9 Procurement Interview Questions with Sample Answers
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published October 12, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
An interview is an integral part of your job search process. If you are interviewing for a procurement role, hiring managers may ask role-specific questions to evaluate your suitability for the position and if you are a good fit with the team. Learning more about these questions and preparing for your interview can help increase your chances of impressing the hiring manager and getting the job. In this article, we explore nine procurement interview questions with sample answers and highlight some interview tips.
Procurement interview questions and sample answers
The following are examples of procurement interview questions, along with sample answers:
1. How well do you work in a team?
Those working in procurement usually work as part of a team, and the employer wants to know that you're able to work in this sort of environment. They're also evaluating your experience as a team member and how you might complement the current team. It's helpful to discuss the teams that you've been involved in and why you enjoy a collaborative environment when answering. Try to include examples that explain your success in this setting.
Example: "I have been involved in various teams my entire life, having played in several team sports throughout my school years and captaining the hockey team in my senior year. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie that comes with being on a team. This has extended to my work life as well. Since I started in procurement ten years ago, I have always worked in a team environment. I enjoy the support you get from other team members and the feeling of collaborating to achieve goals."
2. What qualifies you for this job?
While the employer is interested in your experience, they are also interested in your skills and exploring your background. When answering the question, consider the skills necessary in procurement and try incorporating them into your answer.
Example: "I have worked in procurement for eight years and have an excellent understanding of the different processes relating to the supply chain. I have excellent customer service skills and am always willing to ensure the customer is satisfied. I enjoy the work environment, especially the opportunity to be part of a productive team."
3. How do you stay updated on changes in shipping rates and industry pricing?
This question assesses several skills necessary for procurement. It asks you to detail your industry knowledge, research, and computer skills. The employer is also evaluating your ability to be proactive regarding shipping costs. Shipping products for the best rate is a crucial aspect of working in procurement. When answering, discuss your methods to stay updated, including how you communicate shipping rate changes to other team members.
Example: "At the end of each month, I get e-mailed the latest rates and changes from most of the major shipping companies. I also subscribe to an industry magazine detailing updates on the latest changes and the most competitive monthly rates. In addition, we have a board in my current workplace where team members can list key pricing changes or if they find a particularly good rate."
4. Do you have any professional certifications?
Professional certifications are a good way of highlighting your industry knowledge. They also suggest that you're committed to the procurement industry. If you have any relevant certifications, explain them and include details about why you obtained them, especially if you have ambitions within the industry and acquired them as part of your career development plan.
Example: "Yes, I completed a procurement and supply chain management certification two years ago. I am currently completing classes online for the advanced certification, with the exam at the end of the year. My goal is to ensure that I am qualified to work in more senior positions so that I can take a role if it becomes available. In my current job, this has allowed me to act as a shift supervisor on a relief basis."
Related: How to Become a Supply Chain Manager
5. What procurement or supply chain software have you used?
The employer asks this question to confirm if you're experienced in the standard procurement software. They're also checking to ensure you have experience using the company's software. Computer skills are becoming more important across all procurement aspects, so investing time in learning the basics of those programs is worthwhile. When answering, discuss the software you're experienced and confident in using.
Example: "I am familiar with the industry standard procurement software used to follow how the products are progressing in the supply chain. In addition, I use e-mail to stay connected with other supervisors in the supply chain so that I can monitor the incoming products. The other product I am familiar with is the inventory monitoring and tracking system used in the warehouse."
6. What key procurement metrics do you track?
The employer asks this question to determine how you measure progress, make adjustments, and decide on and implement necessary solutions when an issue arises. This question is an opportunity to discuss how you apply quantitative information to the key performance indicators (KPIs) used in procurement, such as transportation costs and pricing. It also gives you the chance to explain your problem-solving skills by discussing what steps you take when the KPIs are below expectations.
Example: "Several key metrics I track regarding purchasing activities include cost savings, managed spend, and return on investment (ROI). Cost savings KPIs give me insight into which cost reduction strategies are working effectively, and managed spend rates allow me to adjust project outlines to maintain budget goals. ROI monitoring helps me understand the rate at which the company generates revenue compared to how much it spends obtaining manufacturing supplies. With this key data, I can help other departments implement solutions that further reduce costs, increase savings, and manage new purchasing contracts."
7. How do you ensure the timely delivery of essential supplies?
The interviewer may ask questions that assess your ability to organize multiple shipments, manage different schedules, and ensure deliveries meet important deadlines. Use your answer to demonstrate your organizational and time management skills. Discussing your ability to oversee various activities in your schedule is also vital.
Example: "Vendor management software helps in this process, as it can track shipments and delivery dates, as well as any payment updates. It assists in managing multiple shipping schedules and provides notes of both the vendors and staff working in the supply chain. This keeps everyone informed about a shipment, as it can send reminders when deadlines are approaching. It also alerts staff if there's likely to be a delay in receiving supplies."
8. What qualities do you think are essential in procurement?
This question is designed to determine whether you know the skills necessary to work in procurement. When answering, try to incorporate the skills needed to complete the main aspects of your daily work. As the employer is asking for a list of skills, you aren't required to go into detail about each.
Example: "There are several essential skills needed when working in procurement, the most important ones being excellent problem-solving skills and an understanding of cost reduction techniques. Honesty and transparency are vital, especially when dealing with suppliers and vendors. It's also important that you can plan and implement procurement strategies that will help in meeting the KPIs."
9. What are the key responsibilities of those in procurement?
When asking this question, the employer is trying to determine your understanding of the role of procurement. This is another question where it isn't necessary to go into great detail. The question requires you to list the responsibilities you consider most important.
Example: "The responsibilities may change a little depending on your position. Generally, the responsibilities of those in procurement include providing logistical support for an organization's activities, coordinating the timely delivery of goods, and maintaining good procurement records. It's also important to ensure the procurement team completes the necessary documents about each shipment and has them available for inspection if required."
Tips for interviews in procurement
Here are some tips that might assist in your next procurement interview:
Focus on relevant skills. While you may have other skills that might be relevant in procurement, focus on the skills that are specific to the position for which you've applied. It's helpful to review the job description to look for particular skills you can use in your interview answers.
Brainstorm skills to prepare. When preparing for a procurement interview, it's helpful to make a list of the skills that are essential for the role. Once you have the list, prepare answers for some key interview questions relating to procurement that highlight these skills.
Relate skills to experience. When discussing your skills, relate them to your current or past work experience. This will result in a more complete answer than just listing skills and shows an employer you possess the expertise necessary to be successful in the role.
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