Tips and Advice to Help You With Your Next Supply Chain Interview
We’re offering some basic guidelines and interviewing quick tips to help you best prepare for your next supply chain interview.
Today’s top employers are increasingly conducting behavioral based interviews designed to assess core competencies deemed important to possess in order to be successful in the job. The interviewers may ask a series of questions designed to discover and assess past performance, which is considered to be a predictor of future success.
When you go on your next supply chain interview, you will likely be asked to answer questions with specific and detailed responses about the situations or tasks in which you were involved in your previous roles, the actions you took and the results. The questions sometimes start with the phrase “Tell me about a time when….”. The best way to prepare for these types of interviews is to focus on your most relevant and important accomplishments that relate to the core competencies they’re seeking for their position (often times these competencies are outlined within the job description).
Before The Interview
Before you ever go on an interview, you must first research the company and be fully prepared to answer the questions “What do you know about our company?”, “Why do you want to work here?” and “Why are you the best person for us to hire for this job?”
- Review the company website and look for information about their history, products and services, mission statement, values and vision, as well as financial performance. If you can, speak with others that currently work there or have worked there in the past to gain more information about the company, culture and management. We will also provide you with information about the job, management and company to help you prepare for your interviews.
- Make sure you fully understand the job you are applying for, the duties, skills, experience and other requirements. Ask your supply chain recruiter to clarify any questions you are unsure about and also to outline what they are looking for in a successful candidate.
- Commit to memory 5 to 10 of your top accomplishments and be prepared to discuss the related situations (e.g. projects, problems, etc.), your actions and final results for each. Focus on quantifying results with numbers, metrics, percentages or dollar amounts for each accomplishment.
- Find out the appropriate interview attire for the particular position and company where you will be interviewing. Ask your supply chain recruiter for advice. When in doubt and you can’t find out, overdress for success (business attire e.g. suit and tie) as this is better than under dressing.
- It is critical that you arrive on time for your interviews. Many schedules will have been pre-arranged in order to interview you at your scheduled time, so be courteous and respect the interviewers’ time.
- Plan to arrive around 15 minutes early to make sure you have time to find the lobby or office, freshen up, read over your notes and relax a little. If you know you are going to be late due to unavoidable circumstances (traffic tie ups due to a wreck on the freeway, plane arriving late, etc.) make sure you call the hiring manager or his/her assistant immediately to apologize and to ask if you may still attend the interview or how you may reschedule. Call your supply chain recruiter as well as he/she will likely be able to help remedy the situation.
- Prepare a list of job-related and company-related questions ahead of time to ask at the end of each interview session. This shows the interviewers that you’ve come well prepared and are genuinely interested in learning as much as possible about the opportunity, company, challenges, etc. We do not recommend “winging it” by not preparing any questions to ask because this will leave an impression that you’re not genuinely interested in the opportunity.
- Practice interviewing (“role playing”) with someone that will objectively help you in discussing your experience, strengths and accomplishments. If you have any weaknesses or negative experiences such as a termination for example, practice how you would explain the situation during a job interview. Know that employers are typically wanting to find out how you learned from a negative experience so be honest and maintain a positive attitude if and when you are asked these types of questions.
- Take a copy of your resume, job history with names of companies, all employment dates and references with you so that you can appropriately fill out an application form if asked before your interviews.
- Your interviews start the moment you drive into the company parking lot and end the moment you drive off the company property. When you get to the interview location and enter the building, be extremely courteous to everyone that you meet along the way: the security guard, receptionist, administrative assistants, those you meet in the building lobby, hallway, elevator or even in the restroom. You will be continuously evaluated on your dress, demeanor, body language and how you treat others while you’re on premise, and those observations are often times communicated to the interviewing team (positive or negative). Remember to always be at your very best!
During The Interview
- Be relaxed, confident and calm and be yourself when walking into an interview. Remember that you have been invited by the employer because they have interest in your skills and experience. The interviewers want you to succeed and do well.
- Evaluate your interest in the company as they are evaluating their interest in you.
- Demonstrate interest, enthusiasm, energy and passion for what you do and the job for which you are interviewing.
- Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions to make sure you answer what they are actually asking. If you’re asked a question and are unsure of what they’re looking for, by all means politely ask the interviewer to repeat the question, elaborate and/or provide clarification.
- Keep your responses brief and to the point: 2 – 3 minutes or less in length is best. Avoid rambling, interrupting or going into way too much detail. Engage in an interactive and energetic discussion with honest answers about your experiences, skills and work history. Be sure to leave enough space in the conversation for the interviewers to ask follow-up questions or move on to the next area.
- Make sure that you discuss what you did personally rather than what the team did on a project or job. The interviewer wants to know what your role was and how you used your skills and experience toward a successful result. An easy way to remember this tip is to always lead with “I” instead of “We”.
- Take your cue from the interviewers – watch their body language. If you start to see “regulator” behaviors such as looking at a watch more than once, fidgeting, looking away or out the window, checking email on a mobile phone, etc., it is time to end your current answer, comment or stop speaking because you have lost their attention at this point. Let the interviewer start up the conversation again or ask if your answer satisfied their question.
- Obtain a business card at the end of your interviews for each interviewer if possible. Alternatively, contact the executive assistant or your supply chain recruiter afterwards for a physical address or email address.
- Send a handwritten thank you note on quality card stock to each interviewer within one business day after your interview session. Handwritten thank you notes are almost a lost art but are greatly appreciated and considered the height of good manners and taste. It only takes a few minutes to express your appreciation for their time and consideration, and can help set you apart from other candidates. Employers may keep handwritten thank you notes on file, making them think of you and your kindness long after the interviews have concluded, even if you aren’t selected for the job this time around. However, if you are unable to send a handwritten note for some reason, at least send a thank you email as soon as possible.
- Don’t take it for granted that you will automatically be selected or have a great advantage just because you happen to know an interviewer or employee at the company. Don’t be too casual or relaxed in your responses and demeanor. Treat each person as you would any other professional in a business work environment. Interviewers are trained to be objective, even if they know you, and will ask tough questions and expect you to perform at your best.
- Don’t be concerned when interviewers write down much of what you say. They are trained to write down candidate responses and their own impressions during the process so that they can better remember them during the discussion and selection session at the end of the interviews.
- Don’t ever speak negatively or express discontent about past employers, managers, peers or a job. This will only cast a bad light on you as a complainer.
- Don’t discuss any personal concerns, situations or issues during an interview. Keep all conversations focused on job-related information only. Conversation about your life story, personal stories or anything unrelated to the position is inappropriate and you may just talk yourself right out of consideration for the job.
- Don’t use slang or acronyms specific to your job or industry unless you are 100% confident that the interviewer will be familiar with them. This goes without saying but never use foul or rude language in an interview, even if the interviewer uses this type of language (you never know, it could be a test). This is a surefire way to dismiss yourself from being considered further in the process.
- Never answer your cell phone or email during an interview. Turn off the ringer on your phone before going into the interview room.
- Don’t ask about vacation, benefits or salary on the first interview, unless the interviewer happens to bring it up. Even then, do your best to refrain from stating your desires until after you have more information on the scope of the job and when they’re close to the offer stage. You should always discuss your salary requirements and appropriate negotiations with your supply chain recruiter.
Successfully Ending Your Interview
- Ask any closing questions you may have, as well as the timing and next steps for a decision and when you may expect to hear back from the employer.
- Express your extreme interest in the job and ask if there are any concerns in terms of your ability to successfully perform the job. This could leave you with an instant opportunity to counter any of their objections.
- Ask for the job if you really want it! Many candidates are selected for an offer over other qualified candidates simply because they demonstrate more interest and a keen desire for the job.
- Remember to verbally thank the interviewers for their time and consideration and the opportunity to interview.
- As soon as you get to your car, write down everything you can remember about what was said and asked, and any questions or concerns you may have so that you can ask about them at the appropriate time.
- Follow up! Find out the preferred way that you should contact the employer. Always contact your supply chain recruiter after the interview session to discuss your impressions, feedback and next steps.