Nailing that Supply Management Interview

A recent article over on Supply Chain Brain indicated that a hiring manager should be rethinking the way she interviews a candidate for a position in supply chain management. As part of this rethinking, the article outlined eight key indicators designed to illuminate your level of management expertise and likelihood of success. The indicators are dead-on. Thus, if you can demonstrate that you satisfy the indicators, you should be more than able to nail the supply management interview. So how do you do this? Keep an ABLE MIND.

1. Accept the Unknown

You don’t know everything, and you won’t know the answer to every question a good interviewer will ask. Be prepared to admit that you “don’t know”. In addition, be sure to indicate your willingness to learn. If the interviewer asks you how you’d apply a given aspect of the PMM that you’re unfamiliar with, say “I’m not familiar with that aspect of the PMM, but I’d be glad to research the issue on my own time”. If the interviewer asks how you’d handle a dip in a supplier performance metric with an unknown supplier, and you’re unsure, feel free to say “I don’t know, but I think I’d start with asking my more experienced colleagues how they’ve handled similar situations and what they think I should do. Then I’d try to get more data to make an informed decision.”

2. Be Quantitative as well as Qualitative in Your Approach

As the article points out, Quantitative mangers are much more likely to be effective in managing complex supply chain challenges down the road. So talk about how you reduced sourcing cycle time, or increased the number of perfect orders by 5%, or reduced average inventory holding time by 7 days at your last job.

3. Listen Well

Good managers know that candidates who are keen listeners are better equipped to deal with the interpersonal challenges that might arise in an organization than those who aren’t. Be sure to listen carefully to questions and to ask your own and listen carefully to the response, asking for clarification where you’re fuzzy.

4. Exhibit Problem Solving Skills

Let’s face it, today’s complex supply chains are full of challenges, and it will be your job to solve many of them. Address specific challenges you tackled at your last job and how you solved them in a methodical manner and ask what types of challenges the organization currently faces. Then be prepared to think on the spot and indicate how you’d address them when asked.

5. Measure Up

Know your strengths and your weaknesses, be willing to admit to both, and be ready to address how you intend on addressing those weaknesses that could impact your job performance.

6. Inquire Appropriately

Don’t just ask about salary, working hours, and company perks. Ask about the relative breakdown in the different tasks you’ll be asked to do, what challenges you’ll be facing, and what the organization is looking for (so you can best demonstrate what you can bring to the table).

7. Negotiate the Interview

Not only should you go with the flow, because a good interview doesn’t follow a rigid question and answer structure, but you should be prepared to take the lead at times to ensure a good back-and-forth exchange of information, ideas, and insight. That’s the key to standing out and being remembered.

8. Deal with Criticism Well

In a large, active organization, you’re probably going to be criticized regularly by individuals with different points of view. If you can’t handle it well in an interview, the interviewer is going to take it as a sign that you could become an obstructive force in an interview. Be sure to stay calm and acknowledge each point that the interviewer makes fairly.

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