Logistics and Supply Chain Recruitment

5 interview questions you should be asking

So, you’ve got your shortlist of candidates – now time for the interviews.

As the interview process is normally the main factor in deciding if a candidate is right for the role, and of course right for your company, we often see many shipping & freight hiring managers struggle with the interview process. No fault of their own, often more lack of experience than anything else – so it turns into a more informal chat than anything else.

However, nail the interview process by asking the right questions, you can dramatically increase your chances of making the right hire, first time round. Keep the questions the same for all candidates, then you can easily compare the responses & work out who is the best candidate for the role.

Here are our 5 killer questions that we feel you should be asking….

What motivates you?

Determining a candidate’s motivation early-on can be surprisingly effective. Without knowing why an applicant really wants to work for you, you could be hiring someone who wants the job for all the wrong reasons.

What motivates them to do a good job? Are they just in it for the money? Do they see this as a long-term opportunity or just a short-term job whilst they explore other options?

Good answer: After joining a freight forwarder and learning Customs entries, I now want to secure a role where I will get the opportunity to learn imports from start to finish, which I know your import team do. I want to join a company, in which I can prove myself and hopefully advance my career as you grow.

Bad answer: I need to earn more money, and I see that you are offering £XX,XXX for this role?


What would your co-workers say about you?

This really gets the candidate to think, and they probably haven’t prepared an answer for this one.

It’s better than the generic, tell me about yourself question… The best candidates will opt for real examples to give you a true picture of what they can do and fit into a team. This is a particular good question when you are looking for someone with good solid experience, who can offer advice and motivate a team.

It also can give you an insight into their personality, honesty and where they fit on the self-confident to cocky scale.


Where does your manager think you are now?

A classic. This really does test a candidate’s honesty. If they say, doctors or dentist, or even they’ve gone sick – at least they are being honest (with you). Not a great response but surprisingly very common, especially those who have limited holiday left. If they start to stumble however, tread with caution.

If they say they have booked half a day’s holiday then great. It gives an insight into their ethics.


Tell me about a recent situation where you used your own initiative to solve a problem?

A good competency question. Are they able to think, and come up with solutions themselves or are they always going to fall at the first hurdle and need a lot of support.

A good response would be: The first container I had down for delivery one afternoon had a Port Health hold, so I called the customer and asked if I could swap the first with the second. They said yes, so I confirmed with the haulier and then spoke to Port Health to address their query and get the hold released in time to be able to make the second slot.


Who would give you the worst reference and why?

Again, an honesty question, and this will give the candidate the opportunity to get any skeletons out of their closet.

Let’s face it, no one gets on with every one, so hopefully the candidate will not say – I don’t think anyone would give me a bad reference.

The answer could be a past employer, a maths teacher from school, or even my husband or wife!


Hopefully you will add a couple of the above questions to your existing list, and they will help give a deeper insight into the candidates you interview.

If you’d like any advice on interviews or any aspects of recruitment within the shipping & logistics sector, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best

Steve Wyeth