Company culture and team harmony are essential topics for CSX. First, because these factors directly impact employee retention. Second, because happy environments are proven to be safer, overall.
Talk to the interviewer about the types of colleagues that you most appreciate working alongside. Keep your answer positive and avoid speaking poorly of someone from the past.
Traits you might like to see in your colleagues could include positive, encouraging, reliable, conversational, collaborative, or passionate.
CSX Interview Questions
CSX values team synergy. Tell me about the type of people you enjoy working with.
Company culture and team harmony are essential topics for CSX. First, because these factors directly impact employee retention. Second, because happy environments are proven to be safer, overall.
"I enjoy working with individuals who work hard and love what they do. Being surrounded by those who value safety makes me feel great. Also, I appreciate those who are reliable and show up when and where expected."
"I work best with people who have a strong work ethic and value precision. Every delivery goes smoother when you have dedicated people on your team!"
Describe your overall experience working around and operating heavy equipment.
When you answer this question, avoid merely listing off the equipment that you have used. Make your answer more conversational by also discussing any training you have received, troubleshooting you have done, and any areas of expertise you may have.
If you have no experience working around or operating heavy equipment, that is okay! CSX is willing to train the right person. Be sure to express your eagerness to learn. You could offer to take some coursework or training before your hire date, which will strengthen your knowledge before you start your new job.
"I have a great deal of experience with equipment for railway work. Some of the heavy equipment I have operated or repaired include (list the equipment you have experience in). For the past three years, I have been the go-to crew member for troubleshooting many of our heavy equipment failures. I am comfortable with anything that has an engine, and if I don't know what to do, I will research until I have the answers."
"Heavy equipment is new to me; however, I am tech savvy, and confident in my ability to learn to troubleshoot the most common pieces of equipment used at CSX."
Successful communication between departments is key to success at CSX. How do you encourage healthy communication in the workplace?
The hiring authority at CSX 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.
"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."
"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."
In this role with CSX 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 CSX 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 CSX.
"I read that CSX 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."
"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."
Do you have experience working with trains containing hazardous material or restricted shipments?
CSX transports hazardous materials regularly such as gasoline, chemicals, and flammable materials. The interviewer wants to understand better the experience that you bring when it comes to moving highly sensitive shipments. Discuss the breadth of your expertise by giving details such as what you have transferred and how often, being sure to highlight your success and safety record.
If you do not have experience working with shipments that are restricted or hazardous, be sure to express the fact that you are safety conscious and comfortable working in a potentially dangerous work environment.
"In my current role we move dangerous shipments regularly. Before joining the rail transport industry, I worked in road transportation where we moved trucks of gasoline and highly flammable goods. I am TDG (Transportation of Dangerous Goods) certified and have had zero accidents throughout my career."
"I recently obtained my TDG certification and am ready for further safety training when it comes to hazardous or restricted shipments."
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 CSX. 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.
"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."
"I plan to maintain familiarity with scheduled trains, destinations, arrival times, and departures by fully utilizing the programs and systems put in place by CSX. I am tech savvy and know that by learning your systems very early on, I will be that much more effective in my job."
Talk to me about your most recent performance evaluation. What was one positive, and one area for improvement?
The hiring authority at CSX is looking for specifics of your job performance, leaning on recent reviews from your latest job. This question is another way of asking 'What are your strengths and weaknesses?' If you did not have formal performance reviews in your most recent position; discuss the feedback that you consistently received from your supervisors or colleagues.
Your positive highlight can be big or small! When you mention one area for improvement, avoid mentioning something that would make you ineligible for the position. For instance, if you are interviewing for an engineering role, you should not say that you are disorganized or have trouble remembering important details. Also, be sure to discuss that you are actively working to improve this weakness.
"During my last performance review, my manager was very satisfied with my analytical skills, and ability to see data in a way the most others do not. I have a unique capability when it comes to data analysis. One area for improvement was to speed up my work a little bit. I am cautious with my reports and know that as I gain further experience, I will work faster."
"Formal performance evaluations are not provided in my current role; however, I often get feedback on-the-fly. My manager often compliments me on my ability to work unsupervised, and without a ton of direction. One thing that I can work on is my speed when documenting. I am not the fastest typer; however, I found a practice site that I have been utilizing online."
Which aspect of working within the rail transport industry is most exciting for you?
The rail transport industry is diverse, with many opportunities for travel, growth, and learning. This question helps the interviewer to see what type of research you have done on the role and the industry as a whole. Refer to the job description to see if any particular tasks or responsibilities are real stand-outs for you. Be sure to bring enthusiasm to your response!
"In the job posting, you mentioned seeking someone who can assist and instruct train crews to couple and uncouple cars, operate switches, and make minor repairs to railcars, including replacing heavy couplings or air brake hoses. I am looking forward to the opportunity to utilize my heavy mechanic's experience and equipment failure troubleshooting expertise."
"I get very excited about opportunities to problem solve and troubleshoot. For that reason, I believe the greatest aspect of working in the rail transport industry will be the opportunity to ensure smooth and effective movement of priority trains, trains containing hazardous material or restricted shipments. Every success related to smooth transport without delays will be very satisfying."
Do you have any concerns around this role, or working for CSX?
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?
"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?"
"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."
Do you have experience collaborating with dispatchers, yardmasters, engineers and other train crew?
Cross-functional communication is one of the keys to a successful day at CSX. The interviewer wants to know more about your experience collaborating with other departments and job functions such as dispatch, yard crew, locomotive engineers, and general train crew.
If you are new to the industry, or your career, with limited cross-functional experience, you can try focusing your response on any volunteer work, or experience from your post-secondary education.
"I have worked in rail transport for the past eight years, collaborating with a variety of job functions every day. On a regular day, I speak with dispatch, the train crew, and our engineers multiple times per day. I am a strong communicator, both verbally and written. One of my strengths is in my documentation and reporting skills."
"The bulk of my collaborative work comes from a couple of large group projects while obtaining my certificate in locomotive engineering. I also completed my internship at ABC Railroad, which allowed me to learn how engineers collaborate with other departments such as dispatch and crew. I look forward to furthering my exposure to cross-functional collaboration when I join CSX."
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.
There are a variety of ways that you can be a good fit for a job; regardless of the industry from which you come. This question is your opportunity to discuss the transferable skills you bring to this position. Transferable skills can include safety training, mechanical abilities, customer service experience, and software capabilities, for instance. Be prepared to position yourself as the best candidate for the job, regardless of your direct industry experience.
"I come from a welding environment versus a rail transport setting; however, the importance of what I did in terms of accuracy and safety are the same that you ask for in your job posting. I put safety first, and I am highly technical and mechanically minded, no matter what the industry."
"It's tough to teach time management, troubleshooting, and safety skills; however, industry knowledge is something I can learn. I have begun to study the rail transport industry already and will have a firm grasp before my start date. If you have any suggestions on resources to gain further industry knowledge, I am happy to look into them."
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 CSX, 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.
"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."
"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."
CSX 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.
"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."
"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."
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.
"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."
"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."
Explain to me the role of a freight conductor. What do you feel are the top 3 skills a freight conductor at CSX should possess?
The hiring authority at CSX 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.
"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."
"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."
This role with CSX requires union membership. How do you feel about being part of a unionized environment?
How familiar are you with the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) and the part they play with CSX daily operations?
At CSX we do everything as a team. Have you ever had difficulty working in a team environment?
Do you have experience working on an on-call basis? Are you willing and able to comply with an on-call schedule?
Working for CSX 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?
Federal regulations require CSX to conduct a series of background checks as well as random testing for drugs and alcohol. Are you able to meet these requirements?
In the rail transport industry, reaction time is everything. How often do you create alternative scenarios to help you adjust to potential change?
Have you ever been terminated from a position?
Stress is an every-day presence in the rail transport industry. How do you manage in the most stressful situations?
CSX needs reliable team members who can adhere to our schedules. How many days were you unexpectedly absent from work last year?
How honest are you, on a scale of 1-10?
CSX employees are always busy, with critical tasks. Talk to me about what hard work looks like, to you.
Name for me some specific characteristics that make you a functional problem solver.
CSX works hard to offer competitive wages and employee perks. Besides your pay, what is the most critical factor when considering a job offer?
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?