Featuring expert advice from
Steve Strong, Vice President, Southwest Truck Driver Training
With a nationwide truck driver shortage of 80,000 drivers—potentially surging to 160,000 by 2030 if current trends continue—it should be cake to get a truck driving job, right? Not necessarily. While many trucking carriers are having a hard time finding qualified employees, most are still looking for drivers that are a good culture fit in addition to having the necessary driving skills.
What does this mean for drivers searching for work? No matter what type of truck driving job you’re applying for, it’s important to put your best foot forward. Here’s how to prepare for a truck driver job interview, with expert advice from Steve Strong, Director of SWTDT’s Phoenix campus, and Elizabeth Bua, Career Service Coordinator.
Research the Trucking Company
Tips at a glance:
- Understand the trucking company’s lines of businesses and what they haul
- Know the size and culture of the company
- Be ready to explain how your skills will benefit the company
You may wonder why interviews are important if you already have your CDL and drivers are in such high demand. After all, with the right credentials, shouldn’t companies hire you based on your application materials alone?
“Companies are still requiring interviews,” explains Bua, which means that job applicants need to be prepared to interview for every job they apply for. One of the best things you can do is research the employer thoroughly so you’re ready when the interview requests start coming in.
Research the company’s lines of business and what types of freight they haul so you can better explain the unique skills you bring to the table. Also, see if you can get a feel for the culture and how they run the company. Is it a family-owned carrier with a mom-and-pop shop feel or a large corporation with thousands of employees?
Knowing what type of environment you’re walking into can help you strike the right tone during your interview and determine if the job will be a good fit.
Prepare for Driver Interview Questions
Tips at a glance:
- Know your past employment and driving record well—and have documentation ready to go
- Be honest about your driving and criminal history
- Come to the interview with prepared questions
Part of getting ready for your truck driver interview is knowing what common questions companies may ask and preparing your potential answers. Strong explains that all companies will ask about your past employment and driving record, including questions like, “Do you have any endorsements?” and “Where and when did you attend school?”
Make sure you have all your information at the ready—especially your driving record, including any incidents or accidents. “Most companies want 39 months MVR history,” says Bua. “At-fault accidents, speeding tickets, and moving violations are always looked at, and most companies will always question them.”
Remember, it’s important to be honest when discussing your driving and criminal history. Companies must check these records before making a job offer, so omitting important details will likely disqualify you from employment.
You should also be prepared to ask the company questions about how long training takes (remember, even after you receive your CDL, you won’t have the expertise under your belt yet to just drive OTR without additional training), tuition reimbursement, sign-on programs, and contracts. Come up with a list of questions, so you’re ready when it’s your turn to ask—this shows the employer you’ve done your research and are invested in the process.
Ace Your Truck Driving Interview
Tips at a glance:
- Bring copies of your resume
- Dress in business casual attire to project a professional image
Even with a truck driver shortage, most carriers still conduct in-person interviews. Bua recommends bringing a copy of your resume with you to the interview to help clarify how your experience makes you an excellent candidate. Even if this is your first truck driving job, your resume can show all the transferable skills (like communication, customer service, and time management) you have to offer.
You should also show up to your interview in business casual attire. Many jobs require truck drivers to interact with customers, so your professional image at the interview will go a long way toward assuring the company you have what it takes to represent the carrier day in and day out.
During your interview, make sure to get details on the specific job, such as how you’ll be paid, any unique demands of the role, weekly hours, and what you can expect your home time to be. The more answers and information you have ahead of time, the more likely you’ll be to accept a truck driving position that’s a good fit for your goals and needs.
These days, many carriers are offering applicants jobs right on the spot during the interview, so plan ahead of time how you’ll handle it should you get an offer. If you’re sure it’s a company you want to work for and the job seems like a good fit, you can accept right then and there. If you need time to think about it, don’t be afraid to ask for a couple of days to think about the offer.