Getting an interview in today’s purchasing job environment is tough. Not only are there few good jobs available due to the high unemployment rate, but having your resume not get lost in the shuffle is an accomplishment in itself because of the pure volume of people looking for work and bombarding job postings with their resumes.

Don’t miss updates on Procurement & Supply Chain, Subscribe here!

So, if you get a rare interview, you better not screw it up. Unfortunately, people make one or more of these five mistakes and end up not getting jobs that they may have had:

Mistake #1: Taking An Interview Late In The Process. If you are given a choice, take the first interview you can. By the time the last interviewee walks into the hiring manager’s office, a decision has probably already been made. Once a hiring manager finds “the one,” all future candidates are compared to that person. It’s tough to be good enough to defeat the memory of a great candidate. In fact, if the first thing you say is less impressive than the best thing that “the one” said, your chances of getting the job are probably already up the creek less than a minute into the interview. Plus, have you seen the faces and body language of people who have interviewed 20 people in a week? They are weary. It’s hard to sell yourself to – or even be listened to by – someone so mentally exhausted.

Mistake #2: Not Being Prepared For The Most Ridiculously Common Interview Question In The History of Man-Freakin’-Kind. What is this question, you ask? It is “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” You’d think if there was one question that people would have anticipated and practiced for, it would have been this one. However, I’ve seen plenty of interviewees be totally unprepared for this question. And then they ramble on and ramble on and ramble on and include some stuff that is really irrelevant. Four or five sentences can sum a person up pretty well. Here’s an example…

“I am a purchasing professional with nine years of experience. My three most recent employers were ABC Company, Widgets ‘R’ Us, and Big Bank. In all three of those roles, I achieved several millions of dollars in annual cost savings, improved relationships between the purchasing department and its stakeholders, and transformed supplier performance. I am a person who loves overcoming challenges and exceeding my goals, so I’m very excited about discussing the purchasing manager position here at your company.”

Mistake #3: Not Distributing Eye Contact. It’s pretty common for multiple people to interview you. Make sure that you distribute eye contact as evenly as possible to every single person on the interviewing team, not just the person who asked you the question. Keep in mind that the decision-maker – or at least a strong influencer – may be someone who doesn’t ask any of the questions but sits back and quietly observes.

Mistake #4: Saying Something – Anything – Negative. Saying something that sounds like a complaint makes you naturally unattractive. Even beyond that, seasoned hiring managers believe that candidates should have read enough about interviewing to know better than to say something negative. They may even see if they can draw negativity out of you. For example, if you said “My last job was a great job. It was stressful at times, but overall it was great,” the hiring manager may follow up with “So, what was stressful about it?” They will give you a rope just to see if you will hang yourself with it. Can you go an hour without saying anything negative? You better be able to if you want to maximize the number of job offers you get.

Mistake #5: Using Slang Inappropriately. Business taboos fall year after year. Still, the purchasing profession tends to be a little more conservative than other disciplines like marketing or IT. So, be careful how you use slang. Look to your interviewers for clues as far as how casual the conversation should be and try to match the level of formality displayed in their speech. Even if the interviewer is young, that doesn’t mean that they embrace informality or that the company culture is informal. One time, I had a candidate tell me in an interview “I’m really anal about things like that.” I knew what she meant. I’ve used the term myself in casual conversation. But the candidate’s comfort in speaking like that in an interview process made me uncomfortable about how the candidate might fit into the company culture. Sure, I said “Man-Freakin’-Kind” in this blog post but would I say it in an interview? Uh, I don’t think so!

So, those are five ways to screw up a purchasing job interview. Now don’t screw your next interview up, OK!

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

More Posts