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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.

Get the Ebook

straight truck drivers
Hiring high-quality straight truck drivers is no easy feat right now. The demand for drivers is high, and the supply of drivers doesn’t match the current demand. That means that it’s a driver’s market, and companies must offer quality jobs that stand out to drivers to attract top talent. If you’re hiring straight truck drivers, these four tips will help you get the most out of every online or personal recruiting message.

1. Create Driver Personas

The first step to effectively hiring straight truck drivers is to know exactly who you are looking for. Driver personas are an opportunity to paint a picture of your ideal employees. What skills and endorsements do they have? Are there specific personality traits that are important to your jobs? Go beyond surface characteristics. Once you have a general idea of your ideal employees, consider what motivates these types of drivers.

As you develop your driver personas, study what makes straight truck drivers unique. Typically, straight truck drivers are looking for local work and regular home time. Many may have a family that they want to spend more time with. These drivers may not have a CDL A license. Their license type may give you insight into what kind of driving career that driver is looking for. A well-developed driver persona should clarify and direct recruiting efforts for hiring straight truck drivers.

2. Speak to Driver Priorities

Straight truck drivers are highly sought after right now. It’s a driver’s market, so companies need to make jobs appealing in order to stand out from the competition. Driver personas give insight into your ideal candidates, and this information is valuable. Use the insights on driver motivation and priorities to inform recruiting and marketing decisions. Driver priorities should be front and center in online marketing and advertising. In addition, these details can be part of recruiting conversations. Not all driver candidates will fit your profile, so take the time in recruiting conversations to ask a few questions about driver goals and priorities. Then, highlight how your available jobs are a good fit for that candidate.

It’s a driver’s market, so companies need to make jobs appealing in order to stand out from the competition.

When speaking with drivers, get them the information they care about quickly and succinctly. The driver personas can help guide the tone and content of your conversation, but the basics are still essential. Drivers want to know about compensation, home time, schedule, route, equipment, and customer interaction. Be specific when you share this information and give precise details on the job requirements. In job descriptions and recruiting conversations, include all required qualifications, skills, years of experience, and other prerequisites. This will help drivers self-select whether they fit your requirements and will save time for everyone involved.

3. Embrace Digital Recruiting

straight truck

Hiring straight truck drivers is a competitive challenge, and digital recruiting is a must. Many companies start with a basic website and social media channels because they are easy to set up and are typically free to start. That said, there are other online recruiting tools such as search engine optimized content marketing and job boards if you want to branch out. For any channels you choose, establish trackable metrics so you can determine which channels perform well.

Regardless of the channels that you utilize, a clear brand must help communicate your story. Be consistent in imagery and content tone across all platforms. Give drivers something they can recognize as distinct to your company. Photo and video content are powerful recruiting tools because they help drivers see themselves in the job. Many drivers are not job searching on a computer, so make sure all content is optimized for mobile. 

4. Support Driver Referral Programs

Driver referrals and word of mouth recruiting still reign as powerful recruiting methods. At the end of the day, nothing replaces a trusted source, and truck drivers trust other drivers. Referrals can be even more powerful in a local setting such as when hiring straight truck drivers because these truckers travel in the same circles. They are talking regularly and will be job searching in the same geographies. Word travels fast when companies have a distinctly positive or negative reputation, so make sure your drivers have good things to talk about!

Nothing replaces a trusted source, and truck drivers trust other drivers. Driver referrals are a powerful recruiting resource.

As a company, driver referrals, especially from top team members, help get other quality drivers in the door. A referral from a trusted source is a little extra confidence that interviewing the candidate will be worth your time.

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.

Get the Ebook

trucking regulations and driver misclassification

Driver misclassification is not a new problem as part of trucking regulations. If a driver fills the role of a company driver, but the employer pays them with a 1099 as an independent contractor, there’s a problem. That driver is likely misclassified, an error that employers can face serious consequences for. Recent Legislation, such as the PRO Act, was developed to help combat driver misclassification. Unfortunately, it also effectively eliminates the owner operator business model. Here’s what you need to know about the state of the PRO Act in Congress and driver misclassification.

What Is the PRO Act?

If you follow political or legal developments in trucking regulations, you’ve likely been following the PRO Act. This bill, formally known as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, intends to protect workers from unethical employment practices, but it has alarming consequences for the owner operator business model. The PRO Act is similar to California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), and it sets very specific criteria for gig workers. Unfortunately, in trucking, this also applies to owner operators. 

Under the PRO Act, for a company to employ an independent contractor (like an owner operator), the partnership must pass an ABC test. According to the PRO ACT, an independent contractor must meet the following criteria:

“(A) the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under the contract for the performance of service and in fact;

(B) the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and

(C) the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.”

As part of trucking regulations, the B prong is usually the hardest to satisfy. Section B requires that independent contractors must be doing work outside of the scope of normal business. Unfortunately, in an owner operator model, those drivers are at the heart of a successful operation. Trucking experts are raising concerns that the PRO Act may effectively eliminate the current owner operator model. To date, the PRO Act has passed in the House of Representatives but has not made it to the Senate floor for discussion yet.

What Is the PRO Act Trying to Solve?

truck driverMany trucking regulations experts are strongly opposed to the PRO Act, but there is an underlying problem that this Act brings to the surface. The PRO Act tries to prevent companies from “employing” workers without offering benefits AKA misclassifying drivers. In many cases, this pushes the cost burden to the individual driver. However, owner operators are business owners, and many enjoy the freedom, income potential, and flexibility that comes with their role.

While the owner operator model works well for many truck drivers and carriers, driver misclassification is still prevalent in the industry. Misclassified drivers include those who earn pay as independent contractors and do not have guaranteed work but work like company drivers. There is a difference between owner operators who run under their own authority and misclassified truck drivers, however, the PRO Act includes both. 

What Is Driver Misclassification?

Driver misclassification occurs when fleets try to pay company drivers as independent contractors. By classifying company drivers as 1099 employees, carriers illegally avoid paying full benefits to their drivers. Owner operators are a different business model. They are independent contractors. True owner operators run their own business. They partner with carriers based on a mutually agreeable contract and may run for multiple carriers simultaneously. 

If you are uncertain about the appropriate driver classification for your fleet, there are ways to check.

Does the driver:

  1. Do their job under their own direction? For example, can drivers refuse loads if it doesn’t meet their criteria?
  2. Pay lease, maintenance, and insurance costs? Have proof of vehicle registration in their name?
  3. Have the ability to work for another company?

If you said “no” to any of these questions, you are employing a company driver. In that case, the driver should earn pay as a W2 employee and be eligible for benefits.

Brian Dershaw

Brian Dershaw, Partner at Taft Law

We spoke with Brian Dershaw, Partner at Taft Law, and he shared Taft’s response to companies with concerns about misclassification:

“In many instances, contractor classification may be an essential component of the company; the consequences of misclassification could be detrimental. With that in mind, we continuously navigate the federal and state tests in this area. This includes guiding clients in ways to maintain their independent contractor classification and, if appropriate, advising on the transition to an employer-employee model.”     

Paying a company driver as a 1099 employee is illegal and can lead to serious consequences, but there are legal resources, such as Taft Law or other firms, that can help.

What Are the Penalties for Driver Misclassification?

The legal ramifications for driver misclassification can vary based on the situation. In some cases, the company is required to pay back the money owed to the driver based on the loss of income and benefits. In severe cases, companies may face additional fines or time if the misclassification is found to be deliberate.

When asked about driver misclassification penalties, Taft Law’s Brian Dershaw, shared:

“If an employee is misclassified as an independent contractor, that can raise serious issues across the employment spectrum. These include wage and hour issues such as overtime under the FLSA and state laws, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, health insurance benefits, and employee-specific anti-discrimination and leave laws (e.g., ADA, Title VII, ADEA, and FMLA). Misclassification can result in steep financial penalties and other damages.”

Misclassifying drivers as independent contractors when their role is as a company driver is a serious offense. The PRO Act may not be an effective solution to driver misclassification in the trucking industry because of its reaching consequences for owner operators. However, driver misclassification is a serious problem, and carriers should take immediate action to rectify any misclassification in their fleet to avoid legal consequences.

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minimum driver qualifications
The higher the driver qualifications, the better the driver applicants. Right? Not always. In some cases, high minimum qualifications bring top driver leads, but it may also cause you to miss top drivers who are strong candidates but don’t meet your minimum criteria. Especially when you are hiring for several positions in challenging geographies, you may be better off with a high-volume hiring strategy. If you’re having trouble getting good drivers behind the wheel, rethink your minimum qualifications and open your hiring pool. 

Find True Minimums

When you set minimum qualifications, are you starting with the true minimums? Before you modify the job description to fit your internal, company-specific qualification minimums, start with federal and state requirements. Many companies aim above the 21-year-old age minimum for interstate driving or simply displaying a valid CDL. However, it’s important to be strategic about where to raise the bar and where to keep minimums at or near their base level. When you do finalize hires, best practices include keeping a driver qualification file for each driver. 

Use the Job as the Foundation

Before you set minimum qualifications in a job posting, closely analyze the details of the job in two rounds. In Round 1, make a list of the skills and qualifications that you are looking for in a driver. Which ones are “nice to haves” and which ones are essential for a driver to be able to successfully complete the job? Are any of the skills or qualifications that you listed in Round 1 on the list primarily because they are intended to drive up application quality? For requirements that are just “weed-out” criteria, consider lowering your bar slightly to increase the hiring pool for jobs that are difficult to fill. 

Which ones are “nice to haves” and which ones are essential. Distill your qualifications list to the true minimums.

In the second round of developing appropriate minimum qualifications, focus on the “need to haves.” Distill your qualifications list to the true minimum qualifications. Use federal and state requirements as well as the minimums that you determine for your company and the specific job in question. Do not inflate the required qualifications from the essentials. Keep all of the necessary qualifications on the job description skills list. From there, determine your next round of priority qualifications. Decide where to increase your minimum qualifications and where to leave them at their baseline. 

Minimum Qualifications Are Not Static

Once you have reevaluated the qualifications for each job posting, consider those requirements the starting point. Optimize minimum by making them responsive to driver supply and job demand. When applicant volume is low, decrease the minimum qualifications to increase the hiring pool. This is often an effective recruitment strategy when hiring in challenging geographies with limited drivers. Even within a single company, some jobs may mandate different qualifications. 

Qualification requirements are not static. When applicant volume is low, decrease the minimum qualifications to increase the hiring pool. When applicant volume is high and job demand is low, consider increasing minimum qualifications.

On the other hand, when applicant volume is high and job demand is low, consider increasing minimum qualifications. Rapid changes to job postings may cause interested drivers to get frustrated by the perceived changing standards. Increase the required qualifications gradually to find the balance point between a sufficient candidate pool and maximizing driver quality. Then, boost your efforts with other recruiting best practices to connect with the drivers who will be valued members of your fleet.

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.

Get the Ebook

Considering a Truck Driver Sign-On Bonus Program?

Most carriers in the United States now offer some form of a truck driver sign-on bonus. In 2010, that number was zero. There has been a dramatic increase in the popularity of sign-on bonuses, and at this point, sign-on bonuses are almost an expectation from truck drivers. However, if most companies offer sign-on bonuses, competition to recruit quality drivers becomes that much tougher. Here’s what you need to know to stand out to the right drivers and fill your fleet.

Why Are You Offering A Sign-On Bonus?

The bottom line is that a truck driver sign-on bonus can make your job more attractive. Sign-on bonuses aren’t the total compensation package, but if a driver is between your job and another similarly competitive position, a sign-on bonus might be enough to tip them to your side. However, a sign-on bonus that doesn’t also improve driver retention is not taking full advantage of the program’s strength! 

riverside transportWe spoke with Riverside Transport, a top Dry Van carrier in the Midwest, and they shared this about the impact of a sign-on bonus on their driver recruitment and retention. 

“Drivers love getting the extra pay for sign-on-bonuses. It definitely helps with their cash flow, thus drivers tend to stick it out with us to ensure they get their bonus payouts. It becomes a win-win when the drivers stay, earn more, and then statistically get past the 90-day mark. That driver could theoretically be a part of the RTI family for the long stretch. That is the ultimate hope with our efforts.” 

At the end of the day, the goal is not just to get drivers in the door, but to keep them with your fleet, reduce turnover, and save recruiting costs. Use variables such as the dollar amount and distribution period to fine-tune your sign-on bonus efficacy.

How Much Should You Offer?

The question of dollar amount is an important one for sign-on bonuses. If you don’t offer enough money, drivers might find the offer stingy or simply not attractive enough to change jobs. On the other hand, if you put a number that’s too high, drivers might be skeptical. Some drivers may see an uncommonly high truck driver sign-on bonus as a sign that your company is compensating for negative job elements. 

When asked about determining the right bonus amount for your drivers, Riverside Transport shared: 

“Be flexible with your sign-on bonuses based on market needs, make them attainable and realistic and not so over the top to scare away drivers. Many drivers can be leery of sign-on bonuses.”

Riverside continued, “Realistic sign-on bonuses with payouts that are are reachable [help] get the driver past the 90-day mark in terms of payout. This benefits both recruitment and retention, and is nice for our drivers.”

Unfortunately, there’s no uniform amount for every situation! One driver’s “too low” might be close to another driver’s “too high.” Ultimately, there is no set dollar number.

Since there is no standard dollar amount for sign-on bonuses, decide an amount based on your recruitment budget and the drivers you need to attract. Some companies offer all drivers a flat rate truck driver sign-on bonus. This simplifies job descriptions and ensures that there are no concerns about fairness between drivers. Other companies favor a variable sign-on bonus rate. Drivers may be paid more with more experience, endorsements, or other specific qualifications. Variable rates can be particularly attractive to experienced drivers who would earn the larger sign-on bonus.

When Should You Give the Bonus?

woman truck driverThe best sign-on bonus program is the one that’s engaging for drivers and sustainable. It’s as simple as that. With that in mind, keep your incentive program as straightforward as possible. First, identify what behavior you are trying to incentivize. 

For a sign-on bonus, set your sights on recruitment AND retention. Are you having a hard time getting in the door, but retention is strong? Is recruitment strong, but turnover is high? Are both areas a challenge? 

To encourage retention, consider a phased approach with multiple distribution phases. Some employers offer a truck driver sign-on bonus that is paid out over the course of 6 months or a year. For example, Drive My Way client Armellini Express Lines pays their sign-on bonus to drivers over a one-year period to boost retention. 

Extending the pay-out period encourages drivers to stay with the company until they receive their full bonus. The first few months after a new hire have one of the highest turnover rates. An extended bonus period can hold drivers through the adjustment curve and boost retention in the long term.

What Should I Communicate To Drivers?

A truck driver sign-on bonus program is just one part of a total compensation package. Advertise the sign-on bonus with the job description, and make sure the rest of the compensation package is a strong offer. Many drivers have been burned before, so be prepared to answer skeptical questions about the offer. 

Be clear about how much drivers will receive and when they will get the money. Make sure to be transparent about the bonus from the beginning. There shouldn’t be any surprises for the drivers later on otherwise you risk building resentment. If there are any additional stipulations on the money, make sure drivers understand. If they feel jilted, they’ll talk about it, and it will kill your reputation. The best way to create a positive program is with thoughtful program structure and transparency for drivers.

ultimate guide to retaining truck drivers

Ultimate Guide to Retaining Truck Drivers

You work so hard to recruit the best truck drivers for your fleet. The trick is retaining them. This guide is packed with tips for retaining your fleet.

Get the Ebook


As the freight market continues its strong outlook, hiring is again top of my mind for many carriers. Recruiting for retention should always be at the core of an effective recruiting strategy. It’s faster and more cost-effective to retain current drivers than to recruit new drivers. If you are a large trucking company that needs to quickly hire drivers, use these five tips to efficiently fill your fleet with quality drivers.

1. Capitalize on Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is one of the most powerful recruiting techniques because it optimizes for efficiency. Ultimately, the goal of inbound marketing is to have driver candidates proactively reaching out as a result of your marketing efforts. This subverts the traditional model of contacting each driver lead directly and is frequently a more efficient way to speak one to many. 

There are many inbound marketing strategies that are valuable when recruiting for a large trucking company. Referrals and Word of Mouth advertising have strong persuasive power because they are built on trust. Drivers want to know what working for your company is really like from other drivers. These two recruiting strategies are powerful because they hear about your company from a trusted sourceyour current drivers. 

Social media and online advertising are inbound marketing strategies with a high reach potential. The goal of these campaigns is to generate driver interest and provide a signpost for ways in which serious candidates can engage more deeply with your company. If managing a digital marketing strategy exceeds your current staffing capacity, or you want to amplify your impact even further, consider partnering with a company like Drive My Way to extend your company reach.

2. Know When To Use Outbound Marketing

While inbound marketing strategies should dominate your recruitment efforts, outbound marketing can be tactically applied to selectively increase your reach. For example, outbound marketing may be necessary for high-impact geographies that are not naturally driver hotspots. Many top drivers are still re-entering the workforce after recent layoffs and focused, outbound marketing can help attract these top drivers.

Phone communication tends to be a particularly effective outbound recruiting strategy for truck drivers. That includes both calling and texting. 

According to our Drive My Way Driver Happiness and Retention survey, 64% of drivers report talking by phone as their preferred means of contact with a recruiter. 

Text communications follow closely behind in third place. Allocating additional resources to underperforming positions through outbound marketing is an effective way to boost driver engagement where it is most needed.

With any communication medium, the most effective strategies keep driver preferences at their core. Reach out to drivers on their own terms. This may mean adjusting recruitment hours to include evenings and weekends. Similarly, choose the right communication medium. For a first point of contact, a call is often more personal. After, switching to text messages allows for quick communication that won’t get cumbersome for recruiters or drivers. Each touchpoint in an outbound marketing campaign should continue building a positive relationship with the driver.

3. Prioritize Based On Company Resources

If you are a large trucking company, you likely have resources that are unavailable to smaller companies, but keen prioritization is still essential. It’s important to know your strengths as a company and as a department. Then, rank your top priorities and note any gaps between your strengths and the resources needed as you finalize your recruiting strategy

For some companies, outsourcing resources can be a valuable strategic decision. Consider how in-house talent versus outsourced resources fit into your short and long term roadmap. If you outsource some of your recruiting efforts to a company like Drive My Way, this will extend the capabilities and capacity of your internal team.

Outsourcing specific aspects of your recruiting should amplify your existing efforts while giving you more time to focus on the things you do best. For example, Drive My Way pre-screens interested drivers using your screening questions and forwards or schedules screened drivers for interviews with your designated hiring manager. An outsourced company should seamlessly fit with your workflow.

4. Make the Digital Transition

Trucking is typically not the first industry to explore cutting-edge workplace technology, but a digital transformation is undeniably underway. Recent years have relentlessly shifted nearly every industry to rely more heavily on online communication, and trucking is no exception.

Digital advertising and communication should be a foundational part of your hiring strategy.

Digital advertising and communication isn’t the only area to add technological integrations. As you return to in-person driver orientations, consider successes from remote onboarding. Where did you save time? What aspects of remote onboarding increased efficiency or improved the accountability of training records? Blend these digital efficiencies into your larger hiring process. In addition, make sure your ATS seamlessly integrates with your recruiting process for a streamlined experience for drivers and employers.

5. Strive for Low Turnover

At the end of the day, retention must play a key role in a strong recruitment strategy. The best way to hire quickly as a large trucking company is to keep satisfied drivers behind the wheel and reduce turnover. According to Avatarfleet, hiring a new driver can add recruitment costs of $5,000$10,000 per driver. Retaining quality drivers is typically far less expensive.

High turnover leads to increased recruitment time and costs. When you hire new drivers, use behavioral interviewing to ensure that they will be a good fit for your fleet. Then, clearly communicate your employee value proposition to potential drivers in the interview to make sure they are excited by what you have to offer. To boost retention among your current employees, consider ways to increase driver satisfaction. Financial incentives are always valued, but there are many other ways to show appreciation as well. Public or private recognition for a job well done, flexible home time, and making visible changes based on driver engagement surveys are all ways to boost retention with what you already have.

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Top 7 Reasons Drivers Decline CDL Jobs

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hiring dump truck drivers

It’s tempting to use a universal recruitment strategy across all of your unfilled driving positions. Avoid the trap! That’s not the most effective strategy if your goal is to recruit for retention. While dump truck drivers may have a lot in common with other truckers, there are also key differences. Honing in on those unique needs and preferences will help set your recruiting strategy apart. When you are hiring dump truck drivers, there are a few specific job components that are essential to mention to candidates. 

1. Home Time

Home time is always a top concern for drivers. Dump truck drivers are no exception. Not only that, but some dump truck drivers may have sacrificed higher pay for increased home time. With that in mind, make sure that drivers get the details they need. There are two key questions to answer. The first is, “How often can drivers expect to be home?” The second is, “Is the schedule consistent?” Drivers may have additional questions, but these two questions should be addressed upfront. 

How To Talk About It

Chances are, dump truck drivers are looking for regional or local jobs for a reason. If drivers share that they have a family or other specific motivations for staying close to home, incorporate that into the conversation. Talking to a driver with a family with young kids? Highlight time for attending their little league game or birthday parties. When possible, make it personal.

2. Compensation

Compensation is central to every hiring conversation. At a minimum, drivers want to know how much they can expect in pay and how that pay is determined. For dump truck drivers, clarify whether their pay is hourly, load-based, or determined based on other criteria. If you offer opportunities for drivers to increase their salaries based on performance or longevity, make sure to mention it. Similarly, include bonuses and incentive programs as part of the total compensation. That said, all the bonuses in the world won’t make up for low pay. To attract drivers, the total compensation should be at or above the industry average for your region.

How To Talk About It

Talk about the highlights, and make sure to present this as a total compensation package, not just salary when hiring dump truck drivers. There’s no solution for a lousy salary, but you can create a more holistic picture of your job offering if the pay doesn’t tell the whole story. After you’ve spoken, give drivers plenty of opportunities for questions.

3. Route & Level of Touch

Since dump truck drivers can be residential or commercial, it’s important to clarify the expected route when hiring dump truck drivers. This should also be in the job description, so this information won’t be new for drivers. That said, it’s always helpful to make sure that drivers are crystal clear on the position expectations.  This is not an easy job, and drivers should be prepared. Drivers also need to know the type of work environment they will be in. For example, if drivers will be working on a construction site, drivers should know that before they start. 

Drivers should be crystal clear on position expectations. That includes work environment, route, and level of touch among other job elements.

Similarly, make sure to include the level of touch in all hiring conversations. Driving a dump truck can be a very physical job, and that needs to be communicated to drivers. That said, don’t assume that a high level of touch is necessarily a bad thing for all drivers. 

How To Talk About It

Emphasize whether the job is typically the same routes or if drivers are frequently going new places. Some drivers prefer consistency while others find it monotonous. When talking about the level of touch, try not to make too many assumptions. Keep a positive tone and state the level of touch as a fact. Anticipating concerns could create problems where there otherwise would not have been any. By focusing on clarity upfront, you’ll find a driver who is a good fit for your job.

4. Schedule

As with home time, schedule is often very important for dump truck drivers. For some drivers, a better and more consistent schedule could be their reason for job searching. In the recruitment or hiring conversation be prepared to share specific details. For example, are there typical start and times? Do drivers have consistent days off? Will drivers work weekends or holidays? Are there other key scheduling details that might not be obvious to drivers? Include those details early in your conversation.

How To Talk About It

Workplace happiness is often about meeting expectations. With that in mind, try to set clear expectations about the schedule from the start. It might be counterintuitive, but that is especially important for any details that drivers might not like. When talking with a candidate, give as much detail as possible without over-promising. Then, drivers know what you are looking for, but they won’t have the overinflated expectations that can lead to high turnover.

5. Equipment

Operating a dump truck often requires manual labor from the driver. Unsurprisingly, that makes good equipment a top priority. Many drivers know what they’re getting into, and they are invested in having the right equipment to get the job done safely and efficiently. When you talk with drivers, make sure to communicate if you use roll off trucks, hooklift trucks, or something else. If you have specific expectations around skills drivers need to have, let them know. Similarly, if you are willing to train drivers on the job, share that too. 

How to Talk About It

Because equipment is so important in this role, make sure the details are shared in the job description as well as in recruitment conversations. Drivers will want to know the make, model, and year, so be prepared with details. They may also have questions about the number of miles on the vehicle or its current condition. Use this time to highlight safety practices and how your company cares for drivers through equipment.

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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4 Ways to Engage Drivers as a Small Trucking BusinessAccording to Drive My Way’s Truck Driver Happiness and Retention Survey, only 54% of surveyed drivers say they are happy with their job. Younger and newer drivers expressed higher levels of happiness than older, more experienced drivers. In addition, females expressed higher satisfaction levels as did those working for larger companies.
Beth Potratz

Beth Potratz, CEO of Drive My Way shares: “Too many CDL drivers are not happy with their job. A truck driver’s life and job are inextricably connected, therefore it’s critical their job fits their needs and preferences so they can live the life they want doing the job they love.”

Taking that research into account, you might also wonder how the size of the employer might affect happiness and retention. What might make a smaller company an attractive place for a driver to work? What gives small carriers an advantage over larger carriers? In this case, there’s plenty of things that a smaller company can use to its advantage when working to recruit and retain great truck drivers. Here we’ll take a look at 4 little ways to engage drivers at a small trucking business.

1. Show Drivers You Care

Showing signs of appreciation for your drivers should be part of any company’s overall culture. Though grand gestures of appreciation are usually well-received, it’s the smaller things that standout. The things that make life easier on a daily basis that can make the most difference. A simple thank you goes a long way to keep employees feeling appreciated and engaged. Investments in continuing driver education help driver know you value them. Being respectful of scheduling requests makes your drivers feel respected. These are the little things that a small trucking business can do well to compete for driver loyalty. Take a look at the list below, which of these things do you use to your advantage?

Small trucking companies have the following advantages:

  1. Know your drivers by name
  2. Family-first culture
  3. Flexibility
  4. Close-knit teams
  5. Less layers and bureaucracy
  6. More meaningful interactions
  7. Plenty of opportunity to grow

2. Open Lines of Communication

Communicate with drivers effectively and ask to hear their opinion on crucial topics such as compensation, equipment, and home time. Showing that you care about your drivers is important. If you give your drivers ways to supply their feedback, this can encourage further driver engagement as well.

As a small trucking business, you can really highlight the intangibles that make working for you attractive. If you’ve got a great home time policy, be sure to include and communicate that. Tell prospective employees about the things you provide that larger carriers cannot. These indirect forms of compensation are something to communicate when recruiting new drivers.

Whenever someone is asked for their opinion on something that’s important, it makes them more connected to the decision-making. And ultimately connected and invested in the way the company performs. All of these things add to the value perceived by your drivers, and should be communicated as a part of their total compensation when they join your team.

3. Prioritize What Makes Drivers Happy

Does it matter if drivers are happy? Drive My Way’s Truck Driver Happiness and Retention Survey indicates that driver job satisfaction, retention, and recruiting are strongly interconnected. Not only are happy drivers more likely to stay with your company, but they are also more likely to recommend and help recruit your next driver hire.

Asking your employees about happiness is a great indicator of turnover risk. Investing in the satisfaction of your drivers can have a big payoff in both retention and recruiting.

Driver Happiness Factors

What makes a driver happy?

This graphic from the Truck Driver Happiness and Retention Survey shows what makes truck drivers happy, and which factors impact their retention more than others.

Are you making these things a priority in your current driver strategy? What changes should you make?

4. Advancement Opportunities

There are a few great ways to help a new driver know that if they join your carrier, they can have long and fulfilling career with you. Implementing mentorship programs and having a driver career path established will help a driver picture how they will fit in and grow with your company over the long-haul.

Mentorship programs are great tools for your small trucking business. They help engage new drivers by having a designated person to show the the rope. And it also gives your current drivers an opportunity to share what they know to help a new driver get established. These relationships can be very mutually beneficial for the drivers, and certainly valuable for company culture and employee retention.

Having a mentor, and also having an established career path to follow can help a driver become connected early and know that they’ve made a great decision to be with you for many years and many, many miles.

If you’re just getting started, or if you’re a well-established small trucking business, you most certainly have advantages to use in your favor while building your team of drivers. Lean into the strengths and advantages that are unique to a trucking company of your size and do the things that larger carriers simply cannot. Word of mouth is a great tactic to help you attract and retain drivers when you’re small or just getting started.

driver happiness and retention survey

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Driver Lifestyle & Job Happiness Survey

We surveyed over 400 CDL truck drivers nationwide to discover what makes them happy in their career and life. Access the survey report to see the results.

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Regional Truck Driver
Hiring a regional truck driver is all about balance. These drivers are often looking to balance good pay with home time. Regional jobs attract drivers who want to be home more regularly. That said, they’re also willing to be away a few days each week to earn a higher paycheck. Every regional truck driver will have slightly different priorities and preferences, but here are a few tips to keep in mind for hiring your next regional truck driver. 

What Regional Drivers Are Really Looking For

1. Home Time & Pay

truck driver family timeThese are often two of the most important factors for regional drivers. Many regional drivers prioritize more home time and are willing to take a slight pay cut if they were at an OTR position. Regional jobs can be the perfect balance between OTR and local.

As an employer, if you offer good home time and at or above industry average pay, you will attract quality drivers. If you have a unique home time or compensation package, clearly share the details with prospective drivers and how your package benefits them.

2. Route & Schedule

Regional positions can include a significant variety in route. In your job description or in an early conversation, clarify whether drivers are primarily on surface roads or highways. Will they be driving largely in urban or rural areas? 

To optimize recruiting efforts, find out what background your prospective driver is coming from and what they liked or disliked. Then, tailor your conversation to their background and priorities. 

For example, if they were driving OTR, emphasize opportunities for independence. If they were a local driver and liked it, talk about the variety of locations they get to visit. Regional drivers often enjoy the balance between getting to know routes and going new places.

3. Equipment

truck driver cabWhile they don’t spend weeks on the road at a time, regional drivers still spend a lot of time in their cab. That means that equipment and cab amenities are still a high priority. Be specific about what you offer for equipment. Consider sharing whether your tractors are manual or automatic, the model, if they are speed governed, and if drivers should expect slip seating.

How to Better Communicate With Regional Drivers

4. Get To the Important Details Quickly

At the end of the day, drivers are going to join your company because of good pay, home time, and culture. Even if you have incredible perks, most drivers won’t be interested if these essentials don’t meet their expectations. So, don’t waste your time or theirs on the fluff. Get to the important information quickly.

One reason a regional truck driver is likely to make a job change is for a better schedule fit and more home time. Is your job home weekends? Share that!

Drivers want to know what their day will look like. If you offer CPM pay, when do drivers finish the day? Do you have specific hour expectations?  Should drivers expect day shifts or night shifts? What time will they start?

trucker

Regardless of the structure of your regional job, these are key details that help drivers make the decision to switch companies.

Talking about regional truck driver compensation also requires specificity. What is the average weekly pay for drivers in similar positions? How many miles do drivers run in a week? Are all miles paid? Even if pay is not the strongest part of your job package, be upfront with drivers. Then, share any perks or bonuses that you offer as additional incentives.

5. Focus on the Positives

When you are hiring your next regional truck driver, use language that focuses on the best aspects of the job. A key part of this is knowing your value proposition and being able to communicate it to drivers. Focusing on the positives doesn’t mean omitting the negatives. Transparency is key for driver trust and a strong company culture.

A key part of this is knowing your value proposition and being able to communicate it to drivers.

A few great ways to focus on the job highlights are to talk about days HOME instead of days OUT. Similarly, if you have a take home truck program, make sure drivers know about it. In compensation conversations, include information about benefits. Many regional drivers have families and value reliable health care, especially if benefits start immediately. A few simple language changes give recruiting conversations an honest, positive tone.

The Quick Guide to Employee Value Proposition

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Employee Value Proposition

This free guide helps you create your employee value proposition and also effectively communicate it to drivers.

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3 Tips for Hiring a Local Truck Driver

A local truck driver is not the same as the type of person who prefers Regional or OTR routes. Even though both are part of the trucking industry, these are often completely different groups of people. For example, many local drivers highly value home time and family time while OTR drivers are drawn to the call of the open road. Knowing this, align your marketing and recruitment efforts with the priorities of a typical local truck driver in your fleet. If you’re hiring local drivers, here are three tips to help you fill your fleet with quality drivers.

1. Talk About What Local Drivers Care About

Home Time

One of the biggest reasons that some CDL drivers prefer local jobs is for the home time. Driver home time should be clearly stated in your job description, but don’t stop with a general statement.

family time for local truck driver

That’s not enough detail to recruit the quality drivers that you want to hire. Instead, be specific. Drivers want to know when they will be home. Whenever possible, give exact times as well as days of the week. Are they working a day shift or a night shift? Will they be home every weekend? Will they work occasional weekends? Including all of this information in the job description ensures that you’re not wasting time. 

Pay

Every driver wants to know about pay. To recruit the best drivers, companies should offer drivers compensation that is at or above the average for your location and type of haul. If you find yourself deciding between a hiring bonus and higher pay, know that most drivers prefer higher pay. CDL drivers are typically well aware that driving local routes earns less pay than driving OTR, but they want to know what they can expect. 

Share pay information clearly in your job description and in early conversations with prospective drivers. If your company pays hourly, include the average hours that drivers typically work weekly. If they receive overtime pay after 40 hours, share the rate. Similarly, if your company pays CPM, share the average miles drivers work per week. Then, drivers can decide whether the job is a good mutual fit.

2. Don’t Leave Out the Details

Schedule

Local drivers expect to be home every day. In addition to sharing the hours or miles that drivers can expect on the job, share specific schedule information in the job description.

Drivers want to know the specifics. Will they have weekends off? What time does the shift start? How long is the typical workday?

For example, what time do shifts typically start, and how long is the average workday? If you are looking for a local truck driver to be on a night route, make sure that’s clear. Also, communicate when drivers will have days off. Drivers want to know whether they will have weekends off, consecutive days midweek, or another combination of days off. When it comes to time off, consistency is key. Local drivers want to know when they can make plans for family gatherings, sports games, and other life events.

Route and Customer Service

local truck driver in Seattle, WAThere can be a lot of variation in route for a local truck driver. As a result, including more specific information can be a helpful recruiting tool. Will drivers be primarily on highways or surface roads? Will there be frequent stops on a typical route?

Another important element of the route is the level of customer service. Share with drivers whether your runs are dedicated and be clear in your expectations for customer engagement. If there is a customer service component, consider offering specific training to your drivers. 

Level of Touch

Regardless of the level of touch required for your local truck driver position, include details in your job description. Loading and unloading aren’t necessarily a dealbreaker for drivers but be upfront about it. As drivers are pushing to be healthier on the job, some local drivers will appreciate the opportunities for additional movement and exercise

3. Articulate Your Value

Value Proposition

Your company value proposition is what sets you apart from other similar companies. In short, why should drivers choose your job and company? It is critical that you are able to identify and articulate this value.

Why should drivers choose your company over one of your competitors? That’s your value proposition.

It’s what will help you attract drivers and prevent losing drivers to competitors. Your value proposition can include anything from a competitive pay rate to weekends off or a great company culture if these things set you apart. 

Company Culture & Other Benefits

When you are creating your value proposition, consider what a local truck driver in your fleet values. Many local drivers are very family-oriented, so offering immediate medical insurance might be particularly valuable.

Also, because local drivers see their supervisors and colleagues more regularly, a good work environment and company culture can be particularly strong assets. Once you’ve identified your strengths, be sure to include them in job postings and hiring conversations!

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Recruit and Hire Local Truck Drivers

We partner with driver recruiters and hiring managers nationwide to help them recruit and hire local truck drivers for open CDL positions.

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