35 Buyer Interview Questions (Plus Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 22, 2022 | Published September 29, 2021

Updated August 22, 2022

Published September 29, 2021

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.

A person looks at a tablet in the foreground while another person looks over merchandise and another looks through a magazine.

During your interview for a buyer position, the hiring manager may ask questions relating to your experience and negotiation tactics and how you communicate. Knowing what questions to expect in an interview can help you prepare answers that’ll demonstrate you're an ideal candidate and increase your chances of getting the job.

In this article, we share common buyer interview questions, along with example answers you can use to prepare for your interview.

General buyer interview questions

Many hiring managers begin by asking general buyer position interview questions. These questions can help them learn about you as a candidate, your work ethic and whether you would be a good fit for the company.

Preparing for general questions may improve your chances of sounding confident and accurately portraying your ability to negotiate with suppliers. Below, we cover some of the most common general interview questions for a buyer position:

  1. What do you like most about being a buyer?

  2. What part of your job do you find the most challenging?

  3. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your supervisor.

  4. Describe your negotiation strategy.

  5. Would you consider yourself to be an agreeable person?

  6. What's your management style?

  7. What skills do you think are essential for a buyer to have?

  8. Why are you passionate about this industry?

  9. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  10. What makes you more qualified than the other candidates we're considering?

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Buyer interview questions about background and experience

Once a hiring manager learns basic information about you, they often ask about your background and experience. Buyer interview questions may inquire about your education, previous roles and qualifications.

Your answer can be a good opportunity to elaborate on the responsibilities you've had and highlight your interpersonal skills. Here are several of the most common buyer interview questions and answers:

  1. What are your educational credentials?

  2. Describe a typical workday at your previous position. What responsibilities did you have?

  3. Describe your familiarity with inventory and purchasing software.

  4. How much experience do you have in our company's industry?

  5. To what extent do customer needs affect your purchasing decisions?

  6. Describe your proudest achievement as a buyer.

  7. Describe an unsuccessful experience with a supplier.

  8. How do you ensure clear communication in the workplace?

  9. How do competitors impact your purchasing decisions?

  10. How do you maintain long-lasting relationships with suppliers?

  11. Are you willing to travel to meet with suppliers?

Related: Business-to-Business (B2B): Definition and Popular Jobs

In-depth buyer interview questions

In-depth buyer interview questions can help hiring managers understand your negotiation strategies. They can also analyze your ability to work with a team, overcome challenges and prioritize the needs of your company and customers. Consider developing longer answers for these in-depth purchaser interview questions:

  1. Explain the effect you believe nonverbal communication has on a negotiation.

  2. Tell me how you adjust your strategy when negotiating with a supplier on the phone instead of in person.

  3. What you do if one of our products experienced a drastic decline in sales?

  4. Describe a time when a miscommunication impacted your work. What did you do to address the issue?

  5. How do you incorporate customer feedback into your purchasing decisions?

  6. Describe the difference between internal procurement and retail buying.

  7. Imagine that a product your company wanted was too expensive. What would you do?

  8. How is negotiating with a team different than negotiating by yourself?

  9. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a strict deadline.

  10. Describe your research process for finding good suppliers.

Related: Common Communication Barriers (With Examples)

Buyer interview questions with sample answers

These buyer interview questions and answers can help you prepare for your interview:

1. Describe your idea of a typical workday.

This question allows you to elaborate on your prior experience. Consider explaining what responsibilities you had in your previous position and how you completed them. You can also use this question to show that you understand what this job entails, even if you don't have experience completing some of the duties.

You might say that you are willing to spend long hours on the computer, make phone calls, research products and travel to meet suppliers. Candidates can increase their job prospects by emphasizing their willingness to complete tasks that other employees find challenging. For instance, you might mention that you are eager to make unsolicited phone calls to find the best suppliers.

Example: "One reason I'm passionate about this industry is that it allows me to stay busy. My typical day involves me responding to emails, taking phone calls and maintaining good relationships with suppliers. I also spend a lot of time researching to ensure I find the best products and meet customer demands. I am flexible in my responsibilities, as I adjust my schedule to fulfill the company's needs."

Read more: Interview Question: "Describe Your Perfect Workday"

2. Do you consider the price or quality of the product more important? Why?

This is one of the more challenging buyer planner interview questions. Hiring managers may want you to focus on quality so that you can deliver excellent products to customers. However, most hiring managers believe price is just as important because it affects the company's profits. You may mention that you consider both factors when deciding which supplier to use.

Your answer can also discuss additional considerations like your industry and customer expectations. For instance, if you are sourcing products for a souvenir shop, customers may care less about the quality and more about affordability. You can say that this information helps you find a supplier that sells good products at an affordable price.

Example: "It's important to consider both factors when finding the right supplier. I want to source the most affordable products available without sacrificing quality. By looking for the best ratio of quality and price, I can help the company make money and keep customers happy.

My experience as a buyer for a high-end restaurant also taught me that, sometimes, it's okay to prioritize one factor over the other. For instance, I would often pay a little more for high-quality ingredients, allowing me to exceed the customers' high expectations."

Related: Understanding Product Quality: What It Is and Why It Matters

3. Describe how you handled the most challenging negotiation you've had.

Most hiring managers understand negotiations can be challenging. Being honest about your experiences with suppliers can show that you aim to be a dependable buyer. When answering this question, consider thinking about a time when you had to work hard to get a better price or facilitate better communication. You can discuss how you adjusted your negotiation strategy to accommodate the supplier while still meeting the needs of the company and customer.

Example: "My company wanted to add a new product to its catalog to appeal to its customers' demands. I found a reputable supplier that carried the product and began negotiations. The supplier was insistent on a price that exceeded my company's budget.

I didn't want to find an alternative product, as the product was something that our customers really wanted. I negotiated a more suitable price by offering to work with the supplier in the future. The supplier valued the prospect of a long-term relationship and agreed on a lower price."

Related: 5 Situational Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

4. Do you think in-person supplier visits are necessary?

Many companies want their buyers to visit suppliers in person. Explaining that you are willing to make these visits can show that you are a flexible employee.

This question also allows you to highlight why you think in-person visits are important. Consider talking about how personal meetings can help you build stronger relationships with suppliers.

You may also want to mention that in-person supplier visits aren't always necessary. In your answer, consider using an example in which the company only needs to complete one deal with a certain supplier.

You can discuss how you would prefer to save the company's resources by talking to the supplier on the phone. Your interviewer may appreciate your confidence in your phone negotiation skills and desire to reserve in-person visits for long-term suppliers.

Example: "At my previous job, I made frequent in-person visits to our regular suppliers. The personal interaction helped me establish lasting connections with them and secure the best deals. While I believe in-person visits are important, phone calls are more practical in certain situations.

For instance, if my company uses a supplier for a one-time event, it may not be worth investing the time and money into travel. My negotiation skills translate well over the phone, allowing me to effectively communicate with suppliers I can't meet with in person."

Related: Interview Mistake: Too Much Personal Information

Jenn, a career coach, discusses a common interviewing mistake, and why you should be careful about what personal information you disclose to the interviewer.

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