Tag Archives: interview tips

4 Tough Interview Questions First-Time Procurement Leaders Are Asked – And How To Answer Them

How can you make the most of your background and experience when interviewing for your first leadership role?


There are phases in your career that are both exciting and terrifying. Most would agree that none are so scary as your first leadership role. 

What do your team think of you? How on earth do you performance-manage someone? How do you manage the expectations of those above you if the members of your team aren’t performing? 

All these questions will most likely plague you on a daily basis. But they’re also the exact questions you need to answer if you’re interviewing for your first (official) leadership role. 

In order to unravel the mystery of what a good interview for a first-time leadership role might look like, we chatted with Tony Megally, highly experienced recruiter and General Manager of The Source

Tony gave us insights into how common it is to be interviewing for a first-time leadership role, what you’ll most likely get asked and how to answer. 

You want to become a leader. Should you change organisations to do so? 

Meet Praveen. She’s a Category Manager at a large bank. She’s been in the position for 4 years, and she’s ready to step up and take on a new challenge. She sees a team lead role at another large bank. Should she apply?

‘There’s definitely a few things I’d recommend for Praveen – or anyone in this situation – to consider before applying,’ says Tony.

But what are these things? Tony recommends that before you apply externally to become a leader, you should all explore all opportunities within your own organisation to do so: 

‘If leadership is in your sights, you should have put that into your career development plan and be actively working towards it with your manager.’ 

But what if there simply aren’t any leadership opportunities? Should you apply externally then? 

‘It depends,’ says Tony. 

‘Most often, the business that is looking externally for leadership talent will be doing so because internal capability is either lacking or requires development. So you’ll most likely need to have proven leadership experience to be able to bring value.’ 

How NOT to answer leadership interview questions 

When it comes to how you answer leadership interview questions, Tony says that if you haven’t formally been recognised as a leader or you don’t have a great deal of experience, there are still many great ways to quantify what you’ve achieved. 

But there’s one thing you should never do when talking about your leadership experience and that is: not be honest. 

Tony says: ‘To be able to position yourself for success, you need to be totally transparent about your experience.

‘It becomes obvious [that you’re not being honest] when you’re being asked about the experience you claim and you’re unable to support it by providing thorough and relevant examples.’ 

Question 1: ‘Talk me through your team leadership experience.

If you’re interviewing for a leadership position, one of the first questions you’ll be asked is about your leadership experience. But even if you haven’t had a leadership position in title, there are a number of ways you can answer this, says Tony. 

He says you should talk about how you’re developing the required skills through things you’re already doing in your job.

For example: ‘You might be a senior member of your team and have taken on the “unofficial” role as the 2IC. 

‘Or perhaps you’re actively coaching and developing peers or other junior team members, or you’re leading a project or a change initiative. These are all great examples that support your leadership ability and should be discussed as part of your experience suite.’ 

Question 2: ‘Can you give an example of how you’ve led people through change and achieved a positive outcome?

In the current business environment, managing change is an essential skill for a leader – more so than ever. But as change can be inherently challenging, businesses want to know their leaders can not only manage change but also do it in a way that gets a positive outcome.

When you’re asked this question, Tony says, you need to emphasise two things: 

  • How you have led people?
  • How did that leadership lead to a positive outcome for the business?

But the example you give doesn’t have to be from an ‘official’ leadership role: 

‘Say, for example, you volunteered to lead a high-profile project. You’d talk about the scope of that project, your role as the leader and how you influenced, engaged and managed others, even if those people are not your “official” reports and were instead business stakeholders or individuals allocated as resources as part of the project team for which you were accountable. 

‘You’d then talk about how your negotiations or perhaps great communications with stakeholders resulted in the project saving X dollars, reducing risk, etc. Whatever the outcome was, you’d make the link between your leadership skills and that.’ 

Tony also says that when you’re leading in this capacity, it’s great to validate the outcome you’re discussing by talking about how the project was received by the business’s executive leadership team: 

‘Ideally, the project you’ve led will have been noticed by senior people in the business. Being able to validate your great results by saying “XYZ executive gave this feedback” is instrumental for highlighting your ability to both manage people and results but also your ability to manage up.’ 

Question 3: ‘Tell me about a time when you performance-managed someone.’ 

One of the most challenging questions first-time leaders get asked is about performance management. It’s challenging because if you haven’t had an official leadership position, it’s hard to quantify this. 

But there are ways around this, says Tony. He recommends drawing on other experiences you’ve had, even if they’re outside of work: 

‘I’ve met countless people who in their professional careers are not formally in leadership roles, but they might be leaders through their own side-hustle, or through other paid or voluntary employment.

‘This leadership experience is relevant. As long as you’re able to provide thorough examples of how you performance-counselled an individual and the process you went through, it’s OK to discuss this in an interview.’ 

Question 4: ‘Talk to me about what techniques you use to motivate a team.’

One of the big transitions we all need to make when moving from an individual contributor role to a leadership role is to begin to think more about our team and less about ourselves. This new way of thinking, Tony says, is something that most organisations want to see in their first-time leaders:

‘Leadership, at its core, is about people and what comes with that is having a general concern for the needs of others. The quicker first-time leaders recognise this, the better they will be at their job.’ 

Tony believes that for this question, you can use outside-of-work examples if you need to: 

‘At an interview, detail how you’ve motivated groups of people – for example, perhaps you’ve coordinated social or sporting activities, or helped to identify capability gaps and then provided training as a motivational tool.’ 

Tony says that if you can provide an example of a time when you motivated people in challenging times, you’ll be doing particularly well: 

‘One of my favourite [examples to hear] is where people have boosted morale in times of significant change.’ 

Interviewing for your first leadership role will most likely be tough. But preparation is key so ensure you have quantifiable answers to all of the above questions. 

Have you interviewed for a leadership role for the first time? Was there anything else you were asked? Do you have any other recommendations? Let us know in the comments below. 

You’ve been fired or made redundant. What do you say to your next boss?

If you’re not proud of how you left your last job, should you lie or tell the truth in your next employment interview?

If it’s never happened to you, it seems like the unthinkable. But if it has, rest assured you’re not alone – being made redundant, or worse, getting fired outright, is a common experience. 

Every year, at least 3% of people are made redundant due to corporate restructuring or downsizing, and many more are either let go or reach a mutual decision to terminate their employment.  

Yet the fact that getting fired is common doesn’t make it easy. And one thing that many people find challenging is how to describe what happened, especially when talking to a recruiter or prospective boss.

Should you lie? Or should you simply tell the truth? If you do tell the truth, do you risk sabotaging your new role? Or if you do lie, could even more be at stake? 

Your reputation and the industry 

Being made redundant or getting fired can be an extremely unpleasant experience. You might feel angry or ashamed, and as a result, may want to ‘save face’ by telling a recruiter or prospective manager that you left for another reason, or that you’re simply still at your previous organisation. 

But Imelda Walsh, manager at The Source, Australia’s premier procurement recruitment consultancy, cautions all procurement professionals against doing this. 

‘Procurement is somewhat of a niche profession,’ she says, ‘and everyone is interconnected. If you aren’t honest, you do run the risk of being caught out.

‘We’ve actually been in the situation a few times where a candidate hasn’t been honest about their reasons for leaving and we’ve discovered this through our network.’ 

Beyond the risk of being ‘found out’, Imelda doesn’t recommend lying simply because of the damage it can do to your personal brand. 

‘If you’re honest,’ she says, ‘it shows you have integrity. If you’re not, it casts doubt over your whole personal brand. It takes an entire career to build a positive personal brand, but only a few minutes to destroy one. 

‘The risk simply isn’t worthwhile.’ 

Deal with your emotions first – don’t vent 

There are undoubtedly many emotions associated with being fired or made redundant, many of them negative. Our natural human response is to take everything personally and to want to vent. But an interview isn’t the time for this, cautions Imelda. 

She says that prior to attending an interview, you need to make a concerted effort to deal with your emotions. In addition to this, you should plan, ahead of time, how you’re going to describe how your employment ended, and ensure you stick to this when you’re in an interview.

‘When candidates aren’t prepared, they tend to go into too much detail about why they left their previous employment,’ she says. ‘This inevitably turns into a vindictive and personal whinge, which can quickly derail an interview.’ 

As recruiters and hiring managers are trying to ascertain your skills, experience and cultural fit, Imelda recommends avoiding at all costs too much focus on the reasons you left your past employer.

How to talk about being fired

Most people would assume that abruptly being asked to leave or mutually decide to leave a role, especially after a short amount of time, is a bad look when you’re re-entering the job market. 

But Imelda doesn’t see it that way: ‘We see a lot of people, really talented people, who mutually decide to leave their role.

‘This can be because the opportunity that was sold to them was misaligned with the reality of the role, or because a change of management has changed their situation.

‘In this case, leaving is the best thing to do. Better that than try to stick it out and do further damage to your career.’ 

If you find yourself in this situation, Imelda recommends being honest, albeit with a professional veneer. She recently encountered someone who did this perfectly: ‘We had an exceptional candidate here recently who said “There was a change of management, and the new team wanted to take the business in a different direction.”

‘After the interview, he discreetly said to me: “Two other people left in the same week as me. I’m sure you can read between the lines.” 

‘Recruiters understand this. We know that not all managers are great, but that a manager can make or break your happiness at work. This is a legitimate reason for leaving or mutually deciding to leave.’ 

How to talk about being made redundant

In years gone by, redundancy was uncommon. But these days? Not so much – 1 in 4 people will be made redundant at some point in their career, with some being made redundant many times. The idea of a ‘job for life’ is rare, and some companies restructure as often as every few years.  

Imelda recommends that if you’re made redundant, simply say so.

‘One of our clients completed two redundancies within less than two years,’ she says. ‘As recruiters, we have a macro view of the industry and we see redundancies all the time. If this has happened to you, just tell us.’ 

Have you ever been made redundant? How have you described it? Tell us in the comments section. 

Are you a procurement professional who wants the best career, technical and leadership advice, plus the opportunity to connect and network with more than 37,000 peers, worldwide? Create a free profile on Procurious today. 

5 Favourite Supply Chain Job Interview Questions…And Answers – Best of the Blog 2019

There is no limit to the types of questions that can be asked at an interview for a mid-level role in supply chain management (SCM).  We have selected five of our favourites which come up regularly…

interview questions
Photo by Johanna Buguet on Unsplash

This article was written by Elaine Porteous and first published in August.

There is no limit to the types of questions that can be asked at an interview for a mid-level role in supply chain management (SCM).  We have selected five of our favourites which come up regularly but first, let’s pause for thought about what employers are looking for and why.    

Supply chain careers of the future

According to Unilever, a big global employer with complex supply chains, future opportunities are in:

  • Manufacturing
  • Data analysis 
  • Procurement
  • Transportation
  • Customer service

The accepted way top employers assess your specific skills and technical competencies and your future potential is by conducting a behavioural based interview.  You may be asked to describe situations or tasks you were involved in, your exact role and the results. 

They may say “tell me about a time when ………” The skill here is to steer the answers to the best work you have done. Aim to demonstrate how you understand the challenges of today’s complex supply chains, especially theirs. This should lead the interviewers to outline their current problem areas. 

What competencies are employers looking for?  

Problem-Solving

Day-to-day supply chain management involves facing unexpected problems, failures and disruptions. Interviewers need to find out if candidates can identify issues and establish root causes. You may be asked to explain how you resolved types of situations or if you did not, what lessons you learned.

Analytical Skills

To stay competitive companies have to find ways to reduce costs, move goods more quickly and manage supporting operations. You will need to demonstrate your ability to find solutions and implement process improvements using available data.

Communication

Interviewers want to know how you can manage difficult situations such as an angry customer or unhappy service provider.  They will try and establish whether there is likely to be a communication barrier between you and others, both internally and externally.

Global Perspective

Businesses are becoming increasingly global; online connectivity is available 24/7. Interviewers are likely to try to establish your grasp of economics, cultural differences and current world events that may impact their business. 

Five favourite supply chain interview questions

Q1. What is supply chain management? or  What are the key elements of supply chain management?

A. There is no one correct answer. Basically, the purpose of SCM is to make goods or services readily available to fulfil customer demand. One possible answer is “supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities.” (CSCMP’s definition). 

Consider adapting your answer to suit the employer; its business may be more involved in services than goods.   

Q2. What experience can you bring this role?

A. This is where you can shine. Using what you know from the job specification, be prepared to explain what you have achieved in similar circumstances.  .The key is to be specific and factual when describing projects. Include actual values such as savings achieved, processes improved and size of teams. Go on to describe how these projects benefitted your employer. 

Interviewers use the STAR technique:

  • SITUATION  you were in
  • TASK performed
  • ACTION you took
  • RESULT of this activity.

Important: do not overstate your level of experience. It is possible that the interview will dig deep. 

Q3. How can you add value to our business?

A. Your research into the current financial and operational status of the company and its place in the market is useful here. Listen carefully to any additional information the interviewer gives you on what’s important to them so that you can respond directly to their problem areas in the supply chain. 

Explain about your ability to use the new tools and technologies available, how you would improve supplier relationships and what you would do to save them money, (e.g. reduce inventory, eliminate wastage, procure better).  The aim is to demonstrate your understanding of the role on offer and how you are a perfect fit for their needs.

Q4. How much do you know about our company and our supply chain?

A.  Organisations expect you to know what they do, where they fit into their industry hierarchy and who their main competitors are. You have to demonstrate that you have done the required homework. They may ask for example: “what do you know about our products and services” or “what is our approach to sustainability?”

Fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and retailers are particularly expert at this. Interviewees at L’Oréal and Diageo have been asked for detail about product ranges, customer bases and global sales figures.

Q5. How are you keeping up with the new developments in supply chain management?

A. Explain what you are actively doing to understand the new developments in processes and technology, especially as it affects their operations. However, be honest and realistic when you express how you will use this new knowledge to further their goals.

The interviewer is trying to assess your future potential. Consider your answer to an imaginary question such “ what do you think we can do to improve our supply chain agility?”

A hot tip

Many inexperienced interviewers ask silly and irrelevant questions. Some questions are just pointless such as “what is your greatest weakness?” or “how would you describe yourself in three words?”  

Read up on these inane questions beforehand and be prepared to address them with stock answers.

At the end of the interview

Ask questions about any areas that you feel have not been adequately covered to your satisfaction. Remember, they may be interviewing you but you are also considering whether you want to work for them. After thanking the interviewer, ask about the next steps in the process and a possible time frame for an offer. This is the point at which you have the opportunity to close the deal. 

Confident or Arrogant? The Fine Line Between Success and Failure

Confident? Arrogant? What traits impress employers the most? And which ones could cost you a job? It would be good to know before you apply for that new role…

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It probably comes as no surprise that when hiring, firms are looking for people who are confident. In fact, this personality trait is a top priority for six in ten employers (61 per cent) – only slightly behind being reliable (62 per cent) and just above being honest (58 per cent).

So, when looking for a new job or a new promotion, a confident character is the one you need to project.

After all, being see seen as self-confident and self-assured inspires others to believe in your ability to do the job. And nobody is going to get hired if they admit they are “not sure” they can do something or “will give it a try”. What are needed are positive answers like “Yes” and “Of course”.

However, don’t go overboard in boasting about your abilities and or bragging about your achievements. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance when making that first impression. Cross this line and it can be career suicide.

In fact, employers believe arrogance (which scores 65 per cent) is worse than dishonesty (at 62 per cent) and is the No. 1 turn-off when hiring new recruits, according to a new survey from independent job board, CV-Library and CV-writing firm, TopCV.

Personality is now the Deciding Factor

“Historically, assessing job seekers was contingent on two factors – experience and skills – but our survey reveals that more intangible qualities, such as personality, are determining which candidates rise to the top,” says Amanda Augustine, careers expert at TopCV. 

“Today’s hiring managers are tasked with assessing whether a candidate will fit in with the company culture, and this determination is primarily based on how the candidate behaves during an interview.”

So, it is not just your CV that can make you appear arrogant. You also have to be careful with your body language – as well as the language you use too.

Facts Beat Fiction Every Time

Getting this balance right means starting with the basics: skills and experience are still vital to secure an interview and, as such, score slightly ahead of personality.

So, focus on these and be factual and truthful (remember dishonesty comes a close second to arrogance in the list of top “hates”). Quantify each statement so that each “claim” can be verified. Rather than stating that you are a “confident and competent team manager”, demonstrate this using facts and stats.

For example, “I directly manage a team of six”, “Over the last three years, the cost control programme that I manage has resulted in £Xk of savings” or “I have helped to mentor five junior members of the team who have all been promoted.”

It is a case of “show” rather than “tell” on both your CV and during the interview.

If you have ever heard the expression “Confidence speaks for itself”, then you will know what I mean. Leave an impression that you are confident and competent without actually using these words.

Cheats and Liars are NOT Welcome

Do not be tempted to lie: it is relatively easy to check things like your job title or years you have worked for an organisation. Not only could this cost you a job, it might not be necessary anyway.

 “In the current market, where skills shortages are making it harder for companies to find the right hires, employers are increasingly opting to recruit on potential over experience.

“So, if you’re looking for a new job right now, you’re in a good position; as long as you impress with the right personality traits,” says Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library comments.

Interestingly, when asked to choose between experience, education and potential, employers believe potential (62 per cent) is more important than experience (35 per cent); while only 2 per cent say education is most important. 

So why jeopardise your future claiming to have 1st class Hons degree when you only have 2:1? Employers (on the whole) really don’t care. However, if they check and find you have lied then you have failed to meet No 3 and No 4 in the top traits list – honest and honourable.

How to Avoid Crossing the Line

During an interview, when you are racked with nerves and desperate to make a good impression, it can be difficult to get the tone right. Your enthusiasm might come across as having too high an opinion of yourself…not a good look.

Remember, confident people have high self-worth, while arrogant people overcompensate for having low self-esteem.

To avoid falling into the latter category, spend some time boosting your self-confidence.

Start by identifying your strengths and weaknesses

The better understanding you have of your abilities, the higher your self-worth. If you are not sure what your strengths are, ask for feedback from colleagues and friends.

Focus on these strengths when identifying new opportunities – if you are a team player, then look for roles where this is important. However, if you like to be told what to do, roles looking for a “self-starter” might not be for you.

Be honest with yourself to be honest with others

Arrogant people are not good at acknowledging they have weaknesses and are not great at hearing criticism either (so if this sounds like you, then be aware that you could come across as having an over-inflate ego). Remember, nobody is perfect and it is important to acknowledge that this includes you!

Also, if you are asked one of those tricky interview questions such as “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?”, you need to have enough self-awareness to recognise your weaknesses. Saying “Nothing” is the fast-track route to rejection.

Mind your language (verbal and otherwise)

Being self-centred is another character trait employers dislike so avoid talking about yourself all of the time – think of some questions to ask the interviewer and take an interest in what they are saying. Tone down your use of ‘I’ and do not constantly interrupt (it shows you think that what you have to say is more important than what the interviewer is trying to tell you).

Also watch your body language. Leaning too far back, smirking rather than smiling or being too relaxed might make you appear arrogant. But avoid going too far the other way – folding your arms across your body, failing to make eye contact, uncomfortable silences and lowering your head do not convey confidence…and that is your goal.

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

5 Favourite Supply Chain Job Interview Questions… And Answers

There is no limit to the types of questions that can be asked at an interview for a mid-level role in supply chain management (SCM).  We have selected five of our favourites which come up regularly…

By djile/ Shutterstock

There is no limit to the types of questions that can be asked at an interview for a mid-level role in supply chain management (SCM).  We have selected five of our favourites which come up regularly but first, let’s pause for thought about what employers are looking for and why.    

Supply chain careers of the future

According to Unilever, a big global employer with complex supply chains, future opportunities are in:

  • Manufacturing
  • Data analysis 
  • Procurement
  • Transportation
  • Customer service

The accepted way top employers assess your specific skills and technical competencies and your future potential is by conducting a behavioural based interview.  You may be asked to describe situations or tasks you were involved in, your exact role and the results.  They may say “tell me about a time when ………” The skill here is to steer the answers to the best work you have done. Aim to demonstrate how you understand the challenges of today’s complex supply chains, especially theirs. This should lead the interviewers to outline their current problem areas. 

What competencies are employers looking for?  

Problem-Solving

Day-to-day supply chain management involves facing unexpected problems, failures and disruptions. Interviewers need to find out if candidates can identify issues and establish root causes. You may be asked to explain how you resolved types of situations or if you did not, what lessons you learned.

Analytical Skills

To stay competitive companies have to find ways to reduce costs, move goods more quickly and manage supporting operations. You will need to demonstrate your ability to find solutions and implement process improvements using available data.

Communication

Interviewers want to know how you can manage difficult situations such as an angry customer or unhappy service provider.  They will try and establish whether there is likely to be a communication barrier between you and others, both internally and externally.

Global Perspective

Businesses are becoming increasingly global; online connectivity is available 24/7. Interviewers are likely to try to establish your grasp of economics, cultural differences and current world events that may impact their business. 

Five favourite supply chain interview questions

Q1. What is supply chain management? or  What are the key elements of supply chain management?

A.   There is no one correct answer. Basically, the purpose of SCM is to make goods or services readily available to fulfil customer demand. One possible answer is “supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities.” (CSCMP’s definition). Consider adapting your answer to suit the employer; its business may be more involved in services than goods.   

Q.2  What experience can you bring this role?

A.   This is where you can shine. Using what you know from the job specification, be prepared to explain what you have achieved in similar circumstances.  .The key is to be specific and factual when describing projects. Include actual values such as savings achieved, processes improved and size of teams. Go on to describe how these project s benefitted your employer.  Interviewers use the STAR technique:

  • SITUATION  you were in
  • TASK performed
  • ACTION you took
  • RESULT of this activity.

Important: do not overstate your level of experience. It is possible that the interview will dig deep. 

Q 3 How can you add value to our business?

A.  Your research into the current financial and operational status of the company and its place in the market is useful here. Listen carefully to any additional information the interviewer gives you on what’s important to them so that you can respond directly to their problem areas in the supply chain.  Explain about your ability to use the new tools and technologies available, how you would improve supplier relationships and what you would do to save them money, (e.g. reduce inventory, eliminate wastage, procure better).  The aim is to demonstrate your understanding of the role on offer and how you are a perfect fit for their needs.

Q.4 How much do you know about our company and our supply chain?

A.  Organizations expect you to know what they do, where they fit into their industry hierarchy and who their main competitors are. You have to demonstrate that you have done the required homework. They may ask for example: “what do you know about our products and services” or “what is our approach to sustainability?” Fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers and retailers are particularly expert at this. Interviewees at L’Oréal and Diageo have been asked for detail about product ranges, customer bases and global sales figures.

Q.5 How are you keeping up with the new developments in supply chain management?  

A.  Explainwhat you are actively doing to understand the new developments in processes and technology, especially as it affects their operations. However, be honest and realistic when you express how you will use this new knowledge to further their goals. The interviewer is trying to assess your future potential. Consider your answer to an imaginary question such “ what do you think we can do to improve our supply chain agility?”

A hot tip

Many inexperienced interviewers ask silly and irrelevant questions. Some questions are just pointless such as “what is your greatest weakness?” or “how would you describe yourself in three words?”  Read up on these inane questions beforehand and be prepared to address them with stock answers.

At the end of the interview

Ask questions about any areas that you feel have not been adequately covered to your satisfaction. Remember, they may be interviewing you but you are also considering whether you want to work for them. After thanking the interviewer, ask about the next steps in the process and a possible time frame for an offer. This is the point at which you have the opportunity to close the deal. 

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

Competence Is Context Dependant

It’s easy to associate competence with job titles in a generic sense. However, given people’s performance will depend on the context in which they operate, all notions of competence should take context into account…


By mavo / Shutterstock

The same, but different

Is a graphic designer at a major accounting firm the same job as a graphic designer at an early-stage startup? There is an obvious overlap is functional skills, but that’s where the similarity ends. 

A designer at startup will have limited resources and even less time. They’ll be required to “ship fast” because the clock is ticking and everything is an experiment. Management will have a relatively high tolerance for mistakes, and decisions will be made on the spot. 

Conversely, a large accounting firm will be far less tolerant of risk, decisions are made by committee, perfection will be prioritized over speed and autonomy will likely be low. 

How similar do these roles sound now?

While the fundamental craft is essentially the same, the context is entirely different. Success is measured differently, and the respective operating environments have very little in common.

Context is everything

It follows that the best person to do the job at the accounting firm is probably not the best person to do the job at the startup. In come cases the same person might be able to excel at both roles, but they’ll need to apply themselves and behave quite differently. 

This means that competence is dependent on context, something James Clear emphasizes in his book Atomic Habits

There is no such thing is a “good graphic designer”. Rather, there is a good graphic designer in your particular context. That context might be unique to your company, or it might be broadly applicable to companies in your industry or of a similar size, for example.   

This is a departure from the way many companies, and indeed many talent acquisition professionals, think about competency frameworks. It’s easy to associate competence with job titles in a generic sense. However, given people’s performance will depend on the context in which they operate, all notions of competence should take context into account.

How to build context into your recruitment process

When filling a role, it’s important to think of what it takes to be successful in that role at your company. It’s helpful to divide the requirements into two components. The first is the skills that are specific to the role itself and would likely be required in any context. In other words, what does the person in the role need to achieve? The second component is the skills that are unique to your context. In other words, how do you expect the person to approach their role? This can include cultural aspects, attitude, behavior and so on.

The next step is to come up with a way to test candidates for those skills. Following this logic, a generic “graphic designer test” doesn’t make much sense because it only addresses the first component. In order to identify someone who will excel in a role in your context, the test must take into account both components. It must be context-dependent because competence is dependent on context. 

Thinking about candidate selection in this way will help you identify people who are more likely to be successful in your environment. This makes sense because it’s also unlikely that the people who want to work at a startup will also want to work at major accounting firms, and visa versa.

This article was originally published on Vervoe.

5 Common Interview Mistakes Recruiters Should Overlook

It’s up to the person recruiting to decide whether a mistake is due to anxiety or a sign that the candidate is a bad match for the organisation. Here’s five mistakes you should overlook…

By Esenin Studio/Shutterstock

Nightmares focusing on poor performance at work, especially job interviews, are common among adults in the US – and it’s easy to see why. Job interviews are stressful. Horror stories of interviews gone wrong are all over the internet. While they may be fun to read, it’s not easy to get through a job interview without making at least one mistake. 

What does a “perfect” interview really mean anyway? Interviews have disqualified candidates for everything from being late to “being too attractive.” Candidate error is just one factor in the overall equation; and it’s all too common to make a mistake under pressure. At the end of the day, it’s up to the recruiter to decide whether a mistake is due to anxiety or a sign that the candidate is a bad match for the organization. 

Here are some of the most common, but forgivable, job interview mistakes that recruiters should overlook. 

A candidate sounds rehearsed

Many candidates don’t make it through the first-round interview because they sound too stiff.Recruiters lose interest when a candidate sounds like they’ve memorized their answers. It’s hard to get a good sense of who that person is when they answer questions robotically. 

However, recruiters should consider that the problem isn’t the candidate’s presentation. It’s the questions they’re asking. Candidates apply to dozens of jobs during their search. Eventually, all the interview questions start to sound the same. Recruiters should avoid asking outdated, all too common interview questions that applicants answer at nearly every job interview. 

There’s a certain script that’s easy to fall into. If you find your candidate sounds a bit canned, try a different approach in the next round. 

A candidate talks too much

The opposite of a candidate who sounds rehearsed is a candidate who is too chatty. Anxiety or under-preparation is usually the driver behind a candidate who talks at length. Talking too much is usually seen by recruiters as a red flag – what if a candidate talks too much in a client presentation? Will this person be a distraction when working in teams? 

It’s not necessarily fair to assume that chattiness is a sign of weakness. It could be a sign of under preparation, or it could be a lack of experience: two factors that job training can address. But for recruiters who don’t have time to spend all day in an interview, using a one-way video interview can help. Generally, we’re against putting restrictive timers on pre-recorded videos. What if the candidate has technical difficulties? But, you can set the time to be long enough to account for technical glitches while still cutting down on nervous chatter. 

A candidate immediately responds to an interview request

Some recruiters consider replying to an interview request right away to be a red flag. Likewise, following up “too much” can make a candidate seem needy or desperate. In today’s hyper-connected society, expecting a candidate to wait an appropriate amount of time is a little too selective. 

It could be that a candidate follows up because so few companies are transparent about their process. While talking to your job interviewee, make sure to be upfront about your timeline and next steps. Managing expectations can help prevent any lingering confusion or excessive follow up from your potential new hires. 

A candidate is asking questions “on the fly”

It has become almost cliche for hiring experts to recommend candidates prepare their own questions. Recruiters disqualify candidates who ask questions “on the fly” – but why? Asking questions that are not pre-rehearsed can show genuine interest. A candidate who comes upwith questions on the spot is engaged, paying attention, and quick on their feet. Recruiters should prefer that over a candidate who simply pays lip service to the interview script. 

A candidate doesn’t bring a hard copy of their resume

It’s time to go green! If recruiters want a hard copy of the candidate’s resume, they are capable of printing it out themselves. Some recruiters see this as a sign that the candidate is under-prepared or careless. In reality, many people don’t have access to a printer. It’s an arbitrary ask that recruiters use to disqualify a candidate from making it to the next round. Wouldn’t you rather see an employee show their real-world skills rather than their ability to press print?

This article was written by Emily Heaslip was originally published on vervoe.

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

Job Hunting… It’s Now Like A Date From Hell

In some sectors – like advertising, marketing, PR and media – three in ten firms admit they have ghosted applicants.

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You’ve spent forever trying to find your perfect match. Then, while searching online you spot “The one”. They seem to tick every box…  you connect, it seems like destiny and you are really excited when they want to get to know you. In your imagination, you are thinking of a making a serious commitment (perhaps lasting years) as you start to visualise a new, happier future. Things are really looking up.

Then…nothing! Out of the blue they stop replying to your emails and don’t return your calls. You wonder what you did wrong.

You’ve been ghosted.

If this sounds like a dating experience from hell, think again.

This is increasingly what it’s like to be a jobseeker.

In some sectors – like advertising, marketing, PR and media – three in ten firms admit they have ghosted applicants.

For some bemused candidates, the ghosting can come even after a “successful” interview when they’ve shaken hands with the boss and been told “you’d fit right in here”. After assuming they’ve got the job, they then hear nothing, ever again. If this is the case, you’ve probably dodged a bullet. Who would want to work for a firm like that?

Are you just as bad?

However, skills shortages mean the tables have turned, with employers and recruitment firms desperate to find the right talent.

As a result, it is increasingly the candidate that’s doing the ghosting according to a survey by education and training specialist TheKnowledgeAcademy.com.

One in four applicants in the business, finance and the legal spheres have admitted to ghosting a company during the job searching process. Ouch! Come on… this is your personal brand we are talking about. At least, do the recruiter the courtesy of saying “Thanks, but no thanks”.

Cat and kittenfishing is rife too

However, ghosting is not the only dating misdemeanour that is now rife in recruitment.

Kittenfishing (a bit like catfishing) is the most common HR practice according to research commissioned by JamieAi, an HR tech start-up.

Three in ten job seekers have fallen victim to hype – the practice of making a job seem a “bit” better than it really is just to grab the candidate’s interest.

Catfishing – where the job is described as being “far” better that it actually is – to the point where it does not match reality, was also experienced by nearly three in ten job seekers.

If you have ever been on a date where the person you met is nothing like their description, you will know how disappointing this can be as well as a total waste of your time.

However, with a job, you may only find out once you start.

Players and rostering trip you up

Rostering is a problem for one in four with a quarter of candidates finding they are waiting for ages for a yes or a no, because they are actually the second-choice candidate. This is a bit like waiting and waiting to find out if you are going to meet on a Friday night because your date is hoping for someone “better” to come along.

Sadly, players are also rife – promising you that you are the lead candidate while also saying the same thing to several others. Don’t fall for their patter. Wait until you have signed your employment contract before handing in your notice, or you could find you are left with no job instead of a new job.

Get savvy to protect yourself

It’s relatively easy to protect yourself from these practices.

  1. Don’t take it personally: If you are aware that jobs are oversold, recruiters may never return your calls, your CV will be lost in the ether and even after an interview you might get ghosted, you should just put this down to experience. Don’t let it knock your confidence. If an employer cannot be bothered to reply, then they are not the sort of firm you should want to work for.
  2. Do your homework:  Websites like Glassdoor.co.uk let you check how the employer is rated by their employees. If the firm has a reputation for not acknowledging CVs or providing feedback after interviews, you will know that it’s not you that’s the problem.
  3. Don’t give up: Find out the name of the hiring manager, and send an email direct to them or even better connect to them on sites like LinkedIn. Often, firms are inundated with applications and they may have found a suitable candidate before your CV even landed in their inbox. However, if you really like the company, there is no harm in letting them know you would still love to work there.
  4. Double check your application: There may be a reason why they have ghosted you. Perhaps you did not put the job reference number or correct title on your application? Or did you forget to cover all the “must haves” on your CV? Often applications are screened electronically and if you haven’t included the key words your CV may have been rejected before a human even set eyes on it. To pass the application tracking system software test, use the job spec as a guide and include the EXACT words used. Also. double check the instructions – if the request was for a pdf of your CV not a word document, you might have been rejected for failing to do as asked.

Finally don’t be tempted to get revenge

If you are fed up with being catfished or ghosted, you may think that as these practices now seem to be acceptable, there is no problem if you do the same.

However, it could backfire. If you ghost recruiters or become a player and keep various firms interested as a back-up plan, you might get away with it….or you could find that the people you have treated badly, then move to another firm and remember you as the candidate from hell. Remember, it’s a small world and social media makes it even smaller.

Catfishing is also dangerous. If you exaggerate your skills, you might not pass your probationary period and you will be left without a job, and without a good reference. Remember, firms are struggling to recruit … if you’d been honest and said you were prepared to learn, you might have got the job anyway, without having to lie.

The 6 Stages Of Your Procurement Job Interview

How to you prepare for (and ace!) your procurement or supply chain job interview?

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There is no shortage of general advice available online on how to prepare for and behave in an interview situation, and it’s free. That’s all very helpful, but what about preparing for an interview in supply chain or in a procurement role, how is it different?

1. Before the interview

The basics are the same whatever the role, preparation is vital.  Do research the following:

  • The background of the company, its culture and the industry it is in.  The more information you gather before the interview, the better prepared you will be to answer leading questions during the interview. Be fully prepared to answer the questions “How much do you know about our company?” or “Why do you want to work here?” 
  • The interviewer (or hiring manager).  Who is he or she?  What is their work background and experience?  This will help you find some common ground. 
  • Know your TCO, RFI, P2P, SRM and the rest of the acronyms. Interviewers may use these in conversation. It may unsettle you if you don’t know what they mean.   
  • Make sure you really understand the skills that are required and how much experience is expected. If you don’t quite fit their view of a dream candidate, motivate how you will grow into the role quickly. Think about the types of questions that you can expect and prepare your answers in advance. 

2. At the interview

Job interview formats go in and out of fashion:  you can be asked to do a video or panel interview or even one that includes end-users or stakeholders.  Whatever the format, you need to demonstrate your suitability for the role on offer and how your skills and background will provide tangible benefits for them.  

3. Functional skills

You will probably be asked about your experience and skills in relevant supply chain technology and related tools, e.g. SAP, Oracle, Ariba or other e-sourcing software. You may be asked about direct and indirect categories that you have worked in (make sure you understand the difference) and about your particular expertise in certain commodities or services.  In both these areas be careful not to embellish or over-represent your knowledge or achievements as your interviewer may know a lot more than you do. If you claim that you saved your organization £5 million in spend last year you will need to be able to substantiate it.  Currently, employers are looking for people with specific experience in complex procurement categories. In these types of role they expect candidates to be already familiar with the external marketplace and key suppliers. 

Questions sometimes start with “Tell me about a time when…”, where the interviewer will work through the STAR technique:  

  • The SITUATION 
  • The TASK or problem that arose
  • The ACTION you took
  • What was the RESULT

Prepare multiple examples in advance and rehearse them well so that they tell a story. Be ready for “tell me more”.  Make sure that you demonstrate that you have good critical and analytical thinking skills, are a good communicator, have time management skills, and are flexible, i.e. show that your expertise is transferable to them. 

4. Behavioural skills

Behavioural interview questions are very common in supply chain and are designed to elicit specific and detailed responses about inter-personal and conflict situations which you have been exposed to. How did you handle the issue, what actions did you take and what was the outcome?  Your answers will show that you understand effective ways to deal with suppliers and internal clients.  Listen carefully to any clues the interviewer gives you on what’s important to them so that you can respond by giving your own examples. You need to be able to articulate how you would be able to bring about change and implement improvements seamlessly, where required.

5. Do you have any questions?

An interviewee will almost always be asked this. Understanding how to communicate your interest is very important so have your questions ready.  This is not the time to discuss the remuneration package or benefits that may be offered. Genuine questions about how the company manages its procurement function and how the different elements of their supply chain operate will be welcomed.  If the interviewer is interested in you they will demonstrate it by asking a variation of the following, ‘why our company, why this position and why you?’  This often is your most critical response during the interview process.

6. Where it can go wrong:

Feedback from senior managers and top recruiters says that where candidates fail most is in:

  • Not being fully prepared and having to refer to their CV for details
  • Did not know enough about the company and its operations
  • Did not have the right attitude/did not demonstrate any energy for or interest in the role offered.
  • Could not provide examples or explain how they are suitably qualified
  • And arrived late for the interview!

Displaying a positive attitude and expressing a sense of enthusiasm for the company and the role is an excellent starting point for landing that job. Cultural fit and good inter-personal skills may be the clincher; processes and applications can be taught over time to fulfil gaps in experience. 

Related articles

Want to get your wheels turning towards a supply chain career one could only dream of? Then don’t miss our upcoming Career Boot Camp with IBM – a free 5-part podcast series with some of the very best of the best. Check it out here: https://www.procurious.com/career-boot-camp-2019

Is It Time To Make A Career Move? Mind the gap

When things get bad at work do you find a way to fix it or consider a career move?

The bad days are becoming more frequent, the work is no longer challenging and your procurement career seems to be floundering.   The question arises: what must you do to kick your work life into action?   If you have a general feeling of being undervalued or not being fairly recognised for your achievements, now is the time to take stock. Work takes up at least 40 hours of your week.  Life’s too short to be miserable, this is decision time.

It is unlikely that your current situation will improve much unless there is a radical change in management or strategy.  The options are:

  • Move into a new role at your current employer or
  • Move on to a different employer in a similar or different role 

Assuming that procurement is still the place you want to be, there are some steps you need to take whether you plan to stay with your current employer in another role or move on to new adventures.

Do a personal gap analysis

Take a deep, introspective look into yourself. The aim is to identify the knowledge gaps between the skills you need for your chosen direction and those that you currently have.  What changes should you begin making to prepare yourself for the kind of job you want? As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”   Be realistic about your current capabilities.  Then go and fill the gaps.

Consider further education   

There’s no doubt that further education and continued professional development play a part in opening up opportunities. The reality is that most the attractive roles require some tertiary education or certification, especially in a tight job market. If you are lagging in this area it may be an opportune time to upgrade.   If your current employer can subsidise your work-related studies, take advantage.    No funds?  There are lots of free training available, there’s no excuse.  What about a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)?

 Learn the new skills

There are roles that didn’t exist ten years ago and those are where experience is in short supply.  The application of I.T. technologies to procurement problems is growing fast:  consider data analysis and warehousing, supplier relationship management (SRM), and procure-to-pay (P2P).   Also, both the public and private sectors struggle with issues of fraud, corruption and conflict of interest. Companies need people who can exercise constant vigilance over supplier risk, governance and contract compliance.

Sustainability issues are placing new demands on procurement leaders and their teams.  “Green” procurement is a growth niche where there is a limited number of experienced applicants and pressure is building on companies to limit their negative impact on the environment.  Focusing on fields that concern you (and the consumer) and those that play to your strengths will deliver the most work satisfaction.

Get a grip on the numbers

Whatever direction you choose, advanced analytical abilities are becoming mandatory.  An in-depth understanding of financial ratios and the triple bottom line can give you the edge over others competing for similar roles.  If you don’t know what macros or what a cash flow crisis is, now is the time to find out. If your current company offers in-house courses that can enhance your computer skills, sign up.

Influence and persuasion

A survey conducted recently by Accenture amongst global CPOs noted that traditional areas of knowledge and experience are less important to success than the ability to develop and sustain high quality internal and external relationships.  Stakeholders can influence your project’s success or failure.  Good stakeholder management just means being able to win support from any and all interested and affected parties such as end-users, subject matter experts and key suppliers.

Attitude is important, that much is clear.  It seems behaviour and demeanour can impact on career progression as much as technical know-how.  Always do what you promise to do.  To paraphrase  J.F.Kennedy,  don’t think about what your stakeholders can do for you, think what you could do for them.

Communicate your successes

Keep an on-going record of what you have done well, e.g. reported cost savings, accolades you have been given, and positive feedback received from internal customers.  This information can be used to enhance your CV.  Don’t be shy to share your successes; it’s a good confidence booster.

Moving employers   

Moving on to another employer or launching yourself as a consultant or contractor may be a choice, or it may be thrust upon you.  Protecting yourself fully from downsizing and “restructuring of the workforce” is pretty much impossible.  Don’t despair. Review your achievements to date, fire up your CV and take yourself to the market.    Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards.

The best a person can do to rise above the mainstream is to have a good attitude, stay relevant, keep up with trends, communicate well and keep the networks alive.  Sometimes the current environment is not going to deliver the options you need. Then it is time to move on.