Driving a bus is always a huge responsibility, let alone when the passengers onboard are kids. On the other hand, it is a wonderful occupation. You are always surrounded by young people, following the same route every day, with the same schedule, and you can easily find a meaningful purpose in this job. Without you, children from certain locations would hardly have a chance to pursue their education… But what will happen in an interview for this job? And can you get it without previous working experience? We will try to find the answers on the following lines.
Hiring process typically consists in two parts. A typical interview–questions & answers, and an assessment test (personality test, mechanical reasoning test, etc). If you have no idea about how to pass such tests, or what they are about, have a look at this excellent preparation package for future bus drivers from JobTestPrep. After practicing with their 9 basic math drills, 2 calculating change tests, 10 verbal reasoning tests, and 6 guides & tutorials on how to ace your bus driver interview, you will be ready to pass the tests with flying colors. Back to the interview though…
You will deal with questions about your motivation, experience, expectations on the job, and most importantly, about some situations you may face while driving kids to school (lack of discipline, children running around in the bus, children not on the stop on time, etc). Let’s have a look at them, one after one.
Why do you want to work as a school bus driver?
Try to connect your love for driving with your relationship to kids. On one hand, you really enjoy driving a bus and you excel in it. On the other hand, you always wanted to work in a school environment, or at least with young people, because that’s a type of environment you thrive in, and you prefer it to a job of a regular bus driver (city transport, intercity transport, etc).
These are things you expect from the job, but you should also explain things you can bring onboard as their new driver. Say that you are responsible, find it easy to communicate with the children, know well the local roads, and feel that you are a great match for the job. On the top of that, you have relevant experience, license to drive a bus, and basically meet all job requirements.
Can you tell us more about your driving experience?
Honestly speaking, it will be hard to get this job without previous experience with driving the bus–any kind of a bus. Explaining your experience, do not forget to include numbers, because numbers lend your words some credibility, and they also make it easier for the interviewers to imagine what you did. For example:
I have driven an intercity bus between A and B for 18 months, covering more than 100,000 miles in the process. The buses I drove were XYZ type, for 45 passengers. During the entire time I didn’t have a single accident, and didn’t pay a single fine. It was a tricky road, especially in the city center, with narrow streets, and I believe that with my experience, I am ready to drive a school bus safely, day after day.
How do you feel about working split shifts?
As you can likely imagine, you won’t drive kids anywhere between nine and two, when they sit at school, trying to learn something. That’s why most school bus drivers do the so called “split shifts“, working from six to ten in the morning, and two to five in the afternoon, for example (this can change a bit depending on the school district, and the distance you cover on your rides). Such a schedule does not fit everyone, and your goal is to convince the hiring managers that it fits you perfectly.
Ensure them that you read the job description carefully, and are aware of all nuances of the job. Shift patterns suit you perfectly, you do your morning part, then chill a bit or cook lunch or whatever, and return to drive kids back home from school, exactly on time, when they need you… You can also mention that you know you won’t work during summer holiday. Some people may consider it a minus (being tight with money), but you see it as a plus. Either you can do some summer job, or perhaps travel and enjoy extended vacation, as if you were still one of the students…
* May also interest you: Delivery Driver interview questions.
In your opinion, how does driving a school bus differ to driving an ordinary bus?
When you look at it from some perspective, the difference isn’t that big. You have your route, your schedule, your stops. The same routine day after day, just as you’d have on some other regular bus line. However, the biggest difference are the passengers. Kids aren’t adults, and while in most cases it is actually the beauty of the job, in some cases it can also cause you problems….
Ensure the interviewers that you understand the specifications of the communication with kids, and that one has to treat them in a different way than they would treat adults. You can also talk about an added responsibility. Not that you would underestimate anything in traffic while driving adults, but with kids you plan to be extremely careful. Of course, it is important that they arrive to school at time. But you won’t take any risks driving fast, just because of some delay on the road, or anything similar.
Imagine that kids do not adhere to the discipline. They run around the bus, not being seated in their seats. What will you do?
This question is your opportunity to demonstrate that you can communicate with children in the right way, as well as that you won’t underestimate anything when it comes to the safety of your passengers.
Ensure the hiring managers that you won’t simply turn around in your seat and start shouting. On the contrary, you will stop the bus at a safe place, and just then ask the kids to return to their seats, explaining it is for safety reasons. Of course, your tone of voice and words you will use depends on many factors: age of kids, their overall level of discipline, whether they obey when you ask them kindly (or you need to raise your voice), etc. But you will make sure they are safely seated, and just then you will continue driving.
You can also add that you count with similar situations, and that you will always try to address them with a cool head. Children are children, they sometimes struggle with discipline, and it definitely does not discourage you from applying for the job.
Have you ever had an accident while driving a bus, or a car?
In nine out of ten cases, they will do their background check, and you should tell them the truth. Statistically speaking, according to insurance companies, the average person is involved in approximately four accidents throughout the course of his or her life. Accidents just belong to driving, and the more you drive the bigger the chances of being involved in one.
Speak openly about any accident you had. If it was your mistake, admit it. But ensure them that you learned your lesson, and whatever happened, it certainly won’t repeat again (or at least you will make sure to minimize the chances of another accident). The key is to demonstrate that you drive responsibly, but also are aware that things can happen on the road, and you can get involved in an accident without making any mistake.
You can even elaborate on your answer, saying what you would do in a case of traffic accident. Making sure all kids are all right, calling an ambulance if needed, calling to arrange a new bus to collect the school children, etc…
Six other questions you may face in your school bus driver job interview
- You come to a stop and you know three children should board the bus. But there is only one at the stop. What will you do?
- Two boys start fighting in the bus, and soon more kids get involved. How will you react?
- How do you make sure to come on schedule to every stop?
- What do you plan to do during the summer (when there won’t be any rides)?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Tell us one thing about you that’s not on your resume.
Interview for a job of a school bus driver belongs to interviews with an average difficulty. Any accident involving kids is a disaster, and it is almost impossible to regain a reputation as a company after such an accident, regardless of the quality of the PR department. For this reason, companies choose their school bus drivers carefully, and you will face some tricky questions, just as I described above.
What’s more, you will have to pass an assessment test (personality test, mechanical reasoning test, etc) as a part of the hiring process. This isn’t easy, especially if you’ve never done the test before. If it is a case, make sure to check the following test preparation kit from our partner. Thank you, and I wish you best of luck in your interviews!
May also interest you:
- Taxi driver interview questions.
- 15 most common interview questions & answers
- Bus driver interview questions.