preparing pilot interview

Preparing for your job interview + 10 important advices

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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.

My experiences

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.

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Example pilot assessment

Stage 1

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.

Stage 2

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.

Stage 3

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.

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My 10 advices for your job interview and assessment:

1) Appearance

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.

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Hello from Oslo

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2) Behaviour

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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A300 engines in EGGW (London Luton)

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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.

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7) Practise

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.

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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.

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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.

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Book suggestions to prepare for your interview

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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.

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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. 

Book suggestions:

I would like to know your dream job. Please comment below this article!

Good luck!

Your Pilot Patrick

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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.

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methods how to save money

Simple methods how to save money for your career

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Hello my Aviator,

if you are considering a certain career, but struggling with the cost for the school or training, my friend and entrepreneur Fabian Fröhlich has some valuable advices for you. Especially the costs for flight training can be significantly high. That is why I received a lot of messages from individuals asking me how to save money and to make it possible to become a pilot.

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Flight training can cost anywhere between 60,000€ and 100,000€+. In order to cover these training costs, many pilots will take out substantial loans with high repayments. I was lucky that my parents paid my entire training costs. This definitely took a lot off pressure during my job search. But unfortunately not every family as the finical means to support their children. But there means how to fulfill the dream of flying when struggling with the financial backup.

Methods how to save money

Since Fabian always has great ideas concerning savings and investment I asked him to support me with this blog post. At the end he turned up with some great tips how to make 70.000€  (the sum I paid for my flight training). For those who do not know Fabian yet, he is a young and successful entrepreneur, investor and lifestyle designer from South of Germany. Fabian is not a pilot and does not know the business, but the basic path is always the same.

You have to work hard, stay humble and be grateful.

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Fabian Fröhlich

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How fast can I make 70.000€?

Fabian: „It won’t be able to accomplished it within a month, but it is possible. Maybe you are still a student who attends school and you have already the dream of becoming a pilot. In this situation you can already save up an incredible amount of money while still going to school. It won’t be easy, but if you really want it, it is going to be simple.

What strategy to you suggest?

I structured the my advices into five categories. 

  1. Keep your costs low
  2. Earn money
  3. Connect, so the thinks you want will be cheaper
  4. Get rid of expensive things 
  5. Let your money work for you

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Keep your costs low

  • Live at home as long as possible
  • Eat as basic as possible, that is usually the cheapest and healthiest
    • Oats (protein and carbs)
    • Vegetables and fruits that are on discount (vitamins)
    • Tuna (protein)
    • Lentils (protein and slow carbs)
    • Peanuts (protein and fat)
  • Use public transportation, a bike or your feet and not your car to make it from A to B (especially short distances)

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Earn money

  • Make yourself a Fiverr account and translate from your native language to English. As a side effect you improve your English skills which are important for your future career. 
  • Work at your local gym. Besides earning some money,  you can usually train for free and stay fit. 
  • Work at the local airfield - any job, any wage. That will teach you a lot about aircraft and the vibes on the airfield. Maybe you can work for a flight school who offers you a discount on flight hours.
  • When you drive from A to B find offer your route online so people can travel with you and pay for the journey. In Europe the App Bla Bla Car connects passenger with a driver. 
  • Become the tenant and manager of a housing community. Rent a large apartment and provide space to others. People will pay for your residence. (the rate per square meter of a small room is much higher than for the whole apartment)
  • Sell things online you don't really need.

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Connect

  • Talk to to people at the local airfield or basically every airfield you can visit. Maybe they will let you join and fly with them for free in a small aircraft.
  • Create your own Instagram/YouTube/Facebook account and tell your story of the dream you chase. Deliver value to your community and maybe monetize your story.
  • Visit flight exhibitions and career shows. Talk to different companies and try to connect to people in the same industry. These people will teach you great things

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Save and earn money when working in the gym

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Get rid of expensive things

  • Quit Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify (any of these streaming services) Instead use the time you wasted with them, chasing your dreams
  • Quit your expensive mobile contract. Compare prices and go for a basic one.
  • Quit your gym membership. See Make money
  • Sell your car if you don’t really need it. Imagine how much you can save only with insurance and the maintenance.
  • Check your insurances and regularly compare prices online. Check if you really need this insurance.

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Let your money work for you 

  • Look for the bank that pays the highest interests.  Even 0.5% can sum up pretty nicely over the period of 5 years. 
  • Put the money that  you don't need at the moment in a fixed-term deposit account (interests rates are higher)

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I hope that I could deliver value to you with my advices. Some are easier and some are harder to realize. But it depends on your level of commitment and obsession towards becoming a pilot. As I said, if you really want it, it is going to be simple.  

Thanks Fabian for your valuable advices and your motivating words. Lately I found out that there are plenty organisations which offer a wide variety of bursaries. They award recipients with the opportunity of valuable flying hours and sometimes sponsor of a full PPL. In the UK those organisations are: The Honourable Company of Air Pilots, the Air League and the RAF Association. Google "flying sponsorship". Maybe there are companies in your country as well, who support cadet pilots. 

Full throttle forward you can make it!

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Follow Fabian:

What is your dream job? Please comment below the article.

Positive mind. Positive life. Happy landings.

Your Pilot Patrick

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