Supply should meet the demand in every successful business. And I do not talk only about end products for final customer, but also about raw materials and things employees of a company need in order to successfully handle their daily routines.
Working as an inventory manager you will monitor the company’s inventory, ensuring that the company has just about the right amount of stock to satisfy the needs of both customers and employees. Let’s have a look at some questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting job.
Can you please tell us something about your previous working experience?
Try to focus on relevant things. Anything that relates to planning, analyzing, forecasting and communication is relevant. Perhaps you worked as a demand planner or as a purchasing agent before. Or you had your job in logistics, coordinating the flow of resources.
In a good answer to this question you should mention some duties you had in your past jobs, similar to the things you will be responsible for as an inventory manager in your new job. This demonstrates your readiness for the job.
And what to do when you have no experience? Well, if they invited you for an interview, it means that the lack of experience is not a showstopper. Perhaps their existing inventory manager is leaving, and before they are gone they will teach you everything about the job.
In such a case you can refer to your education and abilities (attention to detail, strong computer skills, quick learner). Show confidence in your ability to handle the job.
Why do you want to work as in inventory manager?
You have a few options for a good answer. First one is referring to your past experience, your career path up to this point. Your studies, and everything you’ve learned and done up to this point, has prepared you for this responsible role–at least you believe so. Inventory manager is the next logical step on your professional journey.
Another option is referring to the meaningful purpose you see in this work. Perhaps you like their organization and what they are doing, things they try to achieve with their everyday activities, products they offer to people, their vision and dreams. You’d be proud to be a part of their team, and, considering your skills and experience, role of an inventory manager is the ideal choice for you.
What will be the first thing you do if we hire you for this job?
You can suggest learning as much as possible about their daily operations, target customer, and about everything else in relation to the inventory. Conducting a forecasting analysis to optimize the inventory is another step.
But you can also say that you will try to meet the leading figures from the company (including people from marketing, logistics, supply chain, procurement, HR), trying to understand what exactly they expect from you, and perhaps also learning about some areas for improvement from your new colleagues.
What processes you follow when estimating the amount of stock a company should have at a certain time in the future?
You can suggest working with historical data, since at the end of the day it is still the most accurate method. Unless you care for inventory levels in a volatile business field in which trends change each year, the behavior of consumers does not change much over the years.
People prefer to buy certain things in spring, or in summer, spend most before Christmas, and so on. Of course, this depends on the business field, and a good inventory manager should always count with the current economic climate in their calculations. You can add that you will stay in close touch with people from sales and marketing, because their activities and campaigns they run may have an impact on inventory needs.
* May also interest you: Tell me about a time when you improved a process.
What is your experience with inventory management software? Do you have your favorite software product?
Some programs are better for small business, while large companies prefer more robust enterprise solutions. ZoHo, QuickBooks, Odoo, or MS Excel–each of them has some advantages. If you succeeded to work with one, you will surely learn to work with another one.
Ensure the interviewers that you understand the logic behind the work of the software, the functions you use in your calculations, and hence it wont’ be problem for you to learn to work with any inventory management software they use in the company.
If you have a a favorite in this regard, try to explain what you like about it–effectiveness, wide array of functions, easy integration with other informational systems in the company, great user interface, or anything else.
Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to one of your colleagues. How did you eventually manage to get your message over?
You will cooperate with people from sales, marketing, accounting, logistics. And you may not always share the same view on the level of stock, or on the quantity of materials or products the company should order.
This is completely normal and expected. The key is to demonstrate that you do not mind using simple language, demonstration, or even charts and pictures to help other people understand your message (for example people from marketing or sales who may not understand accounting or logistics terminology).
The situation you narrate isn’t as important as the attitude you show. Interviewers should get an impression that you can explain difficult things in a simple way, are receptive to the feedback from your colleagues, and try to lead a constructive discussion with other managers from the company.
Other questions you may face in your inventory manager job interview, behavioral
Just like for any other managerial role, you will typically have to answer some behavioral (scenario-based) questions. Hiring managers try to understand how you will react to situations that can realistically happen in the workplace (conflict with a customer, meeting a tight deadline, struggling with motivation, working on multiple projects/tasks at the same time, etc).
You may face the following questions:
- Tell us about time when you had to deal with an angry colleague (supplier, business partner).
- Describe a time when you struggled with motivation at work. What did you do to overcome the crisis?
- Describe a time when you missed a deadline in your work.
- Describe the process of calculating the market value of inventory.
- How do you ensure you won’t make any mistakes in your work?
- Tell us about a time when you showed initiative at work.
- Speaking about supply chain, logistics, and inventory management, what do you consider your greatest achievement so far, and your biggest failure?
- What’s the best project you’ve ever worked on?
- When you had to work on multiple projects simultaneously, how did you prioritize?
* If you struggle with answers to behavioral questions (you are not alone), have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 7 excellent answers to 31 behavioral questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. It can be the part of the puzzle you are missing…
Alternatively you can also download the list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of an inventory manager belongs to interviews with average difficulty. “Manager” is a fancy word, and any job title that includes it attracts quite a few job applications. You will compete with other people for this job, and some of them may have more experience or even great references from their previous jobs, which makes your situation more difficult.
On the other hand, if you manage to demonstrate your experience and expertise while walking them through your resume, they may not ask you any particularly difficult technical questions. What they will almost always inquire about, however, is your attitude to various situations that happen in the workplace, and in the job of an inventory manager–the behavioral questions.
If you are not sure how to handle them, check our Interview Success Package (up to 7 excellent answers to all tricky questions you may face in your interview). That’s it, I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Logistics manager interview questions – Some questions overlap with the interviews for jobs in inventory management.
- Inventory Analyst interview questions.
- Plant Manager interview questions.