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VIA Rail Canada Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

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
At VIA Rail Canada we strive to be the best transit agency in the world. How will you contribute to this goal?
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How to Answer
The hiring authority wants to know that you understand and respect their goals as a company while bringing the enthusiasm required to succeed in your role. When everyone works towards one common goal, extraordinary things can happen! Discuss what you know they do best, and how you will contribute.
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Top 30 VIA Rail Canada Interview Questions with Full Content
1.
At VIA Rail Canada we strive to be the best transit agency in the world. How will you contribute to this goal?
The hiring authority wants to know that you understand and respect their goals as a company while bringing the enthusiasm required to succeed in your role. When everyone works towards one common goal, extraordinary things can happen! Discuss what you know they do best, and how you will contribute.

Rachelle's Answer #1
" While preparing for this interview, I read that your mission statement is to (insert company statement). I will help you to achieve this by (list three actions that you would take). It's important to me that my company be successful and gain positive customer reviews since my livelihood also depends on these factors. I take pride in my work and appreciate that VIA Rail Canada does the same."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I plan to contribute to your goal of being the best transit agency in the world by being an engaged employee, keeping myself trained on the latest news and approaches in the industry, and continually seeking out ways to make the passenger experience more enjoyable. Many people spend hours a day commuting on VIA Rail Canada trains, so it's important that I acknowledge this, and make their experience exceptional every time."
2.
Do you have experience in dispatch or radio communications of any kind?
Depending on the role to which you are applying, it may be a significant asset to have dispatch or radio communication experience. Public transit, to operate smoothly, has many moving parts behind the scenes. These moving parts include dispatch so that everyone knows their place, where they should be, and when!

If you do have dispatch experience, outline the type of equipment you have used and the volume that you can handle. If you do not have dispatch experience, discuss any experience with radio communication equipment. If you are new to your career, this question may not apply, but you should always show an eagerness and willingness to learn.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I worked as a dispatcher for a commercial trucking company earlier in my career, for about four years. The equipment that I used included two-way radio and a GPS based computer program. I was amazed by how much work goes into the logistics of transportation and time-optimization for deliveries and driver schedules. Although dispatch is no longer a part of my career, I certainly have a strong appreciation for the profession and understand its importance."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I understand how to use a two-way radio, and I have a solid understanding of GPS based computer systems. Dispatch is an important component of public transit, and I am eager to learn more."
3.
What do you know about public transit rules, regulations, and safety compliance?
Rules and regulation surrounding safety and public transit use will change depending on the region in which you are interviewing. The hiring authority would like to know that you have at least a basic understanding of the industry before being hired. If you are new to the public transit industry, it is entirely acceptable for your knowledge to be limited. In this case, it is more important that you show a willingness to learn more about the industry.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have worked in public transit for fifteen years and am very familiar with the rules and regulations for operators and other employees in this industry. I know that VIA Rail Canada will have its own set of regulations laid out which I am more than happy to begin learning. Safety and compliance are topics of utmost importance to me."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I fully understand why VIA Rail Canada would need to have strict rules surrounding public transit use, and compliance. If you could direct me on where to learn more about the regulations in our area, I would like to gain a head start on my learning."
4.
VIA Rail Canada oversees transit operations by use of computer-generated displays, and voice communications. Do you have experience in these areas? If not, do you consider yourself technically savvy?
In most roles with VIA Rail Canada you will be asked to communicate with your teammates and complete your duties, using a variety of tech and equipment. In the public transit industry, routes are computerized, everything is timed, and many tasks are automated. Be prepared to discuss your ability to learn these systems quickly.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my current role, we use a lot of technical equipment; primarily Motorola solutions including two-way radio, call handling software, dispatch consoles, video surveillance, and other network monitoring tools. I am confident in my ability to learn the tech used at VIA Rail Canada and will apply my existing knowledge as well."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am technically savvy and, although I am new to my career with limited knowledge of the tech used in public transit, I am sure that I will be a fast learner. I pick up on new tech all the time. If you would like, I am happy to get ahead of the curve by watching online tutorials on the equipment most commonly used here at VIA Rail Canada."
5.
What do you know about VIA Rail Canada and the people we serve every day?
It is imperative to the interviewer that you show excitement for the job. Part of this excitement is engagement in the interview process. Essentially; that means coming well-prepared and well-researched. Imagine going on a first date, and they know nothing about you? That's how offended an interviewer would be if you knew nothing about their company before attending an interview. Perform research on VIA Rail Canada through a search engine and their website. Check out any awards they may have received, any news surrounding growth and infrastructure development, and of course, check out employee and customer reviews. You should know around how many people they serve every day, how long they have been in business and other key talking notes.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I know that VIA Rail Canada has been around since (enter year), and that you serve around (#) passengers per year. The reviews that I have read from customers consistently say that they appreciate the ease of use and affordable transit passes. Other compliments online included mentions of your clean environment and helpful staff. "
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have been a passenger of VIA Rail Canada for four years now, taking the train everywhere I go. My first-hand experience tells me that you serve thousands a day that are getting to work, school, and their extracurricular activities. You serve passengers from all walks of life, and all ages. I especially appreciate that you (mention a recent award, innovation, or mention in the news)."
6.
Have you ever been involved in writing, preparing, or training Standard Operating Procedures or an Emergency Response Plan?
Standard Operating Procedures, often referred to as SOPs, are laid out instructions that assist employees in completing complex parts of their job. Think of SOPs as a manual of sorts. An SOP aims to maintain quality, consistency in work, increase communication, boost compliance, and improve safety.

An Emergency Response Plan includes the steps that employees need to take when an emergency occurs. This document can consist of accidents or even lockdown procedures.

If you are more seasoned in your career, you may have had some involvement in either writing, preparing, or training new employees on Standard Operating Procedures and Emergency Response Plans. If so, briefly discuss your participation and how confident you feel with these types of responsibilities.

If you are newer to your career, you may have seen your company's SOPs or Emergency Response Plan but have not had involvement in their creation. Show that you have an understanding of their importance and express your willingness to learn how to prepare and train others.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my current role, I train many new employees on our company's emergency response procedures and some operating procedures as well; mainly on workflow. My training is in the ISO-9000 format. It's important that every SOP come with clear instructions, checklists, and charts so that they are simple for everyone to understand. I am comfortable with leading these projects but also appreciate a high level of involvement with all stakeholders to ensure that the SOP is all-encompassing."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have been given SOPs to follow and have read through my current company's Emergency Response Plan. I am eager and willing to become involved in the creation of these important documents as I grow in my career. I have strong writing skills, I am organized, and have that keen eye for detail required to write robust documents such as these."
7.
Have you been a regular passenger of VIA Rail Canada? If so, what has been your experience? What did we do well, and what can we improve?
The hiring authority would like to know what your experiences have been with VIA Rail Canada and if you have any suggestions for improvement; or, any compliments for them! If you do have ideas for improvement, keep in mind that this is not an opportunity to reinvent the wheel. You want to avoid sounding critical or coming up with a multitude of ways that you will 'save' the company. Give an honest and engaging overview of your experience with VIA Rail Canada. Remember to keep your tone positive!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When I was younger and did not have a car, I relied on VIA Rail Canada for all of my transportation needs. I loved riding the train because I was able to get my school work done while on my commute, people watch, or relax. My experience was always positive, as the trains felt clean and safe. Security and emergency help was always nearby and the trains nearly always on time."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have used public transit to get me to special events where parking is limited. I found VIA Rail Canada transportation to be clean and reliable. My only recommendation, from what I hear from friends and family who take public transit, is that it would be great to have passes go digital. This way they can pre-pay with a credit card and show proof of purchase through their mobile device, rather than keeping track of a paper ticket."
8.
How would you handle a passenger complaint?
Public transit is, essentially, customer service. When you work with the public on this level, it's essential that you handle every situation appropriately, quickly, and with the utmost care. Bad reviews stay forever (thanks, Internet!) so it's crucial to VIA Rail Canada that you handle any passenger grievance carefully.

Most people recommend taking the following actions:

- Stay pleasant, positive and professional
- Carefully listen to their issue
- On behalf of the company, give a sincere apology
- Keep neutral and avoid becoming defensive

Discuss what you would do, step by step, to handle a passenger complaint.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If faced with a passenger complaint, I would first make sure that I had a full understanding of the situation and what went wrong. I would apologize on behalf of VIA Rail Canada and ask the passenger what I could do to make the situation better. There is value is making people feel heard and important."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I worked in customer service while attending university and received a fair amount of training when it came to customer complaints. I would handle passenger complaints at VIA Rail Canada with the same care and attention. The steps include stop, make eye contact, listen, repeat back, and resolve. If the situation were more serious than a general complaint, I would escalate the concern to my direct supervisor."
9.
This position is physically demanding. Are you able to meet the physical requirements such as bending, crawling, crouching, lifting, and standing for long periods?
Look for an outline of any physical requirements in the VIA Rail Canada job posting, and role description. If for any reason, you are unclear on the expectations in this role, it is best that you ask for clarification. For instance, if the job posting refers to 'heavy lifting,' it would be wise to ask how heavy, how often, and for how long.

If you have any physical ailments, it is in the best interest for you and the company that you disclose this. You do not need to go into too much detail; however, you do need to be honest if anything hinders your ability to perform the physical duties safely.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I read in your job posting that this role requires bending, standing for long periods, and heavy lifting. Could you please tell me more about the lifting component? Although I am in great physical condition, I believe my limitation would be around 30 pounds of lifting multiple times per day."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am in peak physical condition and come prepared to perform all of the duties mentioned in the job description."
10.
Are you aware that, in this role, you risk exposure to physical, electrical, and chemical hazards as well as harsh weather conditions?
Any risks in this role will be outlined in the VIA Rail Canada job posting and role description. With that said, the interviewer still wants to double check that you are aware of the potential risks in this role. Assure the hiring authority that you are prepared to put safety first in your new position. If you have worked jobs with similar threats in the past, be sure to mention this and how you expertly handled the potential risks.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have read your job posting and description thoroughly and am very aware of the potential risks. In my current position, I work outside in all weather conditions, often at risk for extreme situations. I take my safety training seriously and am confident in my ability to react quickly and appropriately to any dangerous situation."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am keen when it comes to my training and putting safety first. Rest assured, I am aware of the risks in this role, and will do everything it takes to ensure my safety, the safety of VIA Rail Canada passengers, and the well-being of my coworkers."
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