TSA Interview: What to Expect & How to Pass It [Sample Questions Included]

The Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are the spine of the TSA and are pivotal to the functionality of the whole system.

The rise for jobs in this sector in the last year was high and the TSA announced that they hired over 6,000 TSOs in that tent alone. 

However, the competition for the job is fierce, its competencies are vast, and hard skills are needed for the job. To ensure that you meet all the various qualifications for the job you must pass the TSA interview as part of the TSA screening process.

This short guide will walk you through not only TSA interview questions but also the various skills sets needed to succeed.

Click here to learn more details on the TSA CBT Test.

What to Expect Before the Interview Begins?

The interview is part of the TSA Airport Assessment and is an essential part of the TSA hiring process.

But before you proceed, you should know first that this program is only eligible to citizens of the U.S, U.S nationals, and lawful permanent residents. Documents of proof will be uploaded online while you wait for further instructions, as you will have to present in the check-in stage.

An acceptance email is then sent to you with instructions on how to proceed to the next stage which is the in-person interview. And as a way to see if you are consistent with your answers, the interviewer will ask you varying questions from your online application.

The Check-In Stage is where your means of identification and proof of citizenship are scrutinized. Ensure that you arrive with two forms of Government ID, like your birth certificate or passport, or state ID like your driver’s license. Be ready to turn over personal items like your wallet or phone. For those who hold a legal gun license, please do not bring your weapon, as the TSA does not permit either storing it or carrying it on premises.

TSA Color Vision Test:
The Color Vision Test- It is important that as a TSA personnel you should be able to distinguish between colors and this test will determine if you can or not. Those who cannot pass the color vision test will be unable to operate the x-ray machine thus jeopardizing the quality of the job and lives.

Form Review
Forms include a nondisclosure agreement, SF86, and your medical forms packet.

The Paneled Standardized Interview
After passing the first two stages, you will then proceed to the standardized interview. This interview usually consists of two variants. You will be asked questions from a panel of 2 – 6 interviewers, questions relating to soft skills.

TSA interviews can vary from one candidate to the other, but there are areas where these questions will come out from that you should be prepared for. Work history, criminal background, and reasons for application are some of the more common areas of concentration when going for an interview at the TSA. Additionally, the

Some of the skills you should prepare for are:

  • Teamwork.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Adaptability, Flexibility, and ResistanceHonesty and Integrity.
  • Leadership and decisiveness.
  • Interpersonal Skills.

How Do I Prepare?

The interviews might be long but you can pass if you are prepared. You must suit your personality, goals, requirements, and disposition to fit the role you are applying for.

Expect questions relating to your field of work, family background, and criminal records to ascertain if you are not a security risk for this job and that you have the skills needed for the job.

In the event that you have any criminal history, you can expect the interviewer to dwell mostly on that and the severity of the criminal case, they have to make sure you are not a security threat to the system. 

In other cases, the interviewer asks about your family background, your employment status, and your reasons for the application. It is safe to expect travel-related questions and other security-related questions. 

Can You Fail the TSA Interview?

Yes, you can. Simply not meeting the basic requirements at the Transportation Security Administration rules you out of contention.

The interviewers may have a specific set of skills and personalities they are looking for in a candidate like good demeanor, proper communication skills, common sense, ability to work with others and so many more.

Failing to meet any of these specifications means you have no chance of a contingent job offer.

How Long Does a TSA Job Interview Take?

Depending on the number of people at the enrollment center, the waiting time could be for a few hours, but the in-person interview itself lasts just up to 10 minutes or less.

Putting together the online application, the waiting time, and the interview itself it would take about a few days in total for the entire process to be successfully completed.

TSA Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

Behavioral interview questions at the Transportation Security Administration focus primarily on your past work experiences and the positive relationship and displayed leadership you maintained with your coworkers and employers.

Here are a few TSA interview questions and answers you can expect in an interview like this:

  • What have you done to enhance yourself in the last year?
    Here you elaborate on how you have improved yourself through work ordeals, books you have read, classes/courses you have taken, etc.
  • Clarify a situation or disagreement you had with your previous supervisor?
    This question is an ambush and is meant to see whether or not you would call out your employer. Stay positive and most of all do not say anything negative about a previous employer.
  • What role are you ready to take in a group?
    Of course, you want to take on the role you are interviewing for, but you want to be flexible with your responsibilities if there are any changes.
  • How would your boss and co-workers describe you?
    First of all, be honest. Then, try to mention your strengths and qualities you have not discussed earlier in other aspects of the interview.
  • What motivates you at the workplace?
    Make sure to keep your answer simple, direct, and positive. Some good answers may be the ability to achieve, recognition, or challenging assignments.
  • What is your biggest weakness?
    This question requires a very delicate balance and is one that is not particularly liked. You simply cannot lie and say you do not have one. You can say “Sometimes, I work too much and don’t maintain a work-life balance.” This is an okay answer, and you should not be too honest that you end up throwing yourself under the bus.
  • Why Do You Want to Work for the Transportation Security Administration?
    Your research carried out on the company will prove effective here. Make sure the organization’s values and mission align with your own goals and plans.

TSA Interview Tips

  • Arrive for check-in.
  • Come with two forms of identification.
  • Make sure to get good rest the night before the interview.
  • If needed, your glasses or contact lenses should be with you.
  • Use your candidate dashboard online to collect any needed information.
  • Knowing how to explain your answer and describe past situations in depth with anecdotes will come in handy as your prepare for the interview. 

Sample Interview Questions

Some of the questions a Transportation Security Administration interviewer might ask you may come in these forms:

  • Have you ever met someone at your office who did something unethical? What was your response to the situation?
  • Illustrate a time when you worked in a team. How did you participate and ultimately contribute?
  • Talk to me about a time when you showed leadership?

TSA Standardized Interview

In the standardized airport assessment interview, the interviewers ask familiar questions that are the same for everybody and are usually in the first variant.

Only if you have problems in the first variant will you be subjected to another interview in the second variant.

TSA Standardized Interview Performance Tip

Using the STAR method is arguably the best method for answering the standardized interview questions and performing at the top level during the airport assessment hiring process.

This method allows you to draw from your past experiences and relationships and discuss their outcomes while making notes of your skills and abilities.

STAR means:

  • Situation – Try connecting the question to an related event at a previous job and describe in-depth how you influenced it positively.Think of which projects you impacted in a major way, or a conflict you solved.
  • Task – At this juncture, you clearly explain your role and responsibilities.
  • Action – Here, you talk about your strategy and implementation. Make it less about the team and more about what you did.
  • Result – Lastly, the short and long-term outcome of the chain of events.

Most Asked Questions by TSA Interviewees

The TSA hiring process can certainly be confusing, therefore, we have put together a number of most asked questions to help clear up any confusion.

Why Does the TSA Use Panel Interviews?

Using a panel interview in a standardized interview has its advantages. 

The hiring manager saves the Transportation Security Administration time and money during the airport assessment by asking interview questions that allow for more thorough documentation, reviews from different points of view, and a more active conversation.

How Are My Scores Tallied?

Each of the six soft skills requires a minimum score of 3/5 and a minimum score of 18/30 overall to pass.

Meanwhile, Honesty/Integrity is graded separately as a simple pass/failure.

You must note that failing to get a minimum of a three on even one segment will fail even if the overall score is 18 or above. 

What Happens if I Skip the Interview?

The interviewers will mark you as a “Check-In No Show” if you skip the appointment and do not call or reach out to cancel or reschedule.

What To Wear to a TSA Interview?

The dress code for the interview is business attire. Look sharp and presentable.


In conclusion, the TSA interview portion of the airport assessment is a major hurdle to moving on to the next stage in the process.

Every question is designed to ensure that you can effectively perform while holding the right personality traits necessary for integrating with your team.

We hope this short review has been helpful and we wish you much success during the interview and the rest of the TSA hiring process.