Due diligence begins with the application form

Economic conditions seem to influence hiring practices in more ways than one. Business volumes will always dictate whether a driver’s seat needs to be filled, and due diligence should not take a back seat when the freight needs to move right away.

But the earliest steps in the hiring process can identify the difference between high-risk drivers and those who will become valuable additions to a team.

A fleet’s commitment to due diligence emerges with something as fundamental as its application form, which in the case of cross-border drivers will need to collect at least 10 years of employment history. Typically, the documents also include space for a signature that offers permission to complete valuable reference checks.

Many past employers will still cite privacy issues and limit their comments to details such as the length of employment, but there will always be opportunities to ask revealing questions such as whether someone would ever rehire an individual.

A number of related documents can be used to confirm the information provided in the form itself. Every inspection recorded on a Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR), for example, will include a date and the name of the company. That can be matched to the work history. In contrast, a candidate who provides a driver’s abstract that is more than 30 days old may be trying to hide details about recent collisions or other issues that can be the hallmark of a high-risk driver.

It is important information to collect. Every moving violation tells a story and the drivers who record multiple violations in the span of 12 months face a higher chance of becoming involved in a collision in the year to come.

The file that begins to emerge will also need to include the details of pre-employment drug testing results before a driver is allowed to cross the border. Auditors with the US Department of Transportation often check for this information and can issue a fine for each case where the results are not on file. That offers yet another reason to focus on required documentation.

Of course, due diligence is not limited to paperwork. The interview process itself presents a great opportunity to determine if an individual is a perfect fit for a specific job and clear up any misconceptions that may exist. A driver with a young family who has never been exposed to a long-haul route may not even realize that a particular job will take them away from home two weeks at a time.

Each question in the related discussion will offer a little more information about the person sitting at the other side of the table, and a well-phrased query can lead to a particularly revealing answer. An open-ended question such as, “Tell me about a situation when you disagreed with a manager and how the situation was resolved?” can offer insight into everything from a commitment to teamwork to this individual’s favourite aspects of a job.

Beyond the interview, a thorough road test can answer many of the questions about skills at the wheel as long as the process is not rushed. Given a two-hour test, drivers will begin to let down their guard and offer insight into everyday habits. Candidates who are simply nervous about the thought of a test will begin to ease into their usual routines, while their high-risk counterparts will begin to show signs of trouble.

The report card that emerges can guide an informed hiring decision and identify habits that can be corrected with some additional training.

The early days of the hiring process even present a great opportunity to introduce a successful candidate to policies, procedures and related paperwork with the help of a strong orientation program. A tour through various departments will give them the opportunity to put a face to the names they will hear in the days to come, and once they see repairs in action they will understand the importance of reporting any defects in equipment.

Of course, the efforts do not end here. Carriers who would never think of hiring a driver with more than three points on an abstract would want to continue to monitor employees throughout their careers, identifying any of the bad habits that emerge and correcting issues as they come along. And even the most experienced drivers will require a proper assessment and training when hired by a new fleet.

A true commitment to due diligence never ends.

-This month’s expert is Evelyn Cartmill, STS senior advisor, CHRP, CRM. Evelyn has served the trucking industry for over 15 years in the areas of human resources, safety and compliance. Markel Safety and Training Services, a division of Markel Insurance Company of Canada, offers specialized courses, seminars and consulting to fleet owners, safety managers, trainers and drivers. Markel is the country’s largest trucking insurer providing more than 50 years of continuous service to the transportation industry. Send your questions, feedback and comments about this column to info@markel.ca.To read about more industry hot topics, visit Markel’s website at www.markel.caand click on the Articles & Essays section.

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.

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