There are often lessons that we learn on the job that we cannot learn just from sitting in the classroom. Give an example of a situation like that.
"My first job taught me many things that we did not learn in school. Mainly, my supervisor taught me some great time shortcuts on the lathe that were really helpful."
You can take a moment to think, if needed, but make sure you are right! When you answer this question you can also talk through your answer so that the hiring manager understands how you are coming to your conclusion.
This question is designed to let the hiring manager know if you are, in fact, passionate about your line of work. You can answer this in a more personal way if you wish but be sure to keep it somewhat brief.
"My interest in becoming a CNC Operator stems from when I began taking Software Engineering courses in University. I realized that I had a true knack for programming. I landed an internship as a junior operator and my career formed from there."
Having researched the company prior to your interview is very important. What is drawing you to their company? Be specific and show your enthusiasm for the role.
"Your shop has a really great reputation for career development of your operators. Your safety record is really appealing as well."
Being able to "roll with the punches" is a really important characteristic to have as a CNC Operator. Show your supervisor that you are willing and able to take on new machinery with a positive attitude.
"roll with the punches"
This question is designed for the hiring manager to find out if you have a consistent struggle with a specific aspect of the job. Talk openly about a struggle that you have had, or currently come across, in your job.
"One challenge that I consistently faced earlier in my career was quickly programming measurements in CAM. I am much better at it now but it took some time and training."
Talk a little bit about the parts that you are accustomed to creating. What was the most challenging part of your career?
"The toughest parts that I have created were surrounding aerospace components for the military. There was added pressure for perfection and the part are much more complicated than one would think."
Mistakes happen and sometimes they can be expensive. Be sure to own up to them and discuss how the issue was resolved in the end. Show the hiring manager that you can easily take accountability for mistakes on the job.
"Earlier in my career I was working on an older style laser and was working too quickly. The machine shorted and we couldn't get it up and running again. I apologized profusely to my supervisor. Knowing that I owned the mistake and didn't make an excuse was enough for my manager to forget it ever happened. I was sure to be extra cautious after that."
When you discuss a challenge in the workplace be sure to keep the mood positive and complete your reply but stating what you learned from the situation.
"The most difficult challenge I've faced while operating a machine would have been last year when we got a new milling machine. It wasn't programmed correctly and it was a bit out of my scope. I spent some time reading the manuals, online forums and other content until I was able to figure it out."
You may have varying degrees of experience with a number of types of equipment. Start by listing your strongest skills and then work down the list.
"I have mainly worked with ABC, DEF and XYZ. Those are the types of equipment that I am most comfortable with. I also bring some light experience in working with an ABCD but that is minimal."
Hiring managers generally respond best to numbers and percentages. Think about what percentage of your career has been spent operating a CNC machine and give your answer.
"I would say that approximately 85% of my career has been spent operating a CNC machine. In my most recent position I was running a CNC machine nearly 100% of the time."
Which courses do you feel were the most helpful in college? What is the overall take on your education and the importance of the classes you attended?
"I have an Associates Degree in Manufacturing Technology. The courses that prepared me most for my first job would have been Blueprint Reading and CAD/CAM courses. My internship hours at ABC Company were really important to my success as a CNC Operator as well."
CAM programming is commonly used in CNC Operating. How many versions are you familiar with? Discuss the versions and your level of comfortability with all of them.
"I am well versed in a variety of CAM programming including EnRoute Software, Mastercam, GibbsCAM and Siemens PLM Software. My strongest experience is with EnRoute and my secondary would be Mastercam."
Be sure to answer this directly. You likely have a machine that you favor and know best.
"If I had to narrow it down to one particular machine, it would be the lathe. I have spent approximately 80% of my day working this particular type of equipment for the past 3 years."
Be sure to refer to your resume and elaborate a bit from there. Discuss your overall experience including your career and internship experience.
"I have been a CNC Operator for 4 years now. During University I completed a 1 year internship as a junior operator and have been with the same company ever since."
Before going into your interview be sure to have researched the company website, the hiring manager on LinkedIn and any online reviews or press. Talk about your findings and be sure to tie in a compliment. Don't forget to tell the hiring manager that you want the job!
"I have done a great deal of research on your company to prepare for this meeting. I know that you are the primary manufacturer of XYZ product and that you are the second largest manufacturer of this product in the State. Your company's reputation online is a strong one and I like how focused you stay on customer satisfaction. I would love to work for such a reputable company."
Being able to face tough and stressful deadlines is an important skill to have. Talk about a specific time when you overcame a tight deadline. What was your supervisors' response to your good work?
"We had a major client deadline last month and at the last minute, one of our lathes broke down. It was devastating to the team because everyone takes pride in their ability to get a job done on time. We put our heads together and everyone committed to working overtime shifts. We worked throughout the night and hit the deadline with an hour to spare! Everyone was thrilled with our teamwork and performance."
Did you attend school to become a CNC Operator? Perhaps you learned on the job or with a blend between the two. Talk a bit about your formal and informal training and discuss your interest in any opportunity to increase your education and training.
"My knowledge as a CNC Operator is a blend of college and on the job training. I currently have a Diploma in CAD and would like to expand this into a Degree in Engineering at some point in my career."
Being able to overcome obstacles is a key skill. How far will you go to find out the correct answer and avoid a slow down in your, or your team's, productivity? You could answer like this: "I have come across a few designs where the directions were not completely clear. To avoid accidents or injury, I must completely understand the correct use. I will ask colleagues for their interpretation and will also consult answers online. You can find a lot of information on parts forums."
"I have come across a few designs where the directions were not completely clear. To avoid accidents or injury, I must completely understand the correct use. I will ask colleagues for their interpretation and will also consult answers online. You can find a lot of information on parts forums."
When you answer this question, be sure not to speak poorly of your last shop. Keep the answer precise, classy and do not say anything you will regret later.
"I really enjoyed almost everything about my last shop. If I could have changed anything it would probably be the age of the equipment. Some of it was on it's last legs which made for a lot of troubleshooting some days."
Numerical control (NC) refers to the automation of machine tools that are operated by abstractly programmed commands encoded on a storage medium, as opposed to manually controlled via handwheels or levers, or mechanically automated via cams alone. The first NC machines were built in the 1940s and '50s, based on existing tools that were modified with motors that moved the controls to follow points fed into the system on punched tape. These early servomechanisms were rapidly augmented with analog and digital computers, creating the modern computed numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools that have revolutionized the manufacturing process.