Most things are computerized in a modern warehouse, distribution center, or in a big retail store. It is easy to see what items are on stock, what needs to be shipped and when, and what the company is lacking, and should order. Yet all these places prefer to have someone who monitors these things, a pair of eyes, a responsible Inventory Analyst.

You will allocate, analyze, document, coordinate, order, and count the inventory, trying to maximize the effectiveness of  the warehouse operations, and proper allocation of cash flow in stock. It’s a decent job that can pay up to $70,000 annually in some companies–when you have a degree in finance or accounting (entry level inventory analysts positions pay much less). Let’s have a look at some questions you may face while interviewing for it.


Why do you want to work as an Inventory Analyst?

Try to point out two things in your answer: what the job can give you, and what you can give to the employer. Let’s start with the second one. You have excellent analytical skills and strong attention to detail. Organizational and communication skills also belong to your strengths.

What’s more, you read the job description carefully, and believe to meet the requirements, in terms of education and previous experience (if it’s required). From what you know about the job and about yourself, you judge that you will handle it well, and  will help them maximize the effectiveness of their operations. You feel to be a good match for the position, with your skills, experience, and motivation.

Now the other part–what the job can give you. Inventory analysts are responsible for a variety of tasks, and you know that you will learn a lot in the job. On the top of that, you are strongly interested in their field of business (clothes, electronics, cars, whatever they deal with), and want to work in the field for many years to come. Hence it is an ideal job choice for you, at least at this stage of your professional career.


How do you imagine a typical day in a work of an inventory analyst?

Try to describe the day from the morning to the late afternoon. You can say that you imagine arriving to work early (all hiring managers like to hear that), and immediately checking in the system whether everything is all right, orders are on the way, and there aren’t any errors or discrepancies. If there is something wrong, you will remedy it immediately.

Then you will work on your analysis, talking to project managers, shipping supervisors, and other employees, in order to understand what items you need to stock and dispatch. Comparing the data with the current stock, you will make your suggestions on what quantities to order and when. You may or not respond directly for ordering–this depends on the organization of the warehouse, and the exact scope of your responsibilities.

As the goods arrive (and leave) during the day, you will participate in organizing the shipments and pickups, count the inventory and document discrepancies.

And of course you will have a lunch break, and some chat with your colleagues during the day. When the end of your shift approaches, you ensure once again that everything is in place, make a list of tasks for tomorrow, and may leave some note to people who come for the night shift (can be another analyst, or just manual workers and a supervisor)…

Of course, the exact description of a day depends on your position within the hierarchical structure of the company, and also on the scope of their operations. As long as you show proactive approach to work and at least somehow realistic idea of the job, they will be satisfied with your answer.

What types of analysis would you suggest doing in our warehouse/logistics center/retail store?

They probably have some system in place, and you will get a training. Nevertheless, suggesting some analysis (suggesting doing something extra) is what distinguishes an excellent job candidate from an average one.

You can suggest all kinds of analysis–financial and non-financial. How long it takes in average for stock to arrive from different suppliers, to what extent the capacity of the warehouse is used during different times of a day and week, percentage of errors, such as missing or mislabeled items from different suppliers, and so on, and so forth.

The word “analyst” is in your job title for a reason. Ensure them that you plan to analyze a lot of things. It will allow you to come up with suggestions on how to improve the effectiveness of their operations. And that is the main reason why they hire you… Make sure to check also other analytical skills interview questions, because they will definitely use some of them in your interview.


Do you have any experience with reading shipping an receiving logs (or with this or that computer software)?

This one seems easy–either you have the experience, or you do not have it. However, just like it is the case many times in an interview, it’s not as straightforward as it seems.

If you have experience, you should specify the exact types of documents you worked with. Tell them clearly where you worked with them, and how they helped you in your work (for example to discover discrepancies). Details lend your answer credibility, because everyone can say that they worker with “this or that type of documents”.

If you have no experience, you should ensure the hiring managers that you are tech savvy, and a quick learner. Maybe you haven’t worked with some documents of software programs yet, but you are sure you will learn it quickly. At the end of the day this is logistics and financial analysis, and not rocket science.


Tell us about a time when you struggled to meet a tight deadline.

Your attitude is more important than the situation you narrate, and whether you actually met the deadline. You can talk about any sort of deadline–making a report, completing a difficult analysis, improving some process, preparing a presentation for a team meeting, or even finishing your thesis on time–if this is your first job application.

Describe how you prioritized your work, and eliminated all distractions. Show them that you can focus on the task at hand, and work hard when the deadline approaches. You can also say that you stayed overtime, or worked from home, because you understood the importance of your work, and wanted to meet the deadline.

Eventually you succeeded or failed–that’s not the most important thing. You tried hard, put in some extra effort, and did all you could to meet the deadline. That’s what counts for the interviewers…


Other questions you may get in your inventory analyst job interview

  • What do you expect from project managers, shipping supervisors, and other people you will cooperate with in this job?
  • Tell us about the best and worst forecast (financial forecast) you’ve ever made in your life.
  • What do you consider your greatest weakness when we talk about the job of an inventory analyst?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Tell us about a time when you felt overwhelmed with work.
  • Describe a conflict you had with one of your colleagues in your previous job.
  • How well do you adapt to new situations?
  • Tell us about a time when you showed initiative at work.
  • What is most important for you in your next position?
  • Tell us about as time when you had to use logic to solve a problem.
  • After everything we discussed here, do you want to add something, or do you have any questions?

Special Tip: If you experience anxiety, or do not feel ready for the questions from my list, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to ten sample answers to each tricky interview question (including 31 dreaded scenario-based questions) will help you get ready for this challenging interview, and outclass your competitors–since you will know something they won’t know… Thank you for checking it out!


Conclusion, next steps

Interview for a job of an inventory analyst belongs to interviews with average difficulty. This is not a fancy job title, and many warehouses and wholesale retailers are understaffed. Unless you apply with a big prestigious brand, or in a place that offers exceptional salary to a new inventory analyst, you won’t compete with many people for the job. This makes your situation much easier.

On the other hand, though relatively predictable, you may find some questions difficult to deal with, especially if you lack professional experience. As long as you have something to say, however, show proactive approach to work, and some value you want to bring to their company with your work, they will typically give you a chance to prove your skills..

Do not forget to do some research about their place–what items they stock, the scope of operation, whether they do night shifts, etc. This will help you with some answers, and it is also easier to connect with the hiring managers, once you know something about their place and work. I hope you will succeed and wish you best of luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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