Supply Chain Managers have a hand in a variety of processes that take a product from the raw material stage into consumers' hands. They might be involved in everything from planning and forecasting to purchasing, product assembly and distribution. If you are interviewing for a job as a Supply Chain Manager, you must demonstrate your ability to create or redesign processes to gain efficiency, effectively manage vendors, and negotiate the best prices for materials or services.
Hiring managers want to know that you have the ability to create processes that are economical and efficient, so you might be asked about how you would evaluate and redesign a relevant process. For example, the Supply Chain Manager may be responsible for defining the scope of the Request for Proposal process and the method for gathering and evaluating the proposals received. The interviewer may ask if you have done this type of process design work in the past, what the specific processes were, what prompted the redesign, and what the outcome was.
The ability to assess the overall value of a vendor is one key to the supply chain function. You must not only look at the vendor's prices, but also the quality of its products and services, its on-time delivery performance, its financial stability and its dependability. Interviewers might ask you about your process for assessing vendors and how, once you’ve established a relationship, you ensure that the vendor remains the best choice over time. One question you might be asked is, What is your process for dealing with a vendor who is no longer competitive on price and service?
Negotiating the Best Deal
Prospective employers will be interested in your track record of negotiating with vendors for materials and services. You should be prepared to respond to questions related to your ability to do this by citing specific examples of your past successes. Interviewers might ask about difficult negotiations you have experienced, what made them so difficult, how you worked through the difficulties, and the outcomes.
Analyzing Data for Cost Savings
Your job as Supply Chain Manager is to add to the profitability of the company through analyses that result in cost savings. Be prepared to discuss ways that you have identified and eliminated waste. You might be asked what methods you use for analyzing cost data, or some of the indicators you typically see that may prompt further analysis. Finally, be prepared to discuss the results in terms of dollars saved.
Barbara Falkenrath holds a master's degree in human relations and an undergraduate degree in English. Falkenrath has earned the SHRM - SCP, SPHR and GPHR certifications. She has over 15 years of human resources leadership experience in global organizations and consults as a subject matter expert on human resources issues.