Working behind the scenes might not be as glamorous as working in main terminals, but cargo inspectors are just as important when it comes to ensuring safe travel. You might even get a trained canine as a co-worker. Cargo inspectors use high-tech equipment and X-ray machines to search luggage and cargo for explosives, drugs, weapons and illegal substances. In an interview for a cargo inspector position, prepare to answer questions about your qualifications and experience.
It's All in the Details
The interviewer likely will ask about your experience as a cargo inspector and your methods for inspecting cargo. Her goal is to ensure that you take the safety of travelers, staff and merchandise seriously. She might ask, "In what types of industries have you worked as a cargo inspector?" or "What steps do you take to ensure the safety of patrons, transportation crews and cargo?" You don't need to give a play-by-play of every method you use, so group your answers into general categories, such as initial visual inspections, examinations with X-ray machines or specialty equipment, drug detection dogs and background checks on senders and recipients.
Inspector Gadget Plays It Safe
Because cargo inspectors must troubleshoot, problem solve and make tough decisions about shipments and baggage, the interviewer might ask behavioral interview questions. These questions test to see how you might manage unforeseen circumstances. She might ask, "What would you do if your equipment didn't send up any flags, but you had reservations about a shipment?" or "How would you handle a suspicious package that came from a reliable merchant?" Stress safety first. Discuss how you might recheck cargo, double check shipping logs, get a supervisor's stamp of approval, quarantine shipments or contact owners to authenticate contents.
First Class Shipping
Cargo inspectors not only search cargo for hazardous materials but they also check cargo shipments to ensure they are properly secured for transportation. They often work as rail, truck, water and air travel inspectors to make sure cargo is securely fastened, meets weight limits and is positioned so it doesn't block the view of conductors, pilots and drivers. The hiring manager might ask, "How familiar are you with commercial vehicle transportation guidelines?" "Have you ever worked with rail freight?" or "Do you know how to operate load securement devices?"
Sparky Can Help
Not all cargo inspectors work with trained canine units, but those who work in high drug traffic areas or in communities that are most susceptible to terrorist attacks often use them. The interviewer might ask, "Have you ever worked with drug-detection or explosive-detection dogs?" "Are you trained to work with canine units?" or "How comfortable are you working alongside dogs in some types of inspections?" Be honest in your answers. If you aren't comfortable or have never worked with canine units, it doesn't mean you will automatically be ruled out. Training opportunities might be available or police-dog handlers might be called in for special assignments.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.