Tips for CNC Programmer interviews.

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Do you have any tips to help prepare for an upcoming CNC Programmer interview?

Are there common interview questions that come up again and again?

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Jeff in Virden, Illinois

81 months ago

Fred, Do you mean conversational? The parts I program are very complicated using models and surfacing. There's no way you could program them by hand or conversational. Once the software is setup properly even simple jobs are programmed in minutes along with operator tool sheets, setup pictures and documentation. If you haven't used software then you don't know how much it can help. It's my responsibility to program and prove out each part on the machine which I like so I can stay in touch with the machines, operators and setups. In my opinion, machining experiance, tooling knowledge, material, S&F's, fixture's and software programming is where the money's at.

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Gary Day in Mineola, Texas

69 months ago

I am a CNC Programming Manager. I have noticed in most shops, most machinists consider themselves programmers/machinists. However, I will have to agree with Jeff on this. We are currently hiring programmers and I am specifically looking for someone who has used Mastercam or like software to program. There are hundreds of machinists who claim to be a programmer but for the most part, they are simply machinists with a working knowledge of g code. I do believe it is a plus to know most codes (not all). I'm just not going to hire someone who has no experience with a Cam or Cad package. They are two different things. Maybe there is a company or two out there looking for someone who programs and does the set-ups on a specific machine. If you want to get a job as a programmer, the trick is to focus on software skills and knowledge of machining processes. I turn the other way as soon as an interviewee starts talking about how he programs at the machine but never with CAM software. It’s also a huge difference when you program for just yourself and set up and when you program for other people. Our company is very large and we want programmers who are accustomed to programming for others. This is a lot more stressful than set-up/programming and machine editing. Also it would take weeks to put surfacing code down and lay out multiaxis machines with the control or by hand. That’s just not practical. My advice to anyone going into an interview would be to focus on software you know and how capable you are of learning something new. Be positive and note that you can handle stressful situations. Make sure you mention experience operating CNC equipment but don't focus too much on how well you can edit a program. Don't let it go unknown that you know G-code. Just don't stress the fact that you manually edit code or write simple programs on the machine. It’s more important to know how to machine and that your computer friendly.
Gary Day
Amega-West

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Thach in Ridgewood, New York

67 months ago

Gary, since you're a programmer manager, can I ask you some question?
I'm looking for work as a cnc programmer. I have been using Mastercam for 3 years. I don't have extensive experience using it in a shop scenario. I recently been layoff due to company downsize. I've only operated a 5-axis waterjet and cmm machine (which are the most high tech machine in the shop). I having a hard time selling to prospected company, everyone looking for 5-10 years experience. What can I say to get my foot in the door?

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