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3 interview questions to discover a candidate's work ethic

4/26/2022

The questions you ask in the interview can help you gauge a candidate's work ethic.

A life spent on the road is nothing if not demanding. While hour-of-services regulations prevent truckers from spending too much time behind the wheel in any given shift, driving for a living can be both mentally and physically exhausting. Anyone who has spent even a few hours straight in a vehicle can attest to this reality. 

In short, being a trucker requires a tremendous amount of work ethic. So when you're interviewing applicants for a job opening, you ideally want to hire those who are self-motivated and have a demonstrated history of conscientiousness, perseverance and good old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness.

Accurately assessing work ethic is easier said than done, though, since it's one of those characteristics you often have to observe firsthand to fully recognize. However, there are some questions you can ask during the interview process to evaluate a potential hire's overall industriousness. Here are some of them:

1. What does 'work ethic' mean to you?
Of all the questions you ask a job candidate regarding to gauge their level of dedication to the job, this one may be the most telling. If you look up "work ethic" in the dictionary, it says "the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward." But that's a rather abstract description when hard work means different things to different people. Thus, it's important to go into the interview with an idea of what "work ethic means to you and if the job applicant's definition aligns with yours.

2. Can you cite a specific instance at your last job in which you demonstrated work ethic?
You want to be careful about how you phrase this question. Every applicant likes to think that they're constantly giving each and every task their best effort — no matter what they may be doing on the job. Thus, they may punt on this question by saying that they work hard all the time. But bringing an example to the table can give you a better understanding of what work ethic means to them in a practical context.

3. Do you have references who can speak to your work ethic?
It's said that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. But in the working world, observations are ongoing, even in remote environments. Whether an interviewee cites a former boss, colleague or associate, their references should be able to corroborate if a potential employee possesses the work ethic that you expect from a new hire. You may want to ask those references about specific instances where they demonstrated work ethic.

Evaluating a trucker's dedication can start before the interview begins. You may be able to identify it by perusing their resume. Perhaps they worked for a former employer for several years and made several advancements in their time there. Maybe they've been the recipient of safety or performance  Those are all solid indications they'll bring the level of commitment and dedication to the job that you want.

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