Top 10 Interview Questions Truckers Need to Ask

It’s a mistake you’ll make at least once in your career as a trucker, and one that you’ll quickly wished you hadn’t – we’re talking about asking questions in interviews.  So often we’re concerned with finding somewhere that’s we’re compatible with job-wise, and forget to consider that the we should be more focused on whether or not the company is right for ourselves.

For that reason, it’s important to ask questions during an interview to help determine if it’s the right fit,  Here are the top 10 questions that truckers should ask during interviews:

  1. What is the home time policy?

    Make sure you find out how much home time you get and how it is split up throughout the week or month.

  2. What are the main routes/hauls?

    Many companies drive the same routes routinely, so be sure to ask what those routes are to see if they are a long-term fit for your and your needs.

  3. What type of equipment will I use?

    This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the amount of times we’ve heard of a new-higher not being familiar with the equipment (which leads to safety issues, delayed work, etc.)

  4. Is layover pay offered?

    There will surely be times when you’re going to be waiting for your next haul, and it’s important to know if you’re going to get paid for this time. If not, this can really impact you financially, so take their answer into careful consideration.

  5. Is the pay hourly or by the mile?

    There are good arguments for each payment model, but it’s good to be informed on both just so you know which is most financially beneficial to you.

  6. Do you offer benefits, and what are they?

    At the end of the day, insurance is expensive. Make sure you know exactly the kind of coverage offered, and how it will impact your paycheck.

  7. What is the rider policy for pets and family members?

    If you’re going long-haul, asking the policy on pets, family members and friends as guests is a must. If you plan on bringing a pet, make sure you know their policies on weight and damage deposits.

  8. What expenses are covered?

    Does the company provide reimbursement for food, hotels, tolls, etc.?

  9. How many miles are available on average?

    Most companies pay by the mile, so get a clear understanding about how many miles are available on a weekly or monthly basis so you’ll know what kind of pay to expect.

  10. How often are the rigs maintained, upgraded or replaced?

Knowing how well the company takes care of their equipment is an indication of how well they might treat their drivers.  It’s also essential to your safety to know how much you can rely upon the trucks you’ll be driving, so don’t forget to ask this question, as your safety may depend on the answer.

Clearly, there are many more questions one might choose to ask when interviewing prospective companies for employment, but these questions form the core of what information you need to seek out.  For those of you who’ve been in the trucking game for a while, what questions would you add to this list?

Trucking Pre-Trip Inspection Guide

Semi Truck Pre-Trip Inspection
As a professional driver, your pre-trip inspection is a critical step in ensuring your truck is road worthy before each long haul. The inspections should be quite comprehensive, and for some can be quite difficult to remember, especially if you’re in pursuit of your commercial driver’s license (CDL). To that end, we’ve compiled the essential steps a thorough pre-trip inspection should have.

The point of a thorough pre-trip inspection is to ensure that your vehicle’s major components operate as intended. This inspection should be done at the start of each day, as well as once every 24 hours, after every 10-hour break and after you pick up a new trailer.

Before you begin make sure you have the necessary tools – gloves, flashlight and a hammer. Then check that the parking brakes are set and the transmission is in first gear. Driving an automatic? Be sure to place wheel chocks under the drive tires.

Next, you’ll want to turn on your headlights, activate your brake lights and switch on your four-ways.  Now you’re ready to proceed through your pre-trip inspection:

  1.  Look under the hood

    Look under the hood and inspect the carriage for anything that shouldn’t be there – road debris can easily get caught up here. Evaluate both sides of the engine, all of your hoses, wiring, reservoirs, filters, dryers and fluid levels. Thoroughly check your air dryer, alternator, brake air lines, brake chambers, slack adjusters, brake linings, brake drums, springs, spring mounts, shock absorbers, tires, tire pressure, tread depth, wheels, lug nuts, valve caps, hub oil, steering gear box and steering linkage.

  2. Check the left side of the cab

    Check the steps, on top of and underneath your cab for any unwanted items. Additionally, inspect your mirror, turn signal, lights, door, side skirting, steps, fuel tank/cap, reflectors and reflective tape, sleeper side, sleeper berth window glass and your DOT annual inspection sticker.

  3. Check the rear of the cab

    Here you’ll want to check the chain and battery boxes, fuel tanks, exhaust and chassis. Evaluate airlines, electrical cords, the cab suspension system, cross members, frame, and drive shaft.

  4. Check the front of your trailer

    Check your body panels, lights, reflectors and reflective tape, as well as your airlines, electrical cord, and stickers (height and preventative maintenance).

  5. Check your coupling

    Evaluate your release arm, fifth wheel mount, stop blocks, slide locking pins, fifth wheel pivot pins and pin locks, platform, apron, kingpin, gap and locking bar/jaw. Remember to use a flashlight when checking for correct coupling.

  6. Check your left side drive axles and suspension.

    Check for unusual items on your wheels, brakes, tires and suspension. Take special care to check your tires for any abrasions, bulges or cuts. Be sure to also check the air pressure, tread depth, wheels, lug nuts, hub oil seals, valve caps, air lines, brake chambers, brake linings, slack adjusters, drums, linings, air bags, shock absorbers, springs, spring mounts, U-bolts, torque rods, splash guards and lights.

  7. Check the left side of the trailer.

    Check underneath and the sides of the trailer for any unwanted modifications. Check your lights, reflectors and reflective tape, landing gear, underside, frame, top and bottom rails, body panels, tandem release handle, locking pins and air lines.

  8. Check your trailer suspension system

    Evaluate the wheels, brakes, tires, and suspension for any changes.  Check tires, air pressure, tread depth, wheels, lug nuts, hub oil seals, valve caps, air lines, brake chambers, brake linings, slack adjusters, drums, linings, springs, spring mounts, shock absorbers, U-bolts, torque rods and air tanks.

  9. Check the rear of the trailer

    Examine your seals, doors, hinges and bumper to check for anything unusual.  Also check your lights, reflectors and reflective tape, doors, door seals, door chains, door hooks, hinges, latches, license plate, splash guards and seal or padlock.

  10. Check your trailer suspension system

    Again, evaluate the wheels, brakes, tires, and suspension for any changes.  Check tires, air pressure, tread depth, wheels, lug nuts, hub oil seals, valve caps, air lines, brake chambers, brake linings, slack adjusters, drums, linings, springs, spring mounts, shock absorbers, U-bolts, torque rods and air tanks.

  11. Check the right side of the trailer

    Check underneath and the sides of the trailer for any unwanted modifications. Check your lights, reflectors and reflective tape, landing gear, underside, frame, top and bottom rails, body panels, tandem release handle, locking pins and air lines.

  12. Check your right side drive axles and suspension

    Check for unusual items on your wheels, brakes, tires and suspension.  Take special care to check your tires for any abrasions, bulges or cuts. Be sure to also check the air pressure, tread depth, wheels, lug nuts, hub oil seals, valve caps, air lines, brake chambers, brake linings, slack adjusters, drums, linings, air bags, shock absorbers, springs, spring mounts, U-bolts, torque rods, splash guards and lights.

  13. Check the front of your trailer

    Again, heck your body panels, lights, reflectors and reflective tape, as well as your airlines, electrical cord, and stickers (height and preventative maintenance).

  14. Check the rear of the cab

    And again, you’ll want to check the chain and battery boxes, fuel tanks, exhaust and chassis.  Evaluate airlines, electrical cords, the cab suspension system, cross members, frame, and drive shaft.

  15. Check the right side of the cab

    Check the steps, on top of and underneath your cab for any unwanted items.  Additionally, inspect your mirror, turn signal, lights, door, side skirting, steps, fuel tank/cap, reflectors and reflective tape, sleeper side, sleeper berth window glass and your DOT annual inspection sticker.

  16. Close the hood

    Evaluating the latch, hood mirrors and mirror brackets, as well as the hood for any unwanted items.

  17. Check the front of the tractor

    Check your bumper, license plate, windshield and lights. Also check your headlights and markers.  Remember to ensure the ID lights are operational and the lens is clean, and not cracked or broken.

  18. Check inside the driver side door

    Evaluate your clutch free play, accelerator, brake pedal, permit book and fire extinguisher/emergency kit.

  19. Check inside the cab

    You can now cancel your brake lights and four-ways.  Then check your turn signal and high-beam indicators, check the gauges, steering free play, horn, heater and defroster, shift lever, windshield wipers and washer and your in-cab air brake tests.

After checking off every item on this list, you’ll now know that your rig is in tip top, road ready shape.  Drive safe, truckers!

Healthy Tips for Truckers

Long haul drivers travel long distances frequently and can be away from home for weeks at a time.  For many, it’s a rough job that can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, as the very nature of the work is sedentary and somewhat monotonous. As a result, many look to stimulants such as caffeine and sugar to keep them awake and satiated, which can prove to be a dangerous choice. Rest stops and convenience stores add to the problem, as food choices trend toward the unhealthy and make choosing healthier options difficult.  In conjunction with a grueling work schedule where sleep can be irregular and exercise options are limited, you’ve got a dangerous combination that leads to potential disaster.

The good news is there are a few simple steps truckers can take to avoid these unhealthy tendencies. With a little tweak in routine and food choices, truckers can look forward to a well-balanced lifestyle that leaves them feeling energized and avoids burnout, all of which is essential to a successful career as an OTR trucker.

Healthy Tips for Truckers

  1. Eat Healthy on the Go

    Part of the problem with trying to eat while rolling the roads is fast food, soda and junk are often the most readily available, and more affordable eating options. However, these unhealthy options can be costly in the long run as they lead to many health issues that can impact your ability to work. Rather than pick what’s cheap and easy, go for food and drink choices that stabilize your blood sugar and boost your immune system.  Stock up on snacks that are high in protein and low in sugar to keep your hunger at bay between meals – this way you won’t overdo it when you sit down for meals. And when you do sit down for your meals, aim for lighter far such as salads and wraps, rather than burgers and fries.

  2. Exercise

    Trucking is one of the most sedentary jobs out there, and sitting for long periods of time can really take a tole on your body. Exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can mean all the difference in how you body handles the stress of sitting. Your best bet is to just stick with the basics – light stretching before to help loosen your muscles, then a round of cardio to get your heart going. A simple jog or brisk walk around the lot can really help keep your heart healthy, and is a simple, yet effective task that can be done anywhere.  And if you’re looking to build more muscle, small dumbbells of 5 – 10 lbs can be easily help you bulk up by doing alternating bicep curls, shoulder presses and other weight lifting exercises, and they can easily be stowed away in your cab without taking up much room.

  3. Get plenty of sleep

    Getting enough sleep is crucial to your safety. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, more than 30% of long haul truckers have admitted to nodding off while driving.  That is a dangerous behavior, that could very well end in disaster – so getting plenty of sleep is an absolute must.

While there are many tips out there for healthy living while long-haul trucking, these three tips are the core of what will help you structure your new, healthier lifestyle. For those of you who already implement these tips, what else would you add for someone looking to get healthy on the road?