David Hopkins, safety manager and driver supervisor for TP Trucking in Medford, knows why it’s important to have a hiring policy and stick to it.
“I’ve tried it both ways, and I know it makes a difference,” he said. “I had my own company with my father and brother for a while, and sometimes they would override a decision I made after giving a job applicant a driving test. We were often in a hurry to hire someone and get a truck on the road. The next thing you know, that truck is on its side.”
Hopkins said the culture where he works now is completely different.
“My boss has said he’d rather park a truck and not have it running than use a driver who isn’t qualified,” said Hopkins. “We are putting someone in charge of a $200,000 truck, and we need to screen that person very carefully. An unprofessional, unqualified driver could cost us up to $400,000 in an instant, but we will never haul a load that pays us that much.”
Candidates must also meet all federal motor carrier guidelines and have a valid commercial license.
“References will be checked,” said Hopkins. “We want to know what an applicant’s work ethic is like.”
TP Trucking also looks at any traffic violations a candidate may have. Any candidate with a hit-and-run or driving under the influence citation within the last five years is automatically disqualified, as is anyone with more than two moving violations in 36 months.
All applicants are required to fill out an application and sign written releases so TP Trucking can check with former employers about past accidents and drug tests.
Hiring makes everything easier
Who you decide to hire affects not just your company’s safety record, but its entire culture. Hiring the right people makes everything easier: It can increase productivity, morale, and customer satisfaction, while lowering turnover, injuries, and workers’ compensation costs.
The next time you have an opening in your company, begin the hiring process by thinking about some decisions you made in the past that were less than favorable and decide what should be changed.
Job description and announcement
First, determine what work needs to be done and write an accurate job description, one that defines the essential functions of the job and establishes minimum requirements.
Start with a job analysis and position summary. Ask people who perform the same job, as well as anyone who supervises that position. Identify the essential and nonessential (or secondary) functions of the job. When physical requirements are specified, make sure they are truly “essential” and based on objective measurements. And remember that most employers are required to offer reasonable accommodations to job applicants with disabilities to enable the applicants to have an equal opportunity to be considered for jobs.
The job announcement connects to the job description and uses the same language to describe the duties and qualifications. It also contains information about your company or organization. To attract people who will fit well within your company, be specific about your culture and define the attributes of your ideal employee.
Be specific about your minimum requirements; for example, “driving record must have no moving violations in the past five years” is better than “must have good driving record.”
Applications and interviews
Require all applicants to fill out an application that includes a detailed employment history of at least the applicant’s last four jobs. Then interview only applicants who followed your requirements: completed the application, provided all required information (letter, resume, etc.), and met your deadline.
The interview is your one opportunity to learn about candidates’ communication skills and observe their body language and reactions to your questions. Aim for questions that are 30 percent technical and 70 percent behavioral and keep questions consistent for all applicants. Learn what questions are illegal to ask in a job interview, and then don’t ask them.
Checking references may be the most important thing you can do if you want to hire the right person, but it can also be the most difficult. Check—at least—the last two employers, more if necessary, and have the same person ask the same questions.
State of Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries
HR Answers, Inc.
Oregon State Bar Employment Law Information
National Federation of Independent Business
You can find information on writing job descriptions on SAIF’s Safety topic page.
Human resources membership organization
For an annual fee, you can join the Society for Human Resource Management, a human resources organization that provides information on hiring and other personnel matters.
This article is from the fall 2012 issue of Comp News. See other articles from this publication.