Candidates seeking procurement or supply chain jobs should prepare for five key questions designed to probe their competencies, an industry expert advises.
Supply chain management veteran, Elaine Porteous, believes that much can be gained by preparing for the ‘crunch’ questions which hirers will pose to test an interviewee’s procurement mettle:
- What is supply chain management?
This invites the candidate to clarify the function of SCM, i.e., “the planning and management of all actions required for sourcing and procurement, including conversion and management of all logistics activities.” Tailor the reply to emphasise either goods or services dependent on employer requirements.
- What experience are you bringing to this role?
Explain what you’ve achieved in similar circumstances and stay factual. Mention specific processes you’ve enhanced and values, e.g. cost reductions, that you’ve achieved, and adopt the ‘STAR’ technique – specify the:
- Situation you were in
- Task you undertook
- Action you performed
- Result of your action
- Describe how you’d add value to our business?
Researching the company in advance of the interview will be valuable in helping you answer this. Interviewers sometimes drop clues about what’s important to them in their question, so listen vigilantly and respond directly to the information. If you’re familiar with new technologies in supply chain management, now is the time to say. Also, describe how you’d improve supplier relationships, how you’d make savings, e.g., paring back inventory, eradicating waste, procuring more efficiently.
- Tell us what you understand about our company and supply chain?
Hirers expect candidates to know what they do, their place in the industry’s hierarchy, and who their main competitors are. Again, prior homework is vital.
- How do you keep abreast of innovations in supply chain management?
The hidden question here is: “What do you think we can do to improve our supply chain?” Presenting yourself, with examples, of how you continually seek to improve your professional development and what you’re learning in the process will impress.