Recruiting and Hiring Drivers
By Don G. Archer
Hiring and retaining drivers who meet the requirements necessary to do the job, properly, starts with an effective interview process. To ensure that business owners aren't guilty of negligent entrustment, here are a few suggestions for conducting those job searches.
The first step in the interview process is preparing the list of requirements an applicant must meet to be considered for the position. Your list will be unique to your company's specific needs; but to attract the cream of the crop, be careful not to set the bar too low.
Examples of requirements could include that the applicant be friendly and outgoing, self-reliant and responsible. He or she also should have a good work history, minimum three years driving experience, minimum three years customer service experience, a clean driving record, be able to pass a drug test and have a clean criminal record.
You are not only looking for someone who can do the work, but someone who is searching for long-term employment. Your requirements should include language like: career-minded individual, full-time position and long-term employment.
Once you've created a list of requirements and placed ads, the next step is the interview process.
Before you spend time and money verifying the information is accurate, conduct an interview if they look like they might be a good fit. Most applicants will be on their best behavior during the interview, so take your time and gain as much information as to who they really are before pulling the trigger.
One way to do this is to conduct a multi-step interview.
The first interview could be between the applicant and the shop manager. Then, if a second interview is warranted, it might be with both the owner and the shop manager. You could even go so far as to include a third interview, where a road test is administered.
For this procedure to be effective, there must be a sufficient amount of time between interviews. Somewhere between three days and one week works best.
Run the MVR and get through as much of the screening process as you can before conducting the second interview. After you've done your due-diligence, make the call.
The multi-step interview process allows you more access to the applicant and time to gather behind-the-scenes information, like the applicant's interest in the position and their ability to follow-through. After an applicant has made it through the process and is offered the job, it also imbues them with a sense of accomplishment.
With each step of the interview process impress upon the applicant employment that requirements are to be maintained throughout their time with your company. Failing to meet them at any point is grounds for termination.
• Stress that safety isn't just a good idea—it's part of the job.
• Ask about previous employment and reasons for leaving.
• Reiterate the need for delving into the applicant's background.
• They'll need to pass a drug test, and will be subject to random drug screenings throughout their employment.
• Reinforce responsibilities with regards to maintaining licenses and the need for having a current medical card.
• Inform the applicant that your company requires a clean driving record going back a minimum of three years, and that you will be requesting annual MVRs.
• Ask open-ended questions like, "What has to take place over the next three years for your time spent with our company to have been a success?"
• Ask about their strengths and weaknesses.
• Observe their cellphone and texting habits.
• Inform applicant of any ongoing training they'll be required to take.
• Have the applicant take a road test.
• Talk about the company and your plans for the future.
After you've conducted the interviews and have decided you want to make the hire, ensure that all the requirements have been met. Did the MVR come back clean? Was the drug screening a success? Is your insurance company willing to insure the applicant?
Once you've thoroughly exhausted every available resource to vet the applicant, make the call and welcome your new hire aboard.
But this is only the beginning.
Once you've made the hire, create a new driver file, where you'll keep all the requirements of the new hire. The background check, drug screening report, MVR, results of the road test, copy of the medical examiner's certificate, approval letter from your insurance company and everything else you required.
Once you've hired the right person, follow through and make a habit of regularly updating their driver file. Run annual MVRs, conduct drug tests and safety training and do all you can do to stay on top of it. This will allow you to be aware of any policy infractions if and when they occur, so you can take proper steps to remedy the situation.American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at TheTowAcademy.com. Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at email@example.com.