10 top tips for an interview in procurement and supply

Written by: CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs
Published on: 8 Feb 2024

Do you want to nail your upcoming interview? Looking to impress your future employer? Whether it’s your first or 50th interview, the process will always be nerve-racking, which is why CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs have highlighted 10 top tips to help you ace your next procurement and supply interview. 

10 tips for successful interview

1: Familiarise yourself with the company (and the interviewer) 

Procurement functions differ from business to business so ensure you’re fully familiar with the company structure, their team set up and their overarching business mantra. Aligning your responses with their ethos is a great way to show you’ve done your research and that you’re a good fit.

 

2: Demonstrate that you’re eager to learn 

Having qualifications is always great, but don’t forget a role in procurement and supply often involves learning on the job. Interviewees are looking for candidates that demonstrate a willingness, and passion for upskilling. You need to prove to them that you’d be a long-term investment, and a committed employee. 

Note: a great way of demonstrating this is by asking questions about training, growth and qualification sponsorship opportunities at the organisation.

 

3: Demonstrate your ability to prioritise 

Roles in procurement and supply often involve the juggling of multiple plates, so interviewers will be looking for evidence that shows you have the correct skillset for the profession. Expect questions around prioritisation, proactiveness and work ethic, such as: 

  1. Describe a time when you had to prioritise your procurement tasks when you had multiple competing deadlines. How did you prioritise one deadline over the other, what actions did you take, and what were the results? 

  1. Describe a time when you had to go above and beyond to meet a tight deadline. How did you proactively ensure a timely delivery? 

  1. Describe a time when you had to manage multiple stakeholders with conflicting demands and priorities. How did you alleviate the situation and ensure all parties were satisfied? 

 

4: Show that you’re flexible and agile 

Procurement professionals often experience unexpected fluctuations in priorities where adaptability and agility will be crucial skills to have. Make sure you prepare examples of times you’ve had to adapt to different projects, people and circumstances.  

Note: it helps if you display a positive attitude or stance towards unexpected change, and challenges – either in the questions you ask, or the responses you give. 

 

5: Be personable 

Don’t be a robot who reels off automated answers! Be personable with your interviewer and showcase your people skills. Procurement is all about going out and working closely with different departments and people. Highlight your ability to build strong relationships and collaborate. Remember, the interviewer will be scrutinising your personality as much as your responses to their questions. 

Note: never scrimp on showcasing your soft skills – they’re just as important as technical skills. 

 

6: Ask the right questions 

Always come prepared with a list of potential questions to ask – it shows that you’ve done your research and want to know more about the organisation. The best type of questions to ask are ones that aren’t covered in the job spec (or on their website for that matter). These might include: 

  1. What has kept you in the business for so long?  

  1. What are the biggest challenges you see in the team/business this year?   

  1. What training or upskilling do you think I’d need for this role?  

  1. What’s the most exciting thing about working for the business?  

  1. What’s the culture like within the team?  

 

7: Demonstrate technology proficiency 

Familiarise yourself with software and tools commonly used in procurement – highlighting any relevant experience you might have with these technologies. If the job spec highlights a specific platform research it ahead of time and bring it up in your interview.  

Take a look at some of the following platforms as a starting point: 

  1. Precoro 

  1. Coupa 

  1. MRPeasy 

  1. MIE Trak 

  1. SAP Ariba 

  1. Promena 

  1. Katana 

  1. QT9 

  1. Fishbowl Manufacturing 

 

8: Highlight notable achievements 

Come prepared with several specific examples that showcase notable achievements (with quantifiable metrics if possible). Examples could include a time you increased process efficiency, built successful supplier relationships or significantly reduced costs. The more examples the better – and try not to use the same example twice. 

 

9: Be confident! 

Showcase your passion for procurement, and why you’d be a good fit for the role. Remember your body language and focus on engaging genuine and thought-provoking conversation with the interviewer. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you! 

 

10: Close on a positive note (and reaffirm your interest) 

Express genuine gratitude to the interviewer for their time and for giving you the opportunity to interview. Reiterate your interest in the role and express enthusiasm for potentially joining the team. 

Also, don’t forget to follow up after the interview – it could be the difference between a job offer and a rejection!  

Dear [Interviewer Name], 

Thank you for your time today. It was a pleasure to hear more about the position and [Company Name], it sounds like a fantastic opportunity, and it’s clear that [Company Name] has the energetic and hardworking environment I’m seeking. 

I especially enjoyed hearing about the opportunities for [Insert Specification] and [Insert Specification], and I think my skills and experience would match your requirements. 

I look forward to hearing from you in due course regarding next steps, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any additional information. 

Kind regards, 

[Your Name] 

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