What makes a successful pilot interview? One in which the candidate demonstrates the best combination of ability, experience and culture fit. Effective preparation will help you to convey this—follow our five steps, below, to help you to impress in a face-to-face interview.
1) Research rigorously
Liz Loveridge, Rishworth Aviation regional director for North East Asia, pilots which includes captains, first officers and co-pilots, points out that applicants should research the airline, the country, culture, and details such as history, fleet, deliveries and routes.
“It is also good to prepare answers to commonly asked questions such as motivations and reasons for wishing to join the airline, and your family situation if relocating”, she says. Candidates should also expect technical questions and to explain their approach to crew relationship management, or CRM.”
It is worth checking the scope of this stage of the selection process. An interview might just be one part of a screening event which could also include a simulator assessment, medical, computer-based psychometric test, group exercises and assessment centres, says Loveridge.
And finally, be prepared to meet a wide range of interviewers. At British Airways, for example, candidates are introduced to line pilots and HR associates during its competency-based interviewing (which looks at safety, flying skills and customer care). “This allows us to engage candidates pilot-to-pilot to ensure that the traits we desire are apparent in the next generation of British Airways”, says assistant pilot recruitment manager, Senior First Officer Andy Perkins.
2) Use the recruiter’s resources
Advice on job profiles can be found on the websites of most airlines. In addition it is worth browsing through YouTube, where pilots at organisations such as Korean Air, Norwegian Long Haul and Vietnam Airlines talk about their daily lives.
At British Airways an extensive careers website is supplemented by Pilot Roadshows. “These events are designed to give qualified pilots an insight into our world”, says Perkins.
Pilot recruits will join British Airways as First Officers, he says, because the airline recruits on the basis of all pilots being “Captains of the future”, who will often stay for 30-35 years. It offers a varied career path.
“Several opportunities are unique to this airline, such as the chance to become a trainer, while still a co-pilot, be involved in pilot recruitment, as pilot ambassadors, and other project work such as fuel efficiency.”
Perkins adds that candidates are advised “to research fully, as you will be assessed on your knowledge about British Airways at the interview stage.”
And to give insight into culture, Rishworth Aviation puts candidates in touch with pilot support representatives at the airline, or a pilot already on assignment, so that they can speak about their experience.
3) Provide original paperwork
Before pilots are invited to any interview, they will have already completed various detailed application forms. Liz Loveridge explains that this means providing details of flying experience; including hours, fleet types and rank, employment and general background.
In addition, recruiters will expect to have seen not just a CV, but “copies of documents such as Licence, medical, Licence Verification, log book pages, Proficiency and Line checks, No Criminal Record, passport, training certificates, letters of service or reference”, she says. Applicants are usually expected to bring the originals of these documents to the interview.
4) Dress appropriately
All applicants are advised to wear smart business attire for interviews. Tattoos should not be on display. “A conservative approach is recommended—clean, tidy and professional”, says Loveridge. Be aware, though, that applicants often have to attend a medical with tread-mill exercises on the same day, and so it is worth enquiring whether to bring sportswear for this.
5) Be your best self
Pilot recruitment is becoming more wide-ranging. British Airways, for example, runs three types of programmes: Direct Entry, Future Pilot, and Managed Path, which take on: those who are qualified, those with no experience, and those leaving the military and looking for a commercial flying career respectively.
“This diverse mix of people,made up of both genders, and from a variety of backgrounds, is important to us and our customers”, says Perkins.
And so candidates should have the courage to be their best, professional selves and prove their safety and proficiency record, while giving an insight into their motivations. Perkins points out that interviewers want to learn about the applicant.
“At interview we want to know about how you lead, how you contribute, how you work with others”, he says.
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