Don't Underestimate the Value of the Driver Interview

Interviewing driver applicants in person is a best practice. Here are some quick tips to help the interview process go smoothly.

Published On: 08/13/2021
Truck driver being interviewed
J. J. Keller Industry Consultant Tom Bray

Written by:

Tom Bray

Sr. Industry Business Advisor — J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

While not required in the regulations and a time-consuming process, interviewing all driver applicants in person is a best practice, especially if the applicant is a serious candidate. Here are some quick tips:

  • Interview in a private area that limits distractions and interruptions
  • Avoid asking "yes/no" questions
  • Be sure the applicant's answer was clear to you before moving on
  • Do more listening than talking
  • Be objective
  • Take notes

Involve Multiple People

Dispatchers or driver trainers should assist with the interview or conduct follow-up interviews. They may see things in the applicant that you do not. It's also essential that they are trained in interviewing techniques.

Ask Appropriate Questions

Avoid questions that could be construed as "discriminatory." Instead, keep the questions focused on bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ). Here are some examples:

  • Ask, "Are you over 21?" or your company's minimum hiring age. Don’t ask, “How are old you?”
  • Ask, "Are you comfortable being on the road for a week at a time?" Don’t ask, “Are you married? Do you have children?”

Reinforce Background Information

Review previous employment, license, driving history, tickets, and accidents. Compare this to what the applicant has provided on the application and what your background investigation has discovered. Discuss any discrepancies, missing information, and gaps in employment.

RED FLAG: Take note of vague or incomplete answers. This technique could indicate that the applicant is trying to hide information.

Discuss the Position Requirements

If the interview portion related to background and qualifications goes well (no red flags), the next step is to ensure the applicant understands what the job involves. An excellent way to start is to ask the applicant about their understanding of the job and its' requirements and then fill in the missing information.

RED FLAG: Take note of the questions the applicant asks during this discussion. The questions may indicate a disconnect between what your company does and what the job involves, and the driver's expectations. The questions could be a red flag that your company and the driver may not be a good match.

The Risks are Real

Every company faces the risk of hiring a bad or unqualified driver. It can result in significant problems, up to and including a large payout after an accident. This is especially true if you, as a company, did not do your due diligence when hiring the driver.

To reduce the risks, follow a consistent and thorough hiring process. For more tips, download our whitepaper, "Driver Hiring - No Room for Error: Tips for a Compliant, Efficient, and Effective Driver Hiring Process".

Manage Driver Qualification with the Encompass® Fleet Management System

It's critical to develop and follow a comprehensive driver hiring and qualification process that weeds out high-risk drivers. Encompass is a DIY fleet management system that tracks previous employment requests, drug testing, and more. It automates your recordkeeping and improves your workflow processes for highly regulated DOT requirements, like hiring, driver qualification, alcohol & drug program management & more. Talk with a compliance specialist about how you can improve your DOT recordkeeping processes. Learn more.

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