The Keys To A Successful Interview

The article contributor is www.machinistmaker.com

Over the years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates for a wide variety of roles in the machining trades. What I’ve learned in that time is that a successful interview consists not only of the interviewer learning everything they can about a potential candidate, but it is also crucial for the person being interviewed to learn all they can about the company where they are applying.  If both gain a firm understanding of each other, the odds of a mutually beneficial partnership go way up.

Here are some tips for a CNC Machinist that can help create a successful interview:

1)      Don’t show up to the actual interview more than 5-10 minutes early. I understand arriving well ahead of schedule as to not be late, but then wait in the parking lot. I’ve had candidates who showed up thirty minutes early. It can create awkward moments or interactions for everyone if you are waiting in or around the office for an extended amount of time.

2)      No one is expecting you to show up in a suit and tie when interviewing for a Machine Operator position. I highly recommend you look professional and put together, but it’s really your skills and ability that will do the talking. I like someone to make the effort to dress “business casual”, but I’ve hired many qualified people that were wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes.     

3)      Bring a few clean copies of your resume, try to relax, be friendly, and smile.  If interviewing with me, you would need to be prepared to discuss the following: accurately describe the role you played at any of your previous employers, what skills and abilities have you mastered, why you became involved with the trades, and what does your ideal job situation look like? Many candidates were hired because they clearly communicated that they had run similar machines in the past and were able to read a micrometer, a bore gage, and a caliper. It can be that simple.

4)      This should be a no brainer, but be honest. If you are a novice operator who has just completed some tech school training or a CNC boot camp and have limited experience but are willing to learn and will have great attendance, tell them that. Don’t overstate your skill set and set expectations too high. Conversely, if you are experienced and can come in and hit the ground running, feel free to state that as well. The most important thing is that you represent the real you. A good interviewer will weed out the “fact from fiction”.

5)      In a casual way, and at the right times try to find out the following. Does the company have a formal training program? You may inquire about this when you are discussing your skill sets and abilities. How long has the average employee been with the company? The time to ask that might be when taking a shop tour. Inquire about the company’s benefits package. They should clearly explain insurance, vacation, holidays, 401K etc. I say to do it in a casual way so that you do not raise concerns that you are looking to advance too quickly or are only interested in time off or vacation. Sometimes asking a tremendous amount of questions can give a potential employer concerns that you are either high maintenance or will need constant attention. I’d also shy away from saying you want to grow and advance quickly in the company. The interviewer ‘s main goal is to fill the role you are applying for and their immediate thoughts tend to be assessing if you a good fit for the company and are capable of doing the job. Too many questions about advancement make you sound less interested in the job you are applying for. If you are hired and do good work, new opportunities within the company should present themselves.

6)      Pay close attention throughout the interview process. Was the individual you interviewed with on time and prepared? Was the person nice? How about the facilities, did they appear to be clean, well lit, and orderly? When you took a tour did the other employees appear to be enjoying their jobs? All your observations can give you a hint as to what type of company you may be working for. Make sure it meets your standards.

7)      At the end of the interview thank the individual for his/her time. If this is a company you would like to work for and a job you would want, state that fact.  Also ask when the company plans to make a hiring decision and if they will get back in touch with you. A great many companies struggle with communication after the interview. Sometimes you may not hear back for weeks or you won’t hear back at all. This is a bad practice by many companies, but it is a sad reality. Don’t take it personally. Keep moving forward and don’t miss out on any opportunities because you think you might hear back from a previous interview. Keep moving forward in your job search. If you applied through a staffing agency they will most likely be doing the follow up for you. That can help greatly with the flow of information. As a point of reference, when I feel good about a candidate they are usually offered a job the same day or easily within a week.

Finally, later that day, after the interview as a form of self-reflection, think about how you did and where there might be room for improvement. Maybe you were a little nervous, or forgot a few things you wanted to mention, or didn’t clearly convey your skills and abilities. That’s ok. Interviewing is a skill and, as such, if you work on your process and approach you will see positive results.