17 Material Expeditor Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a material expeditor, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

As a material expeditor, you play a critical role in ensuring that the parts and materials needed for production are delivered on time and in the correct quantities. This position is responsible for maintaining accurate records of inventory, organizing and preparing shipments, and working with suppliers to ensure on-time delivery.

If you’re looking for a position in material expediting, you’ll likely face questions about your experience in shipping and receiving, as well as your knowledge of inventory management. You’ll also need to be able to communicate effectively with suppliers and other members of the production team.

To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve gathered some of the most common questions and answers for material expeditors.

Common Material Expeditor Interview Questions

Are you familiar with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and its shipping standards?

The IATA is an international organization that sets standards for shipping goods by air. Employers ask this question to see if you are familiar with the industry’s regulations and procedures. Before your interview, read up on the IATA’s shipping standards. In your answer, let the employer know that you understand these standards and how they apply to your job.

Example: “I am very familiar with the IATA and its shipping standards. As a material expeditor, it’s my responsibility to ensure that all shipments meet the IATA’s requirements. For example, I always make sure that shipments have the correct documentation and labeling. I also check that each shipment weighs less than 150 kilograms and fits within the dimensions of the aircraft.”

What are the most important qualities for a successful material exporter?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications for the role. They want to know what you value in a job and how it relates to their company. In your answer, explain which qualities are most important to you and why they’re beneficial. You can also share any personal experiences that relate to these qualities.

Example: “The most important quality for me is communication. I find that when there’s miscommunication between departments or employees, it can lead to mistakes or delays. When I worked at my last job, we had a new employee who didn’t communicate with his coworkers. He would often send shipments without checking with anyone else first, causing some issues. After talking with him, he realized how important communication was and started asking questions before acting.”

How do you stay organized when coordinating shipments of multiple materials at the same time?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you plan and execute your work. Your answer should show that you have a system in place to keep track of all shipments, including materials from different vendors and locations.

Example: “I use an online database program to manage my shipments. I enter each shipment’s details into the program as soon as it arrives at the warehouse so I can check off items as they arrive. This helps me stay organized because I don’t have to remember what shipments are coming in or when they’re due. The program also allows me to communicate with other team members about specific shipments.”

What is your experience with working with hazardous materials?

Employers may ask this question to make sure you have the experience and training necessary to work with hazardous materials. If your previous job required you to handle hazardous materials, explain what types of materials you worked with and how you handled them safely. If you haven’t had any experience working with hazardous materials, you can talk about your willingness to learn new processes and procedures.

Example: “In my last position as a material expeditor, I didn’t work with any hazardous materials. However, I am familiar with OSHA regulations for handling hazardous materials and would be willing to take additional safety courses if needed.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult supplier.

Interviewers may ask this question to see how you handle conflict. They want to know that you can work with others and resolve problems in a professional manner. In your answer, try to focus on the steps you took to solve the problem and highlight your communication skills.

Example: “In my previous role as a material expeditor, I had a supplier who was consistently late with their deliveries. This caused delays in production, which led to missed deadlines for our clients. When I first noticed the pattern of late deliveries, I called the supplier to discuss the issue. The supplier apologized but said they couldn’t guarantee when they would deliver materials.

I scheduled extra staff members to help unload trucks so we could get materials into the warehouse more quickly. However, even with these measures, the supplier still wasn’t meeting our needs. After talking with my supervisor, we decided to find another supplier. We gave the supplier plenty of notice before switching suppliers.”

If you could only export one material, which would it be and why?

This question is a fun way to see how much you know about the materials you’re working with. It also shows your creativity and problem-solving skills. When answering this question, try to think of something that’s unique or interesting.

Example: “If I could only export one material, it would be carbon fiber because it’s so versatile. Carbon fiber can be used in everything from sports equipment to spacecraft. It’s lightweight but incredibly strong, which makes it perfect for many different applications.”

What would you do if you discovered that the materials you were supposed to export were defective?

This question can help interviewers understand how you would handle a challenging situation. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to resolve the issue and ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Example: “If I discovered that materials were defective, I would immediately contact my supervisor or manager to let them know about the problem. Then, I would work with my team members to find replacement materials for those we needed to export. If possible, I would try to find similar materials in our inventory so we didn’t have to spend more money on new ones. After finding suitable replacements, I would make sure they were shipped out as soon as possible.”

How well do you understand international shipping laws and regulations?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of international shipping laws and regulations. This can be an important part of the job, as you will need to know how to properly handle shipments that cross borders. In your answer, try to show that you have a good understanding of these laws and regulations. You can also mention any specific experience with international shipping if it is relevant to your background.

Example: “I’ve worked in my current position for five years now, so I’ve had plenty of time to learn about all aspects of international shipping. I understand the different types of licenses required for international shipping, including customs documents and export licenses. I am familiar with the rules regarding hazardous materials, such as what type of packaging they must be shipped in. I also understand the requirements for labeling and documentation.”

Do you have experience using logistics software?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your experience with the software they use at their company. If you don’t have experience using the same logistics software, explain what other software you’ve used and how it’s similar or different from the one you’re interviewing for.

Example: “I haven’t worked in a position that required me to use specific logistics software, but I do have experience using several types of software related to my job as a material expeditor. For example, I’ve used inventory management software like SAP and Oracle, shipping software like UPS Worldship and FedEx Ship Manager and warehouse management software like Wasp Barcode Inventory Control System.”

When is it appropriate to use air freight instead of sea freight?

This question can help interviewers understand your knowledge of the shipping industry and how you apply it to your work. Use examples from your experience to explain when air freight is more appropriate than sea freight and vice versa.

Example: “In my previous role, I worked with a team that managed both air freight and sea freight shipments. In general, we used air freight for smaller shipments because they were faster and less expensive than sea freight. However, if the shipment was too large or heavy for air freight, we would use sea freight instead. This helped us save money on larger shipments while still ensuring our clients received their goods in a timely manner.”

We want to expand into new markets. What strategies would you use to identify new target markets for our materials?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to identify new markets for their company’s products. Use examples from previous experience or explain how you would research and analyze potential target markets.

Example: “I have a lot of experience researching and analyzing potential markets for our materials. In my last role, I helped the team develop a plan to expand into international markets. We started by identifying countries with similar economic conditions as ours that also had high demand for our product. Then we researched local distributors in those countries who could sell our materials. After that, we developed marketing strategies specific to each country.”

Describe your process for quality control when inspecting materials before shipment.

The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your attention to detail and ability to ensure the quality of materials before they leave the facility. Use examples from past experiences where you used specific methods or tools for inspecting materials and ensuring their quality before shipment.

Example: “I always use a checklist when inspecting materials before shipment, which helps me make sure I don’t miss any steps in the inspection process. In my last role, I also used an app that helped me take photos of each material as I inspected it and then uploaded those photos to the company’s inventory system so other employees could view them later. This allowed me to keep track of all materials in our warehouse at all times.”

What makes you stand out from other material exporters we might consider hiring for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their company. Before your interview, make a list of the skills and experiences that make you an ideal candidate for this role. Use these examples to share why you’re qualified for this position and what makes you unique from other candidates.

Example: “I have five years of experience as a material expeditor, which has given me valuable insight into the best ways to organize materials in order to meet deadlines. I also have extensive knowledge of shipping software programs, which allows me to streamline processes and create new systems when necessary. These skills are beneficial because they allow me to work independently while still contributing to the overall success of the organization.”

Which shipping methods do you prefer to use when exporting materials?

This question can help interviewers understand your shipping preferences and how you might handle the company’s shipping needs. Use examples from past experience to explain which methods you prefer, why they’re beneficial and what challenges you’ve faced with other shipping methods.

Example: “I have extensive experience using both air freight and ocean freight shipping methods for my previous employer. Ocean freight is a great option when I need to ship large quantities of materials overseas because it’s cost-effective and reliable. However, there are times when ocean freight isn’t available due to weather conditions or other factors. In these cases, I use air freight as an alternative method that allows me to meet tight deadlines.”

What do you think businesses should do to reduce their environmental impact when shipping materials?

This question can help interviewers assess your environmental awareness and willingness to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. In your answer, explain how you would implement environmentally friendly shipping practices in your role as a material expeditor.

Example: “I think businesses should use reusable packaging whenever possible. For example, I worked with a client who shipped out thousands of boxes each month. We were able to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% simply by switching from single-use boxes to reusable ones. Another way companies can reduce their impact is by using more eco-friendly shipping materials like recycled paper or biodegradable packing peanuts.”

How often should businesses replace their inventory of materials to ensure they have fresh supplies?

This question can help interviewers evaluate your knowledge of inventory management. In your answer, explain how you would determine when to replace materials and why this is important for businesses.

Example: “I believe that it’s important to regularly check the quality of materials in stock so that we’re always using fresh supplies. I typically recommend replacing materials every six months or after they’ve been used 50 times. This helps ensure that our customers are receiving high-quality products and services from us.”

There is a labor strike at one of our main material suppliers. What would you do to find an alternative supplier?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and ability to adapt. Your answer should include a specific example of how you would find a new supplier, the steps you would take to ensure quality materials are delivered on time and any other details that may be important in this situation.

Example: “In my last position as a material expeditor, there was a labor strike at one of our main suppliers. I immediately contacted all of our other suppliers to see if they could provide us with more materials than usual. Luckily, we had another supplier who was able to send us enough materials for two weeks while the strike continued. We also started ordering from them permanently after the strike ended.”


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