Updated on August 17th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 36
Walk me through the steps you take to diagnose a machine malfunction.
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The interviewer would like some insight into how you think and troubleshoot when it comes to machine malfunctions. Take the interviewer through the steps you take when faced with malfunction.
"Personally, I like to use a 5 step troubleshooting method. I was taught this way of troubleshooting while attending my Machinist Technician courses in trades school. The first step is Observation. Step 2 is to Define the Problem. Third, I take the time to Identify the Potential Causes. The fourth step is to Determine Cause and then the final and fifth step is to Repair and Test."
We value continued learning and development. If you could take additional machining related training, what would you choose?
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The interviewer would like to know where you would improve your skills, if given the opportunity. As a machinist, it's a great idea to gain skills in specific machinery or even electronic blueprint reading. Talk about your biggest areas of interest and where you would like to continue to learn.
"Career development is really important to me since I want to continually improve and grow my machining skills. If I could choose any area for improvement, I would choose additional skills in CNC."
As a Machinist, are Health and Safety regulations important to you? What type of Safety training have you taken?
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The interviewer would like to be assured that you take Health and Safety seriously. Discuss any safety related training you have taken on the job, and any formal certifications you may possess.
"Health and safety is incredibly important to me as a machinist. I've seen people become unnecessarily hurt in the workplace and it can be easily prevented. I have had a lot of great on the job training when it comes to safety and also have safety related certificates including Machine Shop Safety Training, Occupational Health and Safety Training, and First Aid / CPR."
Tell me the types of machines you have experience in running. Where did you gain this experience?
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The interviewer would like a clear break down on the machines you are most skilled with. Before the interview, it is important that you become familiar with their job description so that you understand the types of machinery you will be expected to work on. If you have experience in these types of machines, you should mention these first. If you do not have experience in the machines that are used there, you can talk about any machines that may be close in nature.
"I see that you primarily use CNC machines, lathes, and milling machines. I have a lot of experience with CNC and a smaller amount with lathes and milling machines. I have gained this experience from working as a machinist with Company XYZ for the last 5 years."
Working as a Machinist will present some challenging situations. How do you handle stress in the workplace?
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Are you someone who is able to handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to manage pressure in the workplace.
"I handle stress very well and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure to not get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."
6. What influenced your decision to work as a Machinist? The interviewer wants to see that you have a lot of passion for what you do, and interest in what this career path has to offer. Staff turnover can be expensive so assure the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in this career path, and plan to stay long term. Be sure to touch on what first influenced you into this career path. Here is an answer example: "My interest in machining started as a teen when I took shop classes in high school. I was fascinated with the different ways I needed to apply mathematical skills and critical thinking. I've always been a hands-on type of person so pursuing a career as a machinist made sense for me. This particular position interests me because you have machinery that I have never worked with before. I believe your company will offer me many opportunities for career development."7. Do you have your own tools that you can bring to the job? There are two simple ways to answer this question! Yes, or no. There really is no wrong answer, as most employers should be equipped with the tools that you need, should you not have your own.
If you do have your own tools: "Yes, I do have my own tools. I can certainly bring them with me to the job if you prefer that I provide my own tools."
If you do not have your own tools: "I have always worked with employers who have provided tools for me so I am not fully equipped on my own. I can certainly purchase more tools of my own if that is preferred." Here is an answer example: "Yes, I do have my own tools. I can certainly bring them with me to the job if you prefer that I provide my own tools."8. What are your career goals within machining, and how will this position fit with those goals? Is this particular position a good fit? Is it a step up in your career or - a stagnant move that you are just complacent with taking until something better comes along? Assure the interviewer that this position will be challenging for you, is a step upward, and that it fits with your overall career goals. Here is an answer example: "My primary goal in my career as a machinist is to gain further certifications, and stronger leadership experience so that I can eventually run my own team and shift. I feel that what your organization offers is a strong path towards those goals and I am excited for what this position has to offer."9. Tell me about your experience in this field. It is very important to become acquainted with the job description prior to your interview. When the interviewer asks this question be sure to highlight the related experience that you bring. Here is an answer example: "I bring all of the experience that you are looking for in filling this position. In addition to being an expert user in SAP, I also bring 5 years' experience in B2B sales."10. Tell me about a responsibility in your former or current position that you really enjoyed. Were you asked to take on a particular task, project, or responsibility that gave you a strong sense of enjoyment? Talk to the interviewer about this particular task and what it meant to you. Here is an answer example: "In additional to my regular responsibilities, my previous employer also asked me to be the head of our social committee. This was very exciting for me because I love to have a workplace where people know each other, are comfortable having a meaningful conversation, and where everyone can let loose now and then. I planned 4 social events per year and the turnout was always wonderful. Employee engagement went up and some very strong connections were made."11. How does this position fit into your career goals? Is this particular position a good fit? Is it a step up in your career or - a stagnant move that you are just complacent with taking until something better comes along? Assure the interviewer that this position will be challenging for you, is a step up in responsibilities, and that it fits with your overall career goals. Here is an answer example: "My primary goal in my career as an HR professional is to eventually work my way from an Administrator level to HR Partner. I feel that what your organization offers is a strong path towards those goals and I am excited about what this position has to offer."12. What is your current salary? A potential employer will often base their offer on your current salary. You should be transparent about your most recent earnings and be prepared to back up any salary requests. Here is an answer example: "I am currently earning a base salary of $78,000 plus a car allowance of $900/month and health benefits. I am looking for a competitive salary in my next position."13. Tell me about a contribution you made to the last team you worked on. It is important to show the interviewer that you are a team player. Talk about a time that you were recently expected to achieve a goal in a team setting. How did you go over and above to ensure that your contribution was felt? Here is an answer example: "Last month our company asked upper management to complete a full inventory audit. There were 4 of us in total and so we broke the audit requirements into shifts. These shifts had to take place when the warehouse was closed. In the end, there was one additional shift that nobody wanted to take. I volunteered myself to do that shift to show my dedication to my job and my co-workers. The gesture was appreciated and the audit was completed on time."14. How do you handle stress on the job? Are you someone who is able to handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to manage pressure in the workplace. Here is an answer example: "I handle stress very well and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure to not get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."15. Do you have experience working in a unionized environment? What are your thoughts on union based roles? While the interviewing company may have some, or all, unionized employees, it's best to answer this question as diplomatic as possible. Avoid complaining and try to focus on the perks that might come from working in a unionized environment. Here is an answer example: "Personally, I have not worked in a unionized environment; however, I have heard that unions are a great way to ensure continuity in the workplace. From what I understand, they offer security to employees which is always a bonus."16. We measure productivity in a variety of ways. In your opinion, what are the most important performance metrics for this position? The interviewer would like to know that you can identify the most important parts of this role and understand how those relate to the overall success of the company. Reading through their job description, you should be able to pull out the key responsibilities in this role. These key responsibilities are directly connected to the success of the organization. Discuss what you think the key performance metrics are and how you plan to meet them. Here is an answer example: "From reading the job description and overall responsibilities of the role, I believe that the most important metrics to measure in this role are A, B, and C. In my current position I am measured by these exact metrics. I am a consistent performer in my current role and plan to bring the same enthusiasm to this position."17. As a Machinist, you may be asked to work a variety of shifts. Do you have any restrictions on your availability? The interviewer wants to know what kind of flexibility you can offer them when it comes to your work schedule. If you have any restrictions in your schedule, this is a good time to address them. If there is a specific shift that you are looking for, be upfront about your preference. Here is an answer example: "I am more than willing to be a flexible employee by working a variety of shifts, as needed. Currently I do not have many restrictions in my availability with the exception of Tuesday evenings."18. The role of a Machinist requires high amounts of physical activity. What experience have you had within a physically demanding role? The interviewer wants to know if you have any physical limitations that would deem you unable to perform the tasks required in this role. In many states it is illegal for an employer to ask about your health history so this is another method of finding out about your physical capabilities. Here is an answer example: "I see in your job description that you ask for the ability to lift up to 50 pounds, and stand for long periods of time. These are the same physical requirements of my current position, and I can confidently say that I am able to meet these physical requirements."19. When you have a situation that could cause you to be unexpectedly absent from work, how do you handle it? The interviewer wants to be assured that you are a reliable person, and that you are capable of handling unforeseen circumstances in a professional manner. If you are unexpectedly taken from your work duties you should always communicate your needs promptly to your manager. Have you shift covered, if possible, or offer to make the time up at a later date. Being honest and transparent in these situations is always the best choice. Here is an answer example: "If I were to have a situation where I needed to be late, or absent, I would call my manager immediately and explain the situation. I, of course, would be incredibly remorseful as I really do not like to miss work. I do take pride in my high level of reliability."20. How would you fill your time, if faced with downtime during your working day? The interviewer wants to know that you are a dedicated employee who is capable of finding productive tasks, even during seasons or times when the workload isn't as intense.
A few ways that you can fill your time when volumes are low:
- Mentoring a junior employee
- Servicing equipment
- Offering to help a co-worker
- Studying safety manuals
Give an example of how you would fill potential downtime and be sure to highlight that you are a proactive and productive employee. Here is an answer example: "I am a very proactive individual and certainly do not enjoy sitting around, waiting for work to be handed to me. If I were to experience downtime in the workplace I would take that time to mentor more junior employees or brush up my knowledge in workplace policy or safety."21. In your opinion, what skills and behaviors are most important, in order to be a successful Machinist? The interviewer knows that you will likely list skills and behaviors that you personally possess. Assure the interviewer that you understand what it takes to be successful as a Machinist. You want your answer to be unique. This will help you to stand out from the other potential candidates. For instance, saying that you think a Machinist should be safe, and detail driven, may be a mundane answer that anyone would give. Dig deeper!
Here are some ideas:
- Capable of stress-management
- Open to feedback
- Dedicated Here is an answer example: "I believe the most important skills as a Machinist would be to have technical and mechanical abilities, quick-decision making skills, and be capable of exercising patience."22. Attention to detail is very important in this role. How do you ensure you remain focused and accurate at all times? The interviewer wants to be assured that you are able to remain focused and responsible while working with important equipment and machinery. Give an example of ways that you remain focused on the task at hand, even in a potentially distracting situation. Here is an answer example: "I feel that attention to detail is incredibly important, especially as a machinist, because it can be the line between a safe and unsafe workplace. I stay focused on the job by taking breaks to energize, when it's appropriate. I am sure to follow safety checklists and regularly maintain the equipment that I am working on."23. Would you say you focus more on reasons why change will not work rather than adapting to new changes? When change occurs in the workplace do you view it positively or do you resist the change? Talk to the interviewer about the ways in which you adapt to change. Here is an answer example: "When change occurs in the workplace I initially try to balance the pro's and the con's before reacting. Overall I would say that I prefer to focus on why the changes will work. I am a positive person by nature."24. Describe an ongoing problem at your current or former employer that you were able to overcome. Every place of employment will have it's challenges. Talk to the interviewer about a specific issue that you were able to overcome in your previous role. Be sure to remain positive. Avoid complaining or saying negative things about your previous employer or co-workers. Here is an answer example: "In my most recent position we had an ongoing concern with regular maintenance schedules not being adhered to. Equipment failures were too frequent and it was a problem for expenses and productivity. I decided to digitize the maintenance schedule and the checklist had to be confirmed as complete before anyone could clock out for the day. In the end, this solved the majority of maintenance issues and kept most employees more honest regarding their completed tasks."25. Do you have difficulty working in a team environment? Team collaboration is a key part of most jobs so it's important that you give an overall positive reply to this question. If you have difficulty working in a team environment, that is okay; however, you need to show the interviewer that you are capable of offering flexibility between a group setting and working autonomously. In the end, the interviewer wants to be assured that you are capable of working positively, in a team environment.
If you have difficulty working in a team environment: "Depending on the scope of the project, I sometimes prefer to work autonomously; however, I am more than capable of being a positive and contributing member of a team based project."
If you love working in a team environment: "Personally, I thrive in a team environment. I see team projects as an opportunity to learn new skills!" Here is an answer example: "Depending on the scope of the project, I sometimes prefer to work autonomously; however, I am more than capable of being a positive and contributing member of a team based project."26. What are your salary expectations? The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise. Here is an answer example: "Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year plus a potential 20% annual bonus based on overall company performance. Last year my earnings were $52,000 and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."27. Tell me about your Machinist related education. The interviewer wants to know how your education has prepared you for this job a a machinist. A few highlights you can focus on are some of the relevant topics you learned about while attending any formal courses or on-the-job training. How will that education help you in this new role? What were some of the most interesting things you learned?
Some ideas for you:
- If you have experience working on group projects, share how you improved your listening and communication skills when working on a challenging project.
- If you learned a new type of software or how to work a type of equipment you will need to know in this new job, talk about what you know and how you will apply this new knowledge.
While attending post-secondary studies, you likely learned some core skills that would be transferable to any position. Think about what you learned in your highest levels of education and how that knowledge applies (or will apply) to your work. Some of these skills could include:
- Time Management
- Creative Thinking
- Proposal Writing
- Public Speaking
- Presentation Building
- Independent Learning
- Academic Research
- Self-Motivation Here is an answer example: "I am a big believer in post-secondary education. It adds a lot of value to those newer to the workplace. My post-secondary education was in Machining. The courses in this program helped me to develop stronger abilities when it comes to blueprint reading and working on CNC machines. I also learned a lot of calculus and algebra which has proven to be incredibly helpful in my current role."28. Being a machinist can be stressful. How do you deal with stressful situations in the workplace? Ah, the challenge of stress management! Your ability to manage stress will directly influence your ability to do your job successfully. Before answering this question, think of some ways you have learned to deal with stress at work. You can't always take a break when you need it, so what will you do?
Some workplace stress management strategies are:
- Track your primary stress factors and make a plan for overcoming those
- Establish boundaries with distracting coworkers
- Breathing exercises, or meditation
- Be sure to recharge your emotional batteries throughout the day
- Express your stress to your manager/supervisor
- Ask for help Here is an answer example: "I've learned some helpful breathing techniques that I can do while I'm at work. Even when I'm feeling rushed or overwhelmed by a situation, I am able to slow down my breathing and remain calm. Once I understood that it was okay for me to take a minute for myself, I learned to handle workplace stressors in a whole new way."29. We are asking for 8 years of machining experience and you have just 5. Why do you think you are qualified for this position? To many employers, the number of years' experience is flexible - so long as you have the results to show for the years that you do have. Talk to the interviewer about your major career successes. This is the time to sell yourself. Make no apologies for your lack of years! Here is an answer example: "Although I have 5 years' experience vs 8 years' experience I can absolutely do this job well. In my previous role, I was outperforming colleagues who had 12 years of experience. To me, it's all about drive and ability to be a quick study. I have all of these qualities and more."30. List the top 3 skills that you have acquired in your last role. You have likely gained many valuable skills in your career. Share with the interviewer which skills you value the most. Be sure to include skills that will benefit this potential new employer. Here is an answer example: "In the past few years I was able to upgrade my education while still working full time. The biggest skill that I gained was my ability to multi-task as I worked the dual role of employee and student. I also have strong CNC experience and bring skills in blueprint reading."31. How do you stay up-to-date on new technologies and trends in machining? One way that a potential employer will gauge 'fit' is by ensuring that you are passionate about your particular industry. Show the interviewer that you are passionate about machining by openly discussing how you stay on top of new industry trends. It's a good idea to ask the interviewer if they have any favorite resources for industry trends. You can always learn something new and it can be a gateway to a strong conversation. Here is an answer example: "I keep up to date on new technologies and trends in machining through a variety of sources. I follow 3 different blogs from industry leaders as well as read multiple articles online per week. My favorite resource right now is Modern Machine Shop online. Do you have any favorite resources for up to date industry information?"32. Describe the types of routine maintenance you’ve performed on CNC machines. Why is routine maintenance important? The interviewer wants to see that you are accustomed to following a maintenance schedule, and that you understand the importance of regular maintenance for costly equipment. Walk the interviewer through the regular maintenance schedule you are accustomed to performing. Here is an answer example: "In my current position, we are asked to perform very regular maintaining on the CNC machine. It's an imperative and very costly piece of equipment that must be cared for regularly, and carefully. The schedule that I am accustomed to includes daily care checklist, a 500 hours checklist, a 1000 hours checklist, and a 2000 hours checklist. The daily checks that I perform include checking the hydraulic pressure to make sure it’s at 4.5 MPa. I also check the hydraulic fluids, the chuck pressure, and lube level. The checklist also includes the cooling system, cleaning any loose chips out of the pan, and the window and lights. I also re-lubricate any necessary parts."33. As a Machinist, you are required to read blueprints and parts drawings. Tell me about your previous experience with this. As a machinist, the ability to clearly read blueprints and/or schematics is incredibly important. The interviewer is testing your knowledge so the clearest way to express your level of expertise could be to rate your knowledge from 1-10. Briefly explain to the interviewer that you are familiar with blueprint reading and be sure to mention the amount of years' experience you may have with this. Here is an answer example: "In total, I have 6 years' experience with reading blueprints and parts drawings. If I could rate my level of expertise from 1-10, I would rate myself as a 7. There is always more to learn; however, I have a strong existing ability in this department."34. What are vernier calipers, and why are they important in machining? The interviewer is testing your knowledge of basic trade tools. Briefly explain to the interviewer that you are familiar with vernier calipers, and their important place in machining. Here is an answer example: "Vernier Calipers are best described as a linear measuring instrument. As a machinist, I must be able to properly use this tool as I frequently measure very small dimensions. Accuracy is very important in this line of work and the vernier caliper is a big part of accuracy in measurement."35. What is a micrometer screw gauge, and how would you use it within the role of Machinist? The interviewer is testing your knowledge of basic trade tools. Briefly explain to the interviewer that you are familiar with the micrometer screw gauge, and the importance of its use. Here is an answer example: "A micrometer screw gauge is an instrument used to accurately measure the diameter of a thin wire or the thickness of a sheet of metal. As a machinist, I must be able to accurately use this tool as I frequently measure very small dimensions. Accuracy is very important in this line of work and the micrometer screw-gauge is the best tool for that type of accuracy."36. As a machinist, you need to calculate dimensions and perform other math related tasks. Tell me about your mathematical skills. The interviewer is looking for proof of your mathematical skills. Discuss how you use math to calculate dimensions, in your current position. If you have taken any courses related to math, this is a great time to discuss those as well. Here is an answer example: "I have solid mathematical skills and formal math training from my time in trades school. I took the Machinist Technician program where I completed Math for Machining I, II and III. In my current position I am the 'go-to' employee for those who have troubles with some types of calculations."
Author of Machinist Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 09/20/2010 Last modified on: 08/17/2018
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