CN conductor aptitude test

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#1
Hey everyone,

I am very new to this, I just got an invitation to do the conductor aptitude test in Toronto next week.They didn't mention what the test was on but I researched around this site and googled some info.What kind of aptitude test should I expect? basic math, mechanical, reading comprehension? I also heard something about switch test and timetables I looked these up and found them.Would they use that test on a person who doesn't have experience in railroad? One more question about the following interview, what kind of questions should I expect? I would appreciate any kind of help thank you.
 
#2
I know for sure there is a switching quiz, but from what I've heard from the guys who got interviews with CN was that it wasn't very difficult. I think people get too hung up on the aptitude tests. The tests aren't that hard, just pay attention to the instructions they give you, and do your best.

If it is anything like what CP gives you, there will be a little bit of math, some mechanical reasoning, and lists of words that you have to compare to see if they are the same or different. I honestly think that the aptitude tests are just used to find out who can't listen to instructions and things like that. So like I said before, Listen to the instructions they give you and you'll do just fine.
 
#3
I know for sure there is a switching quiz, but from what I've heard from the guys who got interviews with CN was that it wasn't very difficult. I think people get too hung up on the aptitude tests. The tests aren't that hard, just pay attention to the instructions they give you, and do your best.

If it is anything like what CP gives you, there will be a little bit of math, some mechanical reasoning, and lists of words that you have to compare to see if they are the same or different. I honestly think that the aptitude tests are just used to find out who can't listen to instructions and things like that. So like I said before, Listen to the instructions they give you and you'll do just fine.
Oh ok thanks for the info, I think I wouldn't have a hard time doing aptitude that included math, mech and etc done it for other jobs many times. I always do well in these kind of tests but just never done a switch test but I think I'll be fine.Should I at least research topics about switches and anything relating to the conductor job just in case? do you have an example of a question that they might ask?
 
#4
The switch test will just have a map of a fictitious yard. You'll be asked to move 'X' cars from track A to track F. It's basicly like a switching puzzle. They just want to see how many moves it takes you (pretty much another aptitude test.) I believe they get progressively harder, but as long as you take time to think about how to move the cars in the most efficient manner you'll do fine.
 
#5
The switch test will just have a map of a fictitious yard. You'll be asked to move 'X' cars from track A to track F. It's basicly like a switching puzzle. They just want to see how many moves it takes you (pretty much another aptitude test.) I believe they get progressively harder, but as long as you take time to think about how to move the cars in the most efficient manner you'll do fine.
Seems like a fair quiz then after all, how about the interview ? what kind of questions they ask and what do you usually wear to these interviews a suit or casual clothing?
 
#6
I can't really say what questions you'll be asked for the CN interview since you'd be hiring on out of Toronto, and I've only heard what the BC HR manager asks. But I would guess they are pretty much along the same lines, so they will just give you situations that you might come across on the railroad, and you have to tell them how you would solve it. I think they are mostly looking for a common sense approach. CP is a little different because their interview is all behavioral. Every question begins with "tell me a time when".

As for what to wear, it's up to you, You could go dressed to the nines in a suit and all that jazz, or you could just go with a golf shirt and a nice pair of pants. I personally don't think you have to be all that dazzling. It's not like you are applying for a white collar 9 - 5 job. Just remember to be upbeat with your answers, and to ask them questions about the job as well.
 
#7
I can't really say what questions you'll be asked for the CN interview since you'd be hiring on out of Toronto, and I've only heard what the BC HR manager asks. But I would guess they are pretty much along the same lines, so they will just give you situations that you might come across on the railroad, and you have to tell them how you would solve it. I think they are mostly looking for a common sense approach. CP is a little different because their interview is all behavioral. Every question begins with "tell me a time when".

As for what to wear, it's up to you, You could go dressed to the nines in a suit and all that jazz, or you could just go with a golf shirt and a nice pair of pants. I personally don't think you have to be all that dazzling. It's not like you are applying for a white collar 9 - 5 job. Just remember to be upbeat with your answers, and to ask them questions about the job as well.
I agree with you, thank you for helping me out I appreciate it.This is all new to me, I was very suprised that CN got back to me didn't know much about the railroad industry and after reading posts all over this site I can see why they contacted and that I have a lot of qualities on my resume that they're looking for as a conductor.Glad I applied, I think I would love to do this!Whats the starting rate and whats the most a conductor can make after a certain amount of yrs?
 
#8
I can't say what the starting rate for CN is because I don't know, but I'm sure there are others here who could fill you in. I do know that once you've completed your training with CN you get full 100% of the Conductor rate, where at CP you start out at 85%, and that only increases every 210 days. I also know that CN pays more than CP, and I'm pretty sure that people who work east of Thunder Bay make slightly more that people who work in the west, but don't quote me on that. You can always ask the people at the info session about wages though, they'll be happy to tell you.

I will tell you though, that I heard a story from a conductor who was working the Vancouver waterfront yard and cleared about 7g's. (I think he might have been BS'ing but he said he was barely taking any rest at all, so he was working as much as possible.) The most common monthly wage(EDIT: could be every two weeks, I can't remember which) i have heard of is about $2700, but most of the conductors who have said this were just guestimating off the top of their heads, so take it with a grain of salt.

And don't forget to come back to tell how you make out with your interview.
 
#9
I can't say what the starting rate for CN is because I don't know, but I'm sure there are others here who could fill you in. I do know that once you've completed your training with CN you get full 100% of the Conductor rate, where at CP you start out at 85%, and that only increases every 210 days. I also know that CN pays more than CP, and I'm pretty sure that people who work east of Thunder Bay make slightly more that people who work in the west, but don't quote me on that. You can always ask the people at the info session about wages though, they'll be happy to tell you.

I will tell you though, that I heard a story from a conductor who was working the Vancouver waterfront yard and cleared about 7g's. (I think he might have been BS'ing but he said he was barely taking any rest at all, so he was working as much as possible.) The most common monthly wage(EDIT: could be every two weeks, I can't remember which) i have heard of is about $2700, but most of the conductors who have said this were just guestimating off the top of their heads, so take it with a grain of salt.

And don't forget to come back to tell how you make out with your interview.
Most defintely will come back to tell how it went and thanks again.
 

CN Sparky

Electrician at CN
#10
what do you usually wear to these interviews a suit or casual clothing?
Here's a tip for you, and anyone else reading. Not specific to a job at CN, by any means. I have interviewed hundreds of potential employees in my previous jobs...

Unless you're specifically told to dress casual - always dress up for an interview. Shirt and tie, jacket if you have a nice matching one. Don't wear jeans to an interview, ever.

Here's why - if you have the exact same qualifications as 'the next guy', and you are better dressed... you will more than likely get the job over the others. You leave a better impression and they WILL notice. Even if you will never wear anything in that job cleaner than a pair of overalls with grease stains up and down - leave a lasting first impression by dressing the part for your interview.
 
#11
I can't say what the starting rate for CN is because I don't know, but I'm sure there are others here who could fill you in. I do know that once you've completed your training with CN you get full 100% of the Conductor rate, where at CP you start out at 85%, and that only increases every 210 days.
I will tell you though, that I heard a story from a conductor who was working the Vancouver waterfront yard and cleared about 7g's. (I think he might have been BS'ing but he said he was barely taking any rest at all, so he was working as much as possible.)

Conductors start at 100%, training rate is $1600 every two weeks. It's quite easy to make 7 grand on the yard spareboard, get a few two way conductor only($13 for a one way transfer, $36 for a two way transfer) transfers with 2 or 3 hours OT and the Hot Meal allowance(extra hour added to your ticket), double out on the weekends when everyone else has their 5 shifts in and are off until Monday, take little rest so you get your 5 in by Thursday and work Friday on OT. In Vancouver, guarantee on the yard spareboard is somewhere in the range of $2300 a half, but there is no guarantee on the road spareboard.

Rate of pay also depends on the collective agreement you're working under, if you get shipped off to the former Algoma Central or any one of the shortlines that CN has aquired, the pay is less. I work for CN in Vancouver, but because I work as an engineer on former BC Rail territory I'm under the BC Rail collective agreement. A basic 8 hr day for an engineer on the BCR is $291.80, compared to almost $400 for an engineer on the CN mainline.
 
#12
Here's a tip for you, and anyone else reading. Not specific to a job at CN, by any means. I have interviewed hundreds of potential employees in my previous jobs...

Unless you're specifically told to dress casual - always dress up for an interview. Shirt and tie, jacket if you have a nice matching one. Don't wear jeans to an interview, ever.

Here's why - if you have the exact same qualifications as 'the next guy', and you are better dressed... you will more than likely get the job over the others. You leave a better impression and they WILL notice. Even if you will never wear anything in that job cleaner than a pair of overalls with grease stains up and down - leave a lasting first impression by dressing the part for your interview.
I had in mind to come in a dress shirt and tie from the beginning, I want to leave a good impression when Im interviewed.I really would love to be an conductor after all the research and all, thanks for the tips.
 
#13
Conductors start at 100%, training rate is $1600 every two weeks. It's quite easy to make 7 grand on the yard spareboard, get a few two way conductor only($13 for a one way transfer, $36 for a two way transfer) transfers with 2 or 3 hours OT and the Hot Meal allowance(extra hour added to your ticket), double out on the weekends when everyone else has their 5 shifts in and are off until Monday, take little rest so you get your 5 in by Thursday and work Friday on OT. In Vancouver, guarantee on the yard spareboard is somewhere in the range of $2300 a half, but there is no guarantee on the road spareboard.

Rate of pay also depends on the collective agreement you're working under, if you get shipped off to the former Algoma Central or any one of the shortlines that CN has aquired, the pay is less. I work for CN in Vancouver, but because I work as an engineer on former BC Rail territory I'm under the BC Rail collective agreement. A basic 8 hr day for an engineer on the BCR is $291.80, compared to almost $400 for an engineer on the CN mainline.

So how many hrs in total per week does the conductor work? and I assume your on call do they tell you on what days? and how many days of the week you're working?
 
#14
freightliner,
I expect your hours that you work will depend on whether you are on a regular yard job or extra board. You can work up to 12 hours a shift then have a minimum of 10 hours off and be subject to call again. As an extra board conductor you will be on call 24/7. Having said that and depending on your seniority you may find your self chasing work or furloughed for periods of time. Should you get the job, keep that in mind and don't go out and start spending money. I'm watching guys with 5 years seniority struggle here in Nevada. Some are able to work in Roseville California and others can't even do that. Since we're apparently starting to rebound traffic wise, you maybe in a great position for working. Those hired early in hiring periods tend to do better in the long run. Good luck.

Greg
 
#15
freightliner,
I expect your hours that you work will depend on whether you are on a regular yard job or extra board. You can work up to 12 hours a shift then have a minimum of 10 hours off and be subject to call again. As an extra board conductor you will be on call 24/7. Having said that and depending on your seniority you may find your self chasing work or furloughed for periods of time. Should you get the job, keep that in mind and don't go out and start spending money. I'm watching guys with 5 years seniority struggle here in Nevada. Some are able to work in Roseville California and others can't even do that. Since we're apparently starting to rebound traffic wise, you maybe in a great position for working. Those hired early in hiring periods tend to do better in the long run. Good luck.

Greg
Thanks I was explained on how the work schedule was like and what work i'll be doing prior to the test similar to what you said.
 
#16
I can't say what the starting rate for CN is because I don't know, but I'm sure there are others here who could fill you in. I do know that once you've completed your training with CN you get full 100% of the Conductor rate, where at CP you start out at 85%, and that only increases every 210 days. I also know that CN pays more than CP, and I'm pretty sure that people who work east of Thunder Bay make slightly more that people who work in the west, but don't quote me on that. You can always ask the people at the info session about wages though, they'll be happy to tell you.

I will tell you though, that I heard a story from a conductor who was working the Vancouver waterfront yard and cleared about 7g's. (I think he might have been BS'ing but he said he was barely taking any rest at all, so he was working as much as possible.) The most common monthly wage(EDIT: could be every two weeks, I can't remember which) i have heard of is about $2700, but most of the conductors who have said this were just guestimating off the top of their heads, so take it with a grain of salt.

And don't forget to come back to tell how you make out with your interview.
So I passed my switch test, I thought it was a bit of a challenge as the questions were getting harder but managed to figure it out and it wasn't that bad.As for the interview I thought i did well, some questions seemed fair and some I had to think about and be confident with the right answers but overall it was good.Find out soon by this week if i get my medical to go through.
 

ant

New Member
#17
Hey there

I also wrote the switch test and passed, and did the interview. Did anyone hear any good news yet if they got the job?
 
#18
I also wrote the switch test and passed, and did the interview. Did anyone hear any good news yet if they got the job?

We will be notified this friday with medicals following with an email and phone call from the recruiter.I was wondering if anybody got asked for their references before the end of the interview, I would guess thats a good sign when someone wants your references but I don't know for sure.
 

ant

New Member
#19
I checked my CN status and it says pursuing other candidates. I guess I didn't get it. They asked for my references too.

Sucks
 



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