A vendor Manager works closely with suppliers to make purchasing decisions. They maintain both new and existing vendor relationships. The primary qualification for this role is a Bachelor’s Degree and at least five years of experience in merchandising. Some employers may require a Master’s Degree and strong negotiation skills.
Below, we outline 20 questions that will help you prepare for your interview.
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
The interviewer is interested in your answer on why you made your application. Share your interest in the position while keeping your enthusiasm.
“Based on the job description, I felt that my skills, experience, and education level closely match the role. I have seven years of experience in vendor management working in a supermarket chain. Through this experience, I have been able to develop superb negotiation and communication skills. I believe that with this background, I am well prepared to excel in this role. Over the years, I have managed multiple vendors and I believe that will come in handy for this role.”
2. What Are The Roles Of A Vendor Manager?
The interviewer is testing your knowledge of the roles that a vendor manager does. Share the roles while explaining your ability to handle them.
“Among the roles, I expect to play are sourcing for new vendors, vetting them, and establishing contracts. I will also manage relationships with the different vendors to ensure smooth processes throughout the organization. I will also be involved in monitoring the performance of the vendors to determine if we should keep or replace them. I will also streamline processes to ensure that they achieve organizational goals. I will also assist in solving issues that arise. As a manager, I will also work on developing and mentoring my team.”
3. What Are The Qualities That A Vendor Manager Needs To Be Successful?
The interviewer is interested in qualities that will make you a great vendor manager. Share the qualities while showing how they are instrumental in the job.
“Vendor managers are good communicators. They always strive to ensure both parties are clear on the goals to be achieved. They pay great attention to details as this is instrumental in vetting new vendors. They analyze every piece of information offered against the goals of the organization. The goal is to ensure they pick the vendor whose goals align with those of the organization. In the relationship, they aim to make constant contact to ensure that they share relevant information. They also keep abreast of changing regulations in the business arena. These are qualities that I have worked at developing in my work and I believe I will make a great addition to your team.”
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?
Managing challenges is a key management skill. The interviewer is interested in your strategy for rising above challenges. Share what you did in the past when faced with a challenge.
“In my previous role, we had a challenge of not getting the right information for each vendor. I realized that the problem was with our vetting documents. To correct this we tailor-made documents for each line of products we stocked. For example, the vendors who supplied vegetables and other highly perishable items had their own set of documents required different from the ones required for suppliers of non-perishable items. This assisted us in managing the different vendors differently. We would also keep a track of all issues that arose and come up with solutions along the way. We ensured that the data kept is as comprehensive as possible. These practices assisted us in making sure that the relationships maintained are fruitful.”
5. Describe Your Daily Routine As A Vendor Manager?
How you plan your day is important in this role. Give an account of your day, ensure all the business hours are accounted for.
“When I report to work I review my to-do list for the day. After this, I dedicate the next two hours of the day reading and replying to emails received. After this, I go ahead and review documents for new vendors to ensure they are complete. In case they are not, I communicate the same to them. I also review any challenges raised by the existing vendors. My afternoons are filled with administrative tasks and analyzing data. Most days are not the same, some I will spend much of the time in meetings either with the vendors or the management team. At the end of the day, I review my tasks for the day and plan for the next day’s work.”
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience
Having prior experience is important for this role. The interviewer is interested to know whether you make a great fit for their team. Share your experience and highlight the skills developed along the way.
“I have seven years of experience in vendor management. The experience was gained in the supermarket chains line of business. In this role, I interacted with a lot of vendors daily. In the process, I developed great negotiation skills. I am able to negotiate for terms that are very favorable to an organization. I have also been able to develop great attention to detail. This is a key skill in analyzing the information given by the specific vendors. I believe that my background has prepared me to excel in this role.”
7. What Kind Of Strategies And Mindset Is Required For This Role?
In management, mindsets and strategies are key to success. The interviewer is interested in your mindset and how that will benefit the organization.
“Vendor managers are value creators. As such, they have a mindset and strategy to ensure they create value through partnerships with other organizations. They also seek collaborative relationships with other organizations as this will assist in streamlining the organization’s processes. They also address risk holistically to reduce its effect on the organization’s goals. They also have a fiduciary responsibility to defend the organization and work towards its goals. These are mindsets and strategies that I have developed in my previous roles and believe will come in handy in ensuring I deliver great results if selected for this role.”
8. What Is The Biggest Challenge That You Foresee In This Job?
In your research, be sure to find out challenges you may face so that this question does not get you offline. Base your answer on your research and ensure it is relevant o the role.
“For this role, I foresee that risk mitigation in my role will be a challenge. This is a result of the changing business environment and the effect of the Covid 19 Pandemic. To counter this, I aim to ensure I keep abreast of any changes that are happening locally and globally that may affect the business. This I believe will ensure that as an organization we will always be prepared for any challenges that may arise.”
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In Your Work?
It is good to create strategies to ensure that you stay motivated in your work. Share your strategy for keeping your motivation going.
“To stay motivated in my work, I break big tasks into small bite-sized ones. Accomplishing each of these keeps me going as I feel I am making progress. I also enjoy close collaboration with my team members. This keeps me in perspective to ensure I play my role in the team. I also reward myself for a job well done and do not wait to be celebrated by anyone else.”
10. Describe A Time When You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learnt?
In this role, there are situations where you will fail. Focus on the lessons learned and share this with the interviewer.
“In my previous role, we had an issue of delayed supply. Every time we had a meeting with the vendor, he promised to deliver on time the next time. He would keep his promise for one delivery then return to late deliveries. This affected the smooth running of the store as we would run out of stock for the item. In the end, I realized that we did not put the key deliverables in writing. I learned that it is good to document everything so that there is someone to be held accountable in case there are issues.”
11. Why Do You Feel You Are The Most Suited For This Role?
The interview is looking for a reason to choose you. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Share your strengths and how they fit in the job requirements.
“I believe the qualifications and the skills I have, match the job requirements. In particular, my impeccable negotiation and communication skills place me as a great fit for this role. I have seven years of experience in vendor management that will come in handy for this role. I am also committed to learning new skills to excel in this role.”
12. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievement.
What are you proud of in your career? The interviewer is interested in this information. Share this while relating it to the role.
“In my previous role, I was able to achieve supplier on-time delivery of 98% for the organization. This made operations very smooth. It also reduced our stock levels as we could rely on the suppliers to deliver on time hence no stock-outs. Given a chance on this role, I will be able to deliver similar or better results for the organization.”
13. When Selecting A Vendor, What Criteria Do You Use?
The interviewer is interested in your industry knowledge. Give the steps you will follow in your selection process.
“For most of our vendors, we first request for referrals. Recommendations from others are a great place to start. Once we get them, we give out the documentation for them to fill. Once we receive the filled-in documents, we communicate with their references. We research the ethics and integrity of the vendor while also checking their customer service work. This is important since we like associating with reputable companies. We do price and quality comparisons for the quotes. Our goal is to get the best quality for the cheapest price to maximize our profits.”
14. What Is The Most Effective Way Of Monitoring The Performance Of Vendors?
The interviewer is testing your industry knowledge. Share the best practice as is expected in the industry, keep them relevant to the role at hand.
“For each vendor, we have a list of key performance indicators that we keep monitoring. The KPIs are frequency of price charges, on-time deliveries, communication lag times, product quality, and competitiveness with other vendors. We keep monitoring this and see if they still align with the goals of the organization. If not, we communicate the same and if we do not agree on a way forward, we start searching for a new vendor.”
15. How Do You Conduct Research On New Vendors?
Vetting new vendors is key to ensuring smooth processes for the organization. The interviewer is interested in how do you ensure you pick the right ones for the organization. Share the expected strategy.
“For new vendors, I make sure that we schedule a visit to their premises. This will give a lot of information on their customer service and capacity to deliver. I also ensure that we double-check with the referrals. References give valuable information and with the right set of questions, you can get good information on the vendor. I also ensure that everything is done in writing especially for the terms and conditions.”
16. If A Long-Standing Vendor Failed To Do His Contractual Obligations, What Will You Do?
The interviewer is testing your problem-solving skills. Give a structure of how you will address this issue.
“In this case, I will go back to the contract and communicate with the vendor on the terms and conditions violated. Most vendors will take corrective measures to address this. If they are unwilling to correct the issue, I will refer the issue to the legal department for them to advise on the steps to be taken next. Contracts are a sensitive issue and the legal department is in a better position to advise the organization on the actions to be taken next.”
17. How Do You Keep Your Team Motivated To Achieve Results?
The interviewer is interested in your team management skills. Share how you would ensure that your team delivers amazing results.
“I focus on coaching my team members to be great performers. I mentor them on a rotational basis. I will reward performance and praise the team member publicly. For the mistakes made, I reprimand them in private. I find this strategy works well in keeping team members on toes to achieve great results collectively.”
18. How Do You Stay On Top Things Seeing That This Role Involves Dealing With Multiple Vendors?
Multiple Vendors may present a challenge and the interviewer wants to know how you plan your work. Share how you have handled this in your previous roles.
“I understand that the role involves dealing with multiple vendors. To manage this, I ensure I maintain an up-to-date database. I will tailor my to-do list to the database to ensure that deliveries are done as per schedule. I stay organized and keep to my to-do list to ensure I do not miss anything.”
19. What Systems Help You Stay Organized?
Organization skills are critical for this role. Share a system that you have in place that delivers great results for you.
“I take the first few minutes of the day to plan my to-do list. I ensure I capture everything I intend to work on for the day. This keeps me organized. At the end of the day, I take a few minutes to review my to-do list and see how much I accomplished. I get satisfaction in ticking the tasks off.”
20. Describe Your Ideal Work Environment.
The interviewer is interested if you understand the organization’s culture. Explain your ideal environment and ensure it is in line with how the organization works.
“My ideal environment is where there is room to make a decision and contribute towards the organization’s mission and vision. I noted in my research that the organization allows for staff creativity. This opportunity will be great for me as it will allow me to exercise my creativity and thereby leading to growth. I also like the commitment towards customer experience that is evident from when you walk in. I would love to be part of the team that is geared towards ensuring great customer service.”
This role may attract many candidates. Your industry knowledge will make you stand out from the rest. Practice the above questions and tailor your answers to your target employer and the organization will see a great fit in you.