The following article was prepared by Mike Taylor, C.P.M.

So you want to interview for a new job?

December 2005 - last rev. 2012

If it has been a while since you interviewed for a job, you mighty not remember how tough some of the questions can be. Before the interview, it’s definitely worth preparing.

Here are a few generic questions provided to a friend who was getting ready to interview purchasing candidates. Assume that these will be in addition to many specific questions related directly to performing the job.

Purchasing Related:

  1. What in your background and experience makes you think you can do this job well?

  2. What are the basic requirement for contract formation under the UCC

  3. Describe the Buyer’s remedies under the UCC

  4. What is your opinion about the changes being adopted to UCC article 2? How do you plan to incorporate the changes into your personal skills?

  5. Discuss “Due Diligence” with regard to supplier selection.

  6. Describe a successful contract negotiation; how you prepared, what tactics you used and what you achieved.

  7. Describe the most creative or innovative agreement you negotiated with a supplier. Explain how it was advantageous to your company. Discuss how you protected the buyers rights in the final agreement.


  1. Help me understand your choices with regard to professional certification.

  2. Describe your continuing education efforts over the past three years.

  3. Characterize your professional network and what you are doing to maintain it

  4. Provide a demonstration of your communication skills

Computer related:

  1. Describe the computer applications that you would consider yourself as an expert user. Add specific questions about applications that are required for the job…….

  2. Hands-on demo… Here is a …file please show me how you would….

  3. Show me an example of a word document that you created, edited and printed yourself

  4. Show me an example of an Excel spreadsheet you developed and analyzed using Excel tools.

  5. Talk about a software application you learned to use yourself. Describe the leaning process?

  6. Discuss e-mail and anti-virus security. Demonstrate to me that you understand the concepts and prevention measures a typical user can take.

Questions about your qualifications:

  1. How do you think a friend or someone who knows you well would describe you?

  2. How would those who have worked with you describe you?

  3. What do you think is your greatest weakness? What are you doing about it?

  4. Tell me about your greatest strength. Why do you think it’s of value to our company?

  5. Can you summarize the contribution you would make to our organization?

  6. What accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction?

  7. Tell me about your most and least favorite experiences in school or a leaning environment.

  8. Please tell me about your greatest professional achievement.

  9. Tell me about your most significantly positive work experience.

  10. Why are you the best candidate for this position?

Questions about your ability to work for the Company

  1. Why are you interested in this job?

  2. What do you know about our company and our products?

  3. What qualities should a successful manager possess?

  4. In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?

  5. What criteria are you using to evaluate the organization for which you hope to work?

  6. What is your typical role in the team?

  7. How do you handle conflict?

  8. How do you work under pressure?

  9. What major problem have you encountered and how have you dealt with it?

  10. Describe your competitive spirit?

  11. What do you expect from your supervisor?

  12. Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and those reporting to him or her.

  13. Suggest actions your manager can take in addressing the challenges of supervising people?

Questions about your career choices

  1. What are the most important rewards you expect in your business career?

  2. What are your salary expectations?

  3. Are you willing to relocate?

  4. What will you like to be doing five years from now?

  5. What are your long-range career goals? When and why did you establish these goals and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them?

Difficult to answer questions

  1. Did you ever have a group leader or boss you disliked? Why did you dislike him/her? What did you do to try and improve the situation?

  2. Under what circumstances do you think it’s appropriate for employees to be late? When do you think managers should stop accepting the excuses? How do you think managers should handle employees who are chronically late and don’t contribute much to the team?

  3. How would someone who dislikes you describe you?

  4. Talk about a group situation in which there were problems. How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome? What role did you play in the group? How could the group improve its performance?

  5. Tell me about a time when you experienced a failure and how you reacted to it.

  6. Tell me about a time when you were under considerable pressure to meet one or more goals.

  7. Describe a situation where you had to resolve a conflict at work and explain how you resolved it.

  8. Give me an example of how you are a risk taker.

  9. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

  10. What motivates you?

  11. Why do you want to work for us and not for our competitor?

  12. What do you think is the most important/difficult ethical dilemma facing corporations today?

  13. Give a one sentence position statement about yourself.

  14. How do you go about deciding what to do first when given a project?

  15. Tell me about an exciting experience you have had in a working environment (school, work, or community).

  16. Describe a situation where you did not agree with something your boss asked you to do and how you resolved the problem.

  17. What did you like/dislike about your last job? Your last manager? Your last group of coworkers?

Lunch time discussion

  1. When should a buyer use personal knowledge to influence company purchasing decisions - when they think it to be in the best interest of the company – even if it is outside procedures or policy?

  2. When should a buyer contact auditors and/or regulators and report management decisions that appear to be less than ethical? Should the buyer report the problems or just quit?

  3. Should a buyer rat on a coworker who is performing poorly or covering up errors? Obviously I think most of us would report a buyer who was taking brides or giving the professional a bad name... but where does a person’s responsibility end if management just isn’t paying attention?

  4. If you discovered massive fraud in your company that appeared to go all the way to the top… what would you do? If you wanted to report it, who would you report it to?

  5. Reconcile company policies which provides its sales staff with expense accounts and gifts to wine and dine purchasing people yet prohibits company purchasing people from accepting gifts and gratuities from outside salesmen?

  6. When does a nominal gift go too far? Are business lunches over the limit? Business dinners?

  7. Should ethics, conflict of interest requirements, etc. be different for govt., vs. private sector employees. Specifically interested in the question about going to work for a private company. The Fed has rules prohibiting government employees from going to work for a contractor after leaving the government. This to try and keep an arm length or more between federal employees and the contractors they deal with. Yet in private companies, people with experience are in demand and often move between buyers and sellers as well as among various competitors.

  8. Is this an ethical problem for the private sector and/or is the government trying to regulate ethical behavior that goes beyond the accepted norm?

  9. If the “Boeing Contract” was a good deal for the Air Force, then should the procurement official be punished just for violating the regulations?

  10. Can and should accountability be legislated for private companies?


  1. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, as well as federal and state laws, prohibit asking certain questions of a job applicant, either on the application form or during the interview. Basically, you can't ask about anything not directly related to the job, including:

  2. Age or date of birth (if interviewing a teenager, you can ask if he or she is of legal age to work)

  3. Sex, race, creed, color, religion or national origin

  4. Disabilities of any kind

  5. Date and type of military discharge

  6. Marital status

  7. Maiden name (for female applicants)

  8. If a person is a citizen; however, you can ask if he or she has the legal right to work in the United States

  9. How many children do you have? How old are they? Who will care for them while you are at work?

  10. Have you ever been treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist?

  11. Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism?

  12. Have you ever been arrested? (You may, however, ask if the person has been convicted if it is accompanied by  a statement saying that a conviction will not necessarily disqualify an applicant for employment.)

  13. How many days were you sick last year?

  14. Have you ever filed for worker's compensation? Have you ever been injured on the job?

MLTWEB is assembled and maintained by Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M. 
Materials and articles prepared by Mike may be shared for purchasing education provided that this source is cited and no fee is charged. The rights for any other use are withheld.
Copyright;  Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M.
Last Updated: Oct 2012