Supply chain Interview Questions with Answers :
Top 10 ( The Ultimate Guide )
Do you know that supply chain questions on most of articles on Top 10 supply chain interview questions with answers on web were not actually much asked during the interviews ?
So, point is what is actually asked during the supply chain interviews ?
First thing it is not only pure supply chain questions in the interview .
Rather it is a combination of functional and behavioral questions.
It is important to understand all different type of questions to do well in interviews:
This article supply chain interview questions with answers explains what is really asked during supply chain interviews basis my extensive experience of interviewing candidates and appearing for interviews
Here is the list of Top 10 supply chain interview questions with answers which were actually asked during the real job interviews.
So, let’s get started
Q1. Introduce yourself ?
Introduce yourself is one of the most asked questions during interviews. Reason being it a good open ended question to start the conversation and allow candidate to settle in and be comfortable.
It also helps interviewer to get brief profile summary straight from the candidate
Introduce yourself answer consists of the 3 essential parts:
- Personal Information : It will consists of native place, childhood and family background
- Education: Graduation and Post graduation from which institute and in which year
- Professional Experience: This one is most important and talk about your previous job experience starting from first one. In each stint, talk about role and responsibilities, key achievement and reason for changing the role or job to the next one. Then for the most recent job talk in details about current roles and responsibilities and key achievements
In the end talk about brief summary of profile, skillset and competencies that you bring onto table and how are you good fit for the role.
Q2. What is supply chain management ? What are the core areas of supply chain management ?
Supply Chain Management is end to end management of supply chain activities and processes. Supply chain management activities involve procurement of materials, planning of finished goods and materials, production and storage of goods and movement and delivery of Finished goods to the customers and consumers.
Supply chain extends from supplier to manufacturer to distributor to retailer and ends at consumer. Consumer is also essential part of supply chain.
What is Supply chain management can be explained in further detail by three core activities it performs :
1. Sourcing :
Sourcing is defined as Procurement of Raw materials and Packaging Materials which are directly used in production of Finished goods. Key activities include Market Demand and supply assessment, Supplier selection, Pricing negotiation and contract management.
2. Planning :
Planning function is responsible to plan activities in a way that right product is available in the right quantity and at right time for the customers and consumers.
It estimates Demand using Demand planning tools and arrange for supplies using supply planning activities by ensuring capacity, materials and inventories to meet and service the demand requirement.
3. Logistics and Customer Service :
Logistics is about goods and material storage and movement from one location to another. Warehousing Management, Transportation Management and Customer Service are the key activities.
All these functions together define what supply chain management is and what it does.
Q3. What are key supply chain metrics that you drive ?
Key supply chain metrics revolve around Service, people, quality and cost.
Brief summary of KPIs is :
- Delivery service : How supply chain is able to service the customers. It is measured in terms of how customer orders are delivered on quantity, quality and delivery time. Various metrics are case fill rate, order fill rate, On time in full and Past dues orders in value.
- Cost: supply chain costs which include Procurement, Manufacturing, Logistics and working capital cost. Inventory in absolute value and days.
- Quality : Ensuring Product and material quality , quality in distribution and quality in warehousing
- Safety : Ensure safety in supply chain operations. Behavioural feedback system and Near miss reporting
- People : Team leadership, Development plan, Engagement surveys, succession planning metrics
- Productivity Metrics: Cases/ Manhour,
- Warehouse Performance metrics: Truck turnaround time. vehicle fill rates, , Fixed distribution cost and Variable distribution costs
- Sustainability : Measurement of Carbon emissions and proper recycling of non sustainable materials
Q4. Explain your current supply chain role and define your existing roles and responsibilities ? ( supply chain interview questions with answers )
Prepare a brief paragraph on what you do. It will need some thought and should include existing position, responsibilities, key stakeholders you interact with, team size , strengths and key achievements.
A example brief for Supply planning manager would be as follows:
I am handling supply planning activities for xyz business. Key activities are planning supplies including material management, capacity planning, production scheduling, inventory management, dispatch planning and ensuring product supplies as per business requirements. Lead team of 3 people who are responsible for respective activities for managing individual business categories. My strengths are planning and analytical skills, communication skills and managing teams. Key achievements are improved service fill rates from 80% to 95% and reduced inventory by 30%. Established supply management process to align all senior stakeholders on supply planning related decisions and improving visibility of supply planning performance.
Q5. How will you improve supply chain performance of the organization ? How will you improve case fill rates for the organization ?
Supply chain performance of an organization can be improved by following parameters of supply chain :
1. Right Strategy: Defining right strategy is instrumental to guide supply chain function in the right direction
2. Right Customer: Choose customers who follow win-win approach & aligned to business principles,
3. Right Demand: Capture demand accurately and closer to consumer
4. Right Inventory: Basis business requirement derive the inventory strategy
5. Right Distribution: Build the right distribution network to service customers at the optimal cost
6. Right Capacity- Build right manufacturing capacity and use short term and long term levers to meet capacity with demand.
7. Right Material- Ensure material availability to meet the production plan
8. Right supplier: Share long term forecast with suppliers to secure supplies & reduce lead times
9. Right Approach to disruption- Build business continuity plan for disruptions
10. Right People: Capable people simplify supply chain to deliver strong competitive advantage & build next level supply chain
Q6. What are supply chain processes? ( supply chain interview questions with answers)
Supply chain processes like order to cash, procure to pay are essential to understand the supply chain processes. It provides a glimpse that candidate has good understanding of end to end processes. There can be multiple issues and improvement opportunities in the processes for streamlining.
Key Supply chain processes are explained as follows:
1. Demand to Supply Management:
Unconstrained Demand plan is generated by demand planner basis historical sales data and inputs from sales and marketing functions. Supply planner generate production plan basis demand plan and inventory norms and share with production units.
Production planner makes day level production plan. Materials are arranged basis Daily production and forecasted supply plan.
Finished goods produced are dispatched from factory warehouse to distribution centres and goods are invoiced from distribution centres to the customers.
Goods are invoiced from distribution centers to the customers.
2. Customer Service management:
This process involves managing customer relationship end to end. Customer will share the orders with order processing centers who will check for advance payment or credit terms and provide go ahead for invoicing.
Distribution centers will check the available stocks and service as per customer shelf life requirements and stock availability.
Time slots are taken from Organized Trade customers to service them. Joint business planning is done with customers to arrive at aligned forecast and improve product freshness and on shelf availability
3. Supplier management:
End to end supplier management process from sharing Purchase Order with the suppliers to the payment to the supplier.
Process includes sharing Purchase order with supplier as per agreed contract. Supplier will deliver the goods as per the PO terms in quantity, quality and delivery date.
Once the goods are received, they are inspected and quality checked if as per specification and requirement.
Goods are received in the system and invoices shared with Finance for payment. Payment is done as per agreed payment terms with the supplier.
4. Integrated Business Planning :
IBP is the cross functional integration process which include Portfolio Management Review, Demand Management review, Supply Management Review, Finance and Integrated reconciliation review and Management Business review.
It is more about people behaviours then process.
5. New Product Development and Launch:
Market research is done for potential of new product and forecast is generated basis inputs from sales and marketing. R&D conducts small trials and scale up the product with validation runs.
Once the product is ready and successful launch is planned. Materials are procured and Products are supplied to the market as per the requirement
Brand and trade activations are done in parallel to make consumers aware about the new product.
End to end understanding of supply chain processes is essential to eliminate waste, make process smooth and streamline supply chain processes. It will make supply chains efficient and leverage supply chain for business advantage.
Q7. How will you manage supply chain relationship with cross functional stakeholders ?
Supply chain function interacts with most of the functions and need to manage relationships with multiple functions across the organization.
Key principles for relationship management is to have facts based discussion, mutually beneficial and collaborative relationships and putting oneself in other function’s shoes and understand other’s point of view.
One example of improving cross function collaboration is to establish S&OP process where multiple cross functional issues can be discussed and resolved.
Decisions are made and senior management commitment is demonstrated.
It also builds team work and align entire team on one business plan with clear demand and supply alignment and actions initiation to bridge the gap in meeting business plan
Q8. How will you manage team which is elder than you ? How will you improve team productivity? What your team will say about you?
Following tips will help to effectively manage a team
- Lead by example : Leader to demonstrate practically what is expected from the team. This is best way of motivating teams to get things done
- Mutuality Principle : Accepting interdependency and mutually supporting each other
- Get involved in problem solving. Sharing insights and supporting team in the time of crisis
- Improve team productivity: Team is involved in multiple activities without realizing that many activities are non value added or does not yield much value. Identifying these activities, eliminating them, automating processes are significant steps to improve team productivity
Q9. Why changed jobs? Was it a chance or choice ?
There has to be logical and genuine reason for changing the job. It has to make sense. Reasons that you give should be combination of why leaving the current job and why moving to a new job or role
Few examples are :
- Already doing this role for last 3 years looking for change which is not available in current organization
- Looking for diverse role than what currently doing
- Growth in future role like moving to next level and how it fits into career aspirations
Q10. What questions do you have for us ?
This is one of the most important questions and opportunity to make a positive impression but many candidates do not ask this question or hesitate to ask any questions?
Probably because they dont know what to ask or they think it is not that important which is not the right thing to do
It is an opportunity to build connect or engage in conversation with interviewer and opportunity for him to understand you more.
So, don’t miss this opportunity.
But what should you ask the interviewer?
You should ask questions which shows your genuine interest in the role opportunity and organization
To ask a question you need to do some research and know about the organization which is as follows:
- Products and services
- Senior Management team
- What is currently going on in the organization- Transformation Projects
- Financial Performance
Best source for this information is company website and Annual report
Now you need to ask some interesting question based out of this acquired knowledge
Like , new project going into the organization helps me understand that organization is driving a major initiative to deliver growth
and question about the organization values which helps me get a glimpse of how is the work culture of the organization.
I have asked following questions during the interviews:
- What are you expectations from this role ? ( To better understand roles and responsibilities )
- How company is faring in terms of business growth. What are the key drivers for its growth ( Growing business is always good to be part of . there are multiple opportunities for growth )
- How does this role contributes towards the success of the organization? ( how does the the role links to deliver goals of the organization )
- There is a transformation project going on in the organization. how does supply chain role contribute towards its success ( role linkage to continuous improvements)
- What is unique about the company work culture? ( ways of working at the organization )
- What you like most working in the organization? ( Ways of working and work culture of the organization )
These are the tips to Top 10 Supply chain interview questions with answers based on practical insights and experiences
SUPPLY CHAIN INTERVIEW QUESTIONS WITH ANSWERS ( THE ULTIMATE GUIDE )