Customs brokers are responsible for ensuring imports and exports meet relevant laws.
The day-to-day tasks associated with the role can be quite diverse. They include ensuring goods are handled appropriately, facilitating onward transportation, signing for and processing payments on behalf of clients, and coordinating storage.
Good customs brokers are an essential part of the trade process. They keep imports and exports moving, accurately document any goods that have been handled, act as a voice for clients, solve unforeseen challenges, and ensure the whole process complies with the law.
When looking for a new customs broker, putting together a thorough hiring process will be important. This article will help you determine the skills and abilities you need to assess, and how you can best test for them to hire the most suitable candidate for the role.
What should a customs broker be able to do?
The role can vary massively depending on the unique challenges of the day, but the most important duty of a customs broker is to prepare and process goods according to customs regulations and laws.
A certain amount of industry knowledge is beneficial for a customs broker. They’ll need to stay up to date with the latest laws and regulations, be competent at filling out and filing the relevant documentation, insure the cargo against loss and damage, and confer with various officials to ensure the clearance of goods.
There is also a lot of administration required to move goods. Customs brokers need to demonstrate they can calculate duty and tariff payments, package goods up appropriately, sign documents on behalf of clients, arrange for transportation and monitor or trace goods if needed.
Good customs brokers will also demonstrate strong interpersonal skills as they’ll need to interact with a variety of different people throughout the day to complete their tasks. This could involve providing advice to clients, speaking to people to arrange the movement of goods, working with colleagues to store and process goods effectively, and liaising with others in the supply chain to resolve issues or check up on things.
Skills to look for in a customs broker
There are a few crucial skills to look for in a customs broker. Tailoring your recruitment process to deliberately assess these skills will help you to find the best person or people possible for the role. Demonstration of any of these skills would indicate a strong prospective candidate:
Competency with Office suite: many of the day-to-day duties of a customs broker are administrative, so being able to use programs in the Office suite is beneficial. In particular, prospective customs brokers should be adept users of Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint.
Experience using supply chain software: experience using the relevant supply chain software can make it much quicker and easier for a customs broker to pick up their new role quickly.
Problem-solving: with so many moving parts, it’s little wonder that there are often unforeseen challenges to deal with in the role. Good customs brokers will show a knack for problem-solving. They’ll be able to think quickly on their feet, make decisions under pressure and always consider the bigger picture.
Active listening: communication is fundamental as a customs broker. Candidates should be able to demonstrate their active listening skills.
Comprehension: a customs broker must have strong comprehension skills. They'll need to be able to communicate with others, process written information, and follow instructions based on what they’re reading or being told.
Useful abilities for a customs broker
Testing for inherent abilities is another great way to strengthen the recruitment process, and thus the quality of your hires. For customs brokers, it can be useful to try and identify the following abilities in candidates:
Deductive and inductive reasoning: deductive reasoning is the ability to apply general rules to specific problems, while inductive reasoning is the opposite. Both of these skills are useful as they can help customs brokers solve unforeseen problems.
Written comprehension and expression: with communication being such an important part of the role, it’s imperative that a customs broker can communicate effectively, both through their writing and speech.
Problem sensitivity: this isn’t about solving problems necessarily, it’s more about having a knack for spotting things before they become major incidents — allowing time to flag or escalate to the relevant people.
Selective attention: the working environment of a customs broker can be noisy and busy, yet the work requires focus. As a result, a customs broker who can show they have selective attention skills is likely to cope better with the administrative demands of the role than one who can’t.
Speech clarity: speech clarity will help other people working with the customs broker to understand key instructions or pieces of information, thus allowing for a smoother running operation.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a customs broker?
Soft skills are often the things that make the difference between someone being average or excellent at a job. For a customs broker, we recommend using the following soft skills tests:
Time management: time management tests ask candidates to prioritize different tasks under time pressure to establish how good they are at effectively carrying out tasks to the deadline.
Interpersonal skills: how well candidates communicate and effectively work with others are the skills measured in this test.
Communication skills: essential for many job roles, communication skills should be tested so you can find the right candidate to carry out the daily tasks of a customs broker.
Accountability: accountability is a really important quality in someone working in a busy and challenging role like being a customs broker. This test will help you see which candidates can take responsibility for their actions and decision-making.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a customs broker?
Aptitude tests assess someone’s technical skills and are a really useful recruitment aid. For a customs broker, we recommend utilizing any of the following aptitude and skills tests:
Verbal reasoning: designed to examine a candidate’s ability to read, process, and interpret information, this is a really useful test for roles, such as customs breaking, where communication is really important.
Microsoft Office: Office tests can give you peace of mind that a candidate is a competent user of the various Office programs, such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
Inductive or deductive reasoning: both of these tests can give you a sense of how strong candidates are at using limited information to make logical decisions.
Error checking: being able to identify errors in long passages of text or data sets is a really useful skill. Especially for customs brokers, who need to process large volumes of information quickly and accurately.
Our recommended test battery for a customs broker
Our recommended test battery when hiring a customs broker is as follows:
Microsoft Office suite: as with many roles, a grasp of the Office suite is really important and can help candidates to pick up daily tasks more quickly.
Verbal reasoning: comprehension and communication are key skills for customs brokers. This test gives peace of mind that candidates are comfortable and confident with both.
Interpersonal skills: being able to effectively work with other people is essential. Put prospective candidates to the test with this role so you can feel confident they’ll cope well interacting and working with others.
Deductive or inductive reasoning: problem-solving is important, and this test will help you see if a candidate is likely to be good at this.