Interview Guide – Logistics Professionals

The field of logistics and supply chain management is incorporated with the ebb and flow of the global economy. While managing risks and the weakened Canadian dollar, this field presents opportunities for new demands and improved processes. For managers and HR practitioners within the industry, this guide may help hone in on the skills needed to maximize the opportunities.

 

Interview Questions

Certifications
For Materials Management, Supply Chain, Scheduling / Planning, Inventory Management:
  • APICS (American Inventory Control Society)
  • CPIM = Certification in Production Inventory Management
  • CSCP = Certification in Supply Chain Professionalism
Initial Questions
  1. What brought you to a career in logistics? What challenges are you looking for in this position? What do you know about us?
  2. Please provide an example of a problem scenario in which your client had a legitimate reason for a complaint. How did you manage the problem and the client relationship?
  3. What is your decision making process? Were you responsible for researching or guiding decisions with market, economic, and political environments taken into account?
  4. What suggestion(s) have you made that were implemented in the procurement field and what was the impact of these change(s).
  5. What are some of the key challenges that executives should be aware of (higher customer expectations and customer loyalty, multi-channel networks, e-commerce, commodity price fluctuations, inadequate infrastructure for distribution, volatility of transportation costs, inability to foresee and mitigate risks, poor technology, real-time inventory, cashflow, red tape, supplier capabilities or supplier instability)?
Management / Supervisor
  1. How many employees did you directly and indirectly supervise in your previous position? In what departments and roles? Were you responsible for hiring, or making decisions about staffing requirements?
  2. Describe your leadership style, and what you believe employees would say about your communication approach. How do you handle conflict resolution?
  3. What steps do you take to empower employees to work independently?
  4. When an employee is not performing as expected or required, how do you give constructive feedback?
  5. Describe a time you delivered bad news to your team. What was the outcome?
  6. How often is it required to collaborate with other managers and staff members in order to formulate and implement policies, procedures, goals, and objectives. How would you lead a scenario where major change is needed?
  7. What efforts have your made to make sure your company was compliant with all government regulations? What controls did you put in place as a manager to make sure that audit results were positive?
  8. Are you trained in Joint Health and Safety? Have you been on a JOHSC Committee? Were you part of training employees on health and safety measures or policies?
  9. Did you ever have to address violence, the threat of violence or harassment in your workplace? If so, what was your role and what was the outcome?
  10. Describe what methods or strategies that you use to allow your employees to grow in their roles.
Materials Management
  1. What are the primary tasks of a Materials Manager? What materials, products or services were you responsible for directing? What is the most obscure material you’ve purchased?
  2. Did you participate in the development of the solicitations / requests for proposals for materials?
  3. Have you developed specifications for supplies, products or equipment?
  4. Do you rely on Six Sigma? If not, how do you reinforce continuous improvement?
  5. How critical has forecasting been to you? What process can make forecasting more accurate? Have you used trend analysis?
  6. Have you maintained purchase histories on the vendors you’ve relied on, and assessed vendor suitability?
  7. Are you involved in responding to customer and supplier inquiries about order status, changes, or cancellations?
  8. What sourcing strategies have you devised? How do you control costs when sourcing products?
  9. Describe a time you anticipated unfavorable events through data analysis and prepared control strategies.
  10. Have you been responsible for negotiating carrier rates and service schedules?
  11. What risk management controls have you put in place regarding supply agreements?
  12. How have you tracked and reported on key functional metrics to reduce expenses and improve effectiveness?
  13. Tell me about your ability to negotiate with vendors to secure advantageous terms.Is there a formal sales and operation planning process in place? If so, what role do you play in that?
Dispatch
  1. Did you dispatch individual workers, work crews, equipment, vehicles or other? Did you rely on mobile phones, 2-way radios, or other?
  2. Have you arranged vehicle or equipment repairs in order to restore service and schedules to customers? Have you developed a preventative maintenance schedule? If not, how have you followed one and ensured it was executed accurately?
  3. What role have you played in arranging work orders, messages, and information to or from colleagues and / or clients?
  4. What percentage of your day involves conferring with customers or supervising personnel in order to address questions, problems, and requests for service or equipment?
  5. Have you been responsible for the preparation of daily work and run schedules? If so, how many people or customers did it involve?
  6. How have you dealt with unhappy customers? At what point do you escalate the problem?
  7. How many trucks (routes and/or drivers) have you been responsible for dispatching per day?
  8. How do you handle a driver that won't follow instructions? Do you monitor Driver’s Abstracts to ensure clean driving records? What would you do if a driver was texting and driving?
  9. Have you dealt with a union and if yes, how were job bids handled? Would you do it differently?
  10. What size of territory have you overseen?
  11. Walk me through an example of a time sensitive order or delivery. What steps did you take?
  12. In the event of inclement weather, how do you ensure driver safety and customer satisfaction?
  13. Do you determine inventory levels and anticipate delivery requirements based on historic data?
Transportation and Distribution
  1. Are you familiar with the safety regulations for air, ocean and ground transportation?
  2. Have you analyzed costs and developed budgets?
  3. How do you ensure the correct paperwork is in place for shipments coming in and out of Canada? What difficulties have you run into with customs? What type of shipment errors have you dealt with?
  4. Are you familiar with distribution outside of Canada? Across North America? Internationally? How has Canadian geography impacted supply?
  5. What route planning training have you received? Do you have experience with Transportation Management Systems (TMS)?
  6. Do you have experience negotiating rates, terms and conditions with third party logistics (3PL), imports / exports? How do you ensure your company gets the best rates and liability coverage?
  7. What steps did you take to ensure that shipping documentation was in compliance with transportation and commerce regulations?
  8. Do you have experience planning a load or route? Please explain.
  9. How do you manage risk in logistics and distribution management?
Warehouse
  1. What interests you about working at our warehouse?
  2. Have you designed or located warehouse or storage accommodations?
  3. How do you ensure that products in shipments are not lost or stolen?
  4. Give me an example of a time sensitive order and how you handled it.
  5. Have you used an RF scanner? Have you used a voice pick system?
  6. How familiar are you with a Warehouse Management System (WMS)?
  7. What is the safest way to lift a heavy box?
  8. What would you do if you discovered that a colleague was stealing products?
  9. Do you currently hold the proper endorsements and licenses to operate a forklift?
  10. How have you handled giving a customer bad news, such as missing a shipping deadline?
  11. What measures did you take to ensure that materials were stored safely and securely?
  12. Describe your experience with pricing, labeling and assembling merchandise.
  13. Do you have experience with dangerous or high value goods?
  14. Are you familiar with Material Safety data sheets? Why are they important?
  15. Do you have WHMIS training? Why is this important? How long has it been since your last training?
Inventory
  1. Describe your familiarity with inventory software.
  2. How would you describe lead time and demand?
  3. What motivates you to maintain inventory accuracy?
  4. How do you determine fill rate? How do you increase it?
  5. How often do you do inventory counts? Have you used a cycle count process?
  6. What experience do you have investigating shortages and discrepancies?
  7. Are you familiar with Lean initiatives? Why is this important to Inventory Management? Did you observe the impact of Lean on reducing waste or increasing efficiency?
  8. If you are working with expiry dates, how do you ensure no product gets short coded?
  9. How can the value of inventory be determined?
  10. Why is it important to "turn" your inventory? How did you manage this?
  11. What are the important aspects in inventory control?
  12. What types of re-order point systems can be used in inventory control?
  13. What is the importance of Economic Order Quantity? Does the model always work?
  14. Can forecasting help inventory control? What impact would it have?
  15. Do you have experience in a product recall?
  16. Describe the Inventory ABC classification process, and how it benefits cost reduction?
Scheduling and Planning
  1. Have you scheduled work crews, equipment, or service vehicles to appropriate locations according to customer requests, specifications, or needs?
  2. How much experience do you have using different ERP/MRP SYSTEMS?
  3. How have you created a production schedule using the ERP / MRP system, as well as providing regular reporting on manufacturing status?
  4. Have you analyzed and reported on performance in order to schedule production activities?
  5. What Key Performance Indicators (KPI) have you used? What did you do with this information? How did it impact the overall process? Tell me about a successful implementation of a KPI.
  6. How have you worked with the manufacturing department to manage a production schedule?
  7. Were you responsible for researching and assigning manufacturing times and due dates on parts?
  8. How do you identify and resolve supplier issues that result in schedule discrepancies?
  9. Describe a scenario in which you identified a risk to a customer’s schedule and the methods used to establish corrective actions.
  10. Tell me about a scenario where you were working with departments that didn’t function well together. How did you manage this scenario and what was the outcome?
  11. Do you have any experience in Lean Manufacturing? Explain those experiences and how they can benefit scheduling.
  12. Tell me about a successful continuous improvement that you implemented.
  13. Tell me about a continuous improvement that was not successful? What would you have done differently to make it more successful?
  14. In your view, what is the definition of the Master Scheduling Process summed into just a few words? What are the most important aspects of your job as a Master Scheduler?
  15. How do sales interface in the MPS (Master Production Schedule) process?How often do communications formally flow between Master Scheduling and Sales? Is there a weekly or daily repeatable process review?
  16. What are the system tools used by the MPS process?
  17. What role does Master Scheduling play in the top Management Process in your organization?
  18. Is there a formal Sales and Operation Planning process in place? If so, what role do you play in it?
  19. What rules of engagement are in place between order management and manufacturing?
  20. Is there a firm fence, fixed fence, or other lines of demarcation within the lead-time? Is senior management aware of these rules? Are they enforced and by whom?
  21. What is your role in New Product Introduction (NPI)?
  22. Does your NPI process have measured deliverables and are gates regularly reviewed?
  23. What inventory strategies do you use? FIFO (first in, first out), LIFO (last in, first out)?
  24. How many product families do you have in your organization?
Supply Chain Management
  1. Please describe your role in managing supply chain operations, including production planning, inventory control, customer service, purchasing, forecasting for supply and demand, warehousing and transportation.
  2. Please describe the types of facilities, products or services, number of direct reports, and financial responsibilities you had in your prior role. What geographic and cultural scope did your role encompass?
  3. Were you part of developing the supply chain strategy for the organization? If so, what elements were included in your strategy. How did you identify best practices to incorporate into the strategy?
  4. Over the last decade, what trends have you observed in the marketplace, with regulatory compliance, with vendors or customers?
  5. What type of analytics did you develop or work with? What metrics and reports were particularly useful to you?
  6. What was your role in identifying and managing risk within supply chain?
  7. What vendor relationships did you manage day to day? What contractors and subcontractor activities were under your review?
  8. Have you been involved in assessing customers’ needs and fostering business relationships as they relate to supply chain activities?
  9. Why are supplier audits critical? What are the essential elements of a supplier audit?
  10. Did you develop, or contribute to, supply chain based training materials and technical manuals?
  11. What tools and techniques would you use to implement a company-wide operational change driven by a procurement need to save money? And how would you get buy-in from stakeholders?
  12. Name the essential elements of a contract? What are your negotiating strategies?
  13. What steps will you take when a vendor continually fails to deliver materials as specified?
  14. What does “net 30” or “net 30 days” mean?
  15. How has the Canadian dollar impacted you?
  16. Have you used an “e-procurement” software? Did e-procurement (web-enabled procurement automation) help your organization issue and analyze solicitations, award business, and / or reduce paperwork or overhead?
  17. Have you ever been part of an online reverse auction? If so, was the outcome successful not only on price but on product or service delivery?
  18. Did you oversee tariffs and tax within the context of global logistics?