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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.
Question 1 of 39
What tools do you use to keep track of progress on your projects?
View Answer
How to Answer
You may get several questions around time management and prioritization. The key to answering these questions is showing that you have daily time and prioritization period, that you use it, and that it is accommodating to changes. A good answer to this question might also project you as someone who stays in command of his job.
39 Purchasing Manager Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
  1. What tools do you use to keep track of progress on your projects?
  2. What type of experience do you have in creating budgets?
  3. What are your career goals?
  4. How would your former employer describe you?
  5. How do you prioritize your work?
  6. If we buy a customized product from a single source, how will you know if the price is fair?
  7. Give an example when you have had a dispute with a supplier? How did you handle it?
  8. Are you a CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager)?
  9. Why are you the best purchasing manager for us?
  10. If hired, how long do you plan on working for us?
  11. Have you completed your Bachelor's Degree in Supply Management or Operations Management? If not, are you interested in obtaining your degree?
  12. How do you ensure successful tracking of inventory?
  13. 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?
  14. When have you had to change suppliers due to poor quality of their product?
  15. How will you go about determining this company's purchasing patterns?
  16. What kind of pressures have you encountered at work?
  17. Do you work well on a team or prefer to work independently?
  18. What kind of work environment do you thrive in?
  19. What do you enjoy about this industry?
  20. What is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?
  21. What will bring purchasing to the C-Level dialog?
  22. Tell me something about yourself that I wouldn't know from reading your resume.
  23. Give an example of how you dealt with a supplier who did not deliver on the agreed upon date?
  24. Do you have experience visiting a suppliers plant before purchasing? What are the things you are looking for when considering their products?
  25. Are you open and available to travel for work?
  26. What steps do you take to determine whether or not a price the suppler is offering is reasonable?
  27. When have you negotiated a much lower price with a supplier?
  28. What makes a great Purchasing Manager?
  29. Tell me what you know about us.
  30. Why did you choose to apply at our company?
  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?
15 Purchasing Manager Answer Examples
1.
What tools do you use to keep track of progress on your projects?
You may get several questions around time management and prioritization. The key to answering these questions is showing that you have daily time and prioritization period, that you use it, and that it is accommodating to changes. A good answer to this question might also project you as someone who stays in command of his job.

Rachelle's Answer
"I am a power user of [insert project mgmt SW here]. I've also used [insert names of SW] on Mac/PC in the past and could be up to speed quickly if you use them"
Anonymous Answer
"I have used MS Project and Smartsheets in my previous roles at work and B-school during my MBA to keep track of multiple projects and assignments and also to complete a group project on Project Management. If you use this software, I would be able to get up to speed quickly."
Rachelle's Answer
Try adding in how you plan to quickly learn their software, if you are not familiar with the systems they use. I have reworded this answer a bit for you.
"I am experienced with MS Project and Smartsheets, having used them in my previous roles and while obtaining my MBA. If you use either of these systems, I will be able to get up to speed quickly. If you have other systems, I am happy to learn them in a short amount of time."
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2.
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."
3.
What are your career goals?
This question is asked to determine if your career goals align with the career path that the company offers. It's important to think about how the position you are interviewing for will fit into your long term goals even as you apply for jobs

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."
Anonymous Answer
"I aim to be a Supply chain manager for the next couple of years, having gained extensive experience in Procurement, Strategic Sourcing, Inventory Management, Operations, and Logistics. After that, either I'll take up a leadership position in Supply Chain or Procurement depending on where my skills can add the most value to the organization."
Rachelle's Answer
It sounds like you have an excellent career plan laid out for yourself! If possible, try personalizing your answer to the company with which you are interviewing. This will help the interviewer to picture you growing with their organization. I have provided an example, below.
"In this role with , I plan to utilize my extensive experience in procurement, strategic sourcing, inventory management, operations, and logistics while showing my value as a supply chain manager. My long term goal is to earn my way into a leadership position at within the Supply Chain or Procurement departments; wherever you see fit."
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4.
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."
5.
How do you prioritize your work?
The key to answering this questions is showing that you have daily time and prioritization period, that you use it, and that it is accommodating to changes.

Rachelle's Answer
"My priorities are the organization's priorities and can change based on this fact. I have to manage short-, mid- and long-term initiatives and prioritize my work according to them. Prioritizing is part of my daily planning process and I adjust as needed to serve the organization."
6.
If we buy a customized product from a single source, how will you know if the price is fair?
This is a "core knowledge" question as purchasing from a single source has unique risks that need to be minimized. Answering this question is fairly easy if you have good amount of experience in this industry.
You can explain what method you use for determining if the price is fair or not and why you trust your method.

Rachelle's Answer
"core knowledge"
7.
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]."
8.
Are you a CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager)?
Certifications can be important for some roles. If the job description indicates one is required this will be an easy question.

Rachelle's Answer
"Yes/No, if yes provide your certification number, date, etc."
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.
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."
11.
Have you completed your Bachelor's Degree in Supply Management or Operations Management? If not, are you interested in obtaining your degree?
This question will give the information about your educational background as well as your future plans pertaining to your education. If you have completed your degree then it should be an easy question to answer but in case you haven't completed it and still doing it then you can tell that to the interviewer. You can add that you try to update your knowledge by reading, subscribing to newsletters if any, etc. But if neither of the two is the case, you can simply tell the interviewer that you plan on doing it in the future stating a time line for that.
Companies love individuals who try to keep themselves updated about the changes in their area of work.

Rachelle's Answer
"I have been planning to get a certification in purchasing management since the last year. I have a Masters degree in Supply Chain Management, but I still want to get the certification done as it might help me in some new tricks."
12.
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."
13.
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?
This question demands for an honest answer, but at the same time you also need to be aware of the company's requirements and if there is an urgent need then you need to be prepared for that as well. If you are unable to leave your current job for certain time period, you should say so right here. You can figure out some way together to meet their requirements if needed. Similarly, if you have a project bonus that is paid out on a certain date, let the interviewer know.

Rachelle's Answer
"My current projects are all stable and green. I can transition them to another team member (or my boss) and be able to start with a two-week notice."
14.
When have you had to change suppliers due to poor quality of their product?
This is a bit of a minefield question. Suppliers should not be allowed to reach this point, but you will also need to show your ability to recover should a supplier drop their quality.

Rachelle's Answer
"We identified a critical quality issue with a supplier of [part/product]. After several rounds of exchanges and meetings to attempt to solve the problem, we had to change suppliers as they were unable to meet the agreed upon quality standards"
15.
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."
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