Airline interviews are often different from all other job interviews as they usually consist of technical questions. Learn how to ace your airline interview with these tips.
If you have prepared for a career as an airline pilot, then you know that the airline interview process can be overwhelming. However, making a few preparations ahead of time can help you meet the interviewers with confidence, and demonstrate to the team that you are an ideal candidate for the job. While your current logbook and resume can tell the story of your technical competencies, ratings, and certificates, the in-person interview is a crucial opportunity to set yourself apart from the other applicants. Here is a guide to assist you in making the best impression possible.
Form Relationships Within the Airline and Industry: Attend an Aeronautical College
Attending a dedicated, FAA-approved aeronautical university like California Aeronautical University has a number of benefits. Not only does an aviation degree from an aeronautical college demonstrate early, serious, and sustained interest in a career as a pilot, students earn their an Bachelor of Science time they complete much of the flight training necessary to launch them to the airlines.
Most airlines require what is known as “the ATP,” or an airline transport certificate. The ATP is typically the ultimate goal of most professional pilots. Most pilots are not eligible to assess for the ATP until they are 23 years and must have at least 1,500 eligible flight hours. Practical and written tests are also necessary. If the pilot has attended an FAA- Part 141 aviation university and earns a Bachelors with an aviation concentration, they may be eligible for a 500 hour reduction. This means if they successfully progress they would qualify for a Restricted ATP needing only 1,000 versus the 1,500 hours.
Attending an aeronautical university can also help obtain an airline interview in other ways. Students are provided with opportunities to network professionally at a number of university events. In addition, students can participate in a fast-track program in which they work with the airlines. This means they can even secure a conditional job offer before graduation.
Rehearse for Airline Interviews With Practice Questions
Airline interviews for pilots are often different from all other job interviews in that they usually consist of not just a bank of questions, but also what is known as a “technical assessment.” This part of the interview covers aspects of the job that a safe and knowledgeable pilot must know even before job training begins. These might include:
- Interpreting an aeronautical chart they have never seen
- Defining various aviation terms
- Answering questions about meteorological developments
- Describing how they would respond to a specific scenario
For most pilots, this is the easiest part of the interview. This portion asks them to rely on information and skills they have presumably learned long ago and use on a constant basis.
The other part of the airline interview, sometimes known as the “performance review” or “competency assessment,” is often more daunting to pilots. This is the portion in which he or she is questioned about his or her soft skills, or ability to work well with a team, manage a crew, and function as a productive airline employee. The candidate is asked to share examples from his or her professional life to demonstrate a personal alignment with the goals of the airline. Some even ask the pilot to show knowledge about the airline itself. These can include:
- “Please share an example of when you have failed to reach a goal”
- “What do you think about this airline’s five-year profit projections?”
- “How would you address a member of your crew who is creating an unprofessional atmosphere?”
Other details of the competency review will ask the pilot to describe his or her faults, detail a response to a past emergency, or discuss the attributes of an ideal pilot. Airline interviews may also emphasize the importance of multitasking, or focus on how the job candidate has continually worked on professional development outside of reaching for the minimums needed for FAA-required ratings and certificates. This is the time when someone who has long had the goal of becoming an airline pilot can shine: It is the best possible opportunity to share aviation-related volunteer work such as with the Civil Air Patrol, describe what was gained from attending seminars at fly-ins, and share information about extra safety courses you have taken.
Studying For Airline Interviews
Thinking about these questions ahead of the stress of the actual airline interview situation is a tremendous benefit. Walking into the interview room knowing what you will say before you say it brings a great deal of confidence. This also prevents you from succumbing to the temptation to lie or sharing an unflattering side of yourself.
While there is no way to know exactly which questions will be asked, and it is unduly stressful and not recommended to memorize answers. Having a general idea of how to answer such difficult questions as “How do you deal with a teammate with whom you do not get along?” and “Have you ever disobeyed a request from a captain?” is important. You will approach these issues much more calmly than if you had never considered these questions.
Think carefully about how to present yourself as a motivated and understanding employee. Treat everyone with whom you come in contact kindly and politely, dressing as professionally as possible for the occasion. Show situational awareness by appearing on time and in the correct place, bringing with you your resume, logbook, and license.
Understand what the airline is seeking; this is not a good time to share the tale of how you made the bad decision to fly into a thunderstorm because you thought it might be fun. By showing that you are safety oriented and eager to help your colleagues succeed, you will demonstrate to the interviewers that you have the airline as well as your potential future crew mates in mind. Establish confidence and competency and remember – your airline interview starts when to board the plane!
Tamu Smith-Kohls serves as the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing for California Aeronautical University. She has worked in the aviation industry in various roles for 24 years. As a United States Air Force retired veteran, she has a unique appreciation for the aviation industry. Tamu has served in Information Systems as a Network Administrator, Aerospace Flight Medicine as a Health Services Manager, and Air Force Recruitment and Marketing. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology; a Master’s in Business Administration and is a Certified Neuro Linguistic Practitioner. Her passion is motivating, training, coaching and serving others to reach their best potential.