At the end of the day, companies exist for the end customer. If there was no demand, there would be no supply. It just wouldn’t make sense.
But what volume should a company produce each month? What materials should the purchasing managers order, in order to be be able to produce the right quantity of end products?
Demand planners help managers answer these questions. Working with historical data and observing current market trends, they try to estimate the demand for each product of the company. In a week, month, quarter, next season–depending on the production cycle and business model.
Let’s have a look at some questions you may get while interviewing for this interesting job.
Why do you want to work as a demand planner?
Tell them that you have strong analytical and statistical skills, and perhaps even experience with business modeling or with time row analysis. You read the job description and believe that you can be useful for your employer, because your strengths and the job requirements match.
What is more, you see the important role demand planner plays in each business. And, judging by the job description and your idea of the job, you think you will enjoy doing this type of work.
Maybe you have your eyes set on a future prize as well, dreaming of a job of a supply chain manager or logistics manager. In order to have a chance to get such a job one day, however, you need experience in the field, and demand planner is the right step on your career path…
One way or another, they should get an impression that you know what you are doing, and do not apply with them only becasue you can’t get any better job at the moment, or do not know what to do with your life and degree.
Please tell us something about your previous working experience.
If you are just starting in your professional career, or never did anything related to demand planning, you can always talk about school. Courses and lessons you had in statistics, financial analysis, time row analysis, planning, supply chain management.
Everyone has to start somewhere. If they invited you for an interview, it means they are considering to give you a chance–though you lack experience. But you must convince them that you are confident about your skills, and ability to handle the job, perhaps after you got some initial training in the company.
If you have any relevant experience, you should simply narrate the details, such as duties you had, things you were responsible for. The most important thing at this point is talking with enthusiasm. They should get an impression that you enjoy working in the field, and aren’t bored with life and work already.
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What do you know about our business field and demand patterns in it?
You do not necessarily have to know anything, but you should care. Try to do your homework. Check their principal products, and think about the demand patterns, seasonality, etc. Read some industry news, and think how recent trends may have impacted their business.
They do not expect you to make some forecasts directly in an interview. But they will prioritize you over other job candidates when they see that you are actually interested in their field of business, and know something about their products.
And if you are bold enough to make predictions (why not, luck favors the brave), always add that these are just estimations, and that you’d need to see historical data and try different models to make better forecasts.
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Describe the best and the worst forecast you’ve ever made.
When talking about the best forecast, try to explain the benefits your work had for your former employer. For example, you forecast a drop in demand for a certain product segment, against all odds. Managers took your prediction into account, produced less and used their capacities elsewhere, which eventually resulted into better quarterly sales and better profits.
Talking about the worst forecast, you should explain the following:
- what mathematical models you used in your forecast
- why they proved inaccurate at the end (unexpected events took place in the market, your initial data were wrong, etc)
- lessons you learned with this unsuccessful forecast, and how they helped you to become better in your job
Remember that your attitude matters for the interviewers, not the exact forecast you talk about. If they see that you can admit making a mistake, analyze it and learn from it, they will give you a lot of points for the bad forecast you describe in an interview.
Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something technical to someone (for example explaining your prediction to one of the managers). What did you do to eventually get your message over?
Managers have to understand your forecasts (and often also your methodology of work), in order to benefit from your work. You should talk about a situation from the past when you used pictures, demonstration, charts, or perhaps just explained your analysis or forecast in a language of common people.
Ensure the interviewers that you do not expect to sit at your desk all day, working with data, and just sending emails over to the managers. You expect to participate in the meetings, make presentations, and explain things to different people from the company, in a language they should understand. That’s the attitude they seek in the best applicant for this job.
Special Tip: Download all questions in a one-page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline.
Another behavioral interview question and another test of your attitude. Different people and departments in the company depend on the work of demand planners.
Actually when we talk about industries like automotive, plans are often made daily, and companies are interconnected heavily. In such a case whether you finish your analysis at 2pm or 3pm can make a huge difference for several people in the supply chain–and not only in one company.
Because someone cannot finish their work without receiving data from you, and someone else cannot move on without receiving email from that person, and so on, and so forth.
Any situation you talk about, you should ensure the interviewers that you understood the importance of meeting deadlines. You know that other people need your forecasts for their work, and therefor you always try your best to send them in time. You may fail sometimes, because at the end, you may also wait for data from someone else… But you at least try, and that’s the attitude interviewers expect from a good job candidate.
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What do you consider your greatest weakness when we talk about planning and forecasting?
You have a few options for a good answer. One is saying that you do not think you have any major weakness as an aspiring demand planner, and that’s exactly the reason why you apply for this job, and not for some other role. You can elaborate on your answer, mentioning some weaknesses you have that aren’t important for this role. For example you struggle with leading teams or with physical labor.
Second option is mentioning a real weakness, such as a lack of experience or inability to deal with pressure. Ensure the interviewers that you are aware of your weakness and try to improve on it, because you want to be the best version of yourself in work.
Third option (and actually the most honest one) is saying that you do not know, and will have to do the job for a few weeks first to identify areas in which you struggle and should improve on.
Other questions you may face in your Demand Planner job interview
- What do you do to minimize the number of mistakes you make in your work?
- What does quality mean to you?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Do you have any experience with computer programs for mathematical and statistical analysis?
- Describe a time when you faced a conflict of your personal and professional interests.
- Tell us about an obstacle you overcame.
- What motivates you the most in this job?
- Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.
- In your opinion, what are the key points in a proper demand forecast?
- Describe a time when you used logic to solve the problem.
- Why do you feel you are qualified for this position?
- Do you have any questions?
Conclusion, answers to all questions
Demand planner is a popular job title, and you will typically compete with some people for the job. Interviewers will inquire about your goals, motivation, and especially about your attitude to various situations that can happen in your work (a bad forecast, conflict with a manager, meeting a tight deadline, etc).
Try to prepare for the questions, and do not forget to do a good research about your prospective employer. Check their product portfolio, main competitors, their vision and goals. Think about seasonality and other factors that may have an impact on the demand for their products.
This will help you to come up with right interview answers, and also to make a better connection with your interviewers–it is always easier to connect with them when you know a lot about their business…
And if you are not sure how to answer the questions, or generally struggle while interviewing for jobs, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to all tricky questions you may face in your demand planner interview will help you find the right words when it counts the most… You will find some excellent sample answers directly on the product page, so it makes sense to check it out even if you do not plan to purchase anything.
Alternatively you can continue your preparation for a job interview:
- How to overcome interview nerves – Simple 4 steps guide that will help you to calm down before an interview.
- Plant Manager interview questions.
- Purchasing Agent interview questions.