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truck driver interview questions
Good truck driver interview questions are an opportunity to build a relationship with drivers while looking for job fit. The best recruiters use a conversational style to learn more about drivers’ experiences and skills as well as their goals for a new job. The better you know the drivers, the more likely you are to find someone who fits well with your fleet. Informative and approachable truck driver interview questions are the foundation of a strong recruitment for retention strategy.

1. Start With the Basics

The purpose of an interview is to find a driver who has the skills and qualifications to do a specific job. Inevitably, it is crucial to have a clear picture of their experience, endorsements, and total compensation needs. The challenge is to get that information in an approachable way. Drivers should feel like the interview is building a relationship rather than simply an effort to fill another seat with an anonymous face. Strong interviewers learn about drivers’ skills and experience through conversation. 

Chelsee Patton and Truck

Chelsee Patton, Director of Recruiting at RTI

We spoke with Chelsee Patton, Director of Recruiting at RTI and CDL holder, about effective interviewing as part of recruitment. She shared these thoughts, I would take a look internally at your current approach to recruiting and think about how different you can be vs. what you’re doing today. When you have a driver call you, and you are talking to that driver, first just listen to what you’re saying. Are you automatically going into, “How much experience do you have? How many tickets? How many accidents?” vs. conversationally talking through all that with them. …One thing I would definitely encourage is to qualify your drivers through conversation.”

As you build a relationship with drivers, keep a detailed record of their professional profile. Clearly denote the driver’s experience and endorsements. This information helps automatically filter out unqualified applicants. Drivers’ requested total compensation should also be clearly noted. If they express specific demands around home time, base pay, or benefits, make sure to include that information. Similarly, if drivers respond negatively to the total compensation you are offering, note that as a possible red flag. Delving into basic information such as skills and endorsements is an opportunity to learn key information while setting a positive tone for future interactions.

2. Find Out What Drivers Are Looking for

Not all drivers are a good fit for every job, and that’s ok. Time is a precious commodity in the recruiting world, so find out early what drivers are looking for. Some drivers may talk about career plans and advancement opportunities. Others may focus exclusively on pay or home time. Both drivers could fit the job. Understanding each driver’s underlying motivation helps frame the conversation and contextualizes that driver’s priorities. Use that information to focus on the job aspects that are most important. 

In some cases, a driver’s goals may not be compatible with the available position. That’s also valuable knowledge. In some cases, learning that quickly can help you end the conversation and encourage the driver toward other positions to save time. If you still want to attract the driver, make sure to be as transparent as possible about the open job. Unfulfilled or misled expectations will only lead to high turnover down the road. Instead, put your efforts toward quickly identifying drivers who are a good fit and may stay in the job for many years to come. 

3. Ask Role Specific Questions

ChelseeInPink

ChelseeInPink takes the wheel

Once you have a baseline of information about the driver’s qualifications and future goals, hone in on the specific job. Discuss features of the job that are atypical or have raised concerns from drivers in the past. For example, if drivers need mechanical knowledge, ask “What experience do you have fixing mechanical problems with your truck?” Similarly, if the position includes slip seating, ask drivers about their preferences and habits when sharing a cab. All of these truck driver interview questions shift the focus to recruiting for retention. 

We asked Chelsee about RTI’s recruiting goals and the trucking predictive index. She noted that,

“The ultimate goal is to hire drivers who stay with us for a long time. We want to solve the retention problem that exists today… My approach and Chad [Hendricks]’s approach is to solve that problem in the long term, and hopefully, the predictive index will do that.”

She continued, “If we can market to the drivers who are similar to our drivers and have similar characteristics, maybe we have a better chance of gaining and hiring some of those drivers. And then when they come aboard, they’ll be some of our champion drivers who stay with us for years and years.”

Ultimately, drivers may decide that the job is not a good fit. It’s better to be transparent and find that out in early recruitment conversations. You may also have concerns about the driver being a good fit. Be direct in your questions as well. For example, if a driver interviews for a job that is different from their background (for example, an OTR driver switching to local), ask questions to make sure they are ready for the switch. All of these questions help align your hiring efforts with strong driver retention. 

4. Use Behavioral Interviewing

If you have a strong driver candidate based on their goals and qualifications, use behavioral interviewing to assess their competencies on the job. Behavioral interviewing states that how a candidate has handled situations in the past is the best predictor of future behavior. Evaluate drivers based on competencies, which are measurable ways we practice certain behaviors. Problem-solving, priority setting, and conflict management are all examples of competencies.

Behavioral interviewing helps identify top candidates based on their behavior in past situations.

To ask effective behavioral interviewing questions, use the STAR technique. Situation, Task, Actions, and Result. To start, ask candidates to describe their past experiences. Then, listen closely and evaluate based on the Situation or Task the candidate encountered, the Actions they took, and the Result of their actions. Interviewers should assess each answer while citing behavioral indicators that verify how the candidate previously showed behaviors that led to success.

5. Share the Mic

truck drivingTruck drivers want to know that their carrier will respect and value their contributions. One way to demonstrate your commitment to drivers from the start is by sharing the mic. Allow time for drivers to ask questions during the interview or at the end. Doing so signals to drivers that you care about their input and whether the job is a good fit for them. It’s also another valuable opportunity to understand what they prioritize. If they are a strong candidate but are undecided about the position, that insight may help you win the driver to your team. 

As a recruiter, it’s hard to predict exactly what drivers may ask, but prepare answers for common questions. This will likely include questions about home time, pay, benefits, and equipment among other things. Before you end the conversation, make sure the driver is clear about the job offer. Transparency upfront supports long-term retention. 

Truck driver interview questions are an opportunity to get to know potential candidates and focus on drivers who will boost retention. Each type of question will draw out information about driver candidates and works well in a conversational interview. When drivers and carriers connect transparently over a job that is a mutually good fit, the interview time is well worth the investment.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

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How to Use Behavioral Interviewing to Hire Better Drivers

It takes more than a valid commercial driver’s license and a good safety record to be a top-performing professional truck driver. A driver may meet all the minimum technical requirements for the job. They may have previous tractor-trailer experience, a valid license type, and the required endorsements. Even so, that driver still may not fit your job or company well.

To reduce driver turnover and improve your company culture, prioritize the quality and fit of your drivers. Building a high performing team requires evaluating and rewarding drivers. That’s true for not only the work a driver does but also how they do their work. No one can predict how successful someone will be in their job. That said, behavioral interviewing will help you hire better drivers by evaluating their previous performance as a signal of their future performance.

What is Behavioral Interviewing and How is it Different?

Behavioral interviewing is based on the belief that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

Behavioral interviewing states that how a candidate has handled a situation in the past is the best way to understand and predict how they will behave in the future.

This style of interviewing uses historic evidence from a candidate to predict future behavior using behavioral competencies, not traits or skills.

Competencies as a benchmark for hiring were introduced by psychologists in the early 1970s. Studies were conducted that demonstrated that knowledge-based and intelligence tests did not accurately predict candidate success in a new role. In time, psychologists developed competencies based on empirical data gathered by job incumbents with exceptional performance in specific functional roles. Competency models have become the core of modern behavioral interviewing. One set that is widely used is the detailed list of 67 competencies known as the Lominger competencies.

Vocabulary to Know

As you prepare to use behavioral interviewing with your staff, there are a few phrases to clarify. Get to know the differences so you can differentiate between them during an interview.

 Traits 

Traits are characteristics that are deeply ingrained and typically don’t change a lot over time. Gregariousness is a good example of a trait.

Attributes/Skills

Attributes are skills in the context of a behavior. They typically develop because of experiences, and people often learn attributes over time. A few examples are motivation and loyalty. Look for evidence of these attributes such as a job promotion.

 Competencies

Competencies are a combination of skills and behaviors. An interviewer can easily identify and measure competencies. They are the way we practice certain behaviors. Problem-solving, priority setting, and conflict management are examples of competencies.

How It Works

behavioral interviewingTo successfully use behavioral interviewing, there are a few steps. First, review a competency chart. Then, identify the competencies that are most important to successfully doing the jobs you have open.  For all truck drivers, planning, problem-solving, and time management are likely to be high on your list.

For drivers who regularly work with customers, you may prioritize customer focus. On the other hand, it may be a secondary priority for OTR drivers who spend long hours solo on the road with less customer interaction. For an OTR position, problem-solving and technical skills may be key.

Once you know the required competencies, develop a list of behavioral-based interview questions. You will need one question for each competency to assess whether candidates have what you need. All behavioral interviewers should train in the STAR model before evaluating candidates. This teaches interviewers to ask questions that allow the candidate to describe his or her past experiences. Interviewers will listen closely for the Situation or Task the candidate encountered, the Actions they took, and the Result of their actions. Interviewers should assess each answer while citing behavioral indicators that verify how the candidate previously showed behaviors that led to success.

Benefits of Behavioral Interviewing

Everyone wants to sound their best during an interview, and it’s natural for humans to be selective in their storytelling. It’s all too easy for a candidate to embellish or stretch the truth when talking about themselves. Unfortunately, as an interviewer, this makes your job very difficult. Even a well-meaning enhancement of what a driver would do in a situation can create a biased interview. It’s much harder to completely make up a situation that has already happened. When in doubt, there are often other sources who can confirm what a driver has said.

Behavioral interviewing was developed to more accurately assess candidates based on behavior-based proof and to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process. This type of hiring helps interviewers to look for competencies rather than traits. Then, you are more likely to hire based on the ability to successfully perform a job. It will also reduce hiring bias toward candidates who seem like a good fit primarily because they look, sound, or behave like you.

Quick Guide to Behavioral Interviewing

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Behavioral Interviewing

How a candidate handled a past situation is the best way to understand and predict future behavior. Use this free guide to hire high-quality drivers and reduce your turnover rate.

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