35 Purchasing Manager Interview Questions And Sample Answers

Updated 6 September 2023

Purchasing managers coordinate the procurement activities of a company and ensure that the organisation acquires raw materials, equipment, inventory, products and services within budget while meeting predetermined specifications and quality standards. Employers look for purchasing managers with strong decision-making, communication and negotiation skills. If you are looking to build your career as a purchasing manager, reviewing the expected interview questions can enhance your confidence and help you deliver your best during the interview. In this article, we list common purchasing manager interview questions and share a few sample answers and helpful interview tips.

Related: How To Write A Purchasing Manager Resume (With Example)

General Purchasing Manager Interview Questions

Interviewers usually ask general purchasing manager interview questions to know more about the candidate and as a warm-up exercise. Preparing for these questions can help you start the interview confidently and create a positive impression on the interviewer right from the beginning. Here are some of the common general questions that you can expect in an interview for the role of a purchasing manager:

  1. Can you tell us more about yourself than what you have shared on your resume?

  2. Why do you think you are the right person for this job?

  3. Why do you want to join our company?

  4. What are your biggest strengths and how do they help you in your professional life?

  5. What do you consider your biggest weakness?

  6. Why did you choose to become a purchasing manager?

  7. How do you handle stressful situations at work?

  8. What is your working style?

  9. How would you rate your purchasing manager skills on a scale from one to ten?

  10. What are your professional goals?

Related: Guide: What Does A Purchasing Manager Do In A Company?

Questions About Your Experience As A Purchasing Manager

Interviewers usually ask questions about your previous professional experiences. These questions help to hire managers envision you in the role and evaluate if you are the right fit for the position, team and company. Here are a few questions about your work experience:

  1. How long have you been working as a purchasing manager?

  2. How have your previous work experiences as a purchasing manager equipped you for this position?

  3. Can you describe your experience in leading a purchasing team?

  4. Did you face any significant difficulties in your previous role and how did you overcome them?

  5. What is your outstanding professional achievement?

  6. What did you like the most and the least about your last role?

  7. Can you explain how you have grown your skill-sets in your previous positions?

  8. Do you have experience working with purchasing systems and which ones do you recommend?

  9. Have you worked on projects that involve procurements from different countries?

  10. Do you hold any professional certifications that qualify you as a purchasing manager?

Related: What Is A Purchasing Process? Importance, Steps And Tips

In-Depth Interview Questions About Purchasing Management

These are the more technical questions that help the hiring manager evaluate your knowledge of specific processes and your ability to perform the role. These questions are more interactive and the interviewer might ask follow-up questions to gain a deeper perspective. You can use the following examples to prepare your answers for expected in-depth interview questions:

  1. Imagine a situation where a company purchases a customised product from a single vendor. How would you determine that the pricing is fair?

  2. What would you do if you received products that do not meet the standards?

  3. How would you handle a situation where a specific department requests inventory that is beyond the company's budget?

  4. Imagine your organisation requires you to cancel a vendor contract. How would you approach this situation?

  5. Describe a situation where you achieved a significant discount on a supply contract.

  6. Have you ever disagreed with suppliers? How do you resolve it?

  7. Tell us about a time when you were unsuccessful in negotiating a contract. What did you learn from the experience?

  8. What is a purchase requisition and how do you handle it?

  9. Can you walk us through your daily activities as a purchasing manager?

  10. How do you ensure procurement best practices?

Related: Purchasing Manager Skills: Examples Plus How To Highlight

Purchasing Manager Interview Questions With Sample Answers

You can read the following questions and sample answers to get a better understanding of how to frame your responses during the interview:

1. What are your criteria for selecting the best suppliers and vendors for the organisation?

One of the primary responsibilities of a purchasing manager is to scout for and find the best vendors and suppliers for their employer. The interviewer might ask this question to evaluate if you have a strong working knowledge of building supplier contracts. You can make your answer comprehensive by including factors other than pricing in the evaluation criteria.

Example answer: "While pricing is the most important factor, I do not make it the sole criteria. Instead, I evaluate suppliers based on factors like product quality, availability, reputation and location. Also, I prefer vendors who offer a long-term commitment as it helps keep costs down over the long-term and builds a robust supply chain."

Related: What Is The Procurement Process? (And How It Works)

2. Do you have a risk strategy that you use in supplier management?

This question helps the interviewer know how you anticipate challenges and take proactive measures to implement the right strategies to achieve the desired results. While answering this question, you can frame your answer to demonstrate your ability to handle risky scenarios using innovative and comprehensive solutions.

Example answer: "Before I sign a supplier contract, I always conduct a thorough risk analysis to ensure the reliability and trustworthiness of the vendor. While interviewing new suppliers, I assess vendors' timely deliveries and check their previous performance records for other clients. This helps me establish the supplier's reliability. I use a risk model to rate suppliers based on their risk factors and choose vendors with minimum risks."

Related: What Is Risk Management? (Crucial Steps And Strategies)

3. What do you think is the most crucial skill of a good purchasing manager?

This question helps the interviewer gain insights into your operational priorities. Instead of highlighting a specific skill, make sure that your solution is comprehensive by listing all the critical skills you possess and explaining how these skills help perform the role seamlessly to achieve the desired results.

Example answer: "I think that a good purchasing manager requires various skills to excel in their role. I believe the top two skills for purchasing managers are strong decision-making to help evaluate vendors and make the right procurement decisions, communication and negotiation skills to resolve disputes and negotiate effectively with vendors and other team members. Having the basic financial skills helps purchasing managers make the right sourcing decisions without going over the budget."

Related: Procurement Skills: Definition, Importance And Examples

4. How would you handle a situation where a critical supplier is unreliable?

The interviewer might ask this question to determine how you would react in challenging situations. You can frame your answer using the situation, task, action and result (STAR) interview response methodology. Start by explaining a previous work experience where you faced a similar problem. Then, explain the task and action you took to deliver the desired result.

Example answer: "In my previous role, we had a supplier who consistently delivered supplies late and often with missing items. The first thing I did was bring the situation to my manager's attention. As production got delayed, I explained how the late shipments cost the company. In the meantime, I contacted the supplier and emphasised the need for timely deliveries. I told them that if they failed to comply with our schedules, I would cancel the contract. The timely intervention made the supplier deliver on schedule and we did not face any other delays."

Related: How To Use The STAR Interview Response Technique

5. Have you ever helped a previous employer reduce procurement costs?

The primary responsibility of a purchasing manager is to ensure that they help the organisation acquire what they need without going over budget. The interviewer asks this question to check if you have any experience implementing cost-control programs. You can provide examples of cost reduction strategies you have used and how they helped your previous employers.

Example answer: "In one of my previous roles as a purchasing manager, I implemented a program using the lean and six sigma tools. This helped optimise the entire procurement chain and lowered the purchasing costs for the subsequent quarter by 20%."

Related: What Is Cost Of Production? (With Factors That Affect It)

Tips For Answering Interview Questions For Purchasing Managers

Here are a few tips to help you deliver effective answers that impress the interviewer and increase your chances of securing the role:

  • Be specific: Try using examples of how your previous work experiences might help you in the new position. The more you match the job requirements, the higher your chances of securing the job.

  • Quantify your responses: Using numbers, figures and statistics in your responses can make your answers sound more persuasive. Providing quantifiable proof of your accomplishments and experience shows that you have the right transferable skills that benefit your new organisation.

  • Avoid memorising answers: While it is important to practise answering questions, ensure that you sound natural and relaxed. Avoid learning answers by rote. Instead, focus on the critical points for each question and decide which topics you would like to include for each answer. 

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