Getting A Job At BNSF
Established in 1955 and as the largest freight rail network in North America, BNSF employs over 40,000 employees as part of its network.
There are a variety of careers on offer with BNSF for both enrolled and graduate level and experienced candidates. The company prides itself on its focus on developing employees' careers. Getting a job with the company requires candidates to be dedicated to their role, develop their career at BNSF, and demonstrate their commitment to a career with the company.
BNSF is a company that has three clear values:
These values underpin the work of BNSF and its people. Diversity and inclusion are a high priority for the company, and they pride themselves on creating a working culture where all employees can thrive. Recruiting the right people and having a clear safety vision for its employees also ensures the ongoing success of the BNSF railroad network.
Types Of Roles
Due to the size and scale of the network that BNSF operates, there are several roles across the company.
These roles cover areas such as:
- Train crew
- Human resources
- Administrative and clerical roles
- Field operations
- Mechanical and electrical based roles such as engineering
Roles are available across North America for both those at university and candidates who have prior work experience. BNSF also has a dedicated route for ex-military personnel.
Hiring Process At BNSF
The hiring process at BNSF consists of three stages:
- Online application
- Psychometric tests
As part of the hiring process, candidates may also be required to complete a set of pre-employment qualification assessments, including a drugs test, hearing test, physical examination, and medical history questionnaire.
All vacancies at BNSF are advertised on their website. Vacancies are updated daily - candidates can choose to be notified of vacancies as they arise.
Candidates search for their preferred vacancy on the BNSF website and apply directly to their chosen vacancy by creating an account on the BNSF dedicated careers portal.
From there, candidates can then upload their resume and complete any additional application questions.
BNSF Psychometric Tests [the Aon Hewitt G.A.T.E]
Aon Hewitt G.A.T.E. administers the psychometric tests at BNSF. These tests are timed tests that assess a candidate's basic numeracy, reading, and literacy skills. All questions are multiple-choice based.
The numeracy test focuses on a candidate's math skills and ability to solve problems using basic math concepts such as multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.
Literacy, reading, and communication skills are also assessed. The test includes short passages of text that candidates need to read, understand, and then answer on.
BNSF also includes additional assessments as part of its recruitment process for some roles, such as personality assessments and specialist ability tests.
The personality assessment is focused on identifying a candidate's characteristics and traits. Scenario-based questions are asked as part of the assessment, with candidates rating statements according to how they would act in a particular situation. The results from a personality assessment provide an insight into the candidate's values and motivations when in the workplace.
Situational Judgment Test
The BNSF situational judgment test focuses on a candidate's behavioral preferences in workplace situations. The assessment takes the form of a series of scenarios encountered when working on the job.
Candidates then need to select from the list of statements the one that best describes how they would react.
When completing a situational judgment test, it is essential to go with your gut feeling and not second guess yourself or what you think the recruiter wants to see.
Mechanical Reasoning Test
Candidates who are applying for mechanical-based roles will be asked to complete the mechanical reasoning test. This aptitude test assesses a candidate's knowledge and understanding of mechanical concepts and principles such as circuits, voltages, springs, pulleys, or motion.
The test is a timed multiple-choice test that requires candidates to work quickly but accurately. Refreshing your knowledge of mechanical concepts is essential before sitting this test.
Spatial Reasoning Test
The BNSF spatial reasoning test assesses a candidate's ability to visualize objects in different dimensions and reach logical conclusions based on their gained information.
This test is often included in the assessment process for dispatcher roles.
The test is a timed test. Candidates need to recognize patterns, look at mirror images of shapes, match patterns, and visualize shapes in 2D or 3D, then answer the multiple-choice questions that follow.
Verbal Reasoning Test
The verbal reasoning test is essentially a test of reading comprehension and critical reasoning.
Information is presented in the form of passages of text. Candidates need to read and understand the information then answer the questions that follow.
Questions are given with a series of multiple-choice statements, with candidates selecting whether they believe the statement to be false, true, or cannot say based on the information they have read.
The test is timed, and those taking the test need to ensure that they do not skim read the information given but take the time to read, understand and analyze the information before answering the questions.
Abstract Reasoning Test
The BNSF abstract reasoning test is similar to a spatial reasoning test. This test assesses a candidate's ability to problem solve and to evaluate information critically.
This test is often used as part of the recruitment process for engineering roles at BNSF, where solving problems based on non-verbal information is a crucial part of the role.
The questions consist of a series of patterns of shapes. Candidates need to determine the relationship between this information, then answer the multiple-choice questions that follow.
This test is a timed test, where candidates need to work quickly but accurately.
Numerical Reasoning Test
Some roles at BNSF require candidates to complete a specific numerical reasoning test. This test assesses a candidate's numerical ability and how well they can work with numerical information. Information is presented in the form of graphs, tables, or charts.
Candidates then need to use their understanding of mathematical concepts and principles to calculate which of the multiple-choice answers is correct.
The timed nature of this test adds extra pressure. Candidates need to work quickly, but accurately making sure that they are not only aware of math concepts such as fractions, percentages, and ratios but they can use these concepts to calculate the correct answer.
Candidates who are successful at the screening tests are invited to attend a final interview. The interview is generally a 1:1 interview that can vary in duration or format depending on the role. Some interviews may be face-to-face; others can be shorter virtual interviews.
Questions are related to the role and also the values of BNSF as an organization.
If applying for specialist roles such as those in mechanical or electrical engineering, technical questions may be asked as part of the interview process.
Familiarising yourself with the BNSF values, especially around safety and the skills you have as relevant to the role, are all essential parts of preparing for the interview to perform at your best.
What's It Like To Work At BNSF
BNSF is an organization that values employees' commitment to learning and developing their careers, offering access to learning opportunities through reimbursement of tuition fees for job-related university programs.
The organization also focuses on creating a community where employees can be themselves and value the diversity and talent that all its employees bring to create an inclusive culture.
Top Tips To Getting Hired At BNSF
There are many things that candidates can do to ensure that they perform at their best through each stage of the BNSF recruitment process and increase their chances of getting hired.
Research The Company
Ensure that you research BNSF as a company and are clear on its values and mission. Being able to explain to the interviewer why you are interested in a role at BNSF and incorporate why the values of BNSF align with your own helps demonstrate your commitment to a career with the network.
No matter which tests you are invited to sit, it is essential to practice these tests. Ensure you practice the tests under timed conditions to experience the pressure you will face when sitting the actual test.
Practicing the test means you are familiar with the format and the style of questioning as well as helping you identify any principles or concepts that you need to refresh your memory on.
It is essential to be yourself throughout the recruitment process. Ensure that you highlight the key skills that you have as relevant to the role. When completing the personality test and the situational judgment test, answer the questions honestly and don't try and second guess what you think the recruiter might want to hear.
Be Honest And Open
Many roles at BNSF require candidates to complete an additional set of pre-employment screening tests. Ensure that you are honest and open when completing these tests. Doing so will save you time and show the recruiter that you demonstrate integrity.
FAQ At BNSF
How long does it take to get hired at BNSF?
The duration of the recruitment and selection process at BNSF varies according to the role applied for. Candidates are made aware of a change in application status by email.
Does BNSF pay well?
BNSF offers all employees a competitive salary, varying according to the role, level, and experience.
In addition, the company offers a range of benefits to employees, including:
- Life assurance
- Wellness benefits: including access to wellness screenings, wellness challenges, and routine vaccinations.
- Medical and prescription drug coverage (after one month of employment)
- Dental and vision cover (after one year of employment)
- Life assurance and accident insurance: provided at no extra cost to BSF employees.
- Retirement plans are offered to employees after one year of employment with the company.