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Purchasing Manager Interview Questions

To help you prepare for your Purchasing Manager interview, here are 39 interview questions and answer examples.

Purchasing Manager was written by and updated on March 4th, 2017. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 39

If we buy a customized product from a single source, how will you know if the price is fair?

How to Answer

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.



Written by Rachelle Enns

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39 Purchasing Manager Interview Questions & Answers

  • 1. If we buy a customized product from a single source, how will you know if the price is fair?

      How to Answer

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "core knowledge"

      Written by Rachelle Enns

  • 2. Do you manage your time well?

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "I am a planner and time manager. I set aside time early in the day to plan deliverables, prioritize events, projects and calls/emails I need to get done. I also set some time later in the day to review the day, and pre-plan for the next day."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

  • 3. How would your former employer describe you?

      How to Answer

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

      1st Answer Example

      "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."

      Written by Rachelle Enns

  • 4. What is the most difficult situation you have had to face and how did you tackle it?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is interested in knowing how do you manage difficult situations, do you keep your head on your shoulders when difficulties arise or do you lose patience.



      All the companies want to hire a person who is a problem solver and knows his way out of situations. Anyone who is willing to go that extra mile might be the choice of the hiring manager. An purchasing manager's job is to always come up with better solutions to the company's supply chain requirements and if you are someone who loves challenges then this just might be the job for you.



      This can be answered with a difficult project encountered while in school or work. Difficult situations can be related to team dynamics, unrealistic expectations, incomplete directions, etc.



      Describe the project, the difficulty and how/why it was difficult. Then describe how you dealt with it. Example might be taking a project team member aside and walking through the project elements, how they need to work on specific areas. If it was with a difficult teacher/boss, then describe how you communicated the issue(s) you were encountering, what you proposed to solve the issues, and ultimately the resolution.



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  • 5. What do you enjoy about this industry?

      How to Answer

      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.



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  • 6. What kind of work environment do you thrive in?

      How to Answer

      This is as much a culture question - match your answer to the culture of the organization.



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

      How to Answer

      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.



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  • 8. What kind of pressures have you encountered at work?

      How to Answer

      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.



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  • 9. How do you prioritize your work?

      How to Answer

      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.



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

      How to Answer

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



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  • 11. How do you handle stressful situations?

      How to Answer

      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. You can also add an example of a situation where you were encountered by some such situation and you emerged out as a winner with your patience and wisdom.



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  • 12. What tools do you use to keep track of progress on your projects?

      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.



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  • 13. What type of experience do you have in creating budgets?

      How to Answer

      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.



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

      How to Answer

      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.



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  • 15. Why are you the best purchasing manager for us?

      How to Answer

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 16. Are you a CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager)?

      How to Answer

      Certifications can be important for some roles. If the job description indicates one is required this will be an easy question.



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  • 17. Have you completed your Bachelor's Degree in Supply Management or Operations Management? If not, are you interested in obtaining your degree?

      How to Answer

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 18. How do you ensure successful tracking of inventory?

      How to Answer

      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.



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  • 19. 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?

      How to Answer

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 20. What will bring purchasing to the C-Level dialog?

      How to Answer

      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 candidate value.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 21. Why did you choose to apply at our company?

      How to Answer

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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

      How to Answer

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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

      How to Answer

      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.



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  • 24. Do you have experience visiting a suppliers plant before purchasing? What are the things you are looking for when considering their products?

      How to Answer

      This questions is exploring the depth and width of your experience with vendors. Senior purchasing executives will visit key suppliers regularly and always visit new suppliers for key products and services. For answering this question, use your experience and mention the process you follow while deciding upon a new supplier contract.



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  • 25. Are you open and available to travel for work?

      How to Answer

      Travel may be a key aspect of this role and should be indicated on the original job description. You need to be honest with this one and also mention any issues if you have some sort of a health problem or any other commitment.



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  • 26. What steps do you take to determine whether or not a price the suppler is offering is reasonable?

      How to Answer

      This question deals with your process of deciding whether a supplier is giving you the products at the right price or not. As a purchasing manager you need to do proper research about the pricing of the products and also about the supplier's history.

      To answer this question try to define your process of selecting a supplier into well defined steps so that its easy for the hiring manager to understand. Also mention any exceptions that you may consider to the process that you have mentioned.



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  • 27. When have you negotiated a much lower price with a supplier?

      How to Answer

      Purchasing is all about negotiating favorable pricing and identifying instances where significant savings can be found. The intention behind asking this question is to know a little more about your purchasing experience and also about your negotiation skills.

      For answering this question tell the interviewer about some incident where you were able to get some big discounts for the company and be ready to support it with numbers too.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 28. What makes a great Purchasing Manager?

      How to Answer

      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"

      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 29. Tell me what you know about us.

      How to Answer

      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.

      Written by Rachelle Enns

  • 30. What are your career goals?

      How to Answer

      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



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 31. When have you had to change suppliers due to poor quality of their product?

      How to Answer

      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.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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

      How to Answer

      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.



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  • 33. If hired, how do you intend on making a difference with our company?

      How to Answer

      Companies want people who make an impact. For answering this question make sure that you have a proper understanding of the company's mission and vision and that your career goals align with these two. Try to figure out ways in which you can help the company in reaching their target with your assistance. Its important to showcase yourself as a possible asset here.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 34. What aspect of supervision do you find most difficult?

      How to Answer

      Managing people is not necessarily easy - this question asks for your 'weakness' in this. The best answer is to move it to leadership, not managing.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 35. Do you have managing experience?

      How to Answer

      Managing may be people, project, or programs - Clarify if you need to.



      IF you do:



      Sample Answers:

      "I managed N people at [insert company] with responsibility for hiring, firing, reviews, etc."



      "I have managed projects at [insert company] with N number of team members, a budget of N over N period of time"



      "I have managed programs at [insert company] with overall responsibility for [insert area]. This program had an annual budget of N, and I was responsible for X, Y, and Z."



      In all cases, be prepared to indicate results

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  • 36. What techniques do you use in motivating employees?

      How to Answer

      This is about leadership, not necessarily how much of a cheerleader you are. Every good manager knows when his team members need some sort of motivation and how to make sure they are feeling motivated from time to time to work together for better goals.

      To answer this question start with telling the employer that you understand the need of having some motivation techniques for the employees and then move on to elaborating about some incident when you used some such technique for motivating your team.



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  • 37. Tell us about your experience in negotiations.

      How to Answer

      As a Purchasing Manager this and many other interview questions will deal with various aspects of negotiations. Since your job is to do negotiations on a regular basis you will have to be prepared for answering such questions.

      For answering this question start by telling how often you use this skill in your job and move on to mentioning some incident where you used your negotiation skills in getting an amazing deal for the company you have worked for in the past.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 38. What are your long term goals as a purchasing manager?

      How to Answer

      The intention of the interviewer behind this question is to determine if you have a long term career goal in this area of profession. Companies love employees who plan to grow with the company and have career goals that are aligned with the values and objectives of the company.

      Start by telling the hiring manager that you want to grow as a purchasing manager and that you intend to grow by learning more and that this job seems to be just the right kind of opportunity that you have been looking forward to.



      Written by Rachelle Enns

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  • 39. If you could change one aspect of the purchasing process, what would you change?

      How to Answer

      This is a great question to be asked; it shows that the interviewer sees purchasing at a high level. If you can present a strategic answer, your candidate value will increase.



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