Happy Easter my Aviator,
I recently gave you tips when applying for your dream job. I explained how crucial a perfect application is to receive an invitation for a job interview. In this article I want to share my experiences I made during my numerous pilot assessments and I will give you ten general advices to consider for an interview.
Unlike other jobs in the world most airline companies seek their pilots not with a standard job interview. Over multiple stages, pilot selection typically involves online application, aptitude and maths testing, interview and group exercises and simulator assessment. The key to success is an extensive and a good preparation for the assessment.
In the article „May way into the cockpit“ I explained my rather uncommon way to find my first job as a first officer. Besides a job interview with the CEO, I flew some kind of screening with an instructor pilot on a C172 around Berlin. He assessed my airmanship and flying skills. For my second employee in the business aviation, I only had an interview without any testing. I suppose that my flight experience with over 1500 flight hours were enough to prove that I could fly the Citation XLS+. For my current employee I had to pass an assessment which consisted of three stages before I received a positive answer.
Example pilot assessment
The two day assessment took place at Interpersonal in Hamburg. The first day consisted of computer based tests covering numerous subjects. English (multiple choice, hand written translation), maths (mental arithmetic and math text problems), logical reasoning, memory, ATPL knowledge, multi-task ability.
The second day consisted of interviews to get to know me in person. Additional my ability to work in a team in high workloads and to make effective decisions. During all events a physcologist judged me.
Last stage was a simulator screening at Lufthansa Aviation Training. I flew the B737 full flight simulator for the very first time. The check pilots wanted to see my airmanship and flying skills. Special Boeing procedures and system knowledge were not required but they wanted to see that I could transfer my skills to a new surrounding.
Now I have ten important advices for you which are based on my experiences in the aviation industry. They do not primary relate to flight crew positions and can be used for all job interviews and assessments. Please study them carefully as they might have a big impact on your future career.
My 10 advices for your job interview and assessment:
Your appearance is the marking criteria. Especially the first impression is really important. You should wear a outfit which suites your future job. As part of a flight crew you should wear a dark suit, white shirt and tie. Make sure your clothes and shoes are clean, are of the correct size and well ironed. In case you have to travel for an extended period to your interview, I suggest that you change just prior your appointment or take extra clothing. This way your clothing stays fresh. Use deodorant and perfume which is not persistent.
Be friendly, respectful and professional. Professionalism starts with punctuality. Arrive on time and plan some extra time for any delays. I found it helpful to arrive a day earlier in case I had to travel lengthly. Greet your interviewer with eye contact. Try to memorize all their names. I know this can be really hard. I suggest to find out who your interview partners will be when you get invited for the interview. Listen careful and speak when you are challenged. If you did not understand anything ask again.
If you are not sure ask again! Pilots do this all the time.
Be confident and speak loudly so every one in the room can understand you. Try to have an open posture when sitting in the chair and do not cross your arms. During group exercises it is really important that you give input, but also let your fellow candidate speak up as well.
3) Know the company
Try to gather as much as information about your future employee. Know about fleet size and type, passenger numbers, its history, staff, key players in their sector, where it flies to – make sure you know past, present and future. The interviewer wants to see that you are passionate about the job, but he also wants to see a well-rounded person, who his aware of the world outside
4) Know yourself
You should not only know your possible future employee, but you should also know yourself. This means that you know your curriculum vita by heart including all dates and stages. As a pilot you should know the exact flight hours. A good preparation includes
Why do you want to work for us? What makes you the ideal person for this position? Why did you want to become a pilot?
I have been asked about my positive and negative characteristics. As I found this question superfluous (especially the negative aspect). I asked my family and friends about my characteristics. As a negative quality I always mention that I am too curious. Find a characteristic which is not solely negative.
5) Be yourself
It does not help to pretend to be a different person to be a better fit for the position. Your interview partner and phycologist will find out easily. Just be yourself and try to be relaxed. Relaxed in a testing environment? This definitely helped would me a lot. I always try to blind out what the outcome would mean to me. This way my stress level is reduced and pressure drops a little bit. Using this technique helps me to me myself and my performance increases significantly.
6) ATPL knowledge
In case you just graduated from flight school this should not be a major problem for you. Never the less you should revise the ATPL knowledge. I never struggled with those kind of questions. In my last assessment I was even above average. Those candidates who were below average were asked ATPL questions again during their personal interview. Take your summaries out and study them again.
Aptitude and numerical testing can sound daunting, but they are hurdles you have to overcome. Use your research to replicate each stage and practise, practise, practise. It is said that you cannot practise for aptitude tests, but that does not mean leave it to chance. You can still prepare by familiarizing yourself with the testing process and sharpening your skills.
8) English skills
English is the most common language in aviation. I have seen many candidates who failed because of their weak English skills. This really surprises me a lot, because during flight training they are faced with English the whole time. So in case you struggle: Do translations from you native language into English. Try to translate texts which relate to the aviation industry.
9) Film yourself
Practise your interview by answering questions out loud. Answering in your head or on paper is less efficient, so talk to yourself in the shower, in your car and every spare minute. Give a friend a list of questions and simulate an interview situation. You could also use your smart phone and film yourself. This way you notice your mistakes and can improve. This makes you more confident.
10) Have questions
Carry a small notebook with you. In this book you can take short notes. (shows extra interests) If you have questions note them prior the interview, so you will not forget them.
An invitation to an interview means you are already halfway there. So do not screw up. Show the recruiters that you are capable of doing the job and that you are a good fit with their company.
I would like to know your dream job. Please comment below this article!
Your Pilot Patrick
Join me for a special tour with me through the historic airport of Tempelhof next Sunday (23.04.) Find all details and how to get a free boarding pass on my Facebook page PilotPatrick.