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March 30, 2010  |   Comments (3)   |   Post a comment

Hiring the best players

Structured interviews will reduce the incidence of unsafe behaviors and make the kids safer. In today's economy, you can be more selective about whom you hire.

by Jeff Cassell

What is of most importance is that you hire drivers who want to perform the job — the “Will Do” side of the applicant.

What is of most importance is that you hire drivers who want to perform the job — the “Will Do” side of the applicant.

We can learn a lot from sports analogies. It is very clear that the best teams have four things in common: great leadership, the best players, the best training and great teamwork.

A safe, efficient school bus operation depends on these factors just as much as a successful sports team does.

In this article, I’ll focus on getting the best players: the people who have the right mindset to be safe, efficient school bus operators and who will stay with you for many years to come — people who will be reliable ambassadors for your district.

Every person is unique. We each have thousands of facets that define who we are. To try to simplify this, think of us as having six factors (see illustration at left):

The "Can Do" side focuses on whether the person has the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the job. This is where most recruiters focus their attention. This is a shame, because once you hire a driver, you can change these factors. You can improve their knowledge and skills by education and training.

Abilities refers to physical abilities, such as eyesight, strength of arms and legs, height and weight, etc. You can’t do much about someone’s abilities. What you hire is what you get. What is of most importance is that you hire drivers who want to perform the job — the “Will Do” side of the applicant.

We all have our own values, motivations and personality that define our attitude and what we want to do. Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor, a policeman or a school bus driver.

We have all experienced people who have the knowledge, the skills and the abilities, but they’re still bad at their job. Those who have the wrong values, motivations or personality will never make good, safe school bus drivers. They will be poor performers, and eventually they will leave you. Worse, they will take risks and put the kids in jeopardy.

So when hiring drivers, you should have a process to identify and screen those inherent traits that cannot be changed. Behavioral science teaches us that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. A structured interview consisting of behaviorally anchored interview questions will help predict the future behavior of a school bus driver applicant.

Interviewers should be trained how to properly conduct the structured interviews, and the interviews should consist of job-specific questions, consistently asked in a specific order and scored using objective rating scales.

Structured interviews are good predictors of job performance because the interview questions are directly related to job requirements. Used properly, structured interviews will reduce the incidence of unsafe behaviors and make the kids safer. In today’s economy, you can be more selective about whom you hire. Be sure you’re asking the right questions and evaluating correctly.

Look for applicants who are low risk takers. You should avoid applicants who ride motorcycles without helmets, believe speeding is acceptable or have a high-risk sport as a hobby.

When you hire based on the right values, motivation and personality traits, you get better school bus drivers. They’re safer and more reliable, and they turn into long-term employees. Through education and training, you can improve their knowledge and skills. Everything gets better when you have the right players on the team.


Author Jeff Cassell is vice president at the School Bus Safety Co. For more information, e-mail him at [email protected] or visit

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, (EEOC), has a great abundance of employment questions that are and are NOT allowed to be asked during interviews. This Federal website is a most valuable tool and you should take the time one evening and scan through it. The site is quite large so you may need several evenings to discover other articles that may interest you and your employment needs. Main thing is - treat all people the way you would wish to be treated by an employer and you usually will do fine.

Dan Luttrell    |    Apr 21, 2010 04:44 AM

In agreement with article. Really, it all boils down to an honest gut feeling, usually called, judgement call. It definately pays to follow up on back ground checks, criminal, driving history, public records should there be the need, just so when you do hire - you don't have to look back and say - "Well, I should have done this or done that." If you know in your process of hiring there are weak interviews you've set in on in the past then it is your place to make improvements. Example; applicant has great references, all required licenses and certifications, and you fail to ask specific questions that they should have answers to reguarding such licenses and certifications. Ask specific questions. Don't just assume they know what you should already have knowledge of just because they walked in the door with everything already. Most of the time we hire and usually have to train. The job market is such that people with licenses and certifications are moving from different areas with what we need. One other example; neighbor school systems who let a person go - they usually have a good reason. Dig deeper to see why this person lost their job or what ever their reason given, trust yet verify. It is easier not to hire the wrong person than to fire the wrong person for the job you were trying to fill during the interview process.

Dan Luttrell    |    Apr 21, 2010 04:38 AM

Mr. Cassell’s article was interesting; however I was hoping to see what kind of questions he would recommend during an interview.

Debbie Lear    |    Apr 03, 2010 04:49 AM

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