37 Network Rail signaller interview questions and sample answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working as a railway signaller is a rewarding career. Signallers require excellent communication skills, a high level of concentration and the ability to work in a team to guide train movements and ensure the safe running of rail services. Learning about the core skills employers look for in candidates when hiring railway signallers can help you succeed in this field. In this article, we list 30 Network Rail signaller interview questions and provide sample answers to seven questions.

Related: 11 top job skills: transferable skills for any industry

General Network Rail signaller interview questions

Here are ten Network Rail signaller interview questions an interviewer might ask in an interview:

  1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

  2. How would your friends describe you?

  3. How would your colleagues describe you?

  4. Why did you leave your last job?

  5. Why do you want to work on the railways?

  6. Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?

  7. What do you think are the main responsibilities of a railway signaller?

  8. How do you cope with working under pressure?

  9. How do you think you could contribute to this position?

  10. What are your long-term career aspirations?

Related: How to use the STAR interview technique in interviews

Questions about experience and background

Here are ten questions that interviewers might ask about your experience and background:

  1. Can you summarise your education to date?

  2. Do you have any plans to further your education or training?

  3. Do you have any experience of working in the railway industry?

  4. What do you know about the railway signalling system?

  5. How are your previous roles relevant to this job?

  6. How have you dealt with a challenge at work?

  7. Have you ever held a position of responsibility?

  8. Have you ever experienced an emergency?

  9. What skills do you have that would make you successful in this role?

  10. Tell us about a time when you worked as part of a team.

Related: 5 situational interview questions and how to answer them

In-depth questions

Here are ten in-depth questions that an interviewer might ask during a railway signaller interview:

  1. How would you describe the different types of signals?

  2. Can you tell us about a time when you had to be decisive?

  3. How would you deal with a train approaching a red signal?

  4. What would you do if two trains were heading towards each other on the same track?

  5. What do you think are the most important qualities of a railway signaller?

  6. Why do you prefer this role over others in the railway industry?

  7. What do you think are the challenges of this role?

  8. What do you think are the benefits of working in the railway industry?

  9. What do you think about the future of the railway industry?

  10. How do you think technology may change the role of the railway signaller?

Related: How to stay calm under pressure (and why it's important)

7 Network Rail signaller interview questions (with answers)

Here are seven questions an interviewer may ask during a rail signaller interview with example answers:

1. What appeals to you about working as a rail signaller?

This question gauges your motivation for wanting to work as a signaller. In your answer, you could discuss things such as your interest in railways, the benefits of working in the railwaysindustry and the aspects of the role that you find appealing. Researching the industry beforehand can help you identify specific things to mention in your answer.

Example: 'I've always enjoyed travelling by train. A signaller appeals to my fondness for problem solving and my interest in technology. I'm impressed by the available training and development opportunities, which I would certainly take advantage of.'

Related: How to answer the question: 'Why do you want to work here?'

2. How do you feel when interacting with people you don't know?

Communicating with train drivers and colleagues you haven't met before is a key part of a signaller's role. Provide an example of a time when you successfully communicated with people you didn't know. Qualities such as communicating quickly and efficiently are crucial in this role.

Example: 'I'm very comfortable interacting with people I don't know and have a lot of experience doing so. In my previous role as a waiter in a busy restaurant, I served many customers at different times of the day. Communicating clearly and efficiently was essential for taking orders and relaying them to the kitchen staff.'

Related: How to answer 'Do you work well with other people?'

3. Are you able to work alone?

Many signallers work alone in their assigned signal box. Working alone requires confidence, motivation, independent thinking and the ability to take responsibility for your actions. Include an example of your ability to work independently in your answer.

Example: 'Yes. I work alone in my current job, providing online customer support. A key aspect of my job is being able to solve problems and make decisions without assistance. I enjoy the responsibility of working independently and can stay motivated even when there's no one around.'

Related: How to work independently (with tips on how to improve)

4. Can you tell us about something you've accomplished that required attention to detail?

The ability to focus and pay attention to detail is vital for signallers, as inattentiveness can lead to serious safety issues. In your answer, you could discuss a task or project that required a high level of attention to detail. You can also demonstrate your understanding and awareness of the consequences of not paying attention to detail.

Example: 'I like coding, which requires paying close attention to detail as even a small mistake can cause major issues. I can easily concentrate for long periods when something, like coding, demands my full attention.'

Related: 14 ways to project body language confidence (with example)

5. Are you good at multitasking?

Rail signallers sometimes manage many things happening simultaneously. Interviewers usually want to see that you won't become overwhelmed by multiple tasks. They want to ascertain whether you can complete tasks safely and accurately.

Example: 'I'm very good at multitasking and often had to do it in my bar job. Each shift involved numerous tasks such as taking orders, preparing drinks and dealing with payments – I'd often do these simultaneously for multiple customers.'

Related: What are multitasking skills, and how can they help you?

6. What would you say is central to the role of a signaller?

Safety is always the top priority for working on the railways, and signallers play a vital role in ensuring the safe running of trains. By asking a question like this, the interviewer wants to ascertain whether you understand the importance of this. In your answer, you could discuss the importance of safety in the role and specific things signallers can do to help ensure safety.

Example: 'I think the central element to being a signaller is the emphasis on safety above everything. I think the most important thing for a signaller is always to be aware of the potential hazards and to take appropriate action to mitigate them. This necessitates following procedures, being proactive in identifying potential problems and being able to think quickly in potentially dangerous situations.'

Related: 14 questions to ask in a final interview (plus reasons why)

7. Do you have any questions for us?

Asking questions can allow you to fill any gaps in your knowledge, get a feel for the specific position and decide whether it's the right fit for you. It's also a further chance to show your interest in the role. You could ask about things such as the job's challenges and opportunities for career progression. You could also ask the interviewer to expand on something you already know about the role or company. It's better to avoid asking questions that you can easily find answers to on the company's website.

Example: 'I know that training and development is a big focus for your company. Does this role provide any opportunities to gain professional qualifications related to the role?'

Related: How To Become a Train Driver in 9 Steps

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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