An interview is most likely the most stressful part of getting a Job and doing an airline interview is no different. The selection process has changed over the years and flight departments are no longer Just searching for people with technical proficiency in flying. Airlines are interested in hiring individuals with highly developed management, communications, and team player skills in addition to technical skills.
The book, Checklist for Success by Cheryl A. Cage approaches these areas and looks at the process from the resume preparation to the to actual interview and has broken it down into seven, easy to follow steps. The first step in being fully prepared for a pilot interview is to understand the reasoning behind the pilot interviewing process. “Why are they interested in that? ” is a question that most applicants end up asking themselves during an interview.
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Cage goes on to say that most applicants believe going into an interview that they will be grilled on technical issues only to discover that they are being asked about their abilities in a variety of non-technical areas. The airlines want to know about the pilot applicant’s communication, leadership, decision-making, problem solving, and academic abilities as well as their team rientation and attitude. Research in flight crew training and the advances in technology over the past two decades have shown the aviation community that solid technical skills do not always guarantee the best overall candidate.
For example, in one NASA investigation, over 60 accidents where crew-coordination played a significant role were studied and found common factors such as inadequate leadership, failure to delegate tasks and monitoring and failure to communicate intent and plans (Cage, 10). Out of this research comes the strong conclusion that communication and working as part of a team may do more to ensure a safe flight han an individual’s technical skills. In todays interview process there is still extensive review and critique of a pilots technical capabilities. Comparatively, however, technical knowledge and skills are easy to rate.
Will this individual resolve conflicts quickly and in a mature and professional manner? Will this individual speak up when necessary? Would I feel comfortable putting my family on a plane flown by this individual? There is no simulator ride that can answer these questions and can only be found in face-to-face discussions and a critique of how an individual has handled their self in the past. The second step in being fully prepared for a pilot interview is to become familiar with the roles of the people involved in the process. In any field it is a major responsibility to recommend an individual for employment.
A pilot interviewer has the added responsibility of recommending individuals who will be responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives over the length of a flying career. And this decision must be made after spending a relatively short time with each applicant. Because of the variety of concerns that must be addressed, the interviewer must be adept at uncovering the “real” person. It is their responsibility to discover if an applicant has the technical knowledge, communication skills, decision-making abilities, leadership, and team orientation that will make them a positive influence in the cockpit (Cage, 14).
For these reasons and interviewer must ask pointed, probing questions of each applicant. The approach an interviewer takes in an interview aepenas a great deal on nls personallty I nereTore, tne tone 0T tne Intervlew can vary from extreme formality to downright casual and outright hostility to subtly intimidating. A casual, friendly and relaxed interview is the most effective for the nterviewer and the most dangerous from the applicant’s perspective.
Cage goes on to provide an example, “The interviewer leans back in his chair, sips coffee, and uses a conversational tone of voice and method of questioning: “l see youVe been flying Lear Jets the past year – those are great aren’t they? ” Suddenly, the applicant feels as though he is sitting with a friend and is much more prone to offer information that is best left unoffered! ” (Cage, 15). An aggressive and intimidating interview puts the applicant on the defensive and may elicit a response that is equally aggressive.
This ay leave the interviewer feelings as though they will not be able to maintain a professional demeanor even during minor confrontational situations. The third step in being fully prepared for a pilot interview is to gain an awareness of the most common interviewing mistakes. Cage stresses that what works for one person will not necessarily work for the next and that it’s important to be yourself when you prepare for an interview. “Learn about the format of the interview and what types of questions other were asked. But, when it comes to how to act during an interview – relax, be honest, and Just be yourself.
Cage also notes that an applicant should be a “good information giver”. It’s the applicant’s responsibility to help the interviewer to get to know the applicant. Providing specific examples that clearly show how to handle yourself in various situations is a great way to be a good information giver. The mistake many applicant make is they tend to philosophize their answers instead of being specific. By describing a personal situation, the interviewer can gain insight into how the applicant approaches problems and handles conflicts. Cage goes over several common mistakes an applicant makes during interviews.
For example, not listening is a common mistake. Subtle differences in questions could cause the applicant to answer incorrectly if they are not listening carefully. Not sharing your attention, being afraid of silence, venting personal frustrations, not being professional, Joking, trying to lead the interview, not having the correct paperwork and poor technical preparation are all common mistakes that can be avoided with proper preparation. The fourth step in being fully prepared for a pilot interview is determining what life experiences, both positive and negative, best describe your ndividual personality.
The best way to successfully communicate an applicant’s strengths, aptitudes, experience, and desire to the interviewer is to provide specific, personal examples in response to questions. Cage calls these personal examples “stories”. Applicants should self-evaluate themselves and understand situations they have been in regarding things such as decision-making, communication, leadership, team orientation, attitude, and learning ability. She goes on to advise that when deciding on which stories to tell, the applicant should always review their pilot experiences first. They want the interviewer to have an easy time visualizing them as a pilot.
Cage offers advice and includes worksheets on how to gather information for stories. The fifth step in being fully prepared for a pilot interview is to learn how to discuss these life experiences in a complete, yet concise manner. Just like writing a story, an applicant should set the scene by explaining the time, place, and experience level at the time of the story. Then they should provide only the events that are necessary to unaerstana tne story ana to prov10e tnem In cnronologlcal order. I n ixth step in being fully prepared for a pilot interview is to prepare your physical appearance to insure a professional appearance.
An applicant doesn’t not only want to sound the part of a professional airline pilot, they also want to look the part and to make it easy for the interviewer to picture you in the airline’s uniform. Cage suggests a dark business suit, trimmed hair, minimal accessories, no cologne, and a briefcase or folder (instead of something bulky like a flight bag) for men. Cage suggests a conservative suit with a skirt, minimal makeup and Jewelry, no perfume, comfortable eels, and either a purse or a briefcase (not both) for women.
The seventh step in being fully prepared for a pilot interview is to make sure all paperwork is complete and accurate. Forgetting to sign the application, having dates wrong on the Job history, listing flight time incorrectly, misspelling words, poor grammar, not having all the requested documents (Cage, 67) – these are the type of errors that can cost a Job offer. Careful planning and extensive review can help decrease these mistakes. mfour paperwork is “you” on paper. If done correctly, it will be a tremendous asset during the interview process. If done poorly, it could cost you a Job offer. (Cage, 68) In Checklist for Success, Cage has gone over all the main points in doing a successful interview. She has turned a stressful interview into easy to understand process. One of my favorite aspects about the book is that she included several valuable worksheets that can aid you with finding your own stories, writing your resume, sample interview questions, and even a “before/during/after” checklist for the interview. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be an airline pilot or someone who has trouble with interviews in general.