Can a six-minute test help you up your safety game?

by Sonia Straface

TORONTO, Ont. — As a fleet owner or human resources manager at a trucking company, wouldn’t it be great to know if the candidate you’re interviewing is the real deal? Wouldn’t you like to know if he or she would actually get frustrated during a traffic jam? Or if they really like the open road as much as they claim to?

It’s hard to tell in a 30-minute interview exactly how well the person in front of you is going to live up to your expectations, because it’s natural for people to say what they need to get the job they’re after. In trucking today, it’s no secret that job applications, especially from drivers, are dwindling. So, wouldn’t it be great to almost guarantee the person you’re hiring is going to stick around and make your business stronger instead of leaving when they get bored after a few months?

Enter Predictive Index, a two-question test that will give you the behavioral evaluation of your candidate in just six minutes, and let you know if they’re the right person for the job.

“Predictive Index gives managers another flashlight into what makes the person tick,” explained Rob Friday, the managing principal of Predictive Success. “In the interview, the candidates are always trying to show their best side, and sometimes, you get fooled or you’re relying on your gut instinct. But when you add science and objective data, you have another level of scrutiny to help you make your decision to hire.”

Today, fleets across the country are using the online test during their hiring process to up their safety game and hire the right people for the job the first time.

Essentially how it works is, the candidate will take the survey that asks two basic questions. First, how they feel they are expected to act by others, and second, how they would describe themselves. For both questions, the candidates have to choose from the same list of 85 or so adjectives and select any and all that apply. From there, the results go to the hiring manager, along with a behavioral report of the candidate which they can compare to a behavioral report of the ideal candidate for the position.

“The PI measures four behavioral drivers,” Friday explained. “Dominance, extroversion, patience, and formality.”

Take for example, a truck driver. The ideal truck driver would measure low on dominance and extroversion, and high on patience and formality, Friday said. Naturally, drivers should be more co-operative, less aggressive, and analytical in nature. They shouldn’t be scoring high on extroversion, because that means they are social and would crave human connection in their jobs, and truck drivers spend most of their time in isolation.

If a social person is put in a truck, they would most likely be the ones to be talking on the phone, or answering text messages while driving, said Friday, and that’s risky behavior that can lead to an accident.

“So, that’s something the index can predict about a certain person, that could save you the trouble of the accident before it occurs,” he said.

From there, the hiring manager would go ahead and weigh the options on hiring that person. Friday said when fleets sign up to use the PI system, they receive the software as well as formal training so they know how to “interpret the results, and more importantly manage the people they’ve hired to keep them engaged and motivated.”

Friday and his team first approached fleets with the index after a study was conducted with a Global 1000 transportation company. The fleet was based in North America and used the PI study on 383 of its drivers to determine certain personality traits of drivers with impeccable safety records.

The results were staggering. Those drivers who matched the ideal driver profile based on their PI had zero preventable accidents, zero non-preventive accidents, and no service failures on their record. However, those drivers whose PI didn’t match the ideal candidate PI had up to eight non-preventable accidents on their records and six preventable accidents.

Therefore, according to Friday, PI isn’t only saving you the time to filter through resumes, it will actually save you money. Predictive Success predicts the average driver with a poor PI match could cost their company more than $295,000 in accidents over a four-year period.

One fleet that has recently rolled out the Predictive Index survey to its new hires is North York, Ont.’s Carmen Transportation.

“We started using PI about a year ago,” Vince Tarantini, president of the mid-sized carrier said. “And we love it. Safety has always been a part of our culture, but with PI, it makes hiring and training a lot less stressful and taxing for several departments because now we are hiring the right person for the right position the first time. This tool makes it so much easier to hire the right person. It’s part of our DNA here, we use (PI) in all facets, hiring, choosing customers, we use it internally to see if someone is capable of moving up in the company. It’s a great tool because there’s nothing worse than hiring someone to fire them three months down the road.”

Tarantini says they use PI before the interviewing process, and though they don’t have any numbers to date on how it’s helped the fleet’s safety record, he said “we know now that we accurately hire and that the hire we make is behaviorally right for us.”

He also mentioned that thanks to PI, hiring at Carmen is different. Whereas before, experience would take precedence over behavior, today, that is not the case.

“Today, with PI we can see which drivers are naturally inclined to do better as a driver without looking at their experience or skillset,” he said. “You can be trained to drive a truck, but you can’t be trained to be more patient or less extroverted. So, for Carmen, it’s important that our new hires fit the behavioral ideal, even more than having the ideal skillset.”
However, PI can be used for a lot more than just helping you find drivers to fill seats. It can also help you train and manage your employees, according to Friday. He said Erb Transport is currently using PI to help its fleet adjust to the new drive cams it has recently installed.

“We recently did a project with Erb. They have new drive cams and they wanted to help provide coaching and feedback to their drivers based on what they could see,” he said. “So, we sat with driver managers there and showed them how they could pull up a driver’s PI and see how they can manage them so that the drivers would respond better.”

Once last year, Tarantini decided to see what would happen if he did go off-book, and hire someone with the not-so-ideal PI score.

“We had a candidate who had been driving for 15 years, he was a social butterfly,” Taratini recalled, “and he didn’t fit the PI. But I decided to hire him anyway and see what would happen.”

At the end of the first month, the driver quit and Tarantini used PI to help him be a better leader and mentor.

“I tried to convince him that maybe trucking wasn’t for him,” he said. “I asked him before he left if he’d ever considered driving a commercial bus, since he obviously had the skillset to drive, and didn’t mind being around people while he did it. So, he left, and I ran into him at a trade show a while later and he came up to me and thanked me up and down. He was in a state of depression for many years while he was driving truck and no one else had ever directed him into the bus side of things before I did.”

Tarantini said the driver said he currently drives a bus and is loving his job.

“It felt good to know I helped him out,” Tarantini said.

Friday said, ultimately, in addition to helping a fleet’s safety rating and hiring process, PI will change the way fleets manage human resources.

“The old adage of ‘treat everyone they way they want to be treated’ isn’t accurate,” he said. “It should be ‘treat everyone the way they need to be treated.’”

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