Young machinist in work, wearing protection glasses and blue overalls.A common misconception says that you will face a lot of technical questions in your machinist interview. Nothing can be further from the truth.

First of all, people leading an interview with you (HR generalists, HR managers, head of the production department) do not have sufficient technical knowledge to interpret your answers to technical questions. They are not going to embarrass themselves with asking the questions.

Secondly, the companies have no reason to distrust the educational system (at least in this case).  Once you have graduated from high school, specializing in subjects such trigonometry, geometry, metalworking, drawing and computer science, and even completed your apprenticeships (often with the company where you finally apply for the job), they won’t doubt your readiness for the technical part of the job.

If not technical, what questions will prevail then?

 

Personal and behavioral questions

The fact that you can operate a CNC machine, or manually produce precision parts, does not alone make a great employee from you. It is just a necessary requirement for the job, and without fulfilling it, they won’t even invite you for an interview.

Other things matters for them as well, however. Your motivation, your communication skills, your career goals, whether you fit the team, your attitude to work, salary expectations, and so on, and so forth. Questions that help them to understand these things–personal and behavioral questions, prevail in the job interviews for machinist jobs.

 

Technical questions or practical test

A good mood at the end of the interview. Both the candidate and the interviewer look satisfied.In one out of five cases, you may actually deal with some technical questions. But we speak about basic questions, not anything you haven’t learned about in school. What is more, some companies (the probability is again 1:5, or even less) may test your skills directly with the machine.

They will take you to one of their machines, program set, and let you to operate the machine in a process of production of a certain semi-product.

However, there is no way how to prepare for this task in advance. Either you really know your job (and will pas it easily), or you will fail in the practical test.

Let’s get back to the questions, something you can prepare for in advance.

 

Why do you want to work as a machinist?

This is a test of your motivation. You should not say that you apply because you graduated from the field, or something similar. Try to focus on the future, not on the past.

Tell them that you enjoy doing what machinists typically do in work, that you see a bright future for this career, and that you have the skills that make from you a great candidate for the job–theoretical knowledge, some experience with operating the machine, attention to detail, precision in work, ability to concentrate on the task at hand, etc.

They should hear some enthusiasm in your voice.

 

Why do you want to work as a machinist in our company?

Most people will simply choose the offer that pays the most money, and there’s nothing wrong about it. When you interview for a job, however, you should refer to other reasons. You can still say that the salary offer is good, but you should add other things to your answer.

For example, you can say that you see a huge potential in their final products, in the things they specialize in. Or you can say that you really like the place of work, the working environment, or the technologies they have in place, believing to grow professionally in such a company.

Another good option consists in praising the locality, saying that you have excellent traffic connection with the place. Nobody wants to spend three hours daily in traffic, traveling to and from work…

 

Tell us something about your experience in the field (types of CNC machines, etc).

No reason to lie. Tell them about the machines you worked with (plasma cutting, laser cutting, milling machine, lathe machine, etc), how long you worked with them, and what you actually did.

Every serious company will provide you with job orientation, and experienced employees will help you to get started in your job. Lack of experience is not necessarily a reason to send you home. They may hire you even if you have very little experience, but show right motivation and attitude to work.

Once again, try to speak with enthusiasm while narrating your experience. They should feel that you enjoy doing your work.

 

This job is quite repetitive. What will motivate you to work hard, in a long term horizon?

You have a few good options here. One of them is saying that you enjoy doing what machinists do, that you have a passion for your work, and believe you won’t lose motivation easily.

Another one is pointing to goals you have in your personal life (buying new house, providing for your family, or starting a family, etc), saying that the goals you have outside of work motivate you to try hard–since you want to keep the job, and the income.

One way or another, they should feel that you have a good reason why you go to job, that you know what you work for

 

How would you deal with a pressure in work (with a tight deadline)?

Pressure, pressure, pressure–the sad reality of a modern workplace. Unless you are ready to handle the pressure, you should forget about getting employed anywhere–becasue you won’t avoid the pressure.

Try to convince the hiring managers that you are ready for tough situations.

For example, you can say them that you felt at lot of pressure already at school, or in your apprenticeship, and managed to deal with it successfully. Or you can say that you do not struggle in prioritizing your tasks, and staying level-headed in work, and the pressure does not have a negative impact on you.

The key is to show the right attitude, and some confidence in your abilities…

 

Other questions you may face in your machinist interview

  • What motivates you the most in this job?
  • Describe a conflict you had with one of your colleagues in your previous job.
  • Describe a goal you achieved, and tell us how you achieved it.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What would your former colleagues/classmates say about you?
  • What do you consider the toughest aspect of the machinist job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?

 

Conclusion and next steps

Interview for a machinist job does not belong to difficult interviews. Machinists are in high demand (similarly to other craftsmen), and since more and more people blindly follow the education in management, law, or IT, you won’t face a tough competition in your interview.

Despite a common misconception, you won’t face (m)any technical questions in your interview. Once you manage to demonstrate your motivation, enthusiasm, and readiness for the job, most of the time they will hire you. We wish you good luck!

Continue your preparation with InterviewPenguin.com – Your best job interview coach since 2011:

  • Tell me about yourself. The most typical interview question all around the world. Hr managers use it mostly in screening interviews, in the first rounds of interviewing process. Learn how to address it.
  • What are your weaknesses? Most people do not like to talk about their weaknesses. What is more, we often can not even tell our strengths and weaknesses, or have an unrealistic view of them. Learn how to identify your weaknesses, and how to answer this question in your interview.
  • Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication? Learn the answers in the article.
Matthew Chulaw

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
Matthew Chulaw

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