How To Interview & Recruit Truck Drivers

May 15, 2018

Rhys McKay

Last updated Feb 18, 2019

With over 70% of all US cargo being transported by truck, drivers are in huge demand. Growing by the day, these shortages are expected to reach 174,000 by the year 2026 making it harder and harder for trucking companies to find and hire quality drivers.

Check out Part 1 of this article on How To Find & Hire Quality Truck Drivers. In Part 2, we explore the secrets of interviewing truck driver applicants and essential things to watch out for. Ranging from candidate pre-screening techniques, required qualifications, licenses and interview questions, this guide will be a valuable tool for any manager.

 

Candidate Pre-Screening

To drive a truck in Australia, candidates must meet a set of requirements. The easiest way to cut down on ineligible applicants from the start is to do a pre-screening process.

To be a truck driver, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must hold a Light Rigid Driver’s License or higher
  • Be able to read and speak English
  • Be physically able to operate a vehicle
  • Be able to present a record of all previous driving violations

Note: To be eligible to apply for a Light Rigid Driver’s License, a driver must have held a C class vehicle license for over a year with no driving violations.

Trucking companies can simplify their hiring process by utilising pre-screening programs that eliminate anyone who does not meet these basic criteria.

All applicants should provide the following documents before the interview:

  • Required documents.
  • Motor vehicle record
  • A review of your driving record

In addition to checking these, companies should also be careful to ensure that the applicant is eligible for work in Australia. This means checking that the driver holds an Australian residency, or has the appropriate working visa. Other things to check for can include:

  • Violations of Drug and Alcohol Policies
  • Criminal Record
  • National Sex Offender Registry Check

Simple checks like these during the pre-screening process can help to cut down applicants to those who meet the base criteria.

Interview Process

During the interview, you should ask the applicants a range of questions to assess whether they’re the best person for the position. Questions such as ‘What type of fatigue management systems do you use?’ can differentiate between an amateur and an experienced driver. Truck drivers are often on the road for up to 50 days at a time, and techniques to minimise fatigue can not only save lives but can help to prevent thousands of dollars worth of damages.

Another useful question to determine driving experience can be whether the driver has completed a defensive driving program, which enables them to operate vehicles in dangerous conditions and be aware of potential driving hazards. Questions such as ‘What type of cargo have you transported with previous employers?’ and ‘Would your previous employer say you were usually on time with deliveries?’ can both give valuable insight into the driver, their work ethic and level of experience.

Other questions to ask drivers can include:

  1. Why do you want to be a truck driver?
  2. Explain your strengths and weaknesses. Give examples!
  3. What character traits do you possess that make you the best person for the job?
  4. Do you believe you have strong stress management skills?
  5. Would you say you’re a responsible person? What does responsibility mean to you?
  6. Do you utilise specific techniques to maintain focus on long drives?
  7. Why should we hire you? What makes you the best person for the job?
  8. Have you ever had diesel stolen from your truck? How did you handle it?
  9. Have you had a recent sight/hearing test?
  10. What would you say is a safe distance to drive behind vehicles?

Many truck drivers currently working in the industry are rapidly approaching retirement, with the average age being upwards of 55. Though experienced candidates are preferable in any industry, major shortages of truck drivers can mean the choice is limited. Not only should you consider experience while interviewing, but also recognise a person’s potential to thrive in the industry.

Younger applicants looking to enter the industry may not have as much experience as truck driving veterans but can show strong potential and practical driving skills.

This makes the interviewing process absolutely critical to identify quality candidates while spotting potential.
A valuable interviewing technique is to enlist the help of a current, more experienced, truck driving employee. While you may have years experience in hiring and management, chances are you’ve never driven a truck. Having an experienced driver with you while the interview is conducted can be a huge help in identifying whether the interviewee is suitable to work with specific problems.

Practical Skills Evaluation

Integrating a practical test is an essential component of every interview. A driver’s capability to perform skills such as parking, reversing and general vehicle operation is essential. The demonstration of these skills is vital to the interviewing process, as it shows the drivers ability to carry out the job safely. Mechanical skills can also be extremely beneficial in the case of mechanical faults and breakdowns. Applicants that specialise in diesel mechanics can be particularly valuable.

90 Day Review

Many trucking companies utilise a 90-day review system to evaluate new employees on performance. During this informal meeting, the driver has a chance to express whether they’re happy with the job and work environment. Should they have disagreements or problems, it’s important that management listens and attempts to accommodate drivers wherever possible. This is vital to increase the chance of new applicants becoming long-term employees. With an industry turnover rate of 95%, ensuring your new employees are content with their job position is absolutely essential for every manager.

Some Final Thoughts

Hiring truck drivers is a tough job to undertake. From finding potential job applicants to recognising the potential in new drivers. A pre-screening process can be done to eliminate applicants that don’t meet the basic job criteria and don’t hold necessary licenses and qualifications. It’s essential for all applicants to undergo a practical skills evaluation to ensure they are able to operate vehicles safely and effectively.

If you have experience in hiring truck drivers, please comment below and share some of your secrets!

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Rhys McKay
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