Truck drivers play a crucial economic role in transporting goods and commodities nationwide. They are responsible for ensuring the timely and safe delivery of products, which is essential for businesses to meet customer demands and maintain their supply chains. Truck drivers are also a crucial part of many small businesses. They play key roles in logistics and transportation.
A great truck driver can also be a huge part of customer service. The truck driver may be the person who meets the other local business owners as pickups and deliveries are made. An outgoing, friendly, and knowledgeable driver can bring more business.
That’s why hiring the most reliable and skilled candidate for the job is so important.
The Truck Driving Industry
The trucking industry in the US is essential and thriving, with high demand for truck drivers due to the transportation needs of various industries. For those interested in becoming a part of this industry, knowing how to become a truck driver is key.
Although the industry can be subject to fluctuations influenced by economic conditions, fuel prices, and regulatory changes, the need for truck drivers remains strong even during challenging economic times. Truck drivers are an essential part of the supply chain, and being an owner-operator truck driver can be a profitable venture for some.
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The Hiring Process: Step by Step
Here are the steps to take as you prepare to hire the right truck driver.
Crafting the Perfect Truck Driver Job Description
Job descriptions should include details about the role, responsibilities, required qualifications (licenses and certifications), work schedule (OTR or local), and any specific skills or experience desired. It’s important to be clear about expectations. Truck driver job description outlines are a useful guide for creating your own.
For example, some truck drivers are also responsible for the deliveries. In other words, in one work scenario, the truck driver backs the trailer up to a loading dock, where employees of another company unload the truck. In another work scenario, the truck driver may unload the freight.
It’s also important to be clear about how the truck driver will be paid. Truck drivers can be paid hourly, which is most common, but some companies provide additional pay and benefits according to safe miles traveled.
Where to Find Truck Drivers for Your Business
Also, companies hiring local truck drivers can look to the ranks of retired OTR (over-the-road) long-haul drivers. After 20 years or more with one of the country’s large OTR trucking companies, an OTR driver may decide to stay local. That can be due to changes in the driver’s family dynamic, which spur the truck driver’s desire to spend more time at home, or due to a retiree’s desire to earn more money.
Employers can also register with truck driver training schools and industry-specific organizations. You might even find unusual ways to promote a job opening.
Truck Driving Licenses and Certifications
Truck drivers typically need a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which comes in various classes (A, B, and C) depending on the type of vehicle they will operate. Additional endorsements may be required for specific tasks, such as hazardous materials or passenger transport.
Screening Applications for Truck Driver Jobs
|Criteria||Importance||Methods for Verification||Notes|
|Driving Record||Critical||Background check, DMV records||Look for a history free from accidents and DUIs.|
|Experience Level||High||Resume, past employment verification||Check for the number of years in truck driving and types of vehicles operated.|
|Certifications||Mandatory||Document verification||Validate CDL (Commercial Driver's License) and any other required certifications.|
|Drug Screening||Mandatory||Drug tests||A negative drug test is often required before hiring.|
|Physical Fitness||Important||Medical exams||A DOT medical card is often required.|
|References||Moderate||Contacting previous employers||Validate experience and reliability through references.|
|Skill Tests||Variable||Practical driving test||May be necessary depending on the goods being transported.|
|Personality Fit||Moderate||Interviews, personality tests||Ensuring the candidate fits into the company culture can reduce turnover.|
|Availability||Moderate||Interview questions||Check for willingness to work long hours, weekends, or variable shifts.|
|Legal Eligibility||Mandatory||Background check, document verification||Ensure the candidate is legally authorized to work in the country and operate a commercial vehicle.|
Review resumes and applications to ensure they meet the minimum qualifications. Check driving records, conduct background checks, and verify previous employment. Once you’ve identified candidates from the initial screening, you can ask those qualified truck drivers to submit to drug testing as a precursor to employment. Make sure to also take steps to reduce hiring bias.
The Interview Process for Truck Drivers
Ask questions about their driving experience, adherence to safety regulations, and their ability to handle long hours on the road. Behavioral and situational questions can also help assess their problem-solving skills.
Also, ask applicants about their preferred hours of service and routes. And since not everyone will qualify, have some interview rejection letter for those who don’t meet your criteria.
Practical Tests and Evaluation for Truck Drivers
Depending on the role, you may want to conduct driving tests to evaluate a candidate’s skills. This could include road tests, backing maneuvers, and assessments of their ability to handle the specific type of truck they will be driving. You can make use of a training plan template for this phase.
You can also administer a written test to include truck driver rules and safety protocols.
Background Checks and References when Hiring Truck Drivers
Make the needed phone calls or contacts to verify the candidate’s driving records and employment history. It’s a good time to consider whether you should hire a family member or not.
If you note that the truck driver applicant has worked in various states, be sure to check the driving record in those states as well.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When You Hire Truck Drivers
Common mistakes include not thoroughly checking driving records, failing to verify employment history, neglecting to detail physical fitness requirements, failing to conduct practical tests when necessary, and not being clear on how to onboard new employees. Here’s a guide on how to onboard new employees.
Another common mistake is not thoroughly explaining the range of duties expected of the driver. For example, in some cases, a truck driver may return to the home terminal with time to spare. Will the driver be expected to fill out the 8-hour shift by working on the dock and unloading freight? Or work outside, hooking up the trucks to trailers for the next day’s work?
FAQs: How to Hire a Truck Driver
What is the difference between local truck drivers and OTR truck drivers?
OTR (Over-The-Road) drivers are typically long-haul drivers who cover extensive distances and spend extended periods away from home. Local drivers operate within a specific region and generally return home daily or weekly.
How often should truck drivers renew their licenses or certifications?
Truck drivers need to renew their CDL and any endorsements regularly. This typically involves passing a written exam and a skills test.
The frequency of renewal varies by state and the specific type of license or endorsement.
How do I recruit a local truck driver?
Companies can find qualified truck drivers through job postings, industry-specific events and job fairs, employee referrals, and partnerships with trucking schools or training programs.
How much does it cost to onboard a truck driver?
Costs can vary widely depending on factors such as advertising expenses for the job posting, background checks, drug testing, training costs, and administrative expenses. It’s essential to budget for these costs when planning your hiring process.
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