Trucking is a very lucrative career and when you get involved, you have an enormous opportunity to keep gaining experience, which leads to more truck driving careers. However, getting involved in trucking is just one part of the equation because you have many requirements you have to meet to get your foot inside the door. I have spoken to many truckers within the industry who have had a rough start and shed some light on the things you can do to streamline the whole process. I’ll like to speak about truck driving careers and what you need to make sure you don’t flunk the interview, but here are a few things you need to get to that point. I’ll list them quickly:
First, you need to make sure you pass all the studying and driving requirements before you can even think about applying. For example, you should:
- Start with obtaining the right CDL study manual
- Take the appropriate examination, which will be outlined within the CDL State Manual. However, from the top of my head, I know many are universal, like general knowledge exam, air brakes and applicable endorsement. We have a complete list of 100 CDL Practice Tests.
- After you’ve completed the written portion, you have to pass the driving exam. You can go to a truck driving school or select a company that offers a sponsored training school. They offer this to prospective applicants who they are considering hiring full-time and will pay for the complete driving school tuition.
Now that you’ve completed the written and driving portion, you are FREE to go searching for the best trucking jobs in the industry. However, I’m surprised how, even with the qualifications many truckers have, they fail the interview. I did some research and found the following, which I know will be useful to all of you.
If you want to succeed in your next interview, then make sure you avoid the following mistakes.
Applied for a Job That Requires Experience
One of the MOST common mistakes I’ve seen truckers make when applying for a position is NOT read the requirements. Trucking companies will post the experience and requirements very clearly. Don’t try to fool them. To be honest, you might pass the initial screen, but when it comes to face-to-face interviews, you will fail. Let me tell you how this works…
Some of the best trucking companies will post or hire an external company for the initial screening process. These companies won’t go through the EXACT requirements, but go through an initial call-interview to see if you’re a good fit. They’re looking for communication, certificates, etc., but won’t conduct a complete background check like criminal or references. They are simply trying to find out if you meet the minimum requirements before they schedule the second interview. During this phase, you can get away with lying about your experience because they DON’T check references because trucking companies have an internal HR to conduct all this before you are hired.
Once you pass the initial screening, you’ll be scheduled to meet the internal HR department within the trucking company. Here is where you’ll be required to provide strong references and if you’ve stated you have experience, then obviously, you’ve worked for companies. I want to clarify something and this is very important…
Huge trucking companies haul cargo and require the best truckers to get the job done. They’ll make sure you meet every single requirement so will do background checks. Lying will NOT only cause you to fail the interview, but can get you banned from future employment with these companies at a later time.
Here’s a quick illustration, showing jobs and experience requirement. Pay close attention next time…
Being Late for an Interview
This is a very simple one, but it’s still important to note how it’ll affect your relationship right from the start. Remember, you are applying to work for a trucking company who has built its reputation from hauling cargo between locations within a specific time frame. This means trucking companies will depend enormously on time quotas and being able to deliver on time. If you are late for an interview, imagine what this says about your time habits with all other aspects of your job. If you’re late, the employer will automatically assume:
- You’ll be late picking up cargo
- You’ll be late dropping off cargo
- You’ll be late arriving at check points
- You’re simply irresponsible
The worst thing you can do when applying for a trucking career is be late on your initial interview. You’ve pretty much failed the interview from the second you arrived and stepped into the room. Personally, I’ll be surprised if they decide to continue with the interview if you are late.
Background Criminal Check
It’s important to note once you pass the initial screening and have your internal interview at your prospective job, you’re going to have a complete background check done. Many of you are wondering how this is part of the interview process and the answer is very simple. It’s because you will be asked about your criminal past. The actual criminal check process will defined as being part of the job requirements. You will have to have a complete check done before you are “OFFICIALLY” hired by a trucking company.
Let’s look at some factors that will affect you being hired. Many trucking companies will hire 3rd part companies to run the checks on applicants. Depending on the position you’re applying for, trucking companies will select different areas to be checked.
Safety Sensitive Positions:
- DOT Physical Exam
- DOT Alcohol Testing
- S. Employment Eligibility Verification Solutions (streamlines Homeland Security employment eligibility)
- Drug/Alcohol History Database
- Motor Vehicle Records
- Pre-employment drug testing
- Employment Verifications
Non-Safety Sensitive Positions:
- Motor Vehicle Records
- Employment Verification
- Education Verification
- Professional License Verification
- Professional Reference Check
- Widescreen Plus
- County Criminal, Felony, and Misdemeanor Records Search
- U.S. Employment Eligibility Verification Solutions
- Urine Drug Test
- Alcohol Test
For more information, please visit the following websites to learn more about this process:
The trucking industry involves many sensitive employment positions, which means references will be checked immediately before the final employment decision is made. One of the major reasons I’ve noticed many people do NOT pass the initial interview process is because they have lied when providing employment references. For example, you’ll notice above, in the “background checks”, that 3rd party companies are hired to conduct a thorough check on your references. What does this mean?
- All your references will be contacted and questions will be asked about your employment, behavior, and if there were any problems.
- Lying during this process will result in immediate termination of the interview process, which can impact your future employment with the company in the future.
- Your credibility will be impacted and if some of these 3rd party companies keep a record of bad reference checks, then they can make it available to other companies you are seeking future employment with.
You have to keep in mind, these two companies, Hiresafe.com and Hireright.com, conduct background checks for several companies so information can be shared when requested. To find out more, it’s best to contact these companies and ask if they keep any checks and the results on file. It will also be a good idea to ask if these results are shared when requested by employment companies.
In conclusion to this section, it’s important to understand bad references will call your credibility into question, which is why it’s a very sensitive area. This also results in interview failure, so is highly recommended to never provide inaccurate references during the interview process.
Stop applying for jobs without checking the appropriate requirements because you won’t pass the initial interview. As mentioned, many larger companies will hire a 3rd party to do the initial screen and if you have the minimum, then they’ll set up an interview with the trucking HR. During this process, you will be required to produce the appropriate licensing requirements for the job. From the top of my head, you’ll need a CDL with an Air Brake Endorsement and others relevant to the job requirements. If the trucking position requires hauling hazardous materials, then you’ll require an HAZMAT Endorsement.
I’m surprised at the amount of people who don’t take this seriously and completely fail their chances of securing employment with a major trucking company, which can be huge for their careers. When applying for your next trucking position, pay close attention to the minimum licensing requirements.
Here is an example of what you can expect to see:
DOT Medical Failure
Before you are officially hired by a company, you’ll have to go through a DOT Medical Examination. If you are getting involved in the industry and have done your research, then you should have a good idea about this, but for those getting started, here is a quick overview.
It’s a medical and physical test that ensures you are capable to handle the job. The last thing a trucking company wants to do is hire someone with a medical history because this can affect their performance on the job. Before being hired, the trucking company will require you visit a DOT licensed office and get a complete test done so you can provide the certificate to the company.
Please note: This certificate is valid for “2” years so if you have one, you can produce that to the employer. If you have a sensitive medical condition, then you’ll be required to do the DOT exam every year.
There is a link that I’ll provide where you can find out everything you need to know about the DOT medical examination. However, keep in mind, this is required so the employer knows you are medically and physically capable to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely.
The employer will require this certificate and it MUST be satisfactory before you are fully employed. However, if you don’t meet the standards or requirement, then you will fail the interview.
Things to Keep in Mind:
Trucking can be very lucrative and the best trucking companies are more than happy to pay large sums of money for the right people. However, they are very selective when choosing applicants so it’s important to have all your requirements and references properly in order. Even though many large companies will hire 3rd party companies to do the initial screening, afterwards, they have their own department go through the applicants. The worse way to fail an interview and destroy future employment opportunities is by lying and being deceptive.
In short form, make sure you avoid:
- Not meeting the job requirements
- Not meeting the licensing requirements
- Bad reference checks
- Not having your medical certificate
Not having the right background requirements (criminal, etc.)