Assistant buyers support the procurement team in so many different ways, it’s important to ensure that during the hiring process you establish that your candidate has all the skills required.
If you simply check out their past experiences and abilities without getting to know a little more, you might be missing out on the best assistant buyer for your team. Beyond the usual competencies, there are certain skills all assistant buyers need.
These skills need to reflect the passion, ambition and motivation required to succeed in their role.
Passion for the industry
Whatever industry you’re in, employees in procurement need to be passionate. Assistant buyers need to have a strong knowledge of the ins and outs of their industry so they are able to recognise any new products or practices that will help improve the business.
If your employee has an interest in the area they are working in, it will give them a better eye for picking merchandise.
Question your interviewees, ask them why they want to work in your industry, what attracted them to it and what previous experience they have. A genuine passion or interest should shine through, and the more they know, the more they can help choose the best products for your business.
Assistant buyers need to be able to work well as part of a close-knit team, regularly talk to manufacturers and negotiate with suppliers to get the best deal. Assistant buyers also have to work closely with other departments to choose the correct products, so you must ensure your assistant buyer is comfortable dealing with lots of different types of people.
Check out their CV first – do they have any experience of volunteering or working in a customer facing role? Both will have been great at developing their communication skills. Get a feel for their personality, do they socialise often?
Interviews are a great way to suss out a person's communication skills, if they are confident and knowledgeable around you then they will probably be the same in front of a supplier.
Adaptive and calm under pressure
Assistant buyers need to be adaptable. They have to deal with changes in seasonality, trends and demand to ensure they always choose the best products for your business. They will also need to have a relatively calm demeanor and deal well with high pressure situations.
The role comes with a lot of responsibility; there is always a chance of picking the wrong product and making a loss to the business. Ask potential candidates for previous examples of high pressured situations they have been in and how they have dealt with them. Some people thrive off pressure, and it’s up to you to work out which candidates will be able to handle it.
Assistant buyers need to see things a little differently, think outside the box and not be afraid to take risks. They need to stay ahead of the trends and predict habits, so a creative flair is a must.
Find out if your interviewees have a role in their current job or a hobby that shows off their creativity. See if they can think differently, ask questions that require creative answers and let them know there is no limit to their ideas.
You’ll soon be able to see who can stay ahead in the role. As well as these attributes, buying assistants will also be required to have skills in more generic areas such as numeracy, organisation and time management, so ensure these are not overlooked in the interview stage.
You will be the best person to decipher who will excel as an assistant buyer for your business environment and culture, and keeping these skills in mind will make sure they have the full capacity to do the job. It’s a high pressured and important role, so it’s worth being picky to make sure you have the right person.