Top 27 Supply Chain Interview Questions and Answers

Supply Chain Interview Questions and Answers
25 Oct

The pandemic has played a large part in bringing the term ‘supply chain’ into the public domain and consciousness. More and more people from all walks of life have been exposed to this phrase in the news and media recently due to the issues with the supply chain in delivering everyday essentials that have affected almost everyone somehow. There are more supply chain jobs than ever, hence a need for Supply Chain Interview Questions and Answers.

 

Are you ready for your next supply chain interview? Knowing what to expect can help you prepare and ensure you have answers to the most common questions. With this list of 27 essential questions and answers, you’ll be confident in your knowledge and prepared to ace the interview!

 

Having received many messages on LinkedIn asking for mentoring and coaching to help gain a competitive edge, what better way than to compile a list of the most frequently asked supply chain management interview questions?

 

Why should you read this blog?

 

My intention in this blog is to:

  • Provide knowledge-based questions and answers from the generic, yet essential, ‘Define your understanding of Supply Chain’ to…
  • ..the more common technical supply chain behavioural interview questions
  • provide a broad range of Q & A to help all, from the novice looking to come into this field to experts looking to further their positions.
  • Answers you can tailor to the specific company you are applying with.
  • Provide ‘Further reading’ links to further help broaden your knowledge base to the answers provided.

 

Now, without further ado, here you will find my top 27 questions with tailored answers:

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!

The Basic / Generic Supply Chain Interview Questions:

 

1. Define Supply Chain Management (or SCM)?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Mention keywords such as supply chain, process, conversion

 

Answer:

Supply Chain Management oversees and manages the complete production flow of the supply chain required to convert the raw materials acquired to the delivery of the requested final product.

 

Further reading:

Check this video out, as explained by a 10-year-old!

 

2. Why do we need Supply Chain Management? / What is the importance of Supply Chain Management?

 

What the hiring company is looking for (Keywords):

  • Streamline, efficiency, and delivery with profitability

 

Answer:

Supply chain management (SCM) is the active management of supply chain activities to maximize customer value and profitability by achieving efficient and effective operating procedures and achieve sustainable competitive advantage. It represents a conscious effort by the supply chain firms to develop and run supply chains in the most effective & efficient ways possible. Supply chain activities cover everything from product development, sourcing, production, and logistics, as well as the information systems needed to coordinate these activities.

 

3. Tell us some of the essential skills required to be successful in Supply chain Management

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • This question very much is your chance to show off the transferable skills that you will bring to the company.

 

Answer:

What do you understand of the components of the supply chain, i.e speak about Planning, Sourcing, producing, delivering and return. This should allow you to talk about:

  • A time when you have project managed at your previous employment – include showing understanding of financing and knowledge of logistics
  • Understand global and cultural issues, e-business and e-procurement systems
  • Problem-solving skills

 

4. How can you add value to a business with your experience and competencies?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Understanding of business requirements
  • Show why you would be competent in the job

Answer:

Do your research – what is the product of the company you are interviewing for.
Tie in by providing examples of when you may have been asked to create innovative strategies to sell slow-moving products; give specific examples.

What else have you contributed to that shows initiative taking and using your creativity and vision.

 

Further reading:

 

5. Why is forecasting important, and what methods do you know?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Strategic planning, budgeting, risk assessment, short & long-term demand forecasting

 

Answer:

Forecasting is to plan i.e. forecast and facilitate critical business processes such as financial budgeting, raw material and product planning etc. so as to produce long and short-term plans of next steps for the business to grow in the most cost-effective and time-efficient manner.

Further reading:

The following blogs & Guides will help you answer this question

The Ultimate Guide to Demand Forecasting

5 Quick and Remarkable Tips to Improve Forecasting Accuracy

Importance of Demand Forecasting in Supply Chain- 9 Authentic Reasons

24 Excel Tips & Tricks to Becoming a Supply Chain Nomad

 

Technical Supply Chain Management Interview Questions – Your Experience:

 

6. Provide an example in time where you contributed to innovate in either products or services supply chain to accelerate your company sales growth?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Again, this is your chance to show off your transferable skills in action from your last employment.

 

Example Answers:

Have you improved customer engagement by introducing better social media engagement? Can you show evidence of a correlation between this and an increase in sales?

You could argue this is not a supply chain job, but companies these days are eager to find individuals who are keen to contribute and collaborate with other functions.

Further reading:

A good reference point to answer this question you should refer to my blog 10 Supply Chain Improvement Tools You Should Know About

 

7. What are the different materials and capacity planning levels you have been involved with, and how? (Also recommend for supply chain planner interview questions)

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Show understanding of the meaning, classification and goal of capacity planning.

Definition / Answer:

Capacity planning aims to provide manufacturers with a guide on the quantity of raw materials and thus equipment, labour and investment required to meet and optimize the current and future (short/long-term) demands of their product or services with minimal waste.

Once defined, provide a bespoke example of what you have done that demonstrates this.

Further Reading:

As a manager, we have been suddenly confronted with an array of new systems to improve production efficiency. This depends on the materials requirements, planning, or optimized production technology. My article on Supply Chain Planning – 5 Levels of Time Horizon and Complexity Hierarchy could be a good reference point.

Furthermore, 5 Things to Consider When Doing Capacity Planning for S&OP is a must-watch video content.

 

8. How have you leveraged the conflicting Manufacturing/Planning/Financial objectives in your past experiences?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Conflict resolution ability

 Further Reading:

The answer to this question in a detailed explanation of MRP, MPS, SIOP and Supply Chain Planning – 5 Levels of Time Horizon and Complexity Hierarchy

I strongly recommend taking my course on How to Run an S&OP Process – Benefits, Process Steps & Overcome Barriers, as the S&OP process is a tried and tested process to align and collaborate with a different function to achieve singular business strategy and goals.

S&OP Course

 

9. What can you say about technology development projects, and are the results obtained compelling enough?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Understanding of technology development projects, innovation

Answer:

You can explain about Evolution of Logistics & Supply Chain Management from a function that was responsible for physical distribution and planning and now rapid growth of technology has led to advances in the supply chain and, in particular, the digital supply chain. As the century unfolds, we see a more joined-up supply chain with efficient, robust and technologically advanced systems integration.

Further Reading:

You should take this course in Supply Chain Digitalization. You will learn about the definition, success factors, barriers and digitalization impact.

Also, you can self-assess yourself using supply chain digitalization self-assessment.

 

10. Have you an experience with both downstream (customer/client) and upstream (supplier), and what did you do?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Understand upstream – all activities/everything coming in from the supplier, e.g. raw materials to the final product, information/communication flow between you and your supplier(s)
  • Understand the downstream – distribution of the final product to the consumer -consumer-focused.

Answer:

Supply chain management is managing the upstream and downstream communication/information flow between the business and its suppliers and clients.

The aim is to deliver the best consumer value at a low cost to the supply chain without reducing the product’s value or delivery.

 

11. How have you supported your company’s improvement in cost efficiency through long-term supplier relationships?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Example(s) with evidence, acknowledgement of achievement via appraisal

 Answer:

The following blog will help you answer this question

10 Must-Have Customer-Supplier Relationship Areas – How Many You Have?

6 STEPS TO INTENSIFY BUYER SUPPLIER RELATIONSHIP

27 Uplifting Cost Reduction Strategies You Should Try

 

Technical Supply Chain Analyst Questions – Your Knowledge

 

12. We have several ways to understand Material Requirements Planning (MRP). As a newcomer to the procurement & supply chain, what technical skills are needed? Can you describe an approach for setting safety stock levels and what should go into that?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

Answer:

I think this one is the most frequently asked supply chain interview question. Here is a brief explanation:

Problem-solving, accurate data analysing and inputting and excellent communication are the key traits along with inventory management experience as MRPs are planning and decision-making tools. But, for it to be effective and of use, the data you input must be accurate – what you put in is what you get out, therefore, attention to detail and understanding data is imperative.

 

13. Which training can you recommend to improve a manager’s professional skills and capabilities?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

 Answer:

Again, communication and trust is the key. There can be courses that can be recommended for self-improvement and confidence.

Building trust with an open-door policy will go a long way to maintaining strong communication with colleagues.

Further Reading – training courses/information:

The following blog will help you answer this question

Courses on SCMDOJO Academy

13 Operations Management Books Every Supply Chain Professional Should Read

20 Best Supply Chain Blogs and Websites You Should Follow

Business Acumen Skills – Top 18 You Should Master will help you answer this question. 

 

14. Is there a fixed number of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) that a person can manage, directly or indirectly? How would you manage the capacity to work under pressure, tight timelines, sense of urgency and priorities, and how do you deliver cross-functional projects and capacity to influence stakeholders?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  • Essentially, understand what makes an effective supply chain manager
  • Creating a process (Standard Operating procedure) that is easy to memorise with minimal confusion

Answer:

First thing would be to make clear your understanding of SKUs and the need to have a code system in place to log and track products most simply.

SKUs are scannable bar codes that allow easy tracking of a product – create on that avoids using letters and numbers that can be mistaken for one another i.e. 6 and 9 can be mistaken for each other depending on which way round you are looking at the barcode on the product – shows understanding of awareness of common mistakes as well as preventative measure to stop extra work and pressure. Group similar products into classes/groups.

Create an SOP that will consider as many of the variables and range of products that are in your inventory.

Further reference material:

Watch 8 Habits of a Highly Effective Supply Chain Manager could help you to formulate a response incorporating all the necessary skills to be successful.

This blog, Top 10 Steps for SOP for your Supply Chain Operations, will help you understand how to create SOPs in the supply chain.

 

15. Explain with example your knowledge about MS Excel and ERP

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

Importance of Excel skills, regardless of technological advancement, understanding and proficiency in MS Excel are imperative. And further knowledge of ERP systems (preferably the most used ones such as SAP, Oracle or Microsoft Dynamics.

Answer:

The Supply Chain Management environment requires artistic vision, brainstorming, and inventiveness. However, if you are a supply chain management professional, you should know the Excel Tips & Tricks mentioned in this blog.

The use of Excel Tips & Tricks forms a major part of this daily picture. A good portion of your job as a Supply Chain Professional goes into evaluating data and examining budgets and statistics. All these activities imply spending a considerable period of useful time on the Excel spreadsheet environment.

Further Reading:

Following blogs on ERP will help you significantly to answer any supply chain analyst interview questions.

16. What is your insight on determining approved vendors/ suppliers/ manufacturers and how they would measure quality.”

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

Appreciation of the importance of suppliers and vendors to a business

Answer:

The possible answer is it makes no difference what business you are in; suppliers and vendors play a key role in your company’s success. Having a formalized system in place to track, audit and evaluate supplier and vendor performance is essential to the smooth operation and profitability of your company.

Successful companies embrace their suppliers and vendors, viewing them as partners in helping to grow the business. Making sure that this is a mutually beneficial partnership will impact the price you are negotiating today and the quality of service you get in future. If a supplier/vendor is a key part or service to your operation invite that supplier or vendor to strategic meetings that involve the product they work with.

A common mistake companies make is to have a combative relationship with their suppliers and vendors. That is the opposite of what you want to do, which makes custom stainless-steel metal baskets, brackets and other parts. A lot of companies will have an adversarial relationship where they hire purchasing people who have on brass knuckles and try to beat up on vendors to get better prices or better terms. Instead of getting stuck on price, focus on the quality of service. A vendor can have the lowest price and the lowest quality of work, too. Your goal is understanding what value-add is a given vendor bringing to your company.

 

17. What are Supply Chain KPIs mandatory to monitor and Improve supply chain performance?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

They are looking for your knowledge and understanding of supply chain KPIs to understand the current state and how you will improve the process to deliver better supply chain performance

Answer:

You can start with quotes like,

“It’s not the organizations that are competing. It’s the supply chains that are competing.” – Wael Safwat, SCMAO

Supply Chain KPIs allow us to monitor the processes of the supply chain so that we can identify processes that need improvement. Especially in the following areas, KPIs must be used: order processing, inventory managementprocurement and supplier managementproduction/manufacturingwarehousing, transportation, cross-functional, etc.

Further Reading:

Following blogs & best practice tools will help you significantly to answer supply chain planner interview questions.

 

18. What are Logistics and Warehouse KPIs you have used to monitor logistics cost and performance?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

They are looking for your knowledge and understanding about Logistics KPIs and how well an organization logistics function is performing. They’re used to evaluate the effectiveness of operations and identify areas for improvement.

Answer:

You can start by explaining Logistics KPIs should be either  SMART or PACT.

PACT stands for Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous, and Trackable.

Then explain Logistics Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a group of numerical indicators that may assess how well a firm performs over time. They enable us to track the organization’s effectiveness in attaining its objectives in particular and are measured in 6 main attributes mentioned below:

 

  • Attribute 1 – Productivity related Logistics KPIs
  • Attribute 2 – Time-related Logistics KPIs
  • Attribute 3 – Cost related Logistics KPIs
  • Attribute 4 – Quality related Logistics KPIs
  • Attribute 5 – Safety related Logistics KPIs
  • Attribute 6 – Cultural related Logistics KPIs

 

19. What are the criteria for slow-moving and non-moving stock analysis being used in the previous company?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

Understanding inventory/stock awareness

 

Answer:

Excess and obsolete (E&O) inventory is most frequently discussed issue that affects distributors, manufacturers, and retailers. The inventory signifies massive investment for any business, and if it is not traded for some reason, it consumes warehouse space and increases liability.

I have written a complete guide explaining guidelines for adjustments, disposition, inventory valuation, and reserves. You can access this excess and obsolete inventory policy by clicking here.

You can also mention Inventory Optimization Tool, designed to help business to identify E&O Inventory, and classify and recommend segmentation changes., i.e. from MTS to MTO and vice versa.

Inventory Optimization Tool

Further reading:

Furthermore, you will benefit from The Ultimate Guide to Inventory Planning Methods. The objective of this guide is to describe the present use, application and characteristic of selecting various inventory planning methods, and to explain how the methods are applied by the supply chain professionals.

Lastly, stocktaking is an important process in managing slow-moving stock. Stocktaking: The Ultimate Guide, will be a great help to put structure to your stocktake/ physical inventory process.

 

20. How do you finance colleagues impact your decisions?

 

What the hiring company is looking for:

  •    Effective communication between departments
  •    Appreciation and understanding of finance department / colleagues with their impact on your role and responsibilities

 Answer:

The importance of the finance colleagues/teams cannot be stressed enough – they can track the company’s finances against the business plan and forecasting and potentially deliver budgets earlier to provide continual financial stability.

It is essential the finance team is high performing and that communication with them is optimum.

Further reading:

You could benefit by reading 5 Reason why Your Finance Manager is Amongst Your Key Supply Chain Stakeholders

 

21. What was the last Supply Chain book/article you read? What was it about and what did you learn from it?

 

Answer:

You can surely benefit from picking one from SCMDOJO Academy.

Or you can mentioned Top Books listed in these blogs recommending awesome books!

 

22 What are the Key differences between S&OP Vs IBP?

Answer:

You answer this question thoroughly you should read this blog S&OP Vs IBP – What is the Difference? Also, watch this video with Gabriel Werner, VP of Blue Yonder., to understand the concept.

 

23. Have you used Python for your Supply Chain analysis?

 

Answer:

Check out this video to give answers to the above questions, “Why do INVENTORY MODELLING & FORECASTING using Python“.

 

Some extra supply chain interview questions and answers for managers

 

24. Which type of distribution network have you worked on? What are the challenges? What improvements have done with your distributors?

 

Answer:

Here you can explain the distributorship field has been fast-growing in recent years, and intense competition has occurred with the rise of eCommerce. To be afloat in this competition, distributors must keep pace with new supply chain & logistics developments, improvements, and variations.

Ans distributors should be assessed in below three categories:

  1. What to Expect from a Distributor – The Basics Management Capabilities Criteria
  2. Logistics Capabilities
  3. Materials Management Capabilities

 

25. What can you say about Sourcing Methods? Types of Raw Materials you have sourced? Have you ever gone with imports or has he been managing local purchases?

 

Answer:

Here you can answer starting with the 7 Steps of Strategic Sourcing and what Make or Buy decisions you were involved. Approaches to the tendering process, Prequalification evaluation and Awarding criteria when sourcing from suppliers

If you don’t know the above, you can start with the course by Maryna on The Sourcing Process

 

26. How would you help control procurement spend”

Read this blog which will help you to answer this question.

 

27. What is S&OP and why follow S&OP sequence?”

 

Answer: 

To answer this question, you can mention the 5 Steps of the S&OP process mentioned in this comprehensive course.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Well, I hope these Supply Chain Interview Questions and answers have been useful, and you now feel that much more confident when preparing for your interview.

 

If you have more Supply Chain Interview Questions or additions to make, feel free to add them. I am open to learning and welcome new ideas too!!

 

Several resources you can add to your favourites that I have available on www.scmdojo.com include:

 

 

 

Moreover, please watch this awesome interview on The Supply Chain Show to understand what it takes to become Supply Chain TOP TALENT.

 

Lastly, if after reading this blog you are wondering you should search for your next supply chain move for bigger and better things, you should watch my vlog below or other videos!

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