Preparing for logistics and transport interviews

We all get nervous when we’re invited to interview for a job, especially if it’s one that we really want. Preparing properly can go a long way to boosting your confidence and may help you to make your case when talking to recruiters. Even though the logistics and transport industry grows year by year and there’s a high demand for professionals, the competition for roles can still be tough, so read through our tips to get an edge on your competitors.

Do your research

Before you attend a job interview there are normally three different things you should research

1.The interview itself

Where and when it is, who will be interviewing you, and what it will involve are the three most important elements of this. It might sound obvious but it’s easy to overlook the small details and forget to write down which office you should go to, or the name of the person who will meet you when you’re worrying about making a good impression.

If you know the names of the people who will be interviewing you, why not look them up on LinkedIn? Sometimes it really helps to put a face to a name and it means that you won’t be confused when you first go in for the interview if you know in advance who is interviewing you and what they look like. Plus, they may be impressed that you have gone to the effort of looking them up in advance and may take the opportunity to take a look at your own profile.

2.The job

A lot of this information will come from the job description. Take a look at this document alongside the person specification. Identify which areas you feel more or less confident in and if there is anything you don’t understand make a note of your questions. Identify what you feel is the key objective of the job and try to memorize this. It will help you to feel more confident if you can remember at least one important element of the job.

3.The company

Hopefully, you will already have a good idea of what the company does and how it works but it’s well worth the effort to go in depth with your research here. As well as looking at their website and any information they have sent you, go online to take a look at their social media profiles.

It may also be helpful to search for any recent news articles as it may give you a better idea of the recruitment trends at the company. For example you may find out that this position has been advertised as part of a big new recruitment drive, or that the company have recently restructured.

Any information you have will help you to understand what you can offer to the company and the best way to “pitch” your skills and experience. You should feel confident that you understand the company’s values and objectives and how it positions itself in the market – industry knowledge is one of the key skills logistics recruiters want to see.

Prepare for behavioural interview questions

Although it’s impossible to predict exactly which questions will be asked it’s a good idea to prepare some answers to the most common ones. This is particularly relevant for behavioural interview questions which are frequently used to assess skills and experience for logistics and transport roles. (For advice on how to answer the most common interview questions read our blog post here.)

Behavioural, or situational questions are designed to assess how well you do this. The assumption is that your past behaviour is a good indicator of your future behaviour and they are particularly relevant for roles where you will be dealing with day-to-day practicalities and problems.

You may get asked things like: “Tell us about a time where you solved a problem”, “when did you implement a solution to increase productivity”, or “how would you deal with a difficult colleague who disagreed with you?”

It’s a great idea to prepare answers to these questions in advance, as it can be really hard to think on the spot in the interview. Go over your previous experience to find examples of situations such as these and then prepare a short story to tell based on the STAR method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result and is a structured way of responding to behavioural interview questions that will really help to give interviews the answers they are looking for.

Situation - – Describe the situation and context that you found yourself in.
Task – if you were given a specific task to respond to mention it here. If there wasn’t a specific task describe the challenge you faced.
Action – Describe what action you took to resolve the situation
Result – Describe what your action achieved. Even if it wasn’t an entirely positive solution it’s still ok to use it – just make sure that you highlight that you understand what went wrong.

Swot up for any aptitude or psychometric tests

Some logistics and transportation roles require very specific skills, and it’s becoming more and more common for employers to use aptitude tests to monitor these abilities, especially for graduate roles. DHL, Maersk and Kuehne and Nagel all have their own specially designed tests which they use so if you are applying to these firms, or one of the other big logistics companies, you may need to spend an entire day at an assessment centre. Smaller companies may require you to complete a test online, or whilst at the interview itself.

Make sure you know in advance if you will be asked to complete a test or task before you go to the interview. There are a lot of websites which have practice tests available and it’s definitely worthwhile having a look at these to understand what will be asked of you.

Common tests used for logistics and transport roles are:

Numerical reasoning:

These tests want to deal how well you deal with costs, ratios, percentages and conversions. You may be asked to identify trends and patterns in different data sets or work with statistics.

Situational judgement test:

In these tests you are often given a particular problem and provided with a number of different solutions. You generally have to pick a solution and then justify your choice. These are designed to test different competencies such as communication, teamwork, and leadership.Understand what you bring to the table

Psychometric tests:

With psychometric tests there aren’t necessarily right or wrong answers as they aim to give employers an idea of your personality as a whole. You might get asked questions such as how strongly you agree with the statement “I remain calm under pressure”. It’s best to be honest about these answers as you won’t know in advance what particular qualities employers are looking for, and they will be able to see through any test in which you claim to be brilliant at absolutely everything!

Understand what you bring to the table

You can never be sure who else will be interviewed for the role you are up for and it can be easy to feel that the competition may be more skilled or experienced than you are. But everyone has something unique which the other candidates won’t have and this could be your key to interview success.

Think about where you have really shone in previous roles and what distinguishes you from the other candidates. It could be that you have a really broad experience in lots of different areas, that you are a very confident leader, a likeable manager or a total health and safety nerd. Then, think about how that quality or skill could be useful for the company.

Knowing your strengths and how they could contribute to the role and company is a great way to impress interviewers – remember they are on the look out to find a candidate who will help the company succeed in its goals – so by positioning yourself in a way that shows you understand what you can give to them you demonstrate that you’ll be a candidate who can help to take the company forward.

Prepare some questions

Asking questions at the end of an interview shows that you take a genuine interest in the company and are keen to learn more. However, sometimes recruiters will talk a lot during the interview and may end up telling you everything you didn’t know already. For that reason it’s good to have some questions up your sleeve that can be used in lots of different situations. Here are a few good ones

“What skills does the ideal candidate for this role need to have?”

This question shows that you are genuinely interested in what the role will involve and demonstrates that you are serious about the job.

“How would you describe the day-to-day experience of working here?”

This demonstrates that you have a strong interest in the company culture and want to make sure that the working environment is right for you. Recruiters want to see that candidates value their skills and time and aren’t just desperate to find something as soon as possible so by asking this you show that you take your abilities seriously.

“What is the key challenge that this company is facing and how does the role contribute to solving it?”

This is a good question as it can give you the opportunity to respond with some suggestions as to how you could meet this objective. An alternative spin on this one that works well if you know a lot about the company and the industry it’s part of is to offer some suggestions on what you would do in the role to address the challenges the company is facing.

And – the million dollar question:

“Based on what you’ve heard today can you offer me this job?”

It takes an awful lot of guts to ask this and is only seems appropriate in some contexts (if you feel the interview has gone really well), but studies have shown that those who do ask this question are highly likely to create a positive impression and receive a “Yes” in response!