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Vendor Manager Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Audra Kresinske

Question 1 of 25

Tell me about a time you worked collaboratively with different teams or departments to solve a problem.

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Vendor Manager Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time you worked collaboratively with different teams or departments to solve a problem.

      Companies want to hire people who are team players and enjoy working collaboratively to solve problems. This is a great opportunity to show off your ability to work with a variety of people to produce great work. If you took on a leadership role at any time, that would be a great thing to share to demonstrate your leadership capabilities. Share about a positive experience you had working with another team or department and what the outcome of the experience was.

      Audra's Answer

      "In my previous role with a drug store, I worked with the Implementation department on a renovation project in few stores in a specific region. Not only did I have to arrange for our usual vendors to continue to deliver products, but I also had to procure new vendors to complete the construction and labor. I worked closely with Implementation to determine a budget, identify the necessary labor, craft contracts that reflected those priorities. We held weekly meetings to ensure we were all on the same page and remained on time and under budget. In the end, the project ended up a huge success and we created a model for how to successfully complete similar projects in other regions."

  2. 2.

    How do you ensure invoices are accurate and paid in a timely and consistent manner?

      If you have the experience, share about how you have managed invoices in the past. If not, consider how you stay on top of any responsibility with set deadlines. Share your systematic approach and how you set yourself up for success. Maybe you have utilized a software that has helped with this or you have mastered google calendar and set up reminders. Whatever the case may be, share how you stay organized and on top of your responsibilities.

      Audra's Answer

      "In my previous role, the software we used helped organize invoices to be paid at the end of the month. I would arrange reminders for myself on my calendar if I ever wanted to take care of things ahead of time or get a head start on end of the month tasks. Additionally, whenever I have a long list of to-dos, I create checklists to ensure I get to each and every task on time. As a team, we would also often audit each other's work to ensure everything was accurate and timely and hold ourselves accountable."

  3. 3.

    Name and explain a strength and a weakness that pertains to your communication skills.

      Vendor management requires strong interpersonal skills. Clear and direct communication is crucial to ensure that vendors deliver on their promises and understand asks. However, it is to be expected that not all areas of communication are strengths for you. When sharing a weakness, be sure to share something that is not crucial to the position or that you are actively working to improve to be better at your job.

      Audra's Answer

      "When it comes to communicating, a strength I have is follow through. I am quick to follow up with colleagues and vendors when they are waiting for information from me and I pride myself on doing exactly what I say I'm going to do. I am very reliable and my former colleagues have noted this about me. A weakness of mine is initiating difficult conversations with colleagues. I appreciate when people are honest with me, but it can be challenging for me to deliver constructive criticism or feedback to someone I work closely with. I am realizing that if I plan out what I want to communicate ahead of time, I am much more careful with my language and more aware of how different colleagues react to such feedback."

  4. 4.

    Tell me about a time you worked with a vendor who failed to deliver on time.

      Whenever you are asked a question that begins with 'tell me about a time...', be sure to actually share a brief example that highlights an experience you encountered and how your efforts improved the situation. If you have never experienced this, share how you would deal with this kind of scenario. Share the steps you would take to remedy the situation, making sure to highlight your ability to be direct, take initiative, and successfully work with the vendor to get the issue ironed out.

      Audra's Answer

      "In my previous role, most of the vendors we worked with had been partners for several years. I knew many of them on a personal level and had great relationships with them. Generally, I knew exactly what to expect from them. However, from time to time, there were mishaps and miscommunications that needed to be dealt with. On one occasion, an important delivery arrived of the wrong product type. I was alerted the situation and checked my order to ensure I had placed the order correctly. I immediately alerted my contact for that vendor and because of our established relationship, they were able to quickly and efficiently correct the issue and get the product to us the very next day. For the next few weeks after that, I made sure to immediately confirm deliveries from that vendor to ensure all products were correct."

  5. 5.

    How would your previous coworkers describe you?

      The interviewer wants to get a feel for how you fit in and add to office culture. It is important to get along well with colleagues and that the office is a cooperative and collaborative environment. People are often more invested in work when they feel like they belong and are a valuable member of the team. Consider previous positive feedback you have received from coworkers and describe how you contribute to a positive office culture.

      Audra's Answer

      "My former coworkers would describe me as dependable, warm, and innovative. I enjoy getting to know the people I work with on a personal level and I make it a point to ask about their families and personal interests. I think it important to develop friendships and find commonalities with colleagues. I am also someone who can be relied on to follow through with any ask. When I say I will do something, I deliver on that promise. I strive to do what I say and say what I mean. My colleagues would also say that I have creative ideas, and I often come up with unique approaches to solve problems and make our work more efficient."

  6. 6.

    What do you prioritize when researching for new vendors?

      The interviewer will want to get a glimpse at the past work that you have done and the strategy you have developed in doing your job well. Share the advice your future company provided you and also some things you have developed or discovered as a result of your experience. Walk the interviewer through your process, without going too far in depth, and share some best practices that you have been taught or have picked up along the way.

      Audra's Answer

      "When researching for new vendors, I look for specific things like known reputation, product quality, shipping information, organization and price point, and customer service. I make a point to reach out to customer service to get a read on their responsiveness and professionalism. I am sure to closely compare costs and consider the cost benefit analysis of working with a few different vendors. This helps me narrow down my options and make the best educated decision."

  7. 7.

    Why should we hire you for this role?

      Chances are, several people are applying and being interviewed for this role. Be sure to answer this question with a convincing and unique response. Consider what you want the interviewer to remember about you after the interview. Think about what sets you apart from the crowd. Maybe share something related to your experience, your work ethic, your commitment, or a passion of yours. Whatever it is, be sure to think through this prior to your interview, as this may be your chance to really sell yourself.

      Audra's Answer

      "You should hire me because when I take something on, I commit 100% of myself to succeed. I care deeply about my performance and I remain motivated to see a job well done. I am honest and determined and a hard worker. I am confident I will make a positive contribution to the office culture and to the performance of my department."

  8. 8.

    What is your experience in managing a team? What is your leadership style?

      Be honest about your experience managing and leading. Even if you only have experience from college or a previous job that was not related to vendor management, share your experience and strengths. An important aspect of leadership is the ability to be self-aware. The interviewer wants to gauge whether or not you have held a leadership role and what you have learned about yourself as a leader.

      Audra's Answer

      "In college, I held a leadership role within the business fraternity I was a part of. I led a team that planned and executed events on campus to recruit other members. We planned twelve successful events between my junior and senior year that led to an increase of 30+ members. I leveraged real world opportunities and networking to engage others interested in a career in business. My leadership style is collaborative, and I maintain high expectations of others. I love working together and witnessing the power of different minds working together, but I also expected my team to do what they said they would do and perform in order to see growth. I held the team accountable and we were very successful; we all remain in touch to this day."

  9. 9.

    Do you have experience with a contract management program or software?

      Be honest about your experience working with a contract management program or software. Also include your ability to learn new software quickly. The software that the company uses may be mentioned in the job description; be sure to note if it is included and do some research about it prior to the interview or ask about the pros/cons of the software during your interview.

      Audra's Answer

      "I have experience working in Concord and Conga Contracts. I have found that many programs function in very similar ways, so I am certain that with some training, I will be able to catch on quickly to whatever software is used at this company. Do you mind sharing what software you use?"

  10. 10.

    In your experience, what have been some reasons you've chosen to end a relationship with a vendor?

      Any question that allows you to share about your experience gives you an opportunity to show off your expertise. Communicate best practices, as often as you can, and describe your thinking and the strategies you have developed as a result of your experience. Even if you have not had to end a relationship with a vendor, share what might ultimately push you to end a relationship.

      Audra's Answer

      "I have come to realize that having good standing relationships with vendors makes the job much easier. If I receive consistent poor customer service, I really consider the option of ending a contract. Also, if I am ever able to save the company money by switching vendors, I am sure to do diligent research and end a contract, if need be. It is my job to keep the best interest of the company top of mind, so I am always considering the cost-benefit analysis."

  11. 11.

    How do you prioritize your workload and cope with stress?

      The interviewer wants to hear that you are able to work independently, prioritize your tasks, and take ownership of your time while on the job. They also want to know that you have strategies in place to cope with the inevitable possibility of stress, in and out of the workplace. Share how you remain focused and motivated at work, how you prioritize weekly and daily tasks, and how you mitigate stress.

      Audra's Answer

      "As a vendor manager, there are a lot of moving parts that all require my attention. Seeing that the end of the month is often the busiest, I make it a priority to get as much done at the beginning of the month as I possibly can in order to deal with paying invoices and settling accounts when it is crunch time at the end of the month. Each week, I also prioritize my tasks to take care of the most pressing things first. Whenever someone else is counting on me, I try to get back to them as fast as I can. I perform well with a little bit of stress, but when I am under a lot of pressure, I make sure to get outside, take breaks, exercise regularly, eat well, and spend time with my family to keep my energy levels and efficiency up."

  12. 12.

    What is an area of weakness for you?

      This is a common interview question that you should come to expect and have an answer prepared. A quality answer for this question reveals a weakness, but puts a positive spin on it in regards to how you are actively working to better yourself in that area. You should steer clear from sharing a weakness that would impact your ability to do your job well. Instead, share something minor that you are working to improve.

      Audra's Answer

      "An area of weakness for me is truly finding rest. I don't do well with down time; I prefer to always be working towards something or doing something active. However, I'm realizing I need to practice rest in order to perform at a high level in all areas of my life. In order to combat this, I have started reserving my Sundays for going on walks, reading, and playing with my kids. We rarely make plans on Sundays so that we can slow down as a family and just be together to recharge for the week."

  13. 13.

    Tell me about a time you came up with an innovative idea or made a process more streamlined?

      'Tell me about a time...' questions should always be followed up with an anecdote. Be sure to come up with a concrete example of a time you came up with a successful, creative idea that improved company routines, communication, or processes. This question allows you to brag about yourself a bit and show off your good ideas that have benefited the company. Don't be shy, and briefly share the initial problem, your idea to improve the problem, and the outcome of after the implementation of your idea.

      Audra's Answer

      "After I had been in my previous role for the first few months, I began to realize how disconnected many of the people were who did very similar work and worked on similar projects. Vendor managers did not collaborate or have streamlined processes, the finance department rarely connected with vendor managers, and the tracking of invoices was unorganized and ineffective. I came up with an idea to have meetings at the beginning of each month to touch base with all key stakeholders in order to remain on the same page, discuss best practices, and organize our system for tracking and looking up invoices. Over time, we got to know each other better and developed and improved systems that benefited all of our work."

  14. 14.

    How have you had to leverage negotiation skills in your professional experience?

      Negotiation is part of the job as a vendor manager. You will need to be able to negotiate contracts and advocate on behalf of the company. All organizations need to consider costs, and your vendors will expect that you are looking for the best quality for the money spent. Share an example of a time you successfully used negotiation skills in your career.

      Audra's Answer

      "I've had to utilize negotiation skills with almost every single contract I've worked on. It is important to realize that everything can be negotiated and the first quote you get from a vendor is going to be high. In my previous role, I negotiated a contract for new office furniture for a regional office. We knew we wanted to go with this particular vendor, but we went back and forth on total costs. Ultimately, I agreed to a price with the addition of free shipping and handling. I am always very aware of the different ways I can help the company save money. The contract was agreed upon and accepted and we had a successful experience with that vendor."

  15. 15.

    What would you do if a product from a vendor arrived and was not as advertised or promised?

      Even if this has never happened to you, be sure to describe how you would react to this situation. Explain what actions you would take to hold the vendor accountable and remedy the situation. Be sure to highlight how your quick thinking and effective response would turn an unfortunate situation into a solved problem.

      Audra's Answer

      "Thankfully, this has never happened to me in my career. However, if it did happen, I would call the vendor and be very direct about my expectations and the reality of the situation. I would communicate my disappointment and ask to be refunded. It is my job to thoroughly vet vendors and hold them accountable to their word. If they are not transparent, I have no choice but to end the relationship. If I received good customer service and decided to continue with this vendor, I would be weary of new orders and be diligent in checking their product upon arrival."

  16. 16.

    Tell me about yourself.

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  17. 17.

    Why do you want to work for this company?

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  18. 18.

    How do you intentionally build and maintain relationships with colleagues and vendors?

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  19. 19.

    Tell me about a personal and a professional short-term goal of yours.

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  20. 20.

    How do you feel about the possibility of frequent travel in this role?

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  21. 21.

    What are your expectations for compensation in this role?

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  22. 22.

    What systems do you have in place to keep yourself organized?

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  23. 23.

    Tell me about a recent time you had to use quick thinking and problem solving skills to get out of a jam.

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  24. 24.

    What are three words that best describe you?

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  25. 25.

    What motivates you to do your job well?

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