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 and not knowing the answers.
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 i, 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. 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 or an exam
In one out of five cases, you may actually deal with some technical questions, or you will have to complete a written exam. 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. You can prepare only for the tests. If you know that you will have to complete a written machinist test as a part of your hiring process, or are applying for apprenticeship and will have to pass the Machinist Apprentice Exam, I strongly recommend you to check out this test preparation kit for Machinists. It’s a paid product but worth every penny, considering that if you fail the test, you won’t get a job (and won’t earn anything)… Ready to pass your test? Fine! Let’s get back to the questions.
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…
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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.
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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–because 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?
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Conclusion and next steps
Interview for a machinist job belongs to interviews with average difficulty. 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 either, unless you face a written exam, which is mostly the case when you apply for machinist apprenticeship. You can prepare for the exam here.
In all other cases, as long as you manage to demonstrate your motivation, enthusiasm, and readiness for the job with your answers to personal and behavioral questions, they will hire you. I hope you will manage to succeed in your Machinist job interview, and wish you good luck!
Continue your interview preparation with us:
- Interview Success Package – Up to 10 brilliant answers to virtually every interview question you may face. The one and only paid product you need to ace your job interview.
- Salary negotiation tips – Can you talk them into paying you a better salary while interviewing for a machinist job? Try to find the answer…
- Body language in an interview – Learn how to “say” the right things without uttering a single word.