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Purchasing Assistant Interview Questions

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  1. What is your experience with just-in-time inventories as a purchasing assistant? See answer
  2. Tell me about a time where you were able to decrease the overall cost of an order as a purchasing assistant. See answer
  3. What steps do you take to make sure purchases will be delivered on time? See answer
  4. How do you decide which goods you need to buy and at what quantities as a purchasing assistant? See answer
  5. Tell me about a time when a supplier didn’t adhere to the terms of your initial agreement. See answer
  6. What strategies do you adopt when negotiating with a difficult vendor? See answer
  7. Can you describe five of the most important skills that have helped you excel in your career so far?
  8. Tell me about a purchase requisition and how you would process it?
  9. What will be your recommendations if a department orders supplies beyond budget?
  10. Discuss two situations where the better option is to search for new vendors.
  11. If employed, what strategies will you use to determine the company’s purchasing patterns?
  12. How will you convince management to adopt new purchasing strategies that will help save costs?
  13. Tell me about strategies for dealing with nonperforming suppliers.
  14. What software tools to you use to monitor the progress of purchase projects?
  15. Do you need a contract for every purchase? Mention two situations where a purchase contract is necessary.
  16. Are you familiar with the Uniform Commercial Code?
  17. Tell me about three key procurement metrics and how they can affect our company’s operations.
  18. What two strategies do you use to manage risk as a purchasing assistant?
  19. Tell me about the steps involved in the purchasing process.
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6 Purchasing Assistant Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What is your experience with just-in-time inventories as a purchasing assistant?

A:

Many companies prefer using JIT since it’s a more cost-efficient way of holding stock. Purchasing assistants must be aware of the different types of methods to ensure that they’re ordering the right quantities as this way minimizes the number of goods one has at any specific time, and it requires less storage space, too. The applicant’s answer to this question will allow you to assess their overall experience and their attention to detail. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience as a purchasing assistant
  • Detail-oriented
  • Knowledge about purchasing methods
Example:

“I have six years of experience with just-in-time inventories as this is my go-to strategy. I prefer ordering items in small quantities; however, I’m open to all methods that fit the company’s needs.”

Q:

Tell me about a time where you were able to decrease the overall cost of an order as a purchasing assistant.

A:

Companies are always looking for ways to lower expenses. An effective purchasing assistant aims to get quality items at an inexpensive price. The ideal applicant will have experience searching for discounts and talking to vendors about receiving credit for damaged goods. Focus on the candidate’s communication skills and determination. Was it difficult for the individual to find ways to cut their purchase amount in half? What to look for in an answer:

  • Determination and focus
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Demonstrates critical thinking skills
Example:

“At my previous job, I was easily able to reduce our bill with a new vendor by asking about price matches. We received higher-quality items at a much lower rate.”

Q:

What steps do you take to make sure purchases will be delivered on time?

A:

When buying merchandise, it’s essential for the purchasing assistant to be aware of when the items will be processed, shipped and delivered. The ideal candidate will have steps that they take to ensure that a product will arrive on time and in excellent condition. The applicant will understand the importance of using credible vendors and having tracking information. What to look for in an answer:

  • Demonstrates decision-making skills
  • Ability to explain tracking process
  • Understands the importance of working with credible vendors
Example:

“To ensure that products arrive on time, I purchase from the same companies I’ve always worked with for important orders. I only make small transactions as a trial for new vendors.”

Q:

How do you decide which goods you need to buy and at what quantities as a purchasing assistant?

A:

An effective candidate will know how to determine what merchandise needs to be purchased and in what quantity. While it might be a simple process when reordering items, the applicant’s response to this question should tell you how well they handle seasonal orders that don’t have specific amounts. The ideal candidate will use software and last year’s reports to determine how much of one item will sell during a holiday. What to look for in an answer:

  • Adequate computer skills
  • Comfortable with flexibility
  • Understands the importance of reviewing reports before finalizing orders
Example:

“Depending on the time of year, I determine the merchandise I need by examining what was popular last year as well as seeing if it’s still relevant. For seasonal products, I purchase in small batches to ensure items are selling quickly.”

Q:

Tell me about a time when a supplier didn’t adhere to the terms of your initial agreement.

A:

Vendors provide companies with contracts that detail what each party is expected to receive. The right candidate will have experience handling negative situations with suppliers. Was the product delivered late or lower in quality than expected? Focus on the severity of the situation, how the individual wanted the problem fixed and their ability to move forward. Did they continue working with the same vendor, or did they look for a new one? What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Exhibits interpersonal skills
  • Demonstrates problem-solving skills
Example:

“At my previous job, a supplier delivered three orders late within two weeks. I informed them after the second order wasn’t on time that we would start looking for another vendor if this happened again. We quickly started using another company to purchase our merchandise.”

Q:

What strategies do you adopt when negotiating with a difficult vendor?

A:

Purchasing assistants will have to work with several vendors, some of who will be difficult to deal with during negotiations. This question allows hiring managers to gauge candidates' negotiation skills and how they adapt to different vendor behaviors. An experienced purchase assistant candidate will use hard negotiating tactics if their company has access to several suppliers. If the difficult vendor is the only source for the goods, persuasion will be a more effective negotiation tactic. The candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Negotiating tactics
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Persuasion skills
Example:

“When dealing with a problematic supplier, my negotiating tactics depends on whether the vendor is our only source for the supplies. If we have alternatives, I go for hardball negotiation but will still deal with the vendor professionally to preserve our relationship. When our options are limited, I will use softer persuasion techniques to make the vendor empathize with us, with a promise of more business.”

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