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Keeping up with the paper chase during driver hiring

Any carrier can tell you about the reams of paper that are collected during the hiring process.

Evelyn Cartmill
Evelyn Cartmill

Any carrier can tell you about the reams of paper that are collected during the hiring process.

It can take days to assemble the job application, abstract and other documents that will determine if a driver is qualified to sit behind the wheel of one of your trucks. Then all these details need to be cross-checked and confirmed.

It can seem like a chore.

But this process is more than a paper shuffle to please an auditor. It provides the information that you need to select a safe and qualified driver, and that will contribute to your fleet’s bottom line.

Indeed, the information that you collect through this process can help to weed out “high-risk” drivers – the one-third of today’s driving pool that is at a higher risk of becoming involved in crashes – if you know where to look.

Just as important, the related documents can help to identify the candidates that match your fleet’s vision of a qualified driver, and guide training efforts to enhance the skills of your employees in the years to come.

It all begins with the information collected on the job application.

This important document should outline the driver’s employment history, the kinds of

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equipment that he has operated, and facts about previous violations and crashes.

But keep in mind that the missing details are just as important as the information found on the forms.

Look for gaps

For example, a driver may leave a convenient gap in his employment history as a way of avoiding the story about how and why he was fired.

Any of the collected information should be compared to your fleet’s clearly defined selection criteria – a written outline of the minimum level of experience and the driving record that is required to safely perform a job.

While we would all like drivers to have clean abstracts, some thought has to be given to the criteria surrounding the number and kinds of violations that can be addressed through future training. Most important, an assessment of a driver’s attitudes about these issues will offer an indication of this candidate’s ability to be part of your future fleet.

A related script of well-defined interview questions will help to assess this outlook toward safety and customer service, as well as the way he might contribute to your team’s efforts.

Then it’s a matter of confirming all of the information that the driver has provided, and the abstract attached to the application form can be a good place to start. More than one carrier has been surprised to discover that a job candidate failed to mention the details about a crash that involved another fleet.

Check references

Reference checks provide another vital tool when confirming the information.

For example, cross-border fleets are legally required to obtain references from all of the employers that the driver has had in the last three years.

In the event that there is a discrepancy, the driver can be reinterviewed to clear up any potential misunderstandings.

While the regulatory requirement can be met by faxing reference requests to previous employers, it is important to remember that telephone conversations will ultimately provide the most effective approach when obtaining the details that are required to make a hiring decision.

Privacy legislation does not prohibit reference checks for employment purposes as long as you have the driver’s signed consent.

Other documents contained within a driver’s qualification file can support your hiring decision. While the certification of violations and hours-of-service declaration must be completed and verified, you also need to include the results from a practical test of the driver’s skills, using the equipment that will be operated during the course of his duties.

The latter step will present a safe driver with another opportunity to demonstrate his ability to complete a vehicle inspection, secure a load and showcase defensive driving abilities.

In the end, these important steps will identify the safe drivers who are a perfect fit for your fleet and will contribute to all of its related goals.

– Evelyn Cartmill is STS senior advisor, CHRP, CRM. Send your questions, feedback and comments about this column to Markel is the country’s largest trucking insurer providing more than 50 years of continuous service to the transportation industry.

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