Many of the most important, and in demand, jobs these days are in Supply Chain. Not only are these skills in high demand but the number of people with those extensive skills and experience is limited, making the effectiveness of the Supply Chain job interview more important than ever.
The result is that there will be a lot of competition, both from those hiring and those being hired, for the Supply Chain positions that need to be filled.
To help facilitate placing the best people in the best jobs we have endeavoured to outline the top 20 Supply Chain Job Interview Questions and Answers.
1. Tell me about your background
For my part I do not want to just read a candidate’s resume, or just have them read it back to me. By making this request I get a chance to hear the candidate articulate in their own words what they are about.
It is a chance to see how they react, how enthusiastic or emotional they get, and how well they communicate. Candidates should be prepared to elaborate on what the written words are on their resume and demonstrate their value.
2. Why are you interested in this job?
The job should come with some level of description about the responsibilities and expectations. The candidate should have most, but not necessarily all, of the qualifications before even applying for the job.
Research about the job should enhance one’s confidence in their ability to perform the tasks required. As such the candidate should be able to tell the interviewer what it is about the job that appeals to them along with why they have the capabilities to do it.
3. What do you know about this company and this industry?
Any candidate worth consideration will have researched the company and the job as extensively prior to the Supply Chain job interview. There are innumerable sources including the company’s website, social media, government filings, reviews and commentary, that can help inform a candidate on what the company is all about.
The candidate should have developed a genuine interest in both the job and the company, which can be demonstrated about how comprehensively they are prepared to respond to this question.
4. What is Supply Chain’s role?
Supply Chain can mean many different things to many different people. The culture and history of the organization will also often dictate how Supply Chain is viewed and what role it plays. In some organizations Supply Chain will be considered a back office, limited functional organization, whereas in other organizations it will be a very broadly scoped, all reaching group.
Given this wide definitional spectrum it is important for the candidate to have their own ideas as to how they view Supply Chain. If one is a specialist, for instance as a Procurement expert, then their view may be very finite in scope. If however one is a generalist, or in management, they may have a very broad view of what Supply Chain is, or what it can become.
5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This can be a difficult question for candidates to answer, with difficult answers for the interviewer to hear.
It is critical here to be honest, and perhaps humble. Dishonesty may get you past the interview but later on it will be uncovered, compromising trust in you and loss of integrity.
Remember that no one is perfect, so there is no sense in trying to portray that you are. Be honest and truthful and that should suffice.
6. What are some of your greatest achievements? What did you learn from these?
Having researched the job, and the company, when this question comes up you should be able to draw from your own achievements so as to demonstrate how they could be applicable to this new position.
Even if you are early in your career you should be able to construct your accomplishments, albeit limited, in such a way as to demonstrate the general skills that you can bring to a job.
And no achievements happen without missteps along the way. Even goals that are achieved can be a source of reflection on how things could have been improved and made even better.
7. What are some of your greatest failures? What did you learn from these?
In answering this question the main consideration is that you should not be afraid to articulate any failures. In fact if you don’t have any failures you are likely to make the interviewer suspicious.
Everyone fails at one point or another. It’s expected. Obviously no one is perfect. In fact the expectation is that you will reflect on failures and take away lessons to perform better in the future. The key is to be insightful and demonstrate growth from past failures.
8. Why should we hire you in particular?
What makes you stand out from the competition? It is a highly competitive labour market, particularly in areas like Supply Chain.
You need to demonstrate a level of enthusiasm and energy that sets you apart. This does not need to be physical energy. But positive mental energy and body language will demonstrate your high level of interest.
Then summarize your skills, your accomplishments, your learning skills, your ability to work in and with a team, and why you want to join that particular team and company.
9. What are your career aspirations?
Career success means different things to different people. And that’s ok. If you want to join a company, do that job, and continue in that capacity then that is great. If you want to join a company and rise to the level of the CEO then that is ok to.
The key is that you have some vision and aspiration. There is no right or wrong answer. It is also acceptable for a candidate to ask the interviewer if there are any expectations of the career trajectory of the successful candidate during the Supply Chain Job Interview.
10. How do you collaborate with others?
There are extremely few jobs wherein you don’t have to work with any other people. Even if you are working from home you are going to be emailing, calling, or having zoom meetings with other people.
At that same time anyone and everyone you work with is going to have their own set of personalities and behaviours. Some people you will naturally get along with, and others you will not. Regardless, you have to work with ALL of these people.
Your ability to work with people with divergent beliefs and personalities is the true test of your ability to collaborate.
11. How do you deal with conflict?
Not only do you have to collaborate with people to get things done, but you will have to deal with the inevitable conflict. Because people bring their differences into the workplace the daily stresses and pressures of the job will erupt in conflict, in varying degrees of intensity.
Conflict is inevitable. What is not clear to the interviewer is how you will handle that conflict. Be sure to discuss examples of conflict situations and your role in working through the conflict.
It is also a fact that these conflicts will not only be with your peers. Conflicts may occur with your boss, with customers, or with 3rd parties. That can make these situations even more tenuous. If you haven’t had that experience yet, it is reasonable to research and read and consult to develop your skills in conflict resolution.
12. How do you approach and handle problems?
Every job has problems. Unexpected things will always happen. Further you may be tasked with doing something to improve things, which in and of itself will introduce challenges and problems. And with problems comes some level of stress.
What happens next is what matters. How do you deal with problems? Do you run away? Do you take the lead? Do you follow? Every job at every level has its own set of problems. Thus it is very important for the interviewer to understand how you deal with problems.
13. Do you have experience in planning and strategy development?
Even the most mundane jobs require a level of planning, organization, and time management. Certainly the higher level jobs will involve more intense levels of tactical and strategic planning and visioning.
Much of this skill is developed and acquired as you advance and gain more experience. That being said, basic planning and organizational skills are needed in any job. Depending on your level of experience you should not underestimate the basic skills you may have in answering this interviewer question.
14. How do you handle ambiguity and stressful situations?
Even jobs that may seem routine will be met with process breakdowns, quality issues, and changing demands. Your boss may be screaming, customers may be screaming, and a lot of money may be lost while the situation prevails. The way out of those situations will not always be clear and will often be uncharted.
How you get through and out of those experiences is what the interviewer will want to know. Talking to an interviewer in the confines of a safe meeting room, or online, is one thing. But they want to understand how you would deal with things when everything is burning all around you.
15. How do you like to manage? How do you like to be managed?
There are many different management styles, and you rarely if ever get to choose your boss. That being said any person is more or less productive depending on how they are managed relative to how they prefer to be managed.
Do you need very specific instructions and direction and micromanagement? Or do you prefer much more of a hands-off management style?
Gaining at least a general understanding of the management culture in a company will give you a more informed view as to whether or not you will fit well in any company.
16. Are you a team player or an individualist?
Just like many jobs and careers, some require a more individual effort whereas others need extensive team work for success. Sports and athletics are great examples where these different skills are situationally relevant.
Understanding how the job is to be performed will also help inform both the candidate and the interviewer as to whether any particular job is a good fit.
17. Do you like to multi-task or do you prefer to work on one thing at a time?
Many jobs require the ability to juggle any number of tasks at the same time. Still others are much more structured, defined and repetitive. Different jobs appeal to different individual tendencies.
The candidate’s proclivity for one type of job or the other is important to understand in the interview process to ensure appropriateness of fit.
18. Why did you leave your last job? What would cause you to leave your next job?
There was a time decades ago when people worked with one company for their entire careers. That type of longevity is very rare these days. The general expectation nowadays is that a person will actually work for many different companies in the course of their career.
For some people they will move to a new job because of bigger and better opportunities, more money, promotions, or just because of a need to change. For others they will lead a job involuntarily. Maybe they were fired for a performance issue; maybe they were downsized as a part of a larger restructuring effort.
Regardless of the reason for leaving one job, or starting another job, the candidate should be able to articulate these reasons and circumstances to the interviewer.
19. What motivates you? What demotivates you?
This question ties into why someone would accept a new job, or leave an old job. They may be motivated by more money. They may have left a job because of a bad boss and his or her bad behaviours. They may have plateaued, or become bored.
Whatever a candidate’s reasons are it is important to discuss this with an interviewer. If a potential company is not going to be able to live up to a candidate’s expectation and motivations it is better to understand that up front to avoid wasting anyone’s time.
20. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Other things that should be understood as a part of the Supply Chain job interview process are other expectations and capabilities. If a company wants an employee to be on call 24-7, yet a candidate wants to work 9-5 with a solid work-life balance, failure to make this clear up front will quickly lead to somebody being very dissatisfied.
Additionally any other thoughts or expectations are best voiced in the interview process. The more that is shared and mutually agreed upon at this stage will ensure the best possible fit and chance of success in the job.