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Purchasing Manager Interview Questions

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  1. From which states or countries have you purchased, and what are examples of the quantities or categories of goods bought? See answer
  2. What are your criteria for selecting the most ideal suppliers and vendors for your employer? See answer
  3. Do you have experience in purchasing both raw materials and finished goods, and in what capacity have you been involved? See answer
  4. Which negotiation tactics do you find most successful with suppliers? See answer
  5. A supplier continually ships orders late and sometimes the orders you receive are wrong. However, they have the best price for raw materials within your budget. What decisions do you make? See answer
  6. Can you tell me some examples of ways you have improved the purchasing process and what the end results were?
  7. Do you know what the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is? How does it factor into your job as a purchasing manager?
  8. What roles have you held in the past that qualify you for a purchasing manager position?
  9. How do you use supplier references to evaluate potential supplier relationships?
  10. A shipment arrives with the right invoice but not the right products. What’s the first thing you do?
  11. You accidentally entered “1,000” instead of “100” when ordering a new batch of products. How do you react?
  12. Are you comfortable with handling supplier relations solely over the phone? What examples can you provide from previous roles?
  13. Which industries do you have the most experience with as a purchasing manager?
  14. Are you comfortable overseeing a team of buyers or purchasing agents? What is the largest purchasing team you’ve managed?
  15. Do you know what QPL stands for? How does it factor into the purchasing process?
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6 Purchasing Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

From which states or countries have you purchased, and what are examples of the quantities or categories of goods bought?

A:

Purchasing materials from a local source is far different from sourcing materials internationally. While a purchasing manager may not require managerial experience, they should have purchasing familiarity from locations and order volumes similar to yours. They may have gained this knowledge under the supervision of a purchasing manager or from a previous supervisory position. It is also ideal that they have experience buying similar types of goods as your organization.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Origins of previously purchased products
  • Types of goods bought with previous employers
  • Volumes of previously purchased orders

Example:

“I have purchasing experience with the U.S. South and Asia when it comes to quantities of container loads of raw materials for the manufacturing of household goods.”

Q:

What are your criteria for selecting the most ideal suppliers and vendors for your employer?

A:

There comes a time when you must choose new suppliers and vendors for any number of reasons, such as that you require parts that are not available from your existing contractors or your purchasing network no longer offers certain goods or raw materials. Your purchasing manager must consider a wide range of aspects when selecting new partners, including price, location, quality of product and the reputation of the business.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Focuses on other aspects of vendor in addition to price
  • Understands the importance of supplier relationships
  • Excellent communication skills

Example:

“I look for many aspects when it comes to selecting a vendor, including product quality, location and the reputation of the supplier.”

Q:

Do you have experience in purchasing both raw materials and finished goods, and in what capacity have you been involved?

A:

It would be ideal if the applicant has experience purchasing goods similar to the requirements of the role you seek to fill. However, it is not critical they have knowledge of both raw materials and finished goods. At the end of the day, they should have a detailed understanding of the purchasing process and everything it entails from working with other internal departments to back orders and emergency orders.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Comprehension of raw materials and finished goods
  • Mentions supply chain, sales or shipping
  • Provides examples of purchasing types they work with

Example:

“My primary experience has been in purchasing raw materials to make finished goods. I worked with the entire supply chain process.”

Q:

Tell us some examples of ways you have improved the purchasing process and what the end results were?

A:

Purchasing managers must stay on top of improving the entire purchasing process, including finding ways to save money, reducing transit time, quality control, supplier auditing and personnel performance, among other things. They should use metrics and analytics to find areas of weakness and strengths throughout the process. Once they determine the weaknesses, they should develop new practices and work with other departments to improve upon the existing supply chain.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Worked with other departments to make improvements
  • Used metrics, analytics or audits
  • Eliminated suppliers with overly costly shipping lanes

Example:

“The use of metrics is critical to improving the purchasing process. I keep track of all supplier data from on-time deliveries to returned products.”

Q:

Which negotiation tactics do you find most successful with suppliers?

A:

Price should not be the only consideration in negotiations. The candidate should try to negotiate a lower rate for buying products in larger quantities. For small quantities, the manager might negotiate lower rates in exchange for publishing a supplier’s logo on your website and social media sites. Purchasing managers should negotiate to develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships rather than trying to achieve the lowest price that could put your supplier out of business.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Emphasizes negotiation techniques other than strictly price
  • Mentions long-term relationships
  • Talks about product quantity and vendor incentive negotiating

Example:

“My negotiation tactics are to establish a respectful rapport and fair price that will benefit both parties so that everyone stays in business long term.”

Q:

A supplier continually ships orders late and sometimes the orders you receive are wrong. However, they have the best price for raw materials within your budget. What decisions do you make?

A:

Purchasing managers are responsible for ensuring timely order shipments to aid in the production or sale of company products. Their ability to make difficult decisions in complex supplier situations affects the company's productivity and revenue. This question allows interviewers to gauge a candidate's conflict resolution capabilities. It also allows them to learn more about how they would make decisions as a purchasing manager.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Verbal communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to be authoritative

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"The first thing I would do is report to my direct superior to get their opinion on the situation. From my perspective, late shipments cost our company additional money because it means late production rates and, therefore, sales. I would contact the supplier and enforce our need for quality service to uphold our business initiatives. I would also make sure to enforce the fact that we would end our contract if these events continued."

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