20 CN Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked when interviewing for a position at CN.

As one of the largest railway companies in North America, Canadian National Railway (CN) is a popular choice for job seekers looking for a career in the transportation industry. If you’re hoping to land a job with CN, you’ll need to be prepared to answer some specific interview questions about the company and its operations.

In this article, we’ll give you a rundown of some of the most common CN interview questions, so you can go into your interview with confidence.

CN Interview Process

The interview process at CN can vary depending on the position you are applying for. For internships, the process is generally shorter and less difficult than for other positions. Analyst, Advanced Analytics Interviews tend to be more time-consuming, with multiple rounds of interviews and assessments. The Financial Advisor Interview process also takes several weeks. For Conductor positions, the interview process is relatively short, taking only 15 minutes. However, for Senior Procurement Specialist positions, the process is much longer, taking up to four months.

1. What do you know about CN?

This question is a great way to test your knowledge of the company. It also allows you to show that you have done some research about the position and the company. Before your interview, read through the job description and familiarize yourself with the responsibilities. You can also look at CN’s website for more information.

Example: “I know that CN is one of the largest freight transportation companies in North America. I am excited to learn more about this opportunity because it seems like an amazing place to work. I understand that there are many opportunities for growth within the company. I would love to be part of such a successful team.”

2. Why would you like to work for us?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to learn more about your interest in their company. It’s also an opportunity for you to show that you’ve done some research on the organization and have learned about its values, goals and culture.

Example: “I would love to work for CN because of the innovative solutions you offer to customers. I’m excited by the idea of working for a company that offers integrated shipping solutions, as it seems like a unique opportunity. I think my background in customer service and problem-solving makes me a good fit for this role.”

3. How would you describe your customer service style?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you would interact with customers and clients. It’s important to show that you value customer service, especially in a role like this one where you’ll be interacting with many different people.

Example: “I believe that providing excellent customer service is an essential part of my job. I always strive to make sure that every person I speak with feels valued and respected. I also take pride in being able to solve problems for customers as quickly as possible so they feel satisfied with their experience.”

4. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an unhappy customer.

This question can help the interviewer understand how you handle conflict and challenges. Use examples from your previous experience to show that you’re a problem solver who’s willing to take on challenging tasks.

Example: “In my last position, I had an unhappy customer who was upset about their shipping costs. They were expecting free shipping but didn’t realize it only applied to orders over $100. I explained our policy clearly and offered them a discount code for their next purchase if they would like to place another order. The customer agreed and placed another order with us.”

5. Have you ever dealt with any safety issues in the workplace? If so, how did you handle it?

Employers ask this question to make sure you have the right attitude and skills for working in a safety-focused environment. In your answer, share an example of how you handled a workplace safety issue or problem.

Example: “In my last position as a train conductor, I had to deal with a situation where one of my coworkers was not following proper procedures when switching tracks. This could have led to serious accidents if we hadn’t caught it before leaving the station. I reported the incident to my supervisor, who then addressed the issue with the employee.”

6. Do you have experience working as part of a team?

Working as part of a team is an important skill for any position in the transportation industry. Employers ask this question to make sure you have experience working with others and that you understand how teamwork can benefit your job performance. In your answer, explain what makes teamwork so beneficial and highlight some specific examples from your past work experiences.

Example: “I’ve always enjoyed working as part of a team because it allows me to learn new things from my coworkers. I find that when we all work together, we’re able to solve problems more effectively than if we worked alone. At my last job, I was on a team that had to come up with solutions to unexpected challenges. We were able to collaborate and come up with several different ideas until we found one that worked.”

7. Describe a situation where you were working on a project and there was conflict between you and another member of the team. How did you manage it?

This question is a great way to show your problem-solving skills and ability to work with others. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention how you resolved the conflict and what steps you took to ensure that it didn’t happen again.

Example: “In my last role as an operations manager, I was working on a project with another member of the team who had different ideas about how we should complete the project. We were both passionate about our ideas, but neither one of us wanted to compromise. After discussing the situation with my supervisor, they suggested that we hold a meeting where everyone could voice their opinions.

After hearing everyone’s thoughts, I realized that there were some elements of my colleague’s idea that would actually help improve the project. I decided to implement those aspects into my plan and then presented them to my supervisor for approval. They approved my new plan, and together, we completed the project successfully.”

8. Do you consider yourself someone who is detail oriented?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you are a hard worker who can pay attention to detail. Detail orientation is important for this role because it’s your job to ensure all shipments arrive safely and on time.

Example: “Yes, I am someone who is very detail oriented. In my last position as a shipping coordinator, I was responsible for ensuring all packages were labeled correctly before they left our warehouse. This included checking the weight of each package, confirming the address, making sure the correct items were inside the box and that there weren’t any damages.”

9. Are you able to work long hours and be away from home for several days at a time?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your ability to work in an industry that requires extensive travel. Your answer should show that you are willing and able to make these sacrifices, as long hours and being away from home can be common in this field.

Example: “I am used to working long hours and being away from home for extended periods of time. I have worked on several projects where I was gone for weeks at a time, so I know how to manage my time while traveling.”

10. What are some qualities that make a good railroad conductor?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of the industry and how you can apply it. You can discuss qualities like attention to detail, problem-solving skills, teamwork and more.

Example: “A good railroad conductor needs to be a highly organized individual who pays close attention to details. They also need to have strong communication skills so they can work well with their team members and other employees at CN. Railroad conductors should also be able to solve problems quickly and efficiently because there are always unexpected situations that arise on the job.”

11. What types of trains are you familiar operating?

This question is a great way to assess your experience with the types of trains that Canadian National Railway operates. If you have previous experience operating freight or passenger trains, be sure to mention it in your answer.

Example: “I’ve worked as an engineer on both freight and passenger trains before. I’m comfortable driving any type of train, but my favorite are long-haul freight trains because they’re so interesting to drive. The scenery changes so much from state to state, which makes each trip unique.”

12. Do you think you can become certified on all the different locomotives we use?

The interviewer wants to know if you have the ability to learn new things and adapt quickly. Your answer should show that you are willing to take on challenges and develop your skills as needed.

Example: “I am always open to learning new things, so I think it would be a fun challenge to become certified on all of CN’s locomotives. I understand that there is no time limit for certification, so I will work hard to get my certifications within six months. I also plan to attend any training courses or seminars that may help me with this process.”

13. What would you say is your biggest strength and weakness?

This question is a common one in interviews, and it’s important to be honest. Employers want to know that you are self-aware and can recognize your own strengths and weaknesses. When answering this question, try to focus on your strengths while also being honest about any areas for improvement.

Example: “My biggest strength is my attention to detail. I am very organized and always make sure that I have all the necessary information before starting a project. My weakness would probably be my ability to multitask. While I am good at managing multiple projects at once, sometimes I get overwhelmed when there are too many tasks to complete within a short period of time.”

14. Describe a time when you had to work under pressure.

Working in a fast-paced environment can be challenging, but it’s important to show that you’re capable of handling pressure. When answering this question, try to describe how you handled the situation and what skills you used to complete your work successfully.

Example: “When I was working as an assistant manager at my previous job, we were under a lot of pressure to meet our sales goals. We had a team meeting where we discussed strategies for increasing sales and decided on a plan of action. After the meeting, I went back to my office and made a list of all the tasks I needed to do to help reach our goals. Then, I delegated some of those tasks to other employees so they could also contribute.”

15. Can you tell me about a time when you made a mistake?

Employers ask this question to see how you respond to a mistake and learn from it. They want to know that you can take responsibility for your actions, apologize when necessary and move forward with the job.

Example: “When I first started working as an engineer, I was in charge of switching tracks at night. It was my first time doing so, and I forgot to switch one set of tracks. Luckily, no trains were coming through at the time, but I learned that I need to be more careful about making sure all switches are properly switched.”

16. How well do you work independently?

Working as a CN conductor requires you to work independently. Conductors are responsible for monitoring the train’s speed, braking and other safety measures while also communicating with dispatchers and other conductors via radio or phone. Employers ask this question to make sure you’re comfortable working alone. In your answer, explain that you enjoy being independent and have experience doing so successfully.

Example: “I’ve worked as a conductor for five years now, and I’m very comfortable working on my own. I know how to communicate effectively with dispatchers and other conductors using our radios and phones. I can also use our onboard computers to monitor the train’s speed and other important metrics. I feel confident performing these tasks without supervision.”

17. What do you think is the most important aspect of running a train safely?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of railroad safety. It’s important for employees in this role to understand the importance of following all safety protocols and procedures, so interviewers may ask you questions like this one to make sure you’re committed to upholding these standards. In your answer, explain what you think makes a train safe and how you would implement those practices into your daily work.

Example: “Safety is definitely the most important aspect of running a train safely. I believe that if you follow all safety regulations and guidelines, it can help prevent accidents from happening. For example, when I was working as a conductor, we had a rule where we always checked our mirrors before leaving a station. This helped us avoid collisions with other trains or objects on the tracks. If I were hired by CN, I would continue to uphold these rules and encourage my coworkers to do the same.”

18. What type of training do you feel you need to improve upon?

This question is an opportunity to show your willingness to learn and grow as a professional. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention any skills you feel you need to develop or areas of the job that you’re not familiar with.

Example: “I have been working in my current position for five years now, so I’m comfortable with most aspects of my job. However, I would like to continue learning about new shipping methods and technologies. I also want to improve my communication skills by practicing public speaking.”

19. What are some challenges you face being a conductor?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and ability to work as part of a team. Your answer should include examples of how you overcame challenges or helped others overcome them.

Example: “One challenge I face being a conductor is the long hours on the road. To help myself stay focused, I listen to music while driving. However, this can be distracting for other drivers. So, I started using headphones that allow me to hear my music but not disturb anyone else. This has been helpful in keeping my focus while also ensuring safety.”

20. What kind of experience do you have driving trains?

This question is a great way to show your interviewer that you have the skills and experience necessary for this role. If you don’t have any driving experience, consider talking about how you’ve driven other vehicles or worked with heavy machinery in the past.

Example: “I’ve been driving trains since I was 18 years old. My first job out of high school was as an engineer on a freight train. I learned a lot from my mentor there, including how to drive safely and efficiently. I also took some online courses to learn more about railroad safety.”


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