Best and Worst Procurement Interview Questions – a Recap on Readers’ Comments

Our previous post on this topic still shows up on our “most read” list, even though it was published back in May 2012! So given we are talking about Procurement Talent as our hot topic this month, I thought we should resurrect this.

First of all, I enjoyed going back and looking at some of the comments from our original post. So today we’ll just feature some of those, then later we’ll look at the topic anew and propose a couple of our ideas for “best and worst.” (I think the last one below is my personal favourite).


I still love asking: Why are man-hole covers mainly round (circular)? There’s hundreds of correct answers, but If the candidate cannot think of a few or is thrown by the shift of thinking outside of their comfort box, they really are not for me.   Sam Unkin


I was once asked, ‘If you were a biscuit, what kind of a biscuit would you be?’ My puzzled frown and lack of response led him to further remark, ‘I can tell a lot about you from your answer.’ ‘You are an idiot’ I said, reasonably. Interview over. Ivor Beenfired (possibly not a real name ...)


I can imagine being floored by this question and I laughed when I read it but the more I thought of it the better it got. Imagine answering you would be a digestive (plain, stodgy and rather unimaginative) – compared with say a Garibaldi (multi-layered, fruity with a hint of spice….).  I’ve added it (the question that is) to my list!! Timbya


Jammie Dodger – Hard on the outside, soft on the inside, colourful and rounded.  Jamie Fry


Is this good or awful? Either way it provides a useful insight to an interviewee’s personal development and professional interest: “What was the last book you have read on purchasing/procurement?” If silence is the answer ask “Please name a book on procurement you have read.”  Stephen Ashcroft


Is “I don’t, but I waste loads of time at Spend Matters” an acceptable answer? Seriously – it's good, until it becomes a ‘standard’ question – and everyone has a pat answer.  Bitter and Twisted


“What is your main weakness?”

“I tend to be excessively creative; so much so that it’s almost like I sometimes end up in a pseudo-fantasy world where my position is no longer relevant to the problem.”

“What is your main strength?”

“I’m Batman.”   Dan


The late (great, in my opinion) comedian Mitch Hedberg had a good one liner on this .

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“Celebrating the five year anniversary of you asking me this question”   Duncan Dallas


“We usually like all our candidates to take a short test but as we don’t have one for Head of Procurement so I’ve found one that we use for our internal auditors”.
Answer: “Would you like to ask me any questions concerning my commercial skills or would you prefer me to take on the role of Head of Audit"?  End of interview. This was for a local authority!!  Trevor Black


Q: “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?”
A “Hang on, I think he’s moving”    Christian Shawcross

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