3 Truly Effective Supplier Interview Questions

What Questions Should A Supplier Interview Include?

Supplier interviews can be a critical step in making an optimal supplier selection. While many procurement professionals conduct them, too few ask questions that actually help them predict the future of working with a supplier. Good questions catch suppliers off-guard and yield honest, unscripted answers.

Here are three probing questions to help you get the most out of your supplier interviews. They are most effective when asked of a supplier executive familiar with the supplier’s internal operations, rather than a salesperson focused strictly on external relationships.

“How will doing business with your company instead of your competitor(s) make my organization more profitable?” Every supplier will tell you that they are a better choice for you than their competitor because of some unique advantages. But for such advantages to be a reason for choosing a certain supplier, they should have some positive impact on your organization’s “bottom line.” For example, “better quality” is nice, but the supplier (and you) should be able to translate better quality into a monetary value.

“What have been the biggest operational challenges that you have faced recently?” You want to assess the risk of a supplier failing to meet its commitments. The supplier’s answer to this question may alert you to hidden problems that may make the supplier a less attractive option or may reveal a supplier’s ability to solve problems in order to meet customer obligations.

“What changes do you see in your industry in the next few years and how are you preparing for them?” Think of how innovations such as the Internet and smart phones have drastically changed how business is done in so many industries over the past 15 years. Change is constant and will only accelerate in the future. You need to know whether a supplier will be a leader of change or a follower of change. A supplier’s answer to this question can enable you to assess how well the supplier is positioned for the changes that you predict. And you may actually learn about forthcoming changes that you haven’t even thought about yet.

You may also want to read up on The Supplier Interview Question That Most Procurement Professionals Are Embarrassed To Ask…But Shouldn’t Be.

Recommended Reading

NLPA Learning: Looking for authoritative procurement templates, tools, webinars, and more? Stop trying to create resources from scratch and start taking advantage of having exactly what you need right at your fingertips in NLPA Learning.

Do You Want a More Rewarding Procurement Career?

Are you tired of not getting enough opportunities, respect, and money out of your procurement career? Well, guess what? Nothing will change unless you take action towards becoming a world-class procurement professional.

Earning your SPSM Certification is the action to take if you want to bring the most modern procurement practices into your organization and achieve your career potential. Download the SPSM Certification Guide today to learn how to get started on your journey to a more rewarding procurement career!

Need Better Performance From Your Procurement Team?

Are you a procurement leader whose team isn’t achieving the results you know are possible? Maybe it’s not enough cost savings. Or frustrating performance from the supply base. Or dissatisfied internal customers.

You need a performance improvement plan that’s easy to implement and quick to produce results. The NLPA can help.

Download our whitepaper “The Procurement Leader’s Guide To A More Successful Team.” You’ll learn the 7 steps for transforming your staff into a results-producing, world-class procurement team.

Are You Getting The Most Out of Your NLPA Membership?

Members of the NLPA get more than just articles like this by email. As a member, you also get access to:

  • The Procurement Training & Certification Starter Kit
  • The latest Purchasing & Supply Management Salaries Report
  • Leading-Edge Supply Management™ magazine
  • Members-only webinars 10x per year
  • And more!

If you haven’t been taking advantage of these benefits, why not log in and start now?