The perpetual driver shortage problem results in fierce competition for the relatively few candidates available. In this competition, the ability to hire candidates quickly can be an important advantage. There’s nothing more painful than making an offer to a driver only to learn they’ve already accepted one from a competitor. Thus, as the freight market starts to cool down, some motor carriers are taking the opportunity to look for ways to improve their hiring funnel – both the quality of the candidates they’re attracting and how quickly they can get them seated.

The first step of the process is to answer a philosophical question: Is the goal to screen drivers in, or screen them out? Put another way, when examining drivers’ qualifications, are we looking for ways to find out if a driver is qualified, or are we seeking to disqualify them. The difference is essential. The former nets more potential candidates but can slow the process when edge cases require additional due diligence. The latter, on the other hand, speeds the process but limits potential candidates into the funnel.

Regardless of which philosophy a carrier adopts, the process often slows when the compliance team begins conducting its due diligence. This is particularly true as carriers start contacting previous employers, often resulting in a back-and-forth between the driver and carrier to obtain the necessary documentation. The solution for this, STC advises carriers, is to ask its recruiters to help onboarding staff prioritize the candidates by those with the best safety record.

In STC’s experience, it’s best to process the prioritized applicants first, not just because they’re less likely to be involved in a future crash, but because they’re also more likely to be well organized, have a shorter employment history, and be quick to respond to requests for additional documentation. These candidates also tend to be the most coveted, so you should snap them up as quickly as possible.

Answering the screen-in vs. screen-out question is key to developing a coherent and consistent hiring strategy. But what you do with the candidate after the initial screening could smooth out the remainder of the onboarding process, improving the all-important speed-to-hire metric while netting safer drivers and improving compliance scores. As important, these drivers also typically will be the ones that stay with you longer, and will tend to be leaders in your organization – benefits to both your retention numbers as well as being mentors to other drivers.