Everyone is looking for their dream job. Have you found yours? If so, you’re one of the lucky few. For those of you looking for that dream career in the trucking industry, there is potential for great jobs with great income. But how do you find the job that is just right for you? It starts with asking the right questions to prospective employers. Here are my top ten questions to ask in your next interview. Ask these 10 questions before taking the job. Pay close attention to the answers, and you will be on your way to locking down your dream job.
Questions to Ask
1) What is your home time policy? Being clear on the answer to this question can make or break your enjoyment of your job. Do you like being away from home for weeks on end? Do you want to be home every week? Every day? Some companies classify being home as being back to the home terminal or stopping by the home terminal on your way through. Some companies include time returning to the terminal, switching trailers, doing pre-trip and post-trip inspections as technically being “home.” Be clear on the company’s home time policy, and make sure it works for you.
2) What is the pay? Does the job pay by the hour? By the mile? Percentage of the load? Be sure that you have all of the details. Getting paid by the mile sounds great if you’re getting a lot of miles. But what happens if you often drive in congested traffic? What happens if you’re making many stops per route? Unless you’re guaranteed a minimum number of miles each week, getting paid hourly is probably a better option. There is a high demand for truck drivers, so make sure you get what you deserve. Talk to several companies and compare, and then pick the best option for you.
3) Do you give detention and layover pay? This goes along with the previous question, but it is just as important. If you are paid hourly, then you most likely won’t get anything extra for detention. If you are paid by the mile or percentage of load, then be sure to find out about detention pay. Many shippers and receivers take their time in loading and unloading trailers. There are times when you may spend hours on a door waiting for that green light. Most companies give the first two hours, and then start detention pay after that. Be sure to ask for your cut of that. After all, YOU are the one sitting there and waiting, watching the “on duty” clock tick away on your logs.
In regards to layover pay, if you are supposed to be home at night, spending the night in a truck or in a hotel isn’t ideal. Most companies will offer to cover the cost of a hotel if necessary, but they should also be offering something for the inconvenience of being out overnight. It can’t hurt to ask, so be sure to ask about the layover policy. Don’t miss out on any extra money you may be entitled to.
4) What type of equipment will I drive? Most modern fleet trucks are designed with the comfort of drivers in mind. Be sure to get the details of the truck you’ll be driving. Will it be a manual shift transmission? Auto-shift? Automatic? Will it have a refrigerator? Will they provide an inverter to run small appliances, such as a microwave? You are going to be spending a great deal of time in this truck, so make sure it has the options you’ll be satisfied with. Being comfortable in your truck is key.
5) Will I have assigned equipment or is there slip-seating? Many companies prefer to keep their trucks running at all times, so they slip seat drivers. That means when you come back to the home terminal for your time off, then another driver gets into that truck and goes to work. I have never really liked to slip seat because you can never really get comfortable in your truck.
I worked for a large company that put me in a different truck every time I worked, so I had to carry a backpack with all of my stuff in it; satellite radio, cleaning items, phone chargers, etc. That may not sound like a big deal, but doing that every day gets old. And sharing your truck with certain other drivers may cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Who needs that? Be sure to find out if you’ll have your own assigned truck, or if you’ll be switching and driving a different truck each shift.
6) What are the main shipping lanes you run? This is important, especially if you plan to ever get home. I had a friend in Florida who started a new driving job. He went through the company’s driving school and was then sent to the west coast for six weeks. Six weeks! Check into the company and see where their terminals are located. You may want to choose to work for a company that has a home terminal near you so that it will be easier to get home to your family when you need or want to. Also, you might be from the southeast region, and may have never driven in winter weather; if the main lane you’ll be running is the northeast US, you may want to rethink your choice.
7) What benefits are available? This may seem obvious, but remember to consider how benefits are linked with pay. If the company offers great benefits and covers many of the costs, you may be able to accept less pay. However, if their benefits package is lacking, be sure to ask for more money to compensate. Some companies offer full medical, dental, vision, and disability coverage. Get all of the details. If the coverage is lacking, ask for more money.
8) Do you pay for lumpers? Will I have to unload? A lumper is a for-hire loader or unloader that most warehouses offer. A high percentage of warehouses won’t even allow drivers inside to unload their products. In most cases, outside contractors offer this service to truckers. Most, if not all, companies pay for this service or reimburse drivers who pay for lumpers. If your company expects you to unload, be sure to negotiate payment beforehand. Lumper fees can get pretty expensive and many of them require payment before performing the work.
9) Are there bonuses available? Many companies offer performance-related bonuses. Be sure to ask if there are safety bonuses or maybe on-time delivery bonuses available. And don’t forget about sign-on bonuses. There is a high demand for good drivers, so be sure to ask about any and all bonuses that may be available to you. After all, every dollar counts.
10) Will I have a dedicated driver manager? If you are just starting out in your career as a driver, a driver manager can be a great help. Being able to call into your company and talk to the same person each time cannot be overrated. This will help you build a relationship, it will allow you to be able to handle problems quickly, and will help you get comfortable in your role as a driver with that company.
Summing It Up
Obviously, there are always questions to ask. There is always more information to gather in your quest for your dream trucking job. Get all of the important information before you jump in the driver seat. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions if something isn’t working for you. Don’t hesitate to keep looking, and to walk away if something doesn’t feel right to you. Every driver is different and has different needs, wants, etc. There is a high demand for truck drivers. You can find your dream driving job. Keep looking, keep asking, keep working hard, and you will find the driving job that is perfect for you!