Top 5 Tips - Airline Interviews

by Zak Wheatley on Mar 18 2019
Hi, I’m Zak and I was a cadet at L3 Airline Academy, finishing training last summer and I have recently been accepted by British Airways to complete a Type Rating and then fly their short-haul Airbus fleet. I have had experience of a few different airline selection processes since starting my job hunt, so I’ve learned a few things about the process of airline interviews. Here are my Top 5 Tips for pilot job applications, and selection processes for airlines. I hope they are useful!

1) Take your time.
Your application to an airline is the first time that they will have ever heard of you. It sounds obvious, but an application is your first hurdle to jump over to reach the end goal of a job offer. Make sure that everything you write, every supporting document that you upload, and every cover letter that you send are free of silly mistakes and embarrassing errors. Check every little detail three times over to make sure that you are happy with it. If you wouldn’t be happy to send it with mistakes, they wouldn’t be happy to receive it. Similarly, in an interview it is easy to have a blank moment. Take a strategic sip of water to buy yourself a couple of seconds to recover and then take it from there as if nothing has happened.

2) Don’t get too disheartened.
Something that I have learned about the aviation industry is that it is changing every single day, and that is the same with airlines and their selection processes. I have applied to a couple of airlines that have really attractive prospects, and then for unforeseen circumstances the recruitment campaign closes and there is nothing that you can do about it. Similarly, if you aren’t successful with an airline, then make sure it is their loss. Listen to the feedback that you receive – you might not like it but they are probably right, so learn from the words they tell you and make sure that the next interview that you are an evolved, more rounded version of yourself.

3) Put some thought into it.
Think about as many possible interview questions prior to the day as you can and make mind maps of various examples that you could use to support what you are saying. You will have heard of the ‘STAR’ technique for interview answers, in my opinion this is the best format to get across the information that your interviewer requires in a concise package. Then put thought in to what they could ask you next. You can bet that following any statement you make in an interview, the next question that comes your way will be asking you to explain more. Avoid awkward silences that scream ‘UNPREPARED’ and always plan for what could be asked next. There is an art to preparing as much as you can without sounding scripted (which you shouldn’t do – they will be able to tell and most likely will catch you out). Plan as much as you can, but verbatim isn’t the way to do it.

4) Stand out.
It sounds basic, but you have to put yourself into the shoes of your assessors. They will possibly be sitting and interviewing ten people that day – if each of those ten people all give the same generic answers to interview questions then they will get bored. Though this isn’t necessarily your fault, you can make sure that you set yourself apart from the other candidates by letting your personality shine through as you speak. Don’t go making things up, always be honest, but you have to show the assessors why you are different to the other nine people in the waiting room.

5) Smile and try to enjoy it.
It is okay to smile, to have a light-hearted joke if it is appropriate. You will no doubt be incredibly nervous on the inside, but if you look like you are enjoying yourself then you will naturally have a more natural interview experience. Both you and the interviewer are human, not robots, so use the social skills that you have had since you were a child and make yourself an approachable, memorable candidate.

Airline assessments and selection processes can be very long, very draining and very intense times, but they will all be worth it for the day that you see the word ‘Congratulations’ in the first sentence of a results email. Good luck with your applications!