activities. In my blog PURCHASING VS PROCUREMENT – KEY DIFFERENCES I have explained the evolution of purchasing to procurement and their respective definition. Which will set the context of the topic here.
In recent years, the strategic importance of purchasing has increased and has often been the source of competitive advantage (Sitar, 2012). Without the purchase and procurement of goods, materials, and/or services, there will be hardly any manufacturing business. As a general industry practice, Procurement is segregated into Indirect Procurement and Direct Procurement. However, in my opinion, Indirect procurement is a diverse and crucial component of procurement that has been largely ignored when it comes to procurement content due to representing only a small portion of manufacturing firms’ expenditures in most cases.
To Understand more, read full blog What is Indirect Procurement? – All You Need To Know
Q7: What is supplier performance measurement? And how you have improved supplier performance.
According to Sherry R. Gordon, the author of “Supplier Evaluation and Performance Excellence”, Supplier Performance Management could be defined as:
“The process of evaluating, measuring, and monitoring supplier performance and suppliers’ business processes and practices for the purposes of reducing costs, mitigating risk, and driving continuous improvement.”
Managing supplier performance can help companies focus their resources on value-added activities, instead of addressing the problems caused by supplier performance (defects, rush, excessive inventory, delayed delivery to customers, shutdowns, reduced market competitiveness, etc.) reaction.
Benefits of Performance Management using KPIs for Procurement?
- Focus on key results areas (critical success factors) such as cost reduction and quality improvement.
- Reduced conflict arising from causes such as goal confusion and unclear expectations.
- Clearly defined shared goals, facilitating cross-functional and cross-organizational teamwork and relationships.
- The ability directly to compare year on year performance, to identify improvement or deterioration trends.
- Increased and improved communication on performance issues.
- Motivation to achieve of better the specified performance level.
- Support for collaborative buyer-supplier relations, by enabling integrated or two-way performance measurement.
Q8: How would you manage your supplier development strategy and activities. if you have only one in a country?
I have written the whole host of articles on Supplier Development, which you can use to answer this question:
Are You More Like a Reactive or Strategic Supplier Development Professional?
Supplier Development Programme in Lean Six Sigma and SME Context
20 Well Researched & Proven Supplier Development Activities You can Apply.
Brief Guide to Supplier Quality & Supplier Development
5 Supplier Development Initiatives to Create Improvement Projects
What is Direct and Indirect Supplier Development Process?
What is Supplier Development? A Technical Definition
Q9: What are your targets and goals if you are hired?
In this procurement interview question, the hiring manager wants to learn about your ambition as a procurement professional or life in general. For me, this is one of the trickier questions and there is no easy answer. However, I have created this vlog which helps steer your thinking process in the right direction!
Q10: What is your procurement risk management strategy against unreliable suppliers?
In this Procurement Interview Question, we want to know how much you estimate your understanding of what supply chain risk management is for you. There are plenty of useful research and materials available. I have written couple of blogs on this which you might find useful.
10 Supply Chain Risks You Need to be Mindful of to Avoid Disruption
7 Supply Chain Risk Villains You Might Need to Fight Against [Infographic]
Q11: Are there any challenges with past trends and what action plans do you offer?
This question covers the kind of commodities the procurement expert prefers and what level of understanding he possesses on past trends which can be applied to the here and now. A good expert always has a strategy or action plan in place to minimize risk on cost and zero shortage concerning the plan.
You should be able to pick your list from 17 Most Common Procurement Problems and Their Solution.
Q12: What are your biggest Procure to Pay challenges?
Procure to Pay is an important aspect of the procurement function. The challenge for each procurement professional is to set-up the most streamline process. Hopefully, you will find this article useful to gather your thoughts and answer these type of questions.
Q13: Ask them about their Market intelligence and strategy?
This Procurement Interview Question aims to gauge the depth and breadth of information they have coming in. A Buyer and Or Commodity Manager is only as right as the information they use to lead financial decisions they are tasked to make. If they just react to demand from a system database and supplier feedback, you are interviewing a Procurement coordinator not a Buyer. This article briefly talks about Procurement Strategy Development which could be a good start to gather your thoughts.
Q14: How do you manage your relationship with your supplier
If you are a seasoned procurement professional it is very likely that you would know the answer of this question and may talk for hours, if there is no time limit! However, don’t take this question lightly. Here, the interviewer is trying to understand your ethos and technical knowledge of how you would manager supplier relationships. I have written an article on 10 Must Have Customer Supplier Relationship Areas – How Many You Have? This would give a theoretical framework you need to answer this question.
Another useful article is Supplier Partnership Vs Traditional View of Supplier Management
You must prepare for this, as this is amongst most frequently asked Procurement Interview Questions.
Q15: Give me an example where you have to lead the cost reduction programme.
Since I am a supply chain guy and my focus is primarily on KPI’s like Inventory, On-Time Delivery, lead time reduction and so on and so forth, which, at times, I find it contradictory to the procurement guys main aim of cost reduction.
For example, I have gone into battle with some commodity managers who have agreed a very high batch size of machined parts to get the best price, which throws my Just in Time, lean means supply chain design out of the window! So, we need to find the right balance between cost reduction and best supply chain design to meet customer service targets and operational goals. So, to help my procurement friends, I have written a blog on 27 Uplifting Cost Reduction Strategies You Should Try , which I am sure they will find useful.
Q16: What are the key procurement KPIs and how you have used them to drive improvements.
Procurement KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) mean various things to different businesses, almost to the purpose that the majority of procurement leaders aren’t sure what counts as a KPI and what doesn’t.
Procurement KPIs and metrics are considered effective since it is helpful to measure the performance of the procurement team. Procurement KPIs are essential to measuring the performance of the procurement process.
Read Top 16 Procurement KPIs – The Ultimate Guide to prepare for comprehensive answer.
Q17: What do you think is the difference between Strategic Sourcing and Purchasing?
The best of this very interesting question is in my very frequently read blog “STRATEGIC SOURCING VS. PURCHASING – 7 KEY DIFFERvENCES”
Q18: What have been the most significant achievements in your procurement career?
The processes or steps they go through is fundamental, and how they measure their success on the job. A clear response to this useful statement ensures you are dealing with an expert in the commodity/category.
If you are not expert in commodity/category strategy, take this course from SCMDOJO Maryna Introduction to Category Management
Q19: What do you like the most and the least about procurement?
Enjoying the job is one aspect not everyone finds easy. A real expert always loves the job yet would still have their likes and dislikes about procurement. Also, do not forget to ask questions which could ensure their integrity of dealings most importantly. You can learn more here.
Q20: How would you describe regular day-to-day activities?
I would prefer choosing an activity or item and plan for a negotiation strategy, then negotiate with it. In my opinion, a practical approach should be evaluated by using an existing practical issue from the Procurement domain. This will quickly show you their attitude and mindset. You can learn more here
Q21: How JIT Purchasing is different from Traditional Purchasing.
This is the question I am always asking when hiring buyers. And in most cases, people struggle to explain or they start waffling! There is a difference and you can learn the difference by reading JIT Purchasing – 3 Reasons why it is Different from Conventional Purchasing
Q22: What are the logic & Principle of goods and services procurement?
There are logic & Principle for goods and services procurement applied by most firms, and you would want to know how they work to arrive at the best deals.
As a candidate, you can answer this question by using an example of sustainable procurement practices. For example, you can read further on 10 primary principles of sustainable procurement.
Q23: Can you describe an experience, buying or selling, you successfully coordinated its activities?
Describing a successful experience in which he/she was a significant partaker in coordinating the activities speaks volume of his/her style and personal touch. Also, this Procurement Interview Question, would mainly tell if he/she has the required experience level you are looking for in a procurement professional.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the 21 Procurement Interview Questions and Answers Guide and have learned something new about it. My desire is for everyone in procurement to get the best deals and have a better view of what is the likely expectations from a professional. If you have more Procurement recruiter Questions or additions to make, feel free to add them. We are open to learning, and hearing about new ideas too!!
If you are looking for Top Tips on how to find your next opportunity in procurement watch my vlog below on this topic.
Lastly, I would strongly recommend watching below embedded YouTube videos to prepare yourself very well in your next Logistics Questions!