Helpful Tools for Screening, Hiring and Monitoring Drivers

Albert Neal, Assistant Editor
Posted on August 1, 2004

The job interview often is a shaky indicator of job success. At best, a recruiter has about a 50/50 chance of hiring a top performer based on information obtained from an interview alone. Aptitude and skills tests are effective at predicting technical aspects of a candidate but are often limited in scope; they don’t give the full picture of a candidate’s overall ability to perform. So what can an administrator looking to hire a few good school bus drivers do?

Predict top performers
Hiring managers may preserve resources by investing in a job-specific, behaviorally-based pre-employment assessment tool that is accurate at predicting top-performing school bus drivers.

“Our interest is in productivity and performance,” says Richard Scheig, president of Scheig Associates, a human resource consulting firm in Gig Harbor, Wash. “We want to know if you can do the job like our best performers.”

The assessment tool evaluates the behaviors of top performers in various occupational fields and uses the behaviors as standards to identify top performers.

Successful school bus drivers are asked to describe all aspects of their jobs and the habits they’ve developed to do them effectively. Responses are then statistically analyzed and formulated to provide a rank order of the most important to least important job behaviors.

Ultimately, the assessment measures how well candidates understand the job, how they identify themselves in high-performance terms and behavioral responses to situations that go beyond simply steering the bus.

Results of the assessment are measured in a T-distribution. T-50 is the average score of everyone who has taken the assessment. Scheig suggests that employers not hire anyone who scores below a T-50. The idea is to move your work force so that the lowest-scoring person you have working for you is a T-50, and it should go up from there.

Carol Stolz, a human resources administrator at Lake Washington School District in Redmond, Wash., reports improvements at her district after implementing Scheig. “Our transportation manager, Dallas Herd, told me we’re getting higher quality people who stay on the job longer,” she says.

Streamline the hiring process
Scheig suggests that recruiters test early and often. Sit an applicant down and give them the assessment as they walk inside. When they’re done with the assessment, hand them a job application. An assessment score should be ready when they’re done with the application. If the applicant has scored a T-38, a score well below the average, thank the applicant for coming, inform them that their application will be kept on file and that you’ll be reviewing applications and calling for interviews.

Stolz’s department sees dozens of applicants each school year. Many have plenty of driving experience but don’t qualify for the job.

“People with tons of experience don’t understand why we don’t interview them,” she says, “but you can have all the experience and not be a top-notch performer. That’s what we’re looking for no matter how much experience you have.”

Bolster interviews, evaluations
Scheig also developed a behavior-based interview. The idea, he says, is to keep the interview focused on high-performance job behaviors instead of lesser measurements such as good eye contact or firm handshakes.

There’s also a performance evaluation that identifies specific performance behaviors, where the driver is strong and where he is weak. From there, you develop an action plan, Scheig suggests.

Training is important, but performance begins with selection, he adds. Recruiters should hire for behaviors and train for skills.

The assessment has an 88 to 92 percent accuracy rate. Pricing is on a sliding scale based on employee numbers. Visit for more information.

FleetWatch records monitoring
Transportation administrators can also save valuable time and money by quickly reviewing new applicants via an online monitoring service. FleetWatch, a product developed by Albuquerque-based Samba Holdings, provides instant access to online driving records and automatically monitors an organization’s driving records for new violations, DUI/DWI convictions, license suspensions, cancellations and impending license renewal dates.

“No one has time to check up on 1,000 drivers every month,” says Greg Miller, Samba’s COO. “But you do have time to read a summary report highlighting the 40 or 50 people with new activity.”

FleetWatch allows one to review group or individual driver records while ignoring the other 1,000 “clean” records.

FleetWatch has been a godsend, says Robert Morris, safety manager at Denver (Colo.) Public Schools. Before FleetWatch, Morris and his staff manually hauled motor vehicle requests to the local DMV and waited as the records were pulled so they could review them to qualify drivers.

The laborious process happened once a day during the summer and once a week during the regular school year. Twice a year, records for the district’s entire driver roster had to be pulled for district inspections. All of this changed with FleetWatch.

“We estimate our administrative savings after the first year of using FleetWatch to be somewhere close to $18,000,” says Morris. The district has also realized a 44.1 percent decrease in accident costs. Accident costs dropped from $196,000 to $109,000 this year.

The FleetWatch motor vehicle record manager allows record purchases from DMVs from 44 states and the District of Columbia. Retrieval of historical data on a driver varies from state to state, but the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows access to records for employment purposes as far back as seven years.

Decrease liability exposure
New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority is a state agency that provides medical and risk insurance for more than 100 schools in New Mexico. FleetWatch helped the insurance authority rein in bad drivers.

“We’ve had a number of very high-profile cases involving public employees having collisions while driving public vehicles,” says Sammy Quintana, executive director for the insurance program. “Recently, we had an incident where two couples from Nebraska were struck head-on and killed at 2:30 in the afternoon by an intoxicated employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs who had numerous prior DWI convictions. Management was not aware of his record and allowed him to drive an agency-owned vehicle, resulting in a $4 million settlement.”

FleetWatch prevents bad drivers from slipping through the cracks. The constant monitoring allows personnel to spot problem drivers before they become liabilities. At-a-glance reports summarize all driver activity for the current and prior months.

Automate the process
Human resources personnel determine who receives access to the motor vehicle record manager. FleetWatch makes it easy to activate or deactivate users for security purposes. The system’s convenient feature helps reduce administrative time associated with requesting, reviewing, sorting and filing driving records.

The FleetWatch monitoring base price starts at $1.85 per driver but can increase depending on the state selected. Volume discounts of up to 40 percent are available for larger accounts.

Transportation administrators can concentrate on other demands knowing that FleetWatch is on the job. Visit Samba Holdings at

Related Topics: driver recruitment/retention

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