How to Hire the Right Truck Drivers

Those who are unfamiliar with the trucking industry may not think much of driver turnover, but with a turnover rate of 74%, large carriers know that the growing problem must be addressed until a solution is found. Basically, this rate of turnover means that only 26% of drivers will remain with the same company after a year’s time.

Figuring that it costs a company anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to attract, hire and train each driver, the high turnover means billions of dollars which are lost to companies already besieged by rising fuel costs, service-hours regulations and narrowing profit margins.

How to Attract the Right Drivers From the Start

Knowing how to attract the right kind of drivers from the start is the first, and possibly the most important way that a company can lower the rate of turnover. The following 5 steps may make all the difference in getting drivers that will stay.

  1. Think about who will conduct the interview – A reliable HR department is an integral part of any large trucking operation. However, they may not be fully qualified in hiring truck drivers and conducting new driver interviews as many HR personnel have probably never stepped foot in a commercial truck. In order to gain valuable information during the first interview, you may want to make sure that one of your current trusted drivers is available to sit in. Not only will they be able to listen to what the applicant has to say about his or her experience and credentials, they will also be able to ask questions of the applicant pertaining to the ins and outs of the job.
  2. Leave the office for the 2nd interview – There is truly only one way to know if a driver can “walk the walk,” and this is by conducting the second interview in a truck. This is not to say that the second interview needs to include a full load and unload. Instead, have the driver run through some maneuvers in the yard while you take the passenger seat. This type of interview should show you if the driver can change gears smoothly, back up confidently and hook up a trailer and air lines without problems.
  3. Check the PSP and MVR reports – Those wondering how to hire truck drivers may want to request a Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). This can provide employers with safety and performance information that an applicant may be unwilling to provide. The information in this type of report comes from 5 years of DOT reportable crash data and 3 years of roadside inspection data. These reports are provided only to pre-screen employees, not to use with those you already employ. In fact, potential employers must get written permission from the applicant before they can request a PSP report.

Another type of available report is the Motor Vehicle Report (MVR). This will contain personal information about the applicant, such as name, license number and address. It will also identify the type of endorsements, violations, revocations or suspensions a driver has on record. In some states, this type of report also includes information about prior accident information and any driving related convictions.

  1. Silent observation – While stalking is not considered to be a good move on the part of an employer, on-the-job observation is. It may feel uncomfortable to follow along, unannounced, as a newer driver completes local or nearby tasks, but the invaluable information gained makes it worthwhile. This is truly the best way to see if a new employee is following company policy and truly has the skill to continue working for your company.
  2. Check in periodically – Drivers who are hired and forgotten about are much more likely to take a better offer down the line. Instead of having drivers feel that they are only a number, make plans to check in with them periodically. This can either be a 90 day recurring review where they can tell you how the job is going and discuss desired changes, or can be more random. Such interviews do not need to be lengthy as 10 -15 minutes of conversation can really make the driver feel like they are part of the team.

Driver Shortage Means Competition

Take the cost of driver turnover and add it to the fact that there is a huge driver shortage in the industry. These two facts mean that companies must work at first, hiring excellent drivers and second, making them feel like a valued member of the team. Many companies now offer competitive pay structures that include fair pay for time spent waiting and loading, more frequent at-home time and programs to help keep drivers healthy. When these types of incentives are provided to carefully chosen employees, turnover rates can plummet helping to increase your company’s bottom line.

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