The job market for drivers is currently very competitive, with many fleets across multiple industries looking to hire new employees to keep up with demand. In a competitive job market, you need to be able to attract, recruit, interview, evaluate, and hire candidates via steps that are quick and thorough. To help you improve your systems and find the perfect applicant, here are Commercial Truck Trader’s 12 tips for hiring drivers:
1. Create an Appealing Position
Especially if you are a small fleet that has to compete for employees with big companies, open driver positions need to be appealing to potential applicants. A competitive salary is obviously the biggest incentive, but if you can’t offer compensation at the high end of an expected range, try to create positions that come with good benefits, plenty of time off at home, wellness programs, and training and advancement opportunities.
2. Advertise the Opening
Drivers need to know you are hiring! The job opening should be posted on every online channel you have, including your website, blog, and social media accounts. You should also list the position on popular employment websites, as well as the many driver job boards found online. When creating a job listing, be sure to include every relevant detail an applicant would like to know, including salary, driving hours, and the minimum and preferred requirements. Don’t forget to mention all of the appealing benefits, fleet amenities, programs, and advancement opportunities the job comes with!
3. Mine Your Driver Referral Program
Drivers make up a tightly-knit community, and you can bet they talk to each other about their employers. A recommendation from a trusted fellow driver can make a powerful impact in attracting quality applicants for your open positions. Offer your current drivers incentives for recruiting applicants, from gift cards to bonuses to paid vacations, depending on what you can afford.
4. Select the Right Candidates
Once you have applicants, it’s time to figure out which ones to bring in for an interview. Based on the specific needs of your business, filter out candidates based on being old enough to legally operate your vehicles, years of experience, various certifications, where they are located, and whatever else matters to you. When selecting applicants, don’t forget to consider
- military veterans who will be familiar with responsibility and developing physical skills;
- candidates for previous openings who weren’t hired at the time, but could be a good fit now;
- bilingual immigrants who speak both English and their native language, which can come in handy on the road, especially if it’s Spanish; and
- recent graduates from CDL training centers who can be coached into becoming exactly the kind of driver your business needs.
5. Check Their License
A driver needs to be legally qualified to operate your commercial vehicle. So, potential candidates will need to provide proof of all required certifications. A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) will be required in nearly every state. There are different versions of a CDL — Class A, B, and C — and there are also various specialty licenses and certifications for specific drivers, such as a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME). Make sure any applicant you consider has the right license.
6. Check Their Background
There are a number of things you’ll need to review to evaluate an applicant. The background screening should include moving violations in the past 10 years, instances of driving or operating under the influence, safety compliance, criminal history, and health/fitness needed to do the work. In addition to a motor vehicle report, here’s where you can find necessary information:
- Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) profile via the FMCSA
- Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (DAC) Employment History via the FMCSA
- Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) via the AAMVA
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- Department of Transportation (DOT)
You should also obtain a driver’s medical certification and verification that the medical examiner is listed in the national registry.
7. Ask the Right Questions
When it comes time to the interview, you want to make sure that you learn the most relevant information. Be sure to ask questions about previous experience, past relationships with employers, reasons for leaving former jobs, problems they’ve encountered and solved, and how they handle accidents on the road. Include specific questions about on-the-road procedures and maneuvers, such as what they could do to avoid a run-under crash when turning left through an oncoming traffic lane at night.
8. Include a Current Driver in the Interview
Not everyone involved in the hiring process needs to have personal driving experience, but at least one person should! Have one of your trusted, experienced drivers be included in the interview process. They can ask follow-up questions, and even come prepared with original questions of their own — just make sure they run their questions by HR first. Your current driver’s evaluation of the candidate’s answers can be incredibly helpful in hiring the right person.
9. Conduct a Practical Skills Interview
Once you’ve narrowed the candidate field down from the first interview, bring the finalists in for a skills demonstration. Here are some skills you may want to observe:
- Backing up
- Mental math
- Making sharp turns
- Hooking up air lines
- Coupling and uncoupling a trailer
- Accelerating smoothly through the gears
- Proficiency with gadgets such as an EDL and GPS
10. Follow-Up with the Finalists
As your business compares candidates and prepares all the legal paperwork, keep in touch with your finalists. Especially if you’re a small fleet competing with big companies, following-up in each stage of the hiring process — and with a personal touch — can go a long way to keeping quality candidates close and ultimately hiring your top choice.
11. Coach Your New Employee
Even if you think you’ve hired the perfect candidate, they still need to go through all of your company’s onboarding, training, and coaching. If you don’t have an established coaching initiative, it’s worth investing in. Feel free to check out our tips for improving your driver coaching program.
12. Conduct On-the-Job Evaluations
A manager should conduct an initial evaluation within the new employee’s first two regular work weeks. This may involve the manager following the driver — unannounced — for a period of time to evaluate their driving and how well they follow company policy. It’s also a good idea to conduct a 90-day review to see how the driver is settling in. These reviews will give you insights for the next time you need to hire a driver.
Conclusion: It’s no easy thing to attract, recruit, interview, evaluate, and employ the perfect driver. We hope our hiring tips help you through the process. And while hiring might be hard, it’s always easy to find your next truck or van by browsing the nationwide selection of for-sale inventory on CommercialTruckTrader.com and on our sister website NextTruckOnline.com.