Procurement Interview Best Practices

Having managed recruitment at a procurement services consulting firm, I’ve seen all types of interview behavior: the good, the excellent, and the not-so-sterling. From my perspective, procurement is a unique line of work that requires an interview candidate to be both analytical and creative. Of course all the common interview etiquette is essential, but with such an industry, there are some additional areas worth prepping for.

1.  Put Yourself To The Test Whether an organization is seeking a buyer, analyst, or purchasing manager, people need to be experienced in data management tools like Microsoft Excel or a data management platform. Anyone can say Yes, I’ve used that frequently, so employers need concrete proof. A procurement skills test is an option that many employers pursue to assess a job applicant. To prepare yourself, brush up on simple formulas to the best of your knowledge. Review functions like v-lookups and pivot tables to keep yourself sharp for the chance these skills will be tested.

A word of caution  you shouldn’t necessarily ask your point of contact if there will be a test  they’re not likely to tell you if they haven’t already, and they want to see if you already have the skills necessary. If a test is presented and you don’t know an answer (or many), don’t run from the interview you’d be surprised how frequently I’ve seen this. Stay calm, give it your best shot, and emphasize that you’re a quick learner with examples of similar tools you’ve picked up seamlessly in the past. It’s likely that the employer has been in your exact shoes in the beginning of their careers, and they get it.

2.  Watch Your Mouth! Of course you know to keep your language clean, but there are certain phrases to completely avoid if you’re looking to impress the qualifier. Some no-no’s include:

Coordinated day to day activities: You are no ordinary candidate. Prove it! Use strong language that shows you took charge and delivered unique value.
I am a hard worker and I did well : Show this, don’t just say it. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to demonstrate your achievements and use quantifiable results to dictate the quality of your effort.

3.  Play Up Your Uniqueness There are a lot of procurement practitioners out there. Regardless of what others did in your professional experience, show that you are able to think outside of the box and push for improvement in the procurement process. Be specific and make it known that you aren’t afraid to push for innovation when appropriate. These are only the beginning of some ideas to prepare for a purchasing/procurement/strategic sourcing-related interview, but they can help you understand some qualities that interviewers are seeking foremost. Most of all, relax and take deep breaths. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, so trust that if the opportunity is meant to be and you prepared diligently, everything will fall into place.

About the Author:   Heather Grossmuller is a Marketing professional at Source One Management Services, LLC, a Philadelphia Business Journal People on the Move Recognition Recipient, an advisory board representative of La Salle University’s Association of Women MBAs, and all-around marketing enthusiast. As Marketing professional, she oversees Source One’s efforts in internal/external communications ranging from social media management to recruitment.