35 Interview Questions On Procurement (With Sample Answers)

Updated 22 June 2023

Individuals who work in procurement find suppliers and initiate transactions with them to obtain goods and services for business operations. This role requires sound decision-making and quick action to ensure the most cost-effective, and efficient sourcing of materials for an organisation. If you are interviewing for a position in procurement or purchasing, practicing answers to common questions can be helpful to showcase your skills and experience better.

In this article, we discuss 35 of the most common interview questions on procurement topics, explain what interviewers are looking for in your responses and provide some sample answers to help you prepare for your interview.

General Interview Questions On Procurement

Interview questions on procurement topics may come later in an interview, with employers often beginning the session by asking general questions to gain insight into the candidate's motivations, aspirations and communication skills. These questions often focus on personality traits rather than solely on technical knowledge, providing a foundation for further discussion that more closely relates to the role. Use this opportunity to build rapport with your interviewer and settle into the conversation. Some general questions you may receive include the following:

  1. What interests you most about our company?

  2. Why do you want to leave your current job?

  3. What would you say is your biggest strength?

  4. How would your colleagues describe you?

  5. What are your biggest motivators?

  6. Do you prefer working alone or in a team?

  7. What are your career goals?

  8. What was the last thing you learnt?

  9. Describe your ideal work environment.

  10. What is your biggest weakness?

Related: 35 Purchasing Manager Interview Questions And Sample Answers

Questions About Your Experience And Background

Recruiters often use questions about a candidate's experience and background to evaluate how closely their qualifications match the demands of the role they are interviewing for. These questions can help hiring managers better understand why you may qualify for a particular role and assess whether you are a good fit for the company's culture. Here are some examples of questions that interviewers may ask about your experience and background:

  1. What previous procurement positions have you held?

  2. In what ways have you improved processes in past roles?

  3. Do you have any qualifications in procurement or business?

  4. Tell me about your best negotiation experience.

  5. What unique skills or experience could you bring to our organisation?

  6. What are the best ways to maintain relationships with suppliers?

  7. Do you have any experience with leading a team?

  8. Tell me about a time you went over and above your job duties.

  9. Describe the best example of teamwork that you have experienced.

  10. How do you handle stress and pressure?

Related: How To Become A Purchasing Manager: A Step-By-Step Guide

In-Depth Questions

These questions focus on the skills that specifically relate to procurement roles, such as negotiating contracts, overseeing supplier relationships and ensuring cost-effectiveness within procurement processes. The following 10 examples include questions you can anticipate that test your ability to perform in the role:

  1. What challenges have you faced in your prior roles relating to negotiations with suppliers?

  2. Do you have experience creating and implementing cost-reduction initiatives within the supply chain?

  3. What inventory management techniques, systems and software are you familiar with?

  4. How do you ensure compliance with relevant regulations when selecting new suppliers or managing existing ones?

  5. What factors influence your decision-making process when choosing a new supplier?

  6. How do you handle the variance between supplier capacity and sales demand?

  7. How do you determine whether a transaction requires a purchase contract?

  8. How do you stay informed about market conditions and recent developments in the industry?

  9. What KPIs do you track for supplier performance?

  10. What are the most important factors in a procurement risk management strategy?

Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Use the following example procurement interview questions and answers to get ready for your interview, and help you impress the hiring manager:

1. How do you ensure the timely delivery of important supplies?

An interviewer may ask this question to assess your organisational and problem-solving skills. Your answer gives them an understanding of your experience with creating and managing systems to fit a need. This is an opportunity to show that you can critically assess the process and identify potential issues before they arise.

Example: I was responsible for ensuring the timely delivery of important supplies. To accomplish this, I implemented a process for tracking supplier performance metrics, evaluating current needs and forecasting future requirements to help prioritise orders based on urgency. I developed a system for monitoring delivery schedules that alerts the relevant people when shipments were close to overdue or were not on time. Through these measures, the company I worked for improved its on-time delivery performance by 10% over a four-month period.

Related: How To Use The STAR Interview Response Technique

2. How do you organise supplier records?

Interviewers can gauge your organisational skills through questions about practical scenarios. Provide examples of how you have organised items in the past to achieve accuracy and efficiency through high attention to detail. If you have used specific software in your organisational tasks, you can also mention this here.

Example: I find it easiest to keep dedicated spaces for each supplier, which contain contracts, invoices and delivery orders. I use a digital system to create custom labels, issue invoices, create contracts and track budgets. This system keeps the whole process functioning well. As a backup, I keep physical copies of documents in an organised filing system, ensuring key information is always available when necessary. This combined strategy keeps records in order and allows me to work precisely while enabling others to quickly find what they are looking for, even if I were away on leave, for example.

Related: 6 Inventory Management Interview Questions (With Answers)

3. Have you ever cancelled a supplier contract?

This question allows you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and ability to make challenging decisions. Procurement is key in many businesses where interruptions can cause a chain reaction and impact other business areas. It is therefore important for procurement personnel to be able to modify and negotiate contracts. Providing an example of where you have cancelled a contract allows you to show that you are able to troubleshoot issues and exhaust options before taking significant action, where possible.

Example: In my previous role, my team and I worked with a supplier that consistently delivered orders that were overdue. I ran an analysis and consulted with its customer service team to better understand its operations. It became apparent that the vendor could not meet our delivery expectations because of a low capacity and a high demand from other customers. I attempted to negotiate an agreement with the supplier by proposing changes, such as extended deadlines or additional fees for prompt delivery. Unfortunately, the satisfactory arrangement I had envisioned did not materialise, and it became necessary for me to cancel the contract.

4. How do you maintain good communication?

Workplaces with good communication are environments where everyone understands what tasks require completion, works collaboratively and can discuss issues openly without fear of judgement. This results in greater efficiency and healthier workplace relationships. Interviewers can better understand how proactively you approach communication issues in your work through your answer to this question.

Example: To help keep communication open, I consult regularly with each supplier to ensure that I have a good relationship with them. During one of these check-ins in a previous role, I noticed a discrepancy between the order and the invoice I received from the supplier. By mentioning it in our conversation, I helped to quickly resolve the issue without any major delays. This aided in establishing trust and kept the communication transparent, encouraging the efficient identification and resolution of any potential issues.

Related: Procurement Skills: Definition, Importance And Examples

5. What do you like least about procurement?

With this question, recruiters hope to get an understanding of how you handle challenging tasks. Avoid providing answers that portray procuring as a transactional process. Instead, focus on its interpersonal and organisational aspects. You can use this opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and showcase how you are proactive in addressing challenges. Explain how you make unfavourable situations better by staying methodical, researching suppliers, setting clear goals, and establishing relationships with vendors. Highlight any strategies or techniques that you use in your work.

Example: The thing I like least about procurement is disappointing potential suppliers. Recently, when I was vetting suppliers for a major project, one candidate looked perfect, but unfortunately, their pricing was prohibitively expensive. After careful consideration, I decided to not select them. Despite making sure to be transparent in my communication throughout the process, it was still challenging to deliver such news to the vendor since they had put a lot of effort into preparing their bid. To address this issue, I ensure that all communication with suppliers is professional and clear to manage all expectations properly.

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