Hiring a Truck Driver, the Mechanics | Episode 89

Good truck drivers are THE key ingredient to a successful trucking company. If you haven’t hired a truck driver, or if your process for hiring and onboarding drivers could use some help, this episode is a must listen. In the intro to the episode I speak about Colin Powell’s 13 rules that you can learn all about in his book, “It Worked For Me“, you should check it out.

What To Expect From Episode 89

We have talked about our hiring philosophy and what we look for in a driver. In this episode we take a very deep dive into hiring drivers and cover many of the mechanics of the hiring process. We will go over the steps we take, the paperwork we collect, how we screen drivers, what we do to onboard them, and how we try to make them a part of our team.

On thing that we have found that is critical in this process is we basically require an in-person interview/interaction. We often do it over a meal at a restaurant. The personal interaction reduces the number of times we have been stood up and both parties tend to be more committed to and have a better understanding of each other.

More About Philosophy

Be completely honest and upfront with all the information you provide them, no organization is perfect and has it all. Let them know what the pros and cons are for working for you. It is better that they know the cons going into it rather than find it out down the road.

Bad news doesn’t get better over time, it usually gets worse. For example, we don’t currently offer health insurance and we don’t have a rigid way that we pay detention, it’s done on a case-by-case basis. We talk about that before we hire.


Finding the right driver is critical. There are two main things that we look for in a driver. First, is the driver going to be safe. Last thing we want is a driver who is unsafe and likely to get into an accident.

Second, we want to make sure the truck driver is a good fit for our company and that we are a good fit for the driver. It needs to be a win-win relationship. Some of the screening we do focuses on the safety side, some of the fit side. Here is a breakdown:

Is the truck driver likely to be a safe operator?

  • Complete an employment application
  • Do previous employer inquires
  • Get a copy of the front and back of their CDL (Commercial Driver License) or regular driver license if a CDL is not required
  • Get a Pre-employment Screening Program Report, learn more about them here (Requires a consent form)
  • Do a Pre-employment Drug Test, if they will be operating a vehicle that requires a CDL (Requires a consent form)
  • Do a clearinghouse inquiry, required if they have a CDL, learn more about them here (Requires consent, through a form or the clearinghouse portal)
  • Get approval from your insurance agent, the truck driver must meet the criteria of your insurance policy
  • Get a copy of their MVR (Motor Vehicle Record), that you know they have not altered

Are we a good fit for each other?

  • Meet the driver in person
  • Ask questions about how they like to run
  • Tell them about how you like your drivers to run
  • Make sure you match well with each other, we talk more about this in detail during episode 83, you can listen to it here
  • Have them meet with your dispatcher, make sure they both feel good about each other


  • Get copies of:
  • Set them up with payroll
    • Get their direct deposit info
    • Add them to your payroll system (If this is your first driver, make sure you have an unemployment insurance account, state withholding account, a way to pay federal payroll taxes, etc.) I recommend you get someone to help you with payroll, it is complicated
  • Train them on systems they have not used, preferably in person:
    • ELD (Electronic Logging Device)
    • Reefer
    • Truck they haven’t used, new trucks are getting very technical
    • How to scan and submit documents while on the road
    • Show them the truck binder and make sure they know where to find everything
  • Make sure they understand company policies
  • Add them to the following:
    • Random drug testing pool, if applicable
    • Truck insurance policy
    • Worker’s compensation policy
  • Give driver:
    • Fuel card
    • Way to pay over the road expenses, i.e. scale fees, lumpers, repairs, etc.

Do Something To Make Your Driver Feels Welcome and Part of the Team

Make sure the truck is ready to go and clean. One thing that can make a driver frustrated right out of the gate is if there is a lingering issue with the truck or trailer that should have been taken care of. Don’t make their first impression be that you don’t take care of your equipment. If you don’t take care of it, they won’t either.

Find out what is most important to them and what their biggest concerns are when joining a new company. Find a way to provide 1-3 of those items, or if they are concerns, try to solve them. It might be something like making sure they are home for certain things, it might be health insurance or being able to drive a newer model truck, etc.

When most drivers know you have their back and will sincerely try your best to accommodate them with things that are important to them, they will typically have your back too.

Here are some additional things that can help them feel valued. You don’t need to do all of these, but do something. Another impression you don’t want them to have is that you are a penny pincher unwilling to take care of your people. There is a difference between controlling your costs and being a miser. Don’t be Scrooge.

  • Give them some swag, a company t-shirt, sweatshirt or hat
  • A new mattress
  • Stock the fridge with their favorite drink and some water
  • Make sure they have things they need to make life on the road comfortable, if they are missing something it might be a good time to be generous

Follow the golden rule.

One last piece of very important advice, don’t book a load until the driver is in the seat/taken over the truck.

Listen to the Full Episode

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Chris G

Good information. I skipped a few of these steps with my first driver and it turned out to be a problem. I wish I had met them in person first and not just over the phone. Thanks for your podcast!

[…] For any trucking business, these drivers are a valuable asset.  But how do you go about recruiting and retaining quality drivers?  Let’s take a look at just a few methods you can use to draw […]

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