At SCM Talent Group, we hear all sorts of anecdotes about the candidate interview experience. We also provide resources to prepare candidates and applicants for the supply chain interview process, including what sorts of questions to expect. Below are some of the most common first round interview questions and our insights on how to best answer them.
Tell me about yourself
First round interview questions are designed to quickly measure candidate qualifications and interest. The hiring manager – or whichever screening staff is interviewing you – is not interested in wasting anyone’s time. So be sure to not waste theirs either with superfluous or tangential information that’s not relevant to the position or interview. They are looking for a quick elevator pitch of who you are, how you would fit into their culture, and what qualifies you for the position. Find a way to connect your interests and background to the company. These natural synergies are very attractive to employers who, more often than not, are seeking long-term solutions in the positions for which they hire. If you can demonstrate a natural fit, then you are well on your way to locking up a second interview.
Take this opportunity to highlight why you’re interested in pursuing this position with this company, in particular. Give them an overview of your relevant skills, experience, and qualifications. You also should consider showcasing a key accomplishment, especially if you have one that aligns with the position.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The interviewer wants to see that you have put some thought into your future and are seeking a career versus a job or paycheck. If it’s your first job, talk about how you’d like your career to progress, or if you’re interviewing for a more senior position, talk about what you can do to move the company forward. The worst thing you can do is say that you’re just looking for any job that comes along or that you haven’t put much thought into your career.
While it’s okay if you’re not quite sure where you want to be with your career in exactly 5 years, at least put some thought into this and ideally pen to paper, so you’re well prepared to provide an answer, even if it involves referencing 2 or 3 different career paths you’re open to exploring.
Most jobs, especially in supply chain, require a certain level of contingency planning and at least an eye to possibilities of success or failure of a given venture. For instance, if this interview doesn’t go well, what’s your alternative? Be prepared to display a calm sense of understanding of your future and how you plan to get there.
What is your greatest weakness?
This is a universal question that many interviewers ask during an initial interview. The best practice is to minimize your weakness and emphasize your strengths. Don’t highlight a weakness that is essential to the job itself or use clichés like “I’m a perfectionist”.
You’ll also want to emphasize how you overcame this weakness and be specific about your actions for improvement. Everyone has weaknesses and makes mistakes as well. Employers know this and are much more concerned with what you’ve done to overcome weaknesses and the things you do to improve your skills, knowledge, and abilities. This candor also shows a level of personal accountability for when something goes wrong, which it invariably will. Supply chain careers rely on transparency and accountability to diagnose where the chain broke down in order to mitigate the rippling effects. Your candor also helps employers maximize your strengths while accounting for your weaknesses.
Remember: It’s okay to have weaknesses. It’s not ok to ignore them or to downplay them when joining a supply chain team
Why should we hire you?
This first round interview question can be difficult, as you absolutely do not want to come across as arrogant or a “know it all.” You certainly want to be confident though, and ultimately convey that you are capable of delivering desired results and value to the organization while fitting in with the team and overall company culture. The best way to do this is to showcase past accomplishments that closely relate to the key objectives of the role, and ideally quantify your accomplishments. Humility and a desire to be part of something bigger than you will always be more appealing than overconfidence and arrogance. You should be willing to learn and “be new.”
In addition, most employers are looking for candidates that can progress beyond the job they’re being interviewed for. If you have a track record of promotions then this is easy to convey. If not, it is important to demonstrate your goal-oriented mindset. How do you want to grow as a member of this team? What are some of your professional aspirations? How do those goals and aspirations align with the company’s trajectory? These are all questions you can ask yourself as you prepare for this first interview.
Tell me about your greatest accomplishment.
It is easy to get lost with this question. Obviously, you have many accomplishments in your life, but the hiring manager does not care to know about the ones that are not significant or relevant to the position.
If you really want to “wow” the employer, be prepared to showcase the value you’ve generated for past employers and key accomplishments, in particular those that are both significant in scope and related to the key objectives of the position you’re interviewing for. If possible, quantify the results of your accomplishments using dollar signs, percentages, or other metrics.
Anyone can provide a list of duties or responsibilities. The best candidates demonstrate value-added metrics as a result of their past employment.
The first round interview is typically viewed as an introductory conversation to determine that you have the basic skills and qualifications for the role and can fit in with the team and company culture. If you can put adequate time and thought into how you would answer the aforementioned first round interview questions, you’ll improve your odds of making it to the next round which usually entails a deeper dive into your past work experience, functional and technical skills, as well as soft skills and leadership acumen. Check out this video from Supply Chain Careers on first round interview tips so you’ll know exactly what to do and how to best prepare for a first round job interview.