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Date: 07/26/08 09:57
Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: mrpb1963

Hey to everyone out there I just joined up today and I think this is a great forum.
I have a question for all of the Amtrak employees out there who may can help me, I just applied for the passenger engineer trainee position out of San Jose California.They just called me to come in for the physcology test.If anyone knows what the hiring process is like and when the next training class is that would be helpful. Also what should I expect down the road in this process.

Thx.



Date: 07/26/08 16:40
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: MEKoch

Sir: what does this inkblot look like to you?
You: A red signal
Sir: Did you stop at the red signal?
You: Yes, absolutely.
Sir: Do you like red?
You: It is okay, but not my favorite color.
Sir: How do you feel when a signal turns from green to red just as you approach it while driving?
You: I obey the law.
Sir: Have you ever been ticketed for running a red light?
You: Oh, no, I am a good boy.
Sir: Are you colorblind?
You: Yes, I try to treat all people of all colors fairly.
Sir: Did your mother dress you in red?
You: I certainly hope not.
Sir: Do you wear red shirts?
You: No, only t-shirts.
Sir: I think you hate red.
You: Perhaps you are right. Green signals are my favorite.

etc........



Date: 07/26/08 18:18
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: mrpb1963

Thanks for the info anything else you can let me know about the interview process and also the school.

Thx.



Date: 07/26/08 19:32
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: smitty195

They have you take a psych test before anything else? Before a written? Before an oral? It costs $$$$ to administer those damn tests (if you're not crazy before you take it, you'll be crazy afterwards with most of the questions the same but written just different enough to drive you nuts!).

Can any AmEmployees please explain why they would give a psych as the first step? I've never heard of that before.



Date: 07/26/08 19:41
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: tmamtrak

The school is two months in Wilmington, DE, followed by a lot (typically 10-14 months) of supervised on-the-job training and various oral exams. The classroom training program has supposedly been re-written since I went through in 2006, so I'm not going to go into any detail on that.

It's not exactly clear to anyone why they administer a psychological exam... it was pretty much the most pointless thing I've ever done. I have no idea why or how I passed. I think the object of the test is to display that you're a level-headed, fastidious, somewhat antisocial person.

A San Jose position would be for Caltrain, so you can expect to enjoy all that excitement. :)



Date: 07/26/08 19:58
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: golden-spike

Do you like the East Coast. Have you been in the East Coast ever? You will get to hate it but you will be back there for 8 weeks at engineer charm school, better known as choo choo U. You will love it there.



Date: 07/26/08 20:48
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: golden-spike

To see if you fit the little square that you suppose to end up in. After they find out you like your mother, I hope you can read and recall what you read and count to twenty without taken your shoes off. Your hiring process is just begining. Have you ever talked tp a CALTRAIN engineer? Maybe you should.



Date: 07/27/08 01:24
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: Jaanfo

I agree with Golden-Spike, hang out around San Jose and introduce yourself to the guys there, they will help you (or chase you away, it depends how they feel at the moment)

I went through Conductor training, not engineer trainsing, so I can only offer that I've heard the class described as the hardest thing attendees have done in their life... Not meant to be a deterrent, but be ready for two months of College all over again with one big reward at the end.

As for what information I can give from my own experience just answer the questions honestly, don't read into them too hard or you'll start making wrong guesses and screwing the test up. there is no right answer, but the test shows how you react under pressure. If you're made to do the Math and English tests (50 questions and 5 minutes each was what I experienced For both positions I obtained) it's the same thing, just don't think about it too hard and take it in stride and you'll do fine, when you start overthinking things and correcting yourself you slow down and make more mistakes, which is what they're watching for.

The hiring process takes about six to eight weeks on average in my experience; You submit your Resume, you're contacted a week or so later with the test date (usually taking place a week or so beyond that). The results take a week to get back to you, and if the company determines you're what they're looking for they will arrange an interview... As always that'll be about one to two weeks down the road. From the interview I find it's very quick to determine their primary candidates. If you're a candidate you're conacted by HR, and they conditionally offer you the position pending the results of a background check and medical exam. At that they bring you into a conference call with a Medical Center and arrange the exam with you right then and there (Hint: take the soonest possible date and time available no matter what). At that point if you pass the physical and Background check you're sent a letter of congratulations and a packet which explains the details of your class; dates, location, requirements... Usually Local Management arranges to send you wherever the class is.

Good Luck!



Date: 07/27/08 07:09
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: AlwaysLate

tmamtrak Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> A San Jose position would be for Caltrain, so you
> can expect to enjoy all that excitement. :)

Don't want to be a downer, but isn't Caltrain the grade crossing collision mecca?



Date: 07/27/08 09:19
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: Lackawanna484

Many employment psychological tests are set up to determine how quickly you apply the rules and how level headed you are. I'm not familiar with the Amtrak tests, but many employment tests look for how quickly you can make the desired decision.

For example, what's your first answer, and how quickly did you deliver it? If you're a police officer or airline pilot, you may not have time to think about all the "on the other hand" outcomes. Other tests intentionally inject static or noise, an unpleasant test operator, etc to throw you off balance.

I'm surprised that Amtrak would run an expensive test upfront. Many firms prefer to run the expensive stuff (criminal background, drugs, psych, etc) later in the game on a much smaller number of candidates.

Talking to people who are doing the job is often an excellent way to get some perspective. If you're hired, you may be working with these people for 40 years.



Date: 07/27/08 09:31
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: mrpb1963

Thanks for all of the good tips it has helped a lot. I have been a train operator for Bart here in the bay area for 8 years so am kinda ready for the school part we had to go for 15 weeks of class work and in the cab training. If you have anymore on Amtrak give me a hit i take the crazy test tomorrow.

Peace.



Date: 07/27/08 10:14
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: JoeMike

Mister P B - let me guess - Personal Business ? :)

Good luck on your Amtrak psych test. It's probably just like the one you took for TO, eight years ago. Check around on this forum (I notice you are new) and talk to the Caltrain Amtrak engineers. They'll give you some relevant info.

There's a former Amtrak engineer who is now BART, talk to him.



Date: 07/27/08 13:08
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: smitty195

I'm still not sure I understand why Amtrak begins the testing process with a test that is fairly expensive to administer. I would think that a written test would be first, because it's very cheap, and it filters out the applicants who cannot spell, read and interpret simple paragraphs, and perform simple math equations. A psych test does not accomplish any of these things. So I'm a bit confused at why they choose to start off with something like this.

As far as taking the test itself, I will assume that it is all written and all multiple choice. You do not talk to a psychologist or other mental health professional (or at least, I hope not, or Amtrak would REALLY be spending huge $$$ on it). If it's like most written psych tests, the questions are very boring (and they do not ask "sheep" questions, contrary to popular belief). They ask many similar questions over and over again, but worded just a little bit differently. You will be sick of the questions once it's over. You are not timed per question, so there is no way for them to know how long it took you to answer any specific question. But the test is timed, so you should finish the whole thing within the given time constraints. Do not spend a lot of time thinking about the questions. Just go with your first answer, and move on to the next one. If you over-think a question and wonder "What do they want me to say here?", then you will probably mess it up. Just answer honestly.

With most psych tests, there is no right or wrong answer. The employers are looking for people that fit a certain profile. For example, in law enforcement if an applicant's psych tests shows that they do not like to work various shifts and hours, and that they are prejudiced, and they do not get along well with others, that is not a "fail" for the test, but it does show that the person does not fit the profile of who they are looking for. I'm assuming things are similar with Amtrak, because there's only so much you can gain out of one these tests.

(To mrpb1963: Is BART a PERS agency?)



Date: 07/27/08 14:04
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: NI030

smitty195 Wrote:
> (To mrpb1963: Is BART a PERS agency?)


And doesnt BART pay better than Amtrak and have better benifits?



Date: 07/27/08 16:24
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: fjc

Ah yes, the East Coast, by the 7th week (my group was only 7 wks) we were ready to leave and go home.

The pysco test is to determine if your the type of person who will be dedicated to his job, and not be a risk taker or live in the edge.

That test was being administered to folks after the group I was in got hired.

golden-spike Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Do you like the East Coast. Have you been in the
> East Coast ever? You will get to hate it but you
> will be back there for 8 weeks at engineer charm
> school, better known as choo choo U. You will
> love it there.



Date: 07/27/08 16:30
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: mrpb1963

Bart is a pers agency and yes i think the benefits may be better, but i left last year for family reasons and if i go back i would be part time for a while. Bart tops off in years at about $30 for a to i think Amtrak is higher but it takes 5 years. I just want to give this engineer thing a go and see how it feels to be out in the open space going 79 mph.



Date: 07/27/08 16:32
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: mrpb1963

what is the top pay for an Amtrak engineer and how long does it take to reach.



Date: 07/27/08 20:21
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: goneon66

mrpb1963 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Bart is a pers agency and yes i think the benefits
> may be better, but i left last year for family
> reasons and if i go back i would be part time for
> a while. Bart tops off in years at about $30 for a
> to i think Amtrak is higher but it takes 5 years.
> I just want to give this engineer thing a go and
> see how it feels to be out in the open space going
> 79 mph.


cal-pers is one of the wealthiest retirement systems in the WORLD. GO back to any agency that is involved with cal-pers. you would just be starting out in r.r. retirement and who knows what shape it will be in 20-30 yrs from now......

66



Date: 07/27/08 20:29
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: smitty195

goneon66 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> cal-pers is one of the wealthiest retirement
> systems in the WORLD. GO back to any agency that
> is involved with cal-pers. you would just be
> starting out in r.r. retirement and who knows what
> shape it will be in 20-30 yrs from now......

I agree 100% on this one! Stick with PERS (I'm a Cal-PERS member, by the way, and I feel very fortunate and blessed to belong to such a strong and wealthy retirement system).

With the tiny bit of knowledge that I have from engineer friends who work for the railroad, I'd never want to do it. The hours alone are killer. As I've mentioned before in other discussions about this topic, I had a hard enough time going from midnight shift to day shift---and we worked them 6 months at a time! I can't imagine working midnight shift one day, then day shift 12 hours later, then swing shift 18 hours later, then working with no predictability of days off, etc, etc, etc....I don't know how you rails manage to have a life under those conditions.



Date: 07/28/08 00:59
Re: Amtrak Engineer Trainee Position
Author: InsideObserver

>Can any AmEmployees please explain why they would give a psych as the first step?

Simple. Have you ever hit and killed a:
1) dog
2) cat
3) opossum
4) racoon
5) deer
6) human
?

As an engineer, you will. If any of the above will turn you into a blob of emotional jelly, then don't hire out.



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