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Procurement Manager Interview Questions

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  1. What steps do you take as a procurement manager to develop strong working relationships with key suppliers? See answer
  2. Can you tell me about your experience lowering expenses and monitoring costs? See answer
  3. What sources do you use to maintain and build your knowledge of relevant marketplaces? See answer
  4. How would you handle working with a crucial supplier who was unreliable? See answer
  5. Can you detail a negotiation that you had that was unsuccessful? What did you learn from it? See answer
  6. Describe your process for using existing suppliers to find new ones. See answer
  7. What will be your first step in determining what our company’s purchasing patterns will be?
  8. Describe your process for determining if a customized product is being sold to you at a reasonable price.
  9. Do you have any experience conducting sourcing initiatives?
  10. What’s your process for determining whether you need a contract for a specific purchase?
  11. Are there any vendor management tools you prefer to use to track a product’s process?
  12. Tell me about a time when you had to negotiate with a difficult supplier.
  13. What’s your strategy for keeping accurate records of your supplies?
  14. Describe how risk management works.
  15. What are the first steps you take when you begin to search for a new supplier or vendor?
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6 Procurement Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What steps do you take as a procurement manager to develop strong working relationships with key suppliers?

A:

A procurement manager must have strong relationships with key suppliers in order to do their job effectively. Ideally, there should be give-and-take on both sides. This is where the candidate should give you an answer that is heavy on the technical aspects of their knowledge. You are looking for depth and nuance in their response. What to look for:

  • Experience working with many types of suppliers
  • Strong relationships with key vendors
  • Ability to understand the supplier’s business

Example:

“I take time to see things from the supplier’s perspective and make sure I am a good customer while getting the company’s need met.”

Q:

Can you tell me about your experience lowering expenses and monitoring costs?

A:

A good procurement manager makes sure that they acquire what they need to without going over budget. If the candidate has to spend extra money in one place, they should know where to cut back in order to respect the bottom line. You want to know that the applicant can save if they have to and is always looking at the overall budget. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience implementing cost-control programs
  • Knowledge of how to balance the supply chain with costs
  • Demonstrated examples of cost reduction

Example:

“I implemented a program that instituted lean and six sigma tools and philosophies throughout our entire procurement chain, lowering our costs by 12%.”

Q:

What sources do you use to maintain and build your knowledge of relevant marketplaces?

A:

The procurement manager should be well informed because they need to be purchasing based on the latest trends in the marketplace. This question is aimed at testing not only their knowledge but the lengths that they go to in order to acquire information. You do not want to hire a candidate who is devoted solely to old ideas. The procurement manager should be a detail-oriented reader. What to look for in an answer:

  • Evidence of continuing education in the field
  • Commitment to stay informed on procurement issues
  • Examples of implementing new knowledge

Example:

“I regularly read the latest trade publications, and I am always on the lookout for new ideas, especially in procurement strategy development.”

Q:

How would you handle working with a crucial supplier who was unreliable?

A:

Every procurement manager has faced situations in which they needed to obtain certain products and the supplier was either late or provided things that didn’t meet their needs. The candidate’s answer will show your their ability to get results when faced with a challenging situation. It will also give you an idea of their problem-solving skills. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience working with difficult suppliers
  • Strategies handling late and incorrect deliveries
  • Examples of working with suppliers on corrective action

Example:

“We had a supplier with repeated late deliveries. I used a sticks-and-carrots approach to get them to deliver on time. In the meantime, I searched for a more reliable supplier to give our business to.”

Q:

Can you detail a negotiation that you had that was unsuccessful? What did you learn from it?

A:

Instead of having the candidate detail a negotiation that succeeded, it is better to ask about one where they were unsuccessful. This demonstrates that not only is the procurement manager self-aware enough to realize that they have made a mistake, but they are capable of learning from it, too. If the candidate does not have an example, it might be better to move on since they are not sufficiently self-critical. What to look for in an answer:

  • Flexibility in thinking to adjust approach
  • Ability to admit that mistakes were made
  • Self-awareness

Example:

“I did not properly oversee a large-scale purchase, and it went over budget. I studied my mistakes and figured out what happened so that it wouldn’t occur again.”

Q:

Describe your process for using existing suppliers to find new ones.

A:

Successful procurement manager candidates should have impressive communication and interpersonal skills to build meaningful relationships with their vendors, customers, suppliers and other employees. They should be able to use these connections to find reliable suppliers for new product materials. The candidate should demonstrate a clear strategy for using their connections with current suppliers or vendors to find other high-quality suppliers at a reasonable price.

The candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Strategy for finding great suppliers
  • Ongoing relationships with supplier or vendors
  • Communication and interpersonal abilities

An answer to this question could look like this:

Example:

"When I'm trying to find a new supplier, I'll use my connections with other suppliers or vendors to find the best one that fits within our budget. I'll typically research our current vendors or those I've worked with in the past and will ask them if they collaborate with any suppliers that sell the materials we need. When reaching out to suppliers I know, I'll usually contact individuals with products or materials related to the ones I'm trying to obtain. This increase the chances that they'll put me in contact with the right suppliers for my industry and product."

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021