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Step 2

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Step 3

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Buyer Interview Questions

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  1. How long have you been working as a buyer? How has your experience helped you to stand out in the industry? See answer
  2. What were some of your previous responsibilities as a buyer, and how did you stay on top of regular tasks? See answer
  3. Can you tell me about a situation where you had to go beyond your usual responsibilities as a buyer? See answer
  4. What were some of your most successful requisitions as a buyer, and what lessons stayed with you from those wins? See answer
  5. What additional experience or training do you have that would help you excel as a buyer for our company? See answer
  6. A product that once sold well is no longer achieving the same amount of sales. What is your process for investigating causes and making a decision? See answer
  7. What types of merchandise do you have the most experience ordering? How could your experience translate to the merchandise we sell at our company?
  8. Can you tell me about your process for conducting market research to aid purchasing decisions?
  9. Have you ever disagreed with another buyer about a purchasing decision? How did you respond to the situation?
  10. In your opinion, do consumers value quality more than price? How do you decide whether to invest in cheaper merchandise?
  11. How do you maintain positive, professional relationships with wholesalers and suppliers?
  12. What would you say is your greatest weakness as a buyer? What about your greatest strength?
  13. Do you have experience negotiating wholesale prices with suppliers? If so, can you provide an example?
  14. In your opinion, what is the relationship between the purchasing department and the customer service department?
  15. What online tools do you use to find unique or quality suppliers?
  16. Have you ever had to end a long-term partnership with a supplier? If so, how did you go about it?
  17. How would you rate your communication skills as a buyer?
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6 Buyer Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

How long have you been working as a buyer? How has your experience helped you to stand out in the industry?

A:

Most companies look for new hires who have plenty of related job experience, but listen to how the candidate answers to determine whether they would be a good fit for the role. Pay attention to how they discuss their problem-solving skills and consider if their approach can suit your company’s needs. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience with a structure similar to your company’s
  • At least a few years of applicable experience
  • Willingness to learn new things and adapt

Example:

“I have worked as a buyer for over eight years, and I have dealt with all types of emergency situations in the past. I don’t shy away from challenges and work hard to overcome them.”

Q:

What were some of your previous responsibilities as a buyer, and how did you stay on top of regular tasks?

A:

This is a good way to learn more about your potential candidate’s degree of expertise. Not only do you get a feel for the types of responsibilities that they can handle, but you’ll also find out how they managed different tasks. A good way to plan for their future with your company is to listen for responses about specific software they used that allowed them to stay on top of their workload. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience with planning and management software
  • Initiative in managing relations with sellers
  • Organizational skills for their position

Example:

“I was responsible for anticipating consumer demand and ordering products from around the world for a nationwide chain of retail stores. I have extensive experience with Microsoft Excel and Word and regularly organize my interactions with sellers to stay on top of business logistics.”

Q:

Can you tell me about a situation where you had to go beyond your usual responsibilities as a buyer?

A:

Difficult situations always arise during the buying process. Sometimes, the sellers run into a problem with their stock, or negotiations might become challenging. Regardless of what happens, it is always a good idea for your potential candidate to be prepared. When you ask them about a difficult situation that they were able to resolve by going the extra mile, you learn about their character as an employee. What to look for in an answer:

  • Willingness to negotiate in a difficult situation
  • Ability to work with multiple sellers
  • Plans for any future contingency

Example:

“A seller who produced our core line of products once ran into a warehousing issue, and I was able to help connect them with another facility by running through my network. As a result, they were able to deliver to our stores and online customers on time.”

Q:

What were some of your most successful requisitions as a buyer, and what lessons stayed with you from those wins?

A:

In addition to understanding how your potential buyer deals with challenges, it’s also useful to learn about their success stories. Sometimes, these may not arise from a particularly difficult situation but rather one where your candidate showed an exceptional degree of responsibility. The story that the applicant chooses to share with you can one day be a reflection on your company. What to look for in an answer:

  • No hesitation about sharing success stories
  • An understanding of the reasons for that success
  • Motivation to help their company succeed

Example:

“I was once able to secure a long-term contract with an elusive seller, which optimized our sales over the following few months. I helped train our buying team in the skills I used so that they could repeat that success going forward.”

Q:

What additional experience or training do you have that would help you excel as a buyer for our company?

A:

In general, the more qualified the candidate is, the better the professional future that you can look forward to from them. When your buyer has plenty of relevant credentials, you know that they’re committed to their profession and in it for the long run. A desirable candidate should have experience in negotiating and making smart buying decisions. What to look for in an answer:

  • Elective training in buying
  • Ability to flourish in a fast-paced environment
  • Formal education in accounting, business or other similar fields

Example:

“My master’s degree in accounting sets me apart from other applicants, and I have successfully spoken at seminars about successful wholesale buying strategies.”

Q:

A product that once sold well is no longer achieving the same amount of sales. What is your process for investigating causes and making a decision?

A:

Buyers are responsible for selecting the right merchandise that aligns with their employer's brand and customer needs. This question allows interviewers to gauge a candidate's professional experience and ability to make changes based on customer demand.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Keen attention to detail
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Previous professional experience

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"First, I would contact the customer service department to retrieve any customer reviews. I would also check how long we carried the product for and when sales started to decrease. Typically I've found that sales decrease because competitors have better pricing or simply because the market becomes saturated to the point where customers lose interest. Depending on the cause, I would either determine a lower price point for the product or replace it."

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