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Purchasing Manager Interview
Questions

39 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated August 30th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Business    

Question 1 of 39

Why did you choose to apply at our company?

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Answer Examples

1.

Why did you choose to apply at our company?

With any job interview, it is crucial to understand the organization you are applying to. We recommend visiting the company website to learn key information such as current events and hirings or promotions or anything that qualifies as a news. Watch the videos on their website, and take note of the information on their Careers page if one is available. Come prepared to list off 5-6 things you learned from the company's website such as number of clients they have, number of branches they have, when the company started, who started the company, mission statement, vision statement, core values, etc.
Also, go through the job post carefully and think of how this job can contribute to your career plan.

Rachelle's Answer

"Your strength in [insert area, market, product] makes you an interesting opportunity for a Purchasing Manager. I am looking for an opportunity to contribute to this area and further your position."

2.

Tell me what you know about us.

With any job interview, it is crucial to understand the organization you are applying to. We recommend visiting the company website to learn key information such as current events and hirings or promotions or anything that qualifies as a news. Watch the videos on their website, and take note of the information on their Careers page if one is available. Come prepared to list off 5-6 things you learned from the company's website such as number of clients they have, number of branches they have, when the company started, who started the company, mission statement, vision statement, core values, etc.

3.

Give an example of how you dealt with a supplier who did not deliver on the agreed upon date?

Purchasing Managers have to be able to navigate issues that are not 100% under their control. Key to this question is what business processes you put in place to prevent delivery delays, and how quickly those processes were implemented.

Rachelle's Answer

"We manage our suppliers closely and have agreements that they need to inform us prior to being late on deliveries. With that said, if a supplier fails to inform us of a slip in schedule or non-delivery we have corrective action plans set within each contract that have specific remedies."

4.

How will you go about determining this company's purchasing patterns?

This question explores your technical skills. Purchasing patterns offer opportunities for insights to savings of time, money, etc.

Rachelle's Answer

"Most modern ERP and Financial software have the ability to run reports to generate purchasing patterns, get KPIs as well as potentially extract data so that we can implement a more modern management dashboard."

5.

If hired, how long do you plan on working for us?

This question is about loyalty, but should be answered by indicating your desire to continue to add value to the organization. For answering this question you may need to go through the job description in advance and see how the job and the company's vision and mission align with your career goals. Try to figure out the right combination and prepare your answer accordingly.

Rachelle's Answer

"I plan to be a PM for the next three to five years and then move to either a more specialized commodity role or a higher leadership role in the purchasing area. Ultimately, which role and when will be determined on where I can add the most value to the organization.
As long as I am challenged, continue to grow in my career and am recognized for my contributions, I don't see a reason to put a time limit on my employment with the organization."

6.

How would your former employer describe you?

This question allows you to indicate that you are both technically competent as well as a good person. It also gives you an opportunity to project yourself as a good employee and a team player.
This question focuses more on your relationship with your superiors than on your points of improvement. The interviewer wants to know how you interact with your superiors and how you talk about them.
While answering this question try to avoid any sort of negative remarks about your superiors and also if there has been any remark about your performance from their side try to elaborate it here in a positive manner. Don't get carried away and start talking about their behaviour towards you etc.

Rachelle's Answer

"I believe that he will describe me as the employee who always came to work on time and did his work with full dedication. I have always been ready to go to that extra mile for the greater good of the company. I think thats what he will say about me but then of course you have to contact him to ask more."

7.

How do you ensure successful tracking of inventory?

This question will be asked by only the most savvy interviewer and indicates a company that is thinking strategically. Your ability to drive the dialog around data, analytics and business intelligence will raise your value as a candidate.
For answering this question you will have to put pieces together from your experience and also some homework before the interview. It should be an easy question for someone who has good amount of experience in this field.

Rachelle's Answer

"In the beginning of my career I was a huge fan of spreadsheets for keeping track of the inventory but with time I have adopted X which is a great inventory tracking software. I specially love the XYZ features that it provides for successful inventory tracking."

8.

What type of experience do you have in creating budgets?

This question clarifies your ability to handle scale and scope. If your experience in on smaller budgets, include how your models have the ability to scale.

Rachelle's Answer

"At X company I was responsible for creating and managing a budget of $. I have been doing it on a regular basis as a part of my job and I am pretty good at projections."

9.

Why are you the best purchasing manager for us?

The best way of answering this question is to be confident and cite your skills that make you the best candidate for this job. For this you may have to go through the job description in advance. Also, you should make sure that you don't sound over-confident.
You can check with your current team members and see what qualities they think you possess which make you good at your job. A little self-introspection might also be a good idea for preparing the best answer for this question.

Rachelle's Answer

"The fact that I am tech savvy as well as very well experienced in my job along with the skills that I have accumulated with time make me a deserving candidate for this job. Also, I have always been recognized for my exceptional efforts by my supervisors, thus I believe that I can be an asset for you."

10.

Do you work well on a team or prefer to work independently?

This is both a culture and leadership question. Be prepared to answer the question and show your ability to work both as a team member and independently. You can also do a little research about the way the company functions and modify your answer accordingly.

Rachelle's Answer

"As a Purchasing Manager, I am a part of an organization and a team. Even as a single contributor, purchasing is a strategic-level aspect of the overall business, and therefore I work with multiple areas of the organization on a daily basis."

11.

Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn't know from reading your resume.

This question can be your permission to be a little silly and share something unique about yourself. It's always important to make that great first impression or make an impact that the interviewer will remember you. Sharing a short story with the interviewer that had something to do with the job position would be a plus, but not necessary. Whatever you share, make it positive and not too personal. Don't share details about your night out with the girls last weekend.

Rachelle's Answer

"I am a shopaholic person in real and I keep on looking for best deals in real as well. My family and friends always prefer taking me with them for shopping for getting the best prices. I believe that the skills of negotiation and my eye for getting the best deals were developed from this addiction and this greatly helps me in my profession as well."

12.

What makes a great Purchasing Manager?

This question is an opportunity to show how you understand the 'whole picture' of the role. The term "great" is reserved for those that inspire others to also become great.
A great Purchasing Manager (PM) can be described by ten attributes:
1 They make decisions based on the best interests of their employer
2 They are collaborative - others in their organization are aware of their actions and participants in the process
3 Price is never the sole factor in making a purchasing decision
4 A great PM measures their performance and shows their value to organizational management
5 A great PM treats their suppliers fairly and does not take advantage of them
6 A great PM embraces new technology as a way to improve their work
7 A great PM negotiates knowing that the person across the table may some day be a partner or an employee of their company and shall be treated as such
8 A great PM knows that the economy is global and never makes assumptions that they know every supplier in the world
9 A great PM builds a program and enable team members so that they can carry on should a crisis arise, the PM leave, get sick or worse
10 A great PM will continue to improve their skills and ultimately deliver beyond expectations"

Rachelle's Answer

"great"

13.

Give an example when you have had a dispute with a supplier? How did you handle it?

This question is about conflict resolution, your work style, and your ability to handle tough times. Strong companies will focus on data-backed decisions, and strong people skills to negotiate decisions based on data. Be prepared to present what YOU specifically did to get to the agreement.

Rachelle's Answer

"Our supplier(s) of XYX part/product disputed with us on [insert price, quantity, quality, etc.,] and the dispute could have resulted in a material impact to our operation had we not resolved the issue quickly.
We had meetings to discuss the dispute, with the resulting agreement to [insert resolution]."

14.

What kind of pressures have you encountered at work?

You may get several questions around stressful situations and your ability and experience) in them. The key to your answer is to show that you don't lose control.

Rachelle's Answer

"As a Purchasing Manager, I am constantly under presser to deliver value. That can be in decreasing spend, improving quality, delivery, insight into the function, etc. As the industry is global, pressure and new challenges can come from anywhere and at any time. Part of being a great PM is setting up systems that can accommodate these pressures."

15.

What do you enjoy about this industry?

This question intends to extract out information about how much you like your job and if you really enjoy what you do. To answer this question you might need to do a little homework about what this target job has on offer for you and try to direct your answer in such a way that this job appears to be a perfect match for what you enjoy about this industry.

Rachelle's Answer

"Ever since I was a child I enjoyed shopping and this love for buying things has only increased with age. The fact that I get to do it professionally now is simply an add on to what I have always loved. In addition to the negotiations with the sellers that I have to do in order to strike a profitable deal what I also love is the traveling that is involved."

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39 Purchasing Manager Interview Questions
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Interview Questions

  1. Why did you choose to apply at our company?
  2. Tell me what you know about us.
  3. Give an example of how you dealt with a supplier who did not deliver on the agreed upon date?
  4. How will you go about determining this company's purchasing patterns?
  5. If hired, how long do you plan on working for us?
  6. How would your former employer describe you?
  7. How do you ensure successful tracking of inventory?
  8. What type of experience do you have in creating budgets?
  9. Why are you the best purchasing manager for us?
  10. Do you work well on a team or prefer to work independently?
  11. Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn't know from reading your resume.
  12. What makes a great Purchasing Manager?
  13. Give an example when you have had a dispute with a supplier? How did you handle it?
  14. What kind of pressures have you encountered at work?
  15. What do you enjoy about this industry?
  16. What tools do you use to keep track of progress on your projects?
  17. What are your career goals?
  18. How do you prioritize your work?
  19. If we buy a customized product from a single source, how will you know if the price is fair?
  20. Are you a CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager)?
  21. Have you completed your Bachelor's Degree in Supply Management or Operations Management? If not, are you interested in obtaining your degree?
  22. When will your current project be completed, or when will be the next logical time to be able to leave on good terms with your team?
  23. When have you had to change suppliers due to poor quality of their product?
  24. What kind of work environment do you thrive in?
  25. What is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?
  26. What will bring purchasing to the C-Level dialog?
  27. Do you have experience visiting a suppliers plant before purchasing? What are the things you are looking for when considering their products?
  28. Are you open and available to travel for work?
  29. What steps do you take to determine whether or not a price the suppler is offering is reasonable?
  30. When have you negotiated a much lower price with a supplier?
  31. Do you manage your time well?
  32. If hired, how do you intend on making a difference with our company?
  33. What aspect of supervision do you find most difficult?
  34. Do you have managing experience?
  35. What techniques do you use in motivating employees?
  36. Tell us about your experience in negotiations.
  37. What are your long term goals as a purchasing manager?
  38. If you could change one aspect of the purchasing process, what would you change?
  39. How do you handle stressful situations?
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