Interview

17 Purchaser Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a purchaser, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

A purchaser is responsible for ordering and acquiring the necessary goods and services for their company. This may include anything from raw materials and production equipment to office supplies and marketing materials.

Purchasers must be able to assess their company’s needs and develop a plan for acquiring the necessary goods and services. They must also have strong negotiation skills to get the best prices for their company.

If you’re interviewing for a purchasing job, you’ll likely be asked questions about your experience ordering goods and services, your negotiation skills, and your knowledge of the market. Review the following sample questions and answers to help you prepare for your interview.

Are you comfortable negotiating with suppliers to get the best possible price on raw materials and finished goods?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have experience with supplier negotiations. Use examples from your past to show that you are comfortable negotiating and can get good deals for your company.

Example: “Yes, I am very comfortable negotiating with suppliers. In my last role as a buyer, I was responsible for finding new suppliers for our company’s products. One of our suppliers raised their prices by 10%, so I started looking for other suppliers who could provide similar quality at lower prices. After searching online and talking to several suppliers, I found one that could meet our needs at a price point that was 5% less than what we were paying before.”

What are some of the most important factors you consider when choosing a supplier?

This question can help the interviewer understand your decision-making process and how you evaluate potential suppliers. Your answer should include a list of criteria that are important to you, such as price, quality, delivery time or customer service.

Example: “I always consider price first because it’s one of the most important factors in determining whether a supplier is right for our company. However, I also look at other factors like quality, delivery time and customer service. If a supplier has competitive pricing but poor quality products, for example, they may not be worth working with. Similarly, if a supplier has low prices but takes too long to deliver their products, we may have to pay more to expedite shipping.”

How would you handle a situation where a supplier was consistently late with deliveries?

This question can help interviewers understand how you handle conflict and challenges in the workplace. Use examples from your experience to explain how you would approach this situation, what steps you would take to solve it and how you would ensure that similar situations don’t occur again.

Example: “In my last role as a buyer for a large retail chain, I had a supplier who was consistently late with deliveries. At first, I tried to be patient and understanding of their situation, but after several weeks of delays, I knew we needed to find another supplier. I contacted our company’s human resources department to discuss our options. They helped me create a hiring plan so we could hire new employees to replace the current staff at the supplier. This process took about six months, but once we hired new employees, they were able to deliver on time.”

What is your process for evaluating the quality of a potential supplier?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to evaluate the quality of a supplier’s products and services. They want to know that you can make an informed decision about which suppliers are best for their company. In your answer, explain how you would use specific criteria to determine whether a supplier is high-quality or not.

Example: “I always start by looking at the supplier’s website. I look for information on the company’s history, mission statement and any certifications they have. I also like to see if they have testimonials from previous clients. Next, I will call the company to get more information about their products and pricing. Finally, I will visit the facility where they produce their goods to ensure it meets my standards.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to source a product that was uncommon or difficult to find.

This question can allow you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and ability to adapt. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe the steps you took to find the product or service and how you overcame any challenges that arose during the process.

Example: “In my previous role as a buyer for a large retail chain, I had to source a specific type of fabric that was uncommon in our region. The fabric was only available from one supplier, so I worked with them to create a custom order that would meet our needs. It ended up costing more than we anticipated, but I made sure to communicate the situation to my manager so they could approve the additional funds.”

If you had to choose between two suppliers who offered similar prices and terms, how would you decide?

This question can help interviewers understand your decision-making process and how you would apply it to their company. Use examples from past experiences where you had to choose between two suppliers who offered similar terms, and explain the factors that influenced your choice.

Example: “In my last role as a buyer for a large retail chain, I was tasked with finding new suppliers for our store locations. One supplier offered us lower prices on some of our most popular products, but they also required longer delivery times than another supplier who could offer faster shipping. In this case, I decided to go with the supplier who could deliver our products more quickly because we were seeing high sales at those stores. We ended up switching back to the other supplier when sales slowed down.”

What would you do if a supplier sent you a shipment of the wrong goods?

This question can help interviewers understand how you would handle a challenging situation. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills and ability to work with others.

Example: “I once worked for a company that ordered the wrong goods from a supplier. The shipment arrived on a Friday, so I called the supplier first thing Monday morning. They apologized and said they could send us the correct order by Wednesday. However, we needed those products by the following week. So, I contacted my manager and asked if we could return the shipment and get a refund. We then placed an order with another supplier who could deliver the right products in time.”

How well do you understand the laws and regulations that apply to purchasing activities?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your knowledge of the laws and regulations that apply to purchasing activities. They want to make sure you understand how these rules can affect a company’s bottom line, so they might also ask questions about your experience with compliance issues. In your answer, try to show that you know what types of laws and regulations exist and why they’re important.

Example: “I have worked in procurement for five years now, and I’ve learned that there are many laws and regulations that apply to our work. For example, we must comply with federal anti-discrimination laws when hiring new employees. We also need to follow state and local laws regarding tax withholding on purchases. These rules help ensure that we don’t break any laws or put ourselves at risk.”

Do you have experience using purchasing software to track supplier contracts and inventory levels?

This question can help the interviewer determine your comfort level with using technology to complete tasks. Use examples from your experience that highlight your ability to learn new software and adapt quickly to different programs.

Example: “In my last role, I used a proprietary purchasing software program to track supplier contracts and inventory levels. The system was easy to use once I learned how to navigate it, but I found that I preferred using Excel spreadsheets for tracking information because they were more flexible and allowed me to customize them to fit my needs. My supervisor appreciated this flexibility as well, so we started using Excel spreadsheets instead of the software program.”

When is it appropriate to negotiate a long-term contract with a supplier?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your negotiation skills. They want to know if you can recognize when it’s appropriate to negotiate a long-term contract and how you would go about doing so. In your answer, explain that there are several factors that affect whether or not you should negotiate a long-term contract with a supplier.

Example: “It is usually best to negotiate a long-term contract with suppliers who offer products or services at a lower price than their competitors. This way, the company will save money over time by purchasing from them instead of other suppliers. I also consider the reputation of the supplier before entering into a long-term contract. If they have a good track record, then it makes sense to enter into a long-term contract.”

We want to build long-term relationships with our suppliers. How would you build trust with a new supplier partner?

This question can help the interviewer assess your interpersonal skills and ability to build relationships with suppliers. Use examples from past experiences where you built trust with a supplier, which helped develop a long-term relationship that benefited both parties.

Example: “I would start by asking questions about their company’s history, how they operate and what makes them unique. I also want to know more about their products or services so I can understand why our company should work with them. By showing interest in who they are as a business, it shows my commitment to building a strong partnership. This helps me learn if we’re a good fit for each other and whether we can provide value to one another.”

Describe your process for building strong relationships with vendors.

Strong vendor relationships are essential for a purchasing professional. Employers ask this question to make sure you understand the importance of these relationships and how to build them effectively. In your answer, explain what steps you take to develop strong working relationships with vendors. Share two or three specific strategies that have helped you form positive connections in the past.

Example: “I find it’s important to be honest and transparent when communicating with vendors. I always try to communicate my needs clearly so there is no confusion about what we expect from each other. If I ever need help from a supplier, I am upfront about it and let them know as soon as possible. This shows them that I value their time and expertise.

Another strategy I use to build strong relationships with suppliers is to send handwritten thank-you notes after every meeting. These small gestures show that I appreciate our business relationship and want to continue building on it. I also like to get to know my vendors personally by asking questions about their lives outside of work.”

What makes you a good fit for this purchasing position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you feel about the job. Before your interview, make a list of reasons why you are qualified for this position. Think about what skills you have that match the job description. Also, think about any personal experiences or background information that makes you a good fit for this role.

Example: “I am a great fit for this purchasing position because I have experience working in a fast-paced environment. In my last role, I worked with a team of other buyers who were all responsible for different products. We had to work quickly to find suppliers and negotiate prices. I also have excellent communication skills, which is important when working with vendors and clients. I can explain complicated processes clearly so everyone understands.”

Which industries do you have the most experience working in as a purchaser?

This question can help the interviewer understand your experience level and how it may relate to their company. Use this opportunity to highlight any skills you have that are relevant to the position, such as working with a team or managing budgets.

Example: “I’ve worked in both manufacturing and retail industries throughout my career. In my last role, I was responsible for sourcing materials for our products while also helping to create marketing campaigns for our brand. This helped me develop my negotiation skills and learn more about what consumers want from our products.”

What do you think is the most challenging part of being a purchaser?

This question can help the interviewer understand what you think about your job and how you approach challenges. You can answer this question by identifying a specific challenge that you have faced in the past and explaining how you overcame it or plan to overcome it in the future.

Example: “The most challenging part of being a purchaser is finding suppliers who are both affordable and reliable. I’ve had situations where I found a supplier with low prices, but they were unreliable when it came time to deliver goods. I now make sure to thoroughly research any potential suppliers before making a purchase so I know their reliability and quality of work.”

How often do you make purchasing decisions?

This question can help interviewers understand how much experience you have making purchasing decisions. They may also want to know if you are comfortable with the process and what your typical timeline is for making a decision. Use examples from previous experiences in which you made purchasing decisions, including the types of purchases you made and the time it took you to make those decisions.

Example: “In my current role as an assistant buyer, I am responsible for researching products and services that meet our company’s needs. Then, I present my findings to the buyer who makes the final decision on which vendor we choose. In this position, I’ve been involved in several large-scale purchases, such as new software systems and office supplies. However, I typically spend one week researching vendors before presenting my findings to the buyer.”

There is a supplier who consistently underdelivers. How would you handle this situation?

This question can help interviewers understand how you handle conflict and challenges. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills, communication abilities and ability to work with others.

Example: “I would first meet with the supplier to discuss their performance. I would explain that underdelivering is a major issue for our company because it affects our bottom line. If they continue to underperform, I would consider finding another supplier who could provide us with better service. This may be difficult, however, as we have a contract in place. In this case, I would try to find ways to improve the quality of the product while also reducing costs.”

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