Commercial Truck Driver Interview Questions
Commercial truck drivers are tasked with transporting goods from distribution centers to secondary locations such as warehouses and stores. Drivers are required to maintain their trucks in safe-and-working order and inspect them regularly along with each load of cargo that is transported.
Commercial truck drivers should be able to perform minor mechanical repairs. They are also responsible for loading and unloading cargo as well as keeping accurate records of deliveries.
A commercial truck driver’s responsibilities include:
- Driving goods from one place to another, sometimes over long distances
- Inspecting the delivery vehicle on a regular basis and performing minor routine maintenance
- Inspecting cargo when loading and unloading
- Loading and unloading cargo
- Keeping track of inventory as it’s transported from place to place
- Following commercial vehicle traffic laws
A commercial truck driver’s skills include:
- The ability to concentrate for long periods of time
- The ability to stick to strict schedules
- Good communication skills
- Being able to lift heavy loads
- Record keeping and inventory tracking
Applicants are typically required to have a high school diploma or GED as well as an up-to-date CDL (commercial driver’s license). Many vocational schools offer courses in commercial truck driving as well as independent trucking schools that offer similar programs for driving commercial trucks.
Salaries for commercial truck drivers range between $41K and $68K with the median being $53K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a commercial truck driver include:
- Degrees (high school diploma, associate's, bachelor's, CDL)
- Years of Experience
- Types of Trucks Driven, Routes (long haul or short haul), etc.
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager you report to)
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations
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Commercial Truck Driver Interview Questions
Question: What motivated you to pursue a career as a truck driver?
Explanation: This is a typical question the interviewer will ask early in the interview to get you talking, find out more about your background, and collect some information they can use throughout the interview. It also provides you the opportunity to guide the interview in a direction with which you are comfortable.
Example: “I have always enjoyed driving and going on road trips with my family. When exploring careers during high school and community college, I kept coming back to truck driving. I enjoy being on the road, visiting new places, and working in the transportation industry. I chose long-haul truck driving because I prefer driving for long periods instead of making frequent stops in an urban environment.”
Question: Can you discuss the rationale of having to stop at weigh stations that are open when you are en route?
Explanation: It may be counterintuitive, but stopping at weigh stations while driving benefits truck drivers. As a driver, you may not like having to stop and add unproductive time to your route. However, professional drivers understand that weigh stations help keep the highways safe by ensuring the other truckers don’t overload their rigs.
Example: “While I don’t like the fact that weigh stations add additional time to my route, I understand their purpose and support them. Without weigh stations and other enforcement activities by the National Transportation Safety Board, the road would be much less safe due to other truckers violating the rules by overloading their trucks, driving beyond the allotted time, and committing other violations that are caught at the weigh stations.”
Question: What is your process if you have an accident while driving for work?
Explanation: Unfortunately, accidents occur, especially to people who spend most of their time on the road. Oftentimes, the accident will not be your fault. However, you still need to have a process for dealing with accidents in an organized way to protect your license, the vehicle, and the cargo you are transporting.
Example: “When I am involved in an accident, the first thing I do is take steps to make sure that everyone involved is safe and that all vehicles are moved to the side of the road to allow other traffic to pass if possible. I then contact the applicable law enforcement agency to report the accident and get any required assistance. My next step is to contact the dispatcher to make them aware of the situation so they can notify the customer of any delay in the shipment. I then deal with the accident and work hard to get the truck and its cargo back on the road as quickly as possible.”
Question: What are the FMCSA regulations that apply to truck drivers, and are you compliant with them?
Explanation: This is a technical question that seeks to learn about your understanding of the regulations applicable to this job. Technical questions are best answered directly and briefly, allowing the interviewer to ask follow-up questions to dive deeper into the topic. In this case, you should discuss the regulations in general rather than run through each one that applies to your profession.
Example: “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the agency that regulates the trucking industry in the United States. They have issued a set of regulations that ensure the safety of the roads and the carriers operating on them. Examples of these include the right to search vehicles, the amount of time drivers can operate, the requirement to keep a logbook, and various other regulations that help make the trucking industry safer. I’m more than willing to share my logbook with you to demonstrate that I have never violated any FMCSA regulation.”
Question: When you are on a long haul, are you comfortable taking stimulants to keep you alert and avoid accidents?
Explanation: This is a trick question. It appears that the interviewer is asking if you’re willing to take stimulants to stay safe on the road. However, using stimulants is against FMCSA regulations and would disqualify you for the job. Your answer should indicate this and describe methods you use to stay alert while driving.
Example: “I don’t believe in using stimulants for any reason, especially when driving, since it is against FMCSA regulations. The steps I take to stay alert and safe on the road include getting a good night’s sleep, making frequent stops to take breaks, staying hydrated, and only driving for the periods allowed by the FMCSA. If I find that I am tired, I will immediately pull over in a safe place and take a nap to refresh myself.”
Question: What was the last problem you had with a shipment, and how did you resolve it?
Explanation: No one is perfect, and incidents occur, some of which are beyond your immediate control. The key is how you react to the incidents to resolve them. A good way to answer this type of question is to pick a problem that was either very challenging and resolved with a creative solution or something minor and easily fixed.
Example: “The last problem I had to deal with during a shipment was when the load shifted and some boxes fell off a pallet. This was the result of the pallet being loaded improperly and not secured. Fortunately, I always keep tie-down straps and a roll of clear wrap in my cab. I rebuilt the pallet, wrapped the boxes with the clear wrap, and secured everything with the tie-down straps. This secured the load, and I was able to complete the shipment with no additional issues.”
Question: Take me through how you plan your route to ensure the shipment arrives on time and to conserve fuel?
Explanation: In today’s transportation environment, most routes are either pre-determined or selected by the vehicle’s GPS System. However, as an experienced driver, you should have the skills needed to adjust the route to make it more efficient and effective. Even if you don’t do this on every trip, you should describe how you would go about doing it.
Example: “On most of my trips, I use standard routing applications and the vehicle’s GPS to select the route. However, if I’m aware of issues such as road construction, weather, or other things that may impact the route, I will manually adjust it by adding waypoints to the GPS system. I also frequently contact my dispatcher to get updates on the route and reports from other drivers which would help me plan an alternate route if necessary.”
Question: Are you comfortable being away from home for long periods?
Explanation: There are two types of truck driving roles - long haul and short haul. Short-haul driving typically occurs within a local geographic area and allows the driver to return home after their shift. On the other hand, long haul requires drivers to be on the road for several consecutive days or weeks. This is a different lifestyle that requires the driver and his family to spend long periods away from each other.
Example: “When I decided to become a truck driver, I realized the lifestyle would require me to be on the road for long periods, away from my home and family. When I got married, I explained this to my wife, and she agreed to it. To compensate for being away from home, I take longer breaks between hauls and sometimes fly my wife and kids to my destination so that we can vacation there together.”
Question: Are you okay with a slip-seating setup, or do you prefer being assigned your own truck?
Explanation: Slip-seating is the practice of two or more drivers sharing the same vehicle. This is more efficient for the company because it keeps the truck on the road for longer periods. Some drivers are comfortable with this, while others prefer to have their own rig which they can customize to meet their needs. Your response to this question should align with the company’s operations which are typically described in the job description.
Example: “I noted in the job description that your organization uses a slip-seating setup. I am very comfortable with this. I don’t mind sharing a truck with another driver. I’ve created a kit I use to make the truck suited to my needs. It takes me about five minutes to assemble or disassemble the kit whenever I am assigned a vehicle.”
Question: Are you willing to drive across international borders, and do you speak any foreign languages that would help you when doing so?
Explanation: It is not common, but carriers must often transport goods across the Mexican and Canadian borders when operating in the U.S. In addition to having a special license required for this, it is also advantageous if the driver can speak the local language. This helps expedite customs and delivery or pick up of the goods being transported. The common languages needed for this are English, French, and Spanish.
Example: “I am very willing to drive across both the Canadian and Mexican borders to deliver goods. I am fully licensed to operate in both of these countries and speak enough French and Spanish to communicate effectively with the local transportation managers I deal with there.”
Additional Commercial Truck Driver Interview Questions
How long have you been a commercial truck driver with other companies? Have you ever worked freelance?
How long have you had your CDL?
Where did you receive your training?
Describe how you handle a breakdown?
How do you handle a missed deadline?
How do you handle a situation in which a shipment was damaged en route?
How do you make sure you remain alert and safe on long drives?
Explain the regulations you have to comply with while doing your job.
What basic maintenance do you have to perform most often on your vehicle?
What logs do you keep to make sure orders and deliveries are properly recorded?
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