The Opinion Page
News and comments about the issues facing today's SCM and Inventory Management professionals.
I recently had an opportunity to engage in a conversation on Linkedin. One of the group members asked this question:
Q: I am a graduating senior, and I am wondering what kinds of interview questions I should be prepared to answer for an entry level logistics and supply chain management first round interview?
Here was my answer:
In Canada, an applicant will usually have to endure a series of interviews with various personnel within a given company before being successful. The nature of the questions will typically vary as the applicant proceeds through the process. The first nterview is frequently with the HR representative, who will do a cursory review of you, and your credentials. They will be looking for things
like: does the applicant present himself (herself) well, does he seem to be confident, is his story consistent / truthful and stuff like that. Typically the interviews will become more technical as you proceed through the interview process. You will be challenged to demonstrate your mastery of the relevant SCM material. I should say that each company handles things a little differently...sometimes the hire is made quickly - -after one or two interviews - and sometimes it takes 4, 5 or more interviews. It seems unfair, but that's reality.
Now, on to the questions. There are thousands of potential questions to ask, but here are ten that I would likely ask. I should note that I have personally hired many individuals like yourself, not as an HR Manager, but as a "hiring manager" in SCM, so the applicants might have been screened for credibility by HR beforehand. I have hired a couple of duds (sorry to put it bluntly! nobody's perfect!) but I would say I have been happy with 90%+ of my hires and among those I have been thrilled with well over half.
As a matter of principle, it is important to me to assess whether the candidate will live my department's core values. For example, I value ethics and honesty very highly, and try to ensure that the person whom I hire lives up to that value. If the person is not ethical, I do not care how smart he is - I won't hire him (or her).
1. Give me the 30-second commercial about you. Who are you, what are you all about?
2. SCM is a broad field of study. What are the areas within SCM that really interest you? (Here, I will try to ascertain what makes you passionate. Are you trying to build a career? Or are you just trying to apply for a job?)
3.Tell me about a project where you have worked on a team to meet some challenge or solve some problem. What role did you play? Talk to me about the team dynamics. Was the team successful?
4. How do you measure success? (this is an open-ended question to determine whether the person is self-centred, or focused on the company as a whole. What measures would he/she use? Are they all statistical? Or do they demonstrate EQ?
5. Do you prefer to work individually? Or on a team? Why?
6. Where would you like to be - career wise - five years from now?
7. Tell me about that project or accomplishment in life or school or on the job about which you are most proud. Why?
8. What can you do for this company and for me? (the answer to this question should show that the candidate has done a little bt of research about the company, among other things.)
9. I will usually ask a question about the specific technical skills that are required for the position (e.g. ERP knowledge, Lean, Customs, RFID, whatever...)
10. Do you have any questions for me? (this will show the person's level of interest in the job, the kind of research that he has done, etc.) Note that almost any question is OK to ask here, but be smart - avoid asking about salary or mundane stuff like "when is lunch break?" Although, if you are keen on continuing education (and I am!) you could ask if the company supports continuing education efforts by employees.If the applicant has no questions, that sends a negative vibe my way. If the questions are thoughtful and intelligent, then it can stimulate additonal conversation which can work in your favour.
In summary, just relax and answer the questions honestly. Be yourself. If you get the job, great! If not, it wasn't meant to be. Learn from the experience, and move on.
Best of luck!
John Skelton is the Principal Consultant and founder of Strategic Inventory Management.