How to Impress During a Procurement Job Interview

Explore strategies candidates can use to bring their A-game to the table and impress the hiring managers during a procurement job interview.

By Hugo Britt | June 13, 2023

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Even though the labor market remains tight, candidates seeking procurement roles still need to bring their A-game to job interviews if they intend to stand out from the competition.

Below, we share some strategies that are sure to impress in a procurement job interview.

Understand what the employer is looking for

Read the job description. Then, read it again. What exactly is the employer looking for? If they’ve chosen to recruit rather than attempting to upskill their existing team or bring in a consultant, it’s likely they are searching for a specialist skillset. If you’ve also done your research on the company itself to gain an understanding of where the business is headed, you should be able to read between the lines and gain insight into their needs and priorities.

Next, go through the job description requirements point by point, think about who each compares to your skillset and experience, then practice articulating how you will bridge the gap between that experience and what they are looking for. Be ready to describe what you would do in your first 30 days in the role, with a focus on the priorities you’ve identified in the job description. 

If you're looking to land your next sourcing role, bring your A-game to the procurement job interview. Research the company, showcase both hard and soft skills, and ask the right questions to prove you're the best person for the job.

Showcase your hard skills

Hard skills are a given, but employers want proof that you have mastered the foundations of your craft such as cost optimization, contract negotiation, and analytics.

Remember, never make a claim without backing it up with an example. During your interview, emphasize your: 

  • Analytical skills: Highlight your ability to analyze data, identify patterns, and make informed decisions. Showcase your experience in conducting market research, performing cost-benefit analyses, and managing budgets.
  • Negotiation skills: Demonstrate your expertise in negotiation techniques and the ability to secure favorable contracts. Provide examples of successful negotiations and how you achieved mutually beneficial outcomes for the business and for suppliers.
  • SRM: Talk about your experience of supplier relationship management. Give examples of how you derived added value from an existing supplier relationship through SRM.

Demonstrate essential soft skills:

Soft skills are your opportunity to really stand out. Employers will assess your soft skills not only through your answers and examples, but through your performance in the interview itself – your ability to communicate, convince, problem-solve, and adapt. 

Be ready to explain how you have used your soft skills in the past to navigate complex relationships, communicate effectively, and manage stakeholders.

Focus on:

  • Communication skills: Demonstrate your ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing. Discuss instances where you effectively conveyed complex information or resolved conflicts with stakeholders.
  • Collaboration and relationship building: Emphasize your aptitude for collaborating with cross-functional teams and building strong relationships with suppliers and stakeholders in other departments.
  • Adaptability and problem-solving: Highlight your ability to adapt to changing circumstances and solve problems creatively. Discuss situations where you successfully resolved unexpected procurement challenges.

Show your interest in tech and AI

Think about how you will demonstrate your tech-savviness to the interviewers. Again, come prepared with examples. It’s no good just telling people you’re interested in technology and AI – instead, talk about the procurement technologies that excite you most, and why. If you’ve done so, describe some of the experiments you’ve conducted with ChatGPT and procurement tasks. 

Get excited about AI in procurement during the interview and highlight your understanding of what it can do for the profession. Demonstrate the ways in which you’ve leveraged technology in the past to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and make data-driven decisions.

Exhibit ESG awareness

With increasing emphasis on sustainability and responsible business practices, exhibiting your interest and knowledge in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) can set you apart from the procurement crowd.

Here’s how:

  • Research ESG initiatives: Understand the organization’s ESG initiatives and demonstrate how your knowledge of sustainable procurement practices, ethical sourcing, and supplier diversity could be used to support them.
  • Highlight your ESG mindset: Discuss instances where you implemented or contributed to ESG initiatives, such as reducing carbon footprint, promoting social responsibility, or implementing ethical supply chain practices.
  • Emphasize compliance: Regulatory compliance is complex and (let’s face it) a bit of a headache, which is why most employers will be delighted to find a candidate who is unphased by the compliance landscape. Be sure to showcase your understanding of regulations and standards related to ESG factors such as environmental regulations, labor rights, and ethical certifications.

Simply stating your skills and experience isn't enough. During the procurement job interview, back your claims up with real life examples of how you succeeded negotiating contracts, analyzing data, and managed relationships.

Ask insightful questions

Finally, make the most of the opportunity to ask insightful questions, but don’t reveal a lack of research or disinterest in the company. Impress by asking about how the employer is adapting to some of the key issues impacting the industry.

By highlighting your hard and soft skills, knowing your strengths, demonstrating an interest in technology and AI, and demonstrating your understanding of ESG factors, you will be sure to impress interviewers and stand out from the competition. Remember to prepare procurement-specific examples and stories to illustrate your abilities and achievements. 

Good luck on your procurement job interview journey!

Ready to jumpstart procurement and make an impact on day one of your new procurement career? Download Una’s playbook on how to facilitate sourcing efficiency and profitability.

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