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Preparing for Your Decision-Making Supply Chain Interview

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You completed your first initial interview, where the company screened you to make sure you would be a great fit. Whether it was on the phone, over a videochat, or in person, you talked the company into a secondary interview. Perhaps you have completed multiple screening interviews with a variety of team members in the department. At this point, it is likely that the hiring manager has sorted through the available candidates and made a final decision on who is invited for decision-making interviews.

HR, or a recruiting partner, will connect with the hiring team to finalize their interview plan. An interview plan consists of determining the interviewing committee members, coordinating dates, times, and locations for interviews and determining the interviewing format.

The secondary interview-type, the decision-making interview, can be conducted in a variety of formats. In the supply chain field, one-on-one interviews are the most common format, which consists of the candidates individually meeting with two or more interviewers separately. Similarly, another common format includes each candidate meeting with several, 2 to 3, interviewers at the same time, allowing for one interviewer to ask questions and the other interviewer to take notes. A less common format is the panel interview, in while many interviewers sit in front of the candidate. This format is typically only used for senior and executive-level positions, as it can be intimidating and resource-intensive.

Regardless of the interview format, you should be provided the interview schedule details, including the date, time, location, and interviewer names and titles. You should also be given basic information regarding the format and process of the interview, which can help direct you on how to prepare for this decision-making interview. Don’t feel hesitant to reach out to the employer if you feel you need greater details on your upcoming interview.

When it comes to job searching and interviewing within the supply chain and operations management industry, the competition is thick and ferocious. Therefore, understanding how to prepare, execute, and follow-up for the interview is vital.


The Secondary Interview: The Decision-Making Interview


Time to Prep

  • Conduct further research. When prepping for your initial interview, you may have done some basic research on the company and hiring department. Now it is time to dig a bit deeper. Make sure you understand the products and services offered the mission statement, values and vision, and the financial history of the company. If you have connections with anyone who has worked for the company, be sure to network and ask about both the company’s culture and the management. You can also use resources like Glassdoor to read reviews on the company. Occasionally you can find valuable information and insight that helps you secure the job.

  • Know the job’s key objectives. After finding out what makes a person successful in the position (you should have found this out or asked during the initial interview, connect the key objectives to your previous experiences. Cater and modify your responses to any questions so that your answers are relevant to the position’s key objectives.

  • Brainstorm your achievements and prepare to be a storyteller. Prior to the interview, you should brainstorm and practice sharing at least five achievement stories. Try to craft your stories in the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, and Result).

  • Dress professionally and to impress. It is preferred to over-dress than to look unprofessional. If you are unsure how the dress-code at a company, simply ask.

  • Have questions to ask in advance. Just like the initial interview, you should have a prepared set of questions to ask your interviewer. Asking questions shows interest in learning. We do not recommend waiting until the interview to come up with questions, as you may not come up with any and it may appear like you are not interested in the position. Here are some of our recommendations:

    • “How is success measured in this position?”

    • “How would you describe your/the company’s management style?”

    • “What is the biggest challenge someone faces in the first six months in this role?”

  • Practice your responses. And then practice again. Make sure you are mentally prepared.


Time to Execute

  • Watch your watch. Being on time is key. This means not only making time for potential travel roadblocks, but also calculating in time for parking, walking, and locating your interview location. If you do realize you are going to be late, immediately call your contact to apologize and ask if they still have time for you. Many schedules are often pre-arranged to cater to your scheduled interview.

  • Quantify your previous accomplishments. Utilize any metrics, numbers, dollars, or percentages to highlight your previous work. Avoid making generalizations and estimates if you don’t have the information to back it up.

  • Hard-copies never go out of style. Bring along your CV or resume, employment dates, and personal information in the chance that you will have paperwork and identity verification to complete.

  • You never know who is watching. From the moment you arrive at the company, be professional. Be courteous and friendly to everyone you meet. Feedback on a new person is often relayed back to the hiring manager so you should try to make a good impression, even when not in the formal interview.

  • Again, you never know who is watching. Body language can be more impactful than speaking verbally. Smile and be confident by looking at everyone in the eye. Use a firm grip with handshakes, sit-up straight, and keep your shoulders rolled back. You don’t know who you just passed in the hallway.

  • Pay attention to any cues. Just as the interviewers will be paying attention to body language, you should also be watching their body language. If you notice any behavior that implies that the interviewer is bored, such as checking a cell phone or staring out a window, you are likely providing long-winded answers. Wrap up your current response and then pause. Let the interviewer refocus and get back on track. You can also ask the interviewer politely if you are answering their questions the way they are looking for.

  • Take responsibility. You can quickly note that you worked on a team, but be sure to emphasize your personal achievements. Take responsibility for the awesome contributions you have provided in the past. You can do this by focusing on using “I”, rather than “We”.

  • Ask for business cards. By collecting business cards at the end of an interview, you are securing your interviewer’s contact information. You can also ask for an email address if it is not noted on the business card. This information will be handy when you want to follow-up.

  • Ask for the job. At the end of the interview, always thank the interviewers for their time and consideration. Be thankful for the opportunity to interview. Close the interview by reiterating your interest in the position and state that you really hope you have the opportunity to work for the company. Genuine enthusiasm can go a long way!

  • Record your experience. Directly after you leave the interview, jot down a few notes about any feedback you received or your general impression of your performance. Also write down any ‘to-dos’, such as following-up after a certain amount of days.


Time to Follow-Up

  • Give thanks through a note. While it seems old-fashion, this is such a great way to set yourself apart from other candidates. We hear how much companies appreciate a personalized thank-you note when it is sent to each interviewer. You can keep it simple, short, and sweet. Here are the few things you should include in your thank-you notes:

    • Thank the interviewer for their time

    • Express your excitement for the position

    • Include a statement about why the job and company interests you

    • Reference something noteworthy or unique from the interview, so that the interviewer can remember you

    • Thank the interviewer for the valuable information they provided

You can either email or send a handwritten thank-you note, depending on the type of contact information you were given.

  • Follow-up for a status. If you don’t hear back from the hiring manager in a reasonable amount of time, contact your primary contact. This can be another opportunity to thank them for their time and to see if they need anything from you as they wrap up their final decisions.


6 Major Interview Do-Not's


  1. Avoid a casual and relaxed demeanor. Regardless of how comfortable you are or how long you have talked with your interviewer, your demeanor should remain professional and friendly. Interviewers are expecting that you will be performing at your very best during an interview, so try to keep your answers polished and objective.

  2. Keep it positive.  Do not, under any circumstances, talk negatively or mention discontentment with your previous company and their employees or positions. This is a small world; you never know who your interview is connected within the industry. In addition, if you talk negatively about your previous position, the interviewing company may be hesitant that you will have the same feelings about them. Turn negative experiences into learning opportunities, and do not discuss your complaints.

  3. Stay patient. Often times, the hiring process can take much longer than interviewees and companies expect. There can be hang-ups with HR, a budget, or policies. Avoid feeling upset and stay patient. While you wait to hear back, keep applying to positions which interest you.

  4. Keep in touch, even if you don’t get hired. If you aren’t hired for a position, you may have been a runner-up. When you hear that you were not selected, ask for any feedback. This information can be extremely valuable. You may receive some constructive criticism, or you may find out that the position was filled internally and you were a great candidate. By building and maintaining a relationship, you will keep your name on the hiring manager’s radar. Thank them for the opportunity and perhaps they will reach out when the next suitable position opens up.


Let’s Wrap Up


The art of interviewing is a skill to be practiced over time, but there is something to be said about a well-prepared candidate. When you appear confident in your experience and skills, employers will become more confident in your aptitude to succeed in the job.

Use the tips we have provided and go rock your next interview.

Are you still looking for the right position with the right company? We would love to connect you to one of our many contacts!


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