Finding the Ideal Purchasing Candidate


Our experience working with hiring managers and HR professionals to fill purchasing and supply chain positions over the past 10+ years has been:

  1. Usually, they do a job great describing job responsibilities
  2. Most often, they are equally good at listing work experience and technical skill requirements
  3. They almost never clearly state the soft skills needed for someone to perform the job successfully

Soft skills are the personal traits that closely link to organizational success.  Fundamentally, they relate to communication, mindset, and conduct.  More than ever, these are the traits that leaders are looking for in their next purchasing superhero (in addition to technical skills, of course).

Unfortunately, without a clear up-front definition of soft skill requirements, the recruiting process can be extremely inefficient.  Applicant screening will forward the wrong candidates, and initial interviews will result in inappropriate recommendations. What’s needed is a clear understanding, by everyone, of what the ideal candidate should bring – work experience, technical skills, and soft skills.

We break down the personal traits of an ideal candidate into three groups of soft skills:

  • Communication skills are the important information exchange skills required for success in a particular job. One example is the ability to ask questions – in some purchasing roles, questioning skills are more important than the abilities to write clearly, speak concisely, and give clear instructions.
  • Mindset refers to the key attitudes and motivations necessary for job performance. Most purchasing roles require a focus on integrity, and many hiring managers are looking for a self-starter who takes personal responsibility for their work.
  • Conduct encompasses those habits and behaviors necessary to do the job effectively. An example of conduct is organization – if they role requires the individual to address many different types of issues at once, then a disorganized person isn’t likely to be effective in that role.

Keep in mind that the ideal candidate isn’t just someone who has the traits to perform a function; they also need to operate well within their team and their company.  These soft skills are key to finding a candidate who will thrive in their role and elevate the performance of those around them.

Download our easy-to-use “Soft Skills Checklist for Purchasing Job Candidates” here to quickly determine what you need in a purchasing super hero.