How to Source and Interview Local Truck Drivers

By: Joanne Cleaver

What do you need to know when hiring a local truck driver? Experienced recruiters say that successful local truck driver candidates are just as much diplomat as driver, as they are the face of the company to customers and the public.

An approaching wave of retiring truck drivers is changing a once male-dominated industry; diverse candidates are more welcome and willing to make a long-term career of short-haul trucking.

The following recruiting tips will come in handy as you source and interview candidates.

 How to Source Local Truck Drivers: 

  • Veterans who are skilled at driving large vehicles and adept at learning new mechanical systems.
  • Midlife career shifters and early retirees who crave a part-time job that specifically does not lead to management or a desk job. Midlife candidates often have well developed people skills, so they are more adept at customer service along their routes. 
  • Legal immigrants for whom English is a second language. Spanish or other languages can be an advantage for communicating with customers fluent in those languages. 
  • Women who are shifting back into paid work from a stint at home with children and who expect local trucking to offer shifts compatible with personal responsibilities.

Recruiter Tip:

Every carpooling mom has the essential skills for a successful career as a local driver, says Voie. “You can’t be aggressive or subject to road rage,” she says. “Women have less testosterone, so they tend to have more patience on the road.”

Ellen Voie, President of Women in Trucking, a trade association based in Plover, WI, advocates for women in all aspects of trucking, has found that local driving is an attractive option for women who want to merge back into a career after staying at home with children.

What to Cover When Interviewing Local Truck Drivers:

Many common interview questions walk the line of what is legal to ask. Consider using an interview guide as part of your interview preparation.

Keep these other factors in mind when interviewing local truck drivers:

  • Reliability is essential. For newly trained drivers, ask about how they have stayed on schedule with prior jobs. For experienced candidates, ask how they handle schedule-derailing complications on the road. 
  • Personal grooming and a friendly demeanor are key to cultivating customer relationships. Your company’s name is on the truck, but it’s the driver who defines your company’s reputation with customers. >
  • Ask experienced candidates how they have handled accidents on the road.

 Recruiting Tip:

Voie has found that local driving is an attractive option for women who want to merge back into a career from staying at home with children. She advises recruiters to make it clear your company wants women by showcasing women drivers in job descriptions and by including women managers in the hiring process. This will help candidates to realize that they have career options at your company.

When conducting an interview with a woman, remember that they tend to assume that they need 100% of the qualifications, while men often consider themselves a suitable candidate if they possess 60% of the job requirements. Be prepared to reassure women candidates that specific employee training will close any gaps in required job skills. For example, you might say, “You may not be able to back up a rig now, but you will be able to do that soon.” 

How to Retain Local Truck Drivers

  • Seniority should be rewarded with plum schedules and routes…but one driver’s plum is another’s prune. Drivers expect top performance to be met with their choice of schedules and routes.
  • Additional employee training and skills development shows drivers that you are investing in their professional future.

Employer Recruiting Tip:

Truck cabs are designed by default for average-sized men. Progressive employers are semi-customizing cabs to accommodate drivers whose size and proportion are outside the traditional norms for adult males.

Accommodating cabs for women and smaller-framed drivers involves adapting seats, seat belts, pedals, dashboards and steering columns, according to Lyle Gruntorad, program chair for the Commercial Drivers License training program at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

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