Interview questions at Norfolk Southern

We analyzed 499 interview reviews for Norfolk Southern from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

10 frequent non-technical questions at Norfolk Southern:

What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about yourself
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Are you willing to relocate?
Why did you leave your last job?
Why did you choose your major?
How would you describe your work style?
Describe a time when you resolved a conflict with a colleague in your past role
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
Are you more of a leader or a follower?

According to our research, hiring managers at Norfolk Southern ask soft skills interview questions 51% more than at other companies.

Norfolk Southern interview question statistics

1. What is your greatest weakness?top question

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Statistics

This question is asked 91% more frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Which of the following would be the best answer:

ASometimes I just work too hard

BI have trouble saying “no” when a colleague asks for help and I have my own work to finish

CI am a perfectionist

DI cannot think of a single thing

2. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Statistics

This question is asked 44% less frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Pick the best answer:

AMy name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

BHello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

CHi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

DHi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

Statistics

This question is asked 21% less frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

Now that you have read some of our recommendations, you may wonder: “Ok, so what’s next? I seem to understand these concepts quite well and they kind of make sense to me, but how do I make sure my answers are actually in accordance with these recommendations, and I will stand out as a strong candidate in my upcoming interview?”

Good question. Assuming you are indeed qualified and fit for the position you are interviewing for, the best thing you can do is make sure the interviewer sees this fit.

There are two ways how you can leverage Mr. Simon’s expertise to help you shine your best:

  1. Go ahead and practice with the Mr. Simon app - it is a completely free, fun and helpful experience!
  2. Request a mock interview with a real human career mentor. During the session we will help you identify your Key Selling Points to emphasize in the interview, and to present them in a way that strongly communicates your value to the company. The 1-hour session costs USD 79.99 and is supplemented by 2 weeks of support via email, free of additional charge.

To request the session, shoot us an email to coaching@mrsimon.ai and attach your resume and job description to expedite the process.

Here’s what our customers are saying.

Anna, Director of Brand and Marketing Strategy:

I had you on the list to reach out since it was your advice that helped me prep differently for my interviews. Thank you for your support and friendship while I was transitioning. It had an impact! I appreciate it and mean it.

Claudia, Project Manager:

I used Mr. Simon to prepare for a job interview, and it helped me re-think my responses and gain confidence. Also, the questions were not very far from real life interview questions. In addition, having the opportunity to hear my own answers and read the recommendations on how to respond concisely was really helpful. I enjoyed using Mr. Simon and would use it again!

4. Are you willing to relocate?

How to answer

This question could be a major factor in determining if you are hired. If the hiring manager wants someone who can work in a particular location full time, he/she needs to identify up front, anyone who can’t or won’t relocate.

But sometimes companies will ask if you are willing to relocate only to get a sense of your degree of interest and flexibility, especially when this detail is not even included in the job description of the position you applied for.

  1. About Yourself

    There are many questions that could cause you to consider whether you are willing to move for a position.

    These are of course, both personal and professional.

    • How long will you be there?
    • Is this a company you want to have a long career with?
    • Will you be able to advance your career with other positions available to you at the new location?
    • Will the company be helping you financially with the relocation?
    • Are you ready to move your entire life in this direction?
    • Will you take your family with you or will they stay here?
    • Are you ready to change not only the place of work, but also the house, environment, habits for the sake of the job?
  2. About The Company

    If relocation is required for a position, this should be mentioned in the job description. But even if it’s not, you must have a response ready in case it comes up during your interview.

    You can also use this question as an opportunity to demonstrate what you know about the company, as well as remind the interviewer about the qualities that make you a strong candidate for the position.

  3. About The Fit

    Theoretically your answer can be YES, N0 or Maybe, but of course things aren’t always that simple.

    • If the new position is an opportunity you may not want to refuse but you still need some time, you can formulate your answer in such a way: "I am interested in advancing my career and if relocation is necessary, I will certainly consider this possibility." This answer does not oblige you to move immediately, but also shows that you have serious intentions.

    • If you have no issue with relocating for this position, you should say so. It would also be a good time to ask the interviewer questions about the move as well. It will reassure them that you are able to move for the position.

    • If you are categorical one way or the other about relocation, remember - life often presents extremely unexpected surprises, and what looks like "never" today, may be "quite likely" tomorrow. And if you want to get this job, you can say that you are not ready to move immediately, but in the future you may consider this option.

    • You can also say: "The place where I live is not the most important thing for me. It is more important to develop myself, my skills and acquire new ones. Promotion and pursuit of my interests is important to me and if the company can offer this, I will consider moving."

Pro Tip

None of these answers is binding on you. But using any of them you will show you as a sincere, flexible and tactful candidate. Such answers will help to leave positive lasting impression of you and increase your chances for success.

Statistics

This question is asked 10.0x more frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

5. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the company and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

Statistics

This question is asked 33% more frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

6. Why did you choose your major?

How to answer

Everyone has his/her reasons to pick a major.

There are hundreds and hundreds of careers to choose from and most people pick a major that will give them a background in the career they want to pursue.

When you come to a job interview you will be definitely asked this question.

The interviewers are seeking to understand your underlying motivations for selecting this career.

It is also a good question for them to learn how much planning and thought actually went into your career selection. It is a window into your personality and interests.

  1. About Yourself

    This is your chance to highlight your strengths and how your major prepared you for your future plans.

    Your answer to this question should reflect your passion and interest in the field you chose. Be genuine.

    There’s every reason to display your passions and interest in your major. They will give interviewers a sense of who you really are.

    Think about who or what influenced your career choice and include the positive influences, not the negative ones.

    • How does this tie into your major?
    • How will you bring your passion and unique knowledge to the new company?

    Emphasize your strong people skills and excellent communication skills, allowing you to connect with others.

    Think of the skills and experiences you gained through your major, think back to assignments and projects from your studies, internships and previous jobs. Consider the skills you developed working on those projects.

  2. About The Company

    Write down a list of skills and experiences you gained through your major studies.

    Then, look at the job listing itself.

    Match up any of your skills and experiences that relate to the requirements of the job. How can you apply them to your new position, as well as the future?

  3. About The Fit

    Use this question as an opportunity to mention a few skills related to your chosen major that would also be relevant in the workplace.

    Point to a good culture fit.

    Be positive, showing your enthusiasm. Let them know you're excited to be where you are.

    Discuss what you enjoy about the industry you’re considering and why you could see yourself working in it. Even if your major is not directly related to the job, you can likely find connections between the two.

    This is also a chance to explain other ways you have developed skills that will fulfill the role you're applying for.

    For example, perhaps you were a biology major who is applying for a job in computer programming. You might explain that you took a number of online and extracurricular classes on programming to develop the skills needed for the job.

Pro Tip

Let your past decisions and accomplishments shine through. Once you nail your interview, you'll be on your way to a successful career path.

Statistics

This question is asked 4.2x more frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

7. How would you describe your work style?

How to answer

Use this question as a chance to show how your work style fits the company culture (hopefully it does).

  1. About Yourself

    The easiest way to approach this question is to write down the list of things (5-7 bullet points) that you value and that make you happy at work, for example:

    • teamwork
    • fun
    • respect
    • transparency
    • creativity
    • dynamic environment
    • work-life balance
    • focus on goals
    • any other points that are important to you.

    You may also want to compile a list of DON’Ts – things you find unacceptable, e.g. boring repetitive tasks, harassment, extreme volatility, etc.

    This is a useful exercise for your self-awareness and internal boundaries so that you can easily spot any red flags, but don’t include these items in your answer, as you don’t want to sound negative.

    Highlight 2-3 most critical items on the first list.

    Think of some positive examples from your past experience where these values made you happy at work but also made your boss happy because of the outcomes you achieved.

  2. About The Company

    Do your homework and learn as much as you can about the company, department and specific job you are applying for.

    You can get useful tips about the company from its Values or About Us sections on the website, and tips about the vacancy from the job description.

    Some companies position themselves as customer-oriented, others aim at productivity and efficiency, yet others are known for their creativity or adaptability.

    Other organizations take a customized approach towards client needs, or they stress care for their employees, like the possibility of working remotely, etc.

    In addition, startups are very different from large corporations in terms of culture and work style, and small businesses are different from both of these.

    Which best describes the company you are applying to?

  3. About The Fit

    Based on what you learned through your research of the company you are applying to, ask yourself, in all honesty, do you feel this company has the potential to make you happy and fulfilled at work? If so, why?

    Which of the critical items you value most best corresponds with your knowledge of the company culture?

    In preparation for your interview, make a list of your most critical values along with an explanation of how they helped you achieve positive results for your previous employer and/or helped you work more effectively with team members or customers.

    Keep them in mind during your interview; these are the values that you would like to enjoy at your new job.

Pro Tip

Optionally, you can end with a question like

And how would you describe the culture in the company/department?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Statistics

This question is asked 5.6x more frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

8. Describe a time when you resolved a conflict with a colleague in your past role

How to answer

Wherever you go, you will always have to work with people. This means that there is a greater chance for conflict to happen. This question helps the interviewer determine how well you would fit within the organization.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of the times you had to deal with conflict.

    • What were the different ways you were able to address the situation?
    • If you were the cause of the conflict, how did the other person talk you down from the conflict?
    • What were the key lessons you learned through your experience?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture.

    • What do they value?
    • Is there anything that you can find about how they deal with conflict resolution?

    Reading comments to their social media posts often prove helpful to see how they react to customers' complaints.

  3. About The Fit

    • What have you found out about the company’s culture and job description?
    • Are they looking for someone who can take charge and resolve conflict?

    Tell a story of how you addressed conflict and how it turned a negative into a positive.

    Try to conclude with your lessons learned or methodology for approaching conflicts - this will show the interviewer that you would be able to apply your methodology to future situations.

    Use the STAR method to frame your story.

Pro Tip

A key to addressing conflict is listening, communication and emotional intelligence. Highlight these skills.

If you're able to, turn the question around and ask the interviewer if they have experienced the same thing. This will start a conversation, which is the goal of an interview.

Statistics

This question is asked 3.0x more frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

9. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job

How to answer

This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment.

This question is designed to help the interviewer discover what type of problem-solver you are.

Why do employers ask this question?

It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who can think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

  1. About Yourself

    It’s your chance to show that in tough times you turn to your inner strength and possess skills to find the right solutions.

    You probably had to solve many problems daily at work. It’s high time to remember them.

    If you do not prepare examples in advance, this question will get you off guard and you will find it difficult to remember all the details on the move.

    Start with recalling a few examples of real obstacles you coped with. For each of them, think about:

    • What was the project or task you were trying to accomplish?
    • What was the obstacle? This can be a specific problem related to your job or a higher-order issue across the organization.
    • What steps did you take to address the issue?
    • What decisions did you have to make?
    • How did the company benefit from your decisions?
    • How would you describe your approach, or what lessons have you learned?

    Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause.

  2. About The Company

    When you research the company, try and find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Try to find out what they need in terms of problem resolution.

    Search for online reviews, complaints and any other useful resources. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, resilience, and strength of character. Talk through your problem-solving process and show how you can think on your feet.

    Pick an example relevant to the position you are aiming for.

    Let’s say, you are applying for a blog writing job. The job description mentions that a successful candidate must have experience working “in a dynamic environment.”

    You could mention a situation in which you had to write an article on short notice because your coworker failed at the last moment to complete the assignment. You were short of time but worked extra hours to prepare the article successfully and on time.

    This answer would show your experience in blog writing, your sense of responsibility, ability to achieve results under stress, your willingness to go the extra mile, your problem-solving skills.

Pro Tip

This question is not about your past, it's how you deal with things that will happen in the future, so try to keep your answer short and focused.

After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened.

Use the STAR method to prepare your story and practice it so that you can stay within 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to show that you remained positive when overcoming a hurdle at work. Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.2x more frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

10. Are you more of a leader or a follower?

How to answer

The world is full of leaders and followers. Some people are born to lead. Others prefer to follow.

Most employers are looking for candidates that can assume both roles, regardless of the particulars of the job they’re applying for.
In general, entry-level employees are expected to be followers while managers have more leadership duties.

However, the leader/follower roles can and will change based on circumstances. Anyone can say they are a leader or a follower, and both have their benefits and weaknesses.

So, when a hiring manager asks you this question, it’s best to demonstrate that you can meet the demands of either role.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of your previous experience and ask yourself these questions:

    • What camp do you fall in – leading or following?
    • How well do you think you can handle either role?
    • Are you the type of person to feel most at home leading the crowd, being in the middle of the crowd, or wandering off alone somewhere? 
    • If you feel you have the qualities of both, how do you think you rate as a follower and/or as a leader?
  2. About The Company

    Carefully research the company and the role for which you're being interviewed. Find out what skills and qualities they value the most.

    Carefully consider the job requirements.

    • What will you be responsible for?
    • What duties will you be taking on?

    Lean your answer towards the type of position you’re applying for.

  3. About The Fit

    Tell the interviewer that you are willing to assume any role they give you.

    Explain that you consider yourself both a follower and a leader.

    Convey that you can follow the rules and take direction, as well as lead and guide others on the team to reach a specific goal. Highlight your strengths and abilities in a manner that are realistic.

    The best way you can rate yourself is to mention concrete examples of when you were a follower and when you became a leader.

    If you are interviewing for your very first job, discuss examples from college, internships, or other jobs you may have held.

    For example, you can say:

    I adapt my style to the position I am in. At just about any level, especially when I am starting a new job, I know that there is a lot I need to learn, and I am happy to take direction from those with more knowledge and a better sense of the overall picture. However, when a group needs a leader, you can be certain that I will gladly take on that role.

Pro Tip

Proving that you know how to both lead and follow others is a key to showing potential employers how you operate in a team environment.

Showing your commitment to helping the team succeed is an important trait that makes a great employee.

Statistics

This question is asked 18.2x more frequently at Norfolk Southern than at other companies.

You don't have to be alone in your job search!

Mr. Simon invites you to join the Work Search Buddy Network that supports both individuals seeking their next job role and working professionals. Members of our network come together to learn and practice new skills and network with others through our regular interactive events where they establish meaningful connections and have a chance to promote their personal brand and stand out in the marketplace.

Join our Work Search Buddy Network Meetup Group to become part of our growing and supportive community!


This page has been updated on June 1, 2021.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions from Norfolk Southern by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

24/7 availability24/7 availability
He will never make you feel intimidatedHe will never make you feel intimidated
The current version is freeThe current version is free

Worth a try?