With an average starting salary around $60,000, Supply Chain Managers and Supply Chain Analysts have been consistently sought after positions by both new grads and seasoned professionals alike. The position has been around for quite some time, but what does someone working in Supply Chain really do anyway? In short, Supply Chain managers have a deep knowledge of how the company functions and they work to bring in new ideas and processes to help the company operate and produce at a reduced cost and higher rate. For example, a Supply Chain Manager at a shoe company would oversee the sourcing of the various materials for the shoes from suppliers, ensure that adequate supplies of these materials are present throughout the shoe production process and, finally, manage the inventory for that shoe line.
1. Why Supply Chain?
This might seem like an obvious one, but your answer will be one of the few that your interviewer will be sure to jot down the answer to in detail. You need to use this question as your opportunity to really pitch why you will dominate as a Supply Chain Manager and why you are the person that should be trusted to handle this critical job function for the company.
2. What is your experience or background in Supply Chain?
If you have prior experience working in Supply Chain, this is your opportunity to really highlight how you can use all of that background in your new role. Don’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments here! Remember, it’s always a plus to talk about how your personal input led to a specific and measurable output. “I contributed to implementing a new process that reduced time of production by 2%, saving the company nearly one million dollars” sounds much better than “Our team worked hard to speed up production and save the company a ton of money.”
3. If you don’t yet have experience in Supply Chain, why should we pick you?
If you’re going for your first internship, entry level role, or even a career pivot into Supply Chain, this is your time to shine. You need to shape how your previous experience or education will lead to you being a future killer Supply Chain Manager at this company. If you’re enrolled in or recently graduated from a business program, this is a great opportunity to talk about how your education will set you up perfectly for this role. If you talk about clubs or leadership experience, be sure to show how your efficiency, attention to detail, lack of complacency, and your understanding of the inner-workings of organizations contributed to success.
4. How would you go about building relationships with suppliers located abroad?
As someone working in Supply Chain there’s a strong chance you will be interacting regularly with suppliers abroad. Your interviewer wants to see your ability to foster connections with people. Talk about some prior experience building relationships and use the STAR method.
5. How do you handle pressure?
Supply Chain can often be a pressure-filled job function. It makes sense when you consider how often hiccups can arise in the supply chain. Your interviewer wants to see how you’re going to handle those hiccups and be cool as a cucumber under pressure.
6. In your own words, what is the purpose of a Supply Chain Manager?
This might seem like another gimme, but your interviewer will be looking for you to demonstrate how you have a complete grasp on the functions of this role. Check out this guide for a more in-depth response.
7. Do you understand how our Supply Chain works?
Research the company you are interviewing with to get a feel for their supply chain and describe back to the interviewer how you understand and can handle their operations, logistics, sourcing, management, etc. This is a great opportunity to show how diligent you were preparing prior to coming in. Speaking of preparation, we recommend using Interview School to crush your interview as a Supply Chain Manager!
8. What are the key components of our Supply Chain?
Your interviewer may want a deeper dive into the previous question. Of course you won’t be able to map out their entire supply chain, but coming in prepared with a general idea of how this company’s supply chain is organized will be critical.
9. How do you work cross-functionally and influence various stakeholders?
Because you’ll be working with a bunch of different teams on a regular basis, your interviewer wants to see how you will manage and influence people within the company. Demonstrate how you understand the challenges that the various roles face and how you can keep the machine running smoothly amid those challenges.
10. Describe how you stay organized?
It should be no secret that organization and attention to detail are key competencies of a Supply Chain Manager. Discuss how you stay ultra organized and what tools or methods you use to accomplish your organization.
11. How do you motivate others within the company?
Your interviewer wants to hear you talk about how you’re able to rally teams together around a shared goal as well as how you make sure everyone is aligned on how their team’s goals contribute to company-wide goals.
12. What is your process when learning a new Supply Chain skill or tool?
The life of a Supply Chain manager is one where you’re constantly learning both on and off the job. Your interviewer will want to hear how you’re not afraid to step out of your comfort zone to pick up a new skill. Curiosity and trial-and-error is an asset in Supply Chain Management!
13. What technical skills do you have?
Now you don’t need to be a seasoned data scientist, but you should feel comfortable using data tools and explaining a project or two that you did with them. When planning capacity, demand management, and inventory, being able to work with data to examine and model budgets is a must.
14. What methodologies or approaches do you think should be applied to a Supply Chain?
Come to the interview familiar with manufacturing methodologies like Agile, Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, and Kanban. Also, be familiar with some of the concepts in this guide.
15. How do you ensure relationships with suppliers are maintained long term?
Convey how you build relationships to last by utilizing your expert customer-facing skills. Consider how cost efficiency will scale with a supplier as your buyer-supplier bond grows over time.
16. Can you describe a time when your efforts came up short or you were disappointed with an outcome?
You can discuss your previous Supply Chain experience here or you can discuss a case at a previous job or experience. The key is to showcase how you grew from an experience and how you’re better prepared to tackle new challenges because of those growth opportunities.
17. How do you work with a diverse team?
A comprehensive guide can be found here!
18. Describe Demand Forecasting?
Demand Forecasting is exactly what it sounds like, using historical data to make future business decisions like planning inventory, materials procurement, and addressing future client purchasing habits. It is the foundation for a data-driven supply chain.