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BNSF Railway Company Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by
Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

This role with BNSF Railway Company requires union membership. How do you feel about being part of a unionized environment?

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BNSF Railway Company Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    This role with BNSF Railway Company requires union membership. How do you feel about being part of a unionized environment?

      There are many bonuses' to being part of a unionized environment; however, there are some folks who do not wish to work in a unionized environment. It's essential that an employer checks for preference, so they can avoid any issues arising in the future. If this role with BNSF Railway Company requires you to be part of a union, be prepared to discuss your willingness to join the union. You can certainly ask questions about their collective agreement, or what the union has done to collaborate with BNSF Railway Company in the recent past.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I have worked in a union environment for the past three years, and am willing to work in another union environment again. I appreciate the pay standards and workplace protections that come from being part of a union; two points that are very important when working in an industry like rail transport."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Union environments are new to me; however, I am eager and open to learning more. If you could share with me a little bit about how active the union is at BNSF Railway Company and what they have done to benefit the lives of employees and the company culture, I would greatly appreciate the additional information."

  2. 2.

    How do you maintain familiarity with scheduled trains, destinations, times of arrivals, and departures?

      Being able to remain on schedule, keeping track of arrivals and destinations, and all the moving parts in between will be a critical part of your role at BNSF Railway Company. Flawless execution means that you are familiar with your job, and well-briefed at the beginning of each shift.

      The interviewer needs to see that you understand the urgency that comes with all of these responsibilities. If you already work within these parameters, be sure to share that fact with the interviewer. Talk about how you keep organized, ensuring a job well done.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I maintain familiarity with scheduled trains, destinations, arrivals, and departures by fully briefing myself on my day before I even begin. Then, I revisit expectations regularly throughout the day. My current company also uses a robust data management system where I can see the movement of my trains in real time; allowing me to troubleshoot issues before they happen."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I plan to maintain familiarity with scheduled trains, destinations, arrival times, and departures by fully utilizing the programs and systems put in place by BNSF Railway Company. I am tech savvy and know that by learning your systems very early on, I will be that much more effective in my job."

  3. 3.

    How honest are you, on a scale of 1-10?

      The hiring authority would like to know that you are a sincere and honest person that BNSF Railway Company can trust to do the right thing - even when nobody is looking! Giving yourself a rating from 1-10 can be a bit tricky since everyone has room for improvement. Be reasonable and give yourself an honest rating while backing your response with an example of your ethics and honesty.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I value honesty and integrity very much. For that reason, I would rate myself as a 9/10 since there is always room for improvement, but I certainly try my best. I have never faced a discrepancy at work, or faced reprimand for acting dishonestly."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "When it comes to ethical issues, I always choose to be honest and truthful. For that reason, I give myself full marks! I have never faced an issue at work that tempted me to be dishonest. Integrity is all we have, and I am loyal to my employer."

  4. 4.

    BNSF Railway Company values problem-solving and troubleshooting skills. Tell me about a time you solved a significant issue in the workplace.

      Problem-solving and troubleshooting are fundamental skills in the rail transport industry. The interviewer wants to see that you are capable of problem-solving and troubleshooting in a high-pressure or high-stakes environment. Discuss a time when you solved an issue at work that had the potential to become a significant problem. Talk about the steps that you took, being sure to discuss the positive outcome in the end.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "Recently, it was clear that our operational and field staff felt taken for granted and disregarded by the corporate office. Not only did they feel devalued due to budget cuts and layoffs, but morale was also low from some issues surrounding our union's collective agreements and recent changes. Rather than just let these feelings fester, I decided to listen to the ops staff and then bridge the gap with corporate and the union. By sitting down and having a conversation, and laying out a more effective way of delegating work, promoting those who worked hard, and helping our operational and field staff to feel more job security; everyone walked out feeling better about the job, situation, and their coworkers."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I problem solve quite often at work, primarily with customer resolution. Just yesterday, I worked with a transport customer who was unhappy with a significant delay in their shipment. Through patient communication, I was able to resolve the complaint and create another returning customer."

  5. 5.

    In the rail transport industry, reaction time is everything. How often do you create alternative scenarios to help you adjust to potential change?

      Situations can change on a dime in the rail transport industry, and the interviewer needs to see that you have the insight to always have a 'Plan B' in your back pocket. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to create a variety of potential scenarios and solutions. You may never need to take on these scenarios; however, it's vital for the interviewer to know that you can adapt your plan on the fly.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "Any transport job can be unpredictable and requires a great amount of adaptability. Recently we had a huge recall of a hazardous product that we were transporting. Our customer was trying to stop the shipment; however, we were unable to turn the shipment around as we had other clients who needed their delivery on time. We made plans with the client for a shipment return, which changed my work schedule significantly; however, that's to be expected in this industry. I always plan for schedule changes."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Nothing is guaranteed to go smoothly in the rail transport industry; that is one thing I know for sure. I always create 'what-ifs' because I know that plans change quickly, especially where there are multiple decision-makers and safety variables between myself and the delivery. Plan B is always ready to go."

  6. 6.

    Do you have any concerns around this role, or working for BNSF Railway Company?

      The interviewer would like to know ahead of time if there is any reason for you to decline a job offer, should you be the successful candidate. If you do have hesitations, be sure to frame them as positively as possible. Ask smart questions, and gain clarification anywhere you need. If you do not have any concerns, that's great! You should still have a question or two prepared for the end of your interview to show engagement and thoughtfulness.

      Some questions you can ask include:

      - What was the biggest struggle for the person in this role, previously?
      - If hired, what do you believe will be my biggest hurdle in the first 90 days?
      - What is the most significant change your industry has gone through this year?

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "You mentioned a high rate of employee turnover. I have a great amount of experience working with companies that need an overhaul related to employee engagement but would like to know what situation I would be facing. Do you have numbers or stats to share?"

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Thank you for asking! I do not have any concerns, but I do have a couple of questions. What do you foresee as the biggest challenge I will face, in my first 90 days of employment? I want to start strong and come prepared to meet these challenges."

  7. 7.

    Stress is an every-day presence in the rail transport industry. How do you manage in the most stressful situations?

      With high-stakes situations being an every-day occurrence at BNSF Railway Company, the hiring authority needs to know that you can keep your cool no matter what tasks come your way. Your ability to manage stress will directly impact your job performance. Think of some ways you have learned to deal with stress at work, and give a real-life example to the interviewer.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I realize that the rail transport industry is high-stakes, so it's critical that I manage that stress like a pro. I tend to work best in stressful situations. For instance, the pressure of delivery deadlines drives me to work faster and smarter. I am resistant to stress because I choose to focus on the end goal rather than the small hiccups along the way."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I do well under pressure or stress, but like most people, sometimes I need to take a minute to recalibrate under high-pressure situations that offer little relief. I know myself, and my stress triggers pretty well, so when I feel like there's too much on my plate, I will center myself, dig in and get through it, knowing I'll come out better on the other side."

  8. 8.

    At BNSF Railway Company we do everything as a team. Have you ever had difficulty working in a team environment?

      BNSF Railway Company and its employees rely on great teamwork and exceptional communication to make every day efficient and safe. Explain to the interviewer that you can work well within a team environment. If you have had challenges in the past, you can discuss these challenges; however, it's essential that you then mention the positive outcome.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I have no difficulty in team-based environments. That is where I thrive, as a highly collaborative crew member. I can work well on my own as well, but I do prefer the variety and excitement that comes with teamwork."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I have never encountered difficulty working in a team environment. I have been lucky enough to work with an amazing crew for the past year, and look forward to even greater collaborative experiences here at BNSF Railway Company."

  9. 9.

    Walk me through your experience supervising crews, and facilitating schedules or loading and unloading duties.

      The interviewer would like to gain an understanding of your leadership activities. You may have leadership roles on your resume. If you do, be sure to bring this experience to life for the interviewer by discussing how many people you have lead, what their job titles were, and the volume of work you needed to facilitate.

      If you do not have experience with supervising crews or facilitating schedules, think of other times that you have jumped into a leadership role without being asked. Show that you are a natural leader and someone who can take control of a situation when it's appropriate, and when you see the need.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I have four years' experience as a freight conductor, leading teams of up to sixteen people at one time; primarily train crew. I have a vast amount of experience communicating with dispatch, ensuring that all loads comply with federal regulations and that schedules are aligned."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Being new to my career, the leadership experience that I have is informal and mainly during times when my supervisor is unavailable, or I need to help a new employee learn something new. I think that I am a natural leader because I quickly see where there is a need and where a potential issue could arise. I am proactive and have a keen eye for detail."

  10. 10.

    Working for BNSF Railway Company can be physically demanding. Are you able to lift 50-85 pounds, work in confined or enclosed spaces, and spend much of your day bending, kneeling, and climbing?

      The answer to this question should be a simple yes or no. Working in the rail transport industry is a physically demanding role and BNSF Railway Company needs to have complete assurance that you can handle these demands, accident-free. Keep your response brief and confident. If you already work a job that is demanding on you, physically, be sure to share those details!

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I am physically fit and able to meet every requirement of this role. In my current job, I lift 80 pounds regularly. I crawl into small spaces and spend a lot of my day standing and walking. Rest assured, I can meet the physical requirements of this position."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I read through the physical requirements of this role before applying to BNSF Railway Company. I can lift heavy objects and do not have restrictions as far as heights, or crawling into tight spaces."

  11. 11.

    Explain to me the role of a freight conductor. What do you feel are the top 3 skills a freight conductor at BNSF Railway Company should possess?

      The hiring authority at BNSF Railway Company wants to know that you have a complete understanding of this role, your future responsibilities, and the expectations present should you be the successful candidate. Of course, you will only be asked this question if you are applying for a freight conductor role.

      If you are interviewing for a different job title, you should still do some research on the fright conductor role considering it's always a great idea to have an understanding of other positions within your company.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "The primary purpose of a freight conductor is to oversee railroad movements, the safety of a train, and the movement of a train. Communicating with the rail traffic controllers, ensuring the train remains on schedule, supervising the train crew, and facilitating loading and unloading activities are significant parts of the job. Considering these tasks and duties, I believe that the three top skills a freight conductor should possess are time-management, problem-solving, and patience."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "From my understanding, a freight conductor will spend their day managing the movement and overall operation of a train. Responsibilities include making sure the train is on time, switches are smooth, and that loading or unloading activities happen safely and efficiently. If I were hiring a freight conductor, I would look for someone who stays cool under pressure, puts safety first, and can lead a team with authority."

  12. 12.

    Successful communication between departments is key to success at BNSF Railway Company. How do you encourage healthy communication in the workplace?

      The hiring authority at BNSF Railway Company would like to know that you lead by example when it comes to communication efforts on the job. Breakdown of communication in the rail transport industry can have dire effects on deliverables, reputation, and safety. These reasons are why clear communication is essential in your job.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "Many customer and delivery issues stem from poor communication. When we have a delivery issue in my current role, I work with my team to explore what happened, and how we can prevent it from happening again. We often role play and discuss ways that we could have reacted better. This practice has greatly improved our customer reviews."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I show my co-workers the importance of communication through my willingness to ask questions or seek clarification. I do not pretend to have an answer just to look smart. By creating an environment where it's safe to ask questions or ask for clarification, our customer service has improved, we have more on-time deliveries, and fewer workplace accidents."

  13. 13.

    Federal regulations require BNSF Railway Company to conduct a series of background checks as well as random testing for drugs and alcohol. Are you able to meet these requirements?

      Of course, you are open and willing to undergo a series of background checks! Show the interviewer that you have nothing to hide and that you are fully eligible to work for BNSF Railway Company. Due to the sensitive nature of rail transport, you will need to be able to pass drug and alcohol tests, as well as a criminal background check. Keep your answer straightforward.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I am willing to comply with any background checks required of me, including criminal, credit, drug, and alcohol. I brought a recent police check with me today if you would like to take a copy for my candidate file."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "I am ready to abide by any federal regulations and any other needs of BNSF Railway Company when it comes to checks on my criminal history or drug and alcohol use."

  14. 14.

    In this role with BNSF Railway Company you will be responsible for the safe and efficient operation of trains and the movement of customer freight from one destination to another. How will you contribute to our reputation for safety and excellence?

      In the rail transport industry, nothing is more important than safety and pride in work. Take some time on BNSF Railway Company website to learn about their mission statement and values. Now, take a look at your values, work ethic, and top skills. How are they a match? Talk to the interviewer about how your skills and characteristics will contribute to the goals of BNSF Railway Company.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "I read that BNSF Railway Company abides by key principles which include Employee Development, Operational Safety, Diversity & Inclusion, and Customer Excellence. I too am committed to opportunities for development and growth. I seek out an exciting career that is safe and rewarding for all. I plan to contribute by abiding by your policies, leading by example, and being an encouraging team member to my colleagues."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "Serving customers safely is the theme that I have read on your website and a goal that I plan to help you achieve every day that I am on the job. Your trains pass through small towns, big cities, and everywhere in-between, which is why a firm commitment to safety is of utmost importance. I will invest time in learning your equipment and infrastructure, getting to know my colleagues, and learning about the customers that you serve. Through this dedication to knowledge, I can contribute to your history of safety and customer service excellence."

  15. 15.

    Explain to me the responsibilities of a train dispatcher. In your opinion, what is the most critical component of a dispatch position?

      If you are applying for the role of train dispatcher with BNSF Railway Company, it's essential that you have a clear understanding of your responsibilities and the expectations of this position. You may think that this question does not apply to you if you're interviewing for a different role. However, it's vital that you have an understanding of this critical position, regardless of where you will be working in the organization.

      Rachelle's Answer #1

      "Train dispatchers have a diverse role which includes making sure that trains are arriving safely and efficiently. I believe that safety is the main priority for a train dispatcher as they communicate with the train drivers and conductors on every movement of the train. For these reasons, I think that a train dispatcher should have a keen eye for detail, be highly organized, and able to see potential issues before they happen."

      Rachelle's Answer #2

      "From the research I have done, I understand the responsibilities of the train dispatcher to be around team communication, compliance of every train and load, and to be on top of scheduled trains, destinations, times of arrivals and departures. This level of responsibility means that a train conductor should be able to coordinate multiple moving parts, be resistant to stress, and be able to be critically minded."

  16. 16.

    How familiar are you with the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) and the part they play with BNSF Railway Company daily operations?

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  17. 17.

    Do you have experience collaborating with dispatchers, yardmasters, engineers and other train crew?

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  18. 18.

    Do you have experience working on an on-call basis? Are you willing and able to comply with an on-call schedule?

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  19. 19.

    Describe your overall experience working around and operating heavy equipment.

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  20. 20.

    Do you have experience working with trains containing hazardous material or restricted shipments?

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  21. 21.

    Which aspect of working within the rail transport industry is most exciting for you?

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  22. 22.

    Have you ever been terminated from a position?

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  23. 23.

    Your background is not in rail transport. Tell me what skills and characteristics qualify you for this position, regardless of your lack of industry experience.

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  24. 24.

    BNSF Railway Company needs reliable team members who can adhere to our schedules. How many days were you unexpectedly absent from work last year?

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  25. 25.

    BNSF Railway Company values team synergy. Tell me about the type of people you enjoy working with.

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  26. 26.

    Talk to me about your most recent performance evaluation. What was one positive, and one area for improvement?

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  27. 27.

    BNSF Railway Company employees are always busy, with critical tasks. Talk to me about what hard work looks like, to you.

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  28. 28.

    Name for me some specific characteristics that make you a functional problem solver.

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  29. 29.

    BNSF Railway Company works hard to offer competitive wages and employee perks. Besides your pay, what is the most critical factor when considering a job offer?

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  30. 30.

    Working in rail transport can be stressful due to high-stakes safety issues and a lot of moving parts. What advice would you give to a colleague who seems to be cracking under pressure?

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