The Airline Industry has been hiring new pilots at an ever increasing rate for the last year, and hiring can only become more frantic as we approach the beginning of 2013. That is the year when over two thousand senior airline pilots will have to retire at age Sixty-five. With the increased amount of pilot recruiting going on, it pays to spend some time thinking about how to prepare for the rare opportunity a pilot’s interview presents.
The internet has information about the interview experience at every airline that you may be interested in flying for. It is fairly easy to find out what will be required of you during the interview and to be prepared for it. If you look at the interviews at several airlines you will see that they all share the basic parts of an interview.
Before You Arrive for the Interview
Spend some time collecting and packaging all of the information that the airline will tell you that they need to see, such as your driving record and school transcripts. There will also be a few forms for you to fill out. You should make sure that there are no mistakes or typos in these documents and gather them into a packet that you can present to the recruiters when you meet them. Your appearance needs to be professional and immaculate. Don’t have a suit? Buy one, and have it altered for a good fit. Make sure that your entire look is presentable. I have spoken to many recruiters who say that the need for a professional look should be obvious, but somehow people manage to mess this up routinely.
Once you arrive for the interview, you will be given several written tests that usually consist of a series of questions from one of the various pilot certificates, with the ATP and instrument being the most common. Some airlines include questions from the commercial test bank as well. There will also be a series of IQ tests, psychiatric evaluations and personality tests. A few airlines will test for mechanical aptitude or math skills. Again, research both on the internet and from actually talking to people in the know will help.
The Human Resources Interview
Once the written tests are done you can expect to spend some time being interviewed by recruiters from the airline’s Human Resources Department. Expect questions about your basic background, and especially if there are any gaps in employment or schooling. You can also expect questions about the results of the background check the airline will run on you. The best advice I can give you would be to relax and be yourself. Honesty is the best policy without a doubt. Be honest about any questions or concerns that they have. Candor on your part will go a long way. Be prepared to discuss checkride failures, training hiccups, or anything else that catches their attention. Be mature and accept responsibility for any mistakes, and again be candid.
The Technical Interview
Expect one of the recruiters you will meet to be a pilot who flies for the airline. This pilot will be eager to go over various aeronautical charts to quiz you about how to read and use them. There will also be questions about your experiences in your flying career and questions about the aircraft that are listed in your logbook. Aside from assessing your technical knowledge they will be trying to determine if you are the kind of person that they can spend four days with in a room smaller than a phone booth without regretting the experience. Do you sound confident without sounding cocky? Are you mature? The challenge here is not to sound like your answers are too practiced or unbelievable.
The Sim Ride
Unlike interviews in the past, sim rides are becoming rare, due to the cost of owning and maintaining high-end simulators. A few carriers still have them though so you need to be prepared. If your airline still uses the sim ride to assess your flying skills, the airline will probably provide you with at least some information on the profile you can expect to fly in the sim. The profile will consist of a takeoff, some basic air work, tracking a radial on a VOR, an ILS to a missed approach and a hold. It will all be hand-flown using raw data, and you may or may not have a non-flying pilot available. If paired with a non-flying pilot, use them as a resource and involve them in the flight.
As both the Regional Airlines and the Major Airlines begin to ramp up hiring, it will become very competitive as pilots try to get the the best jobs. After all of the time and money a pilot spends to become qualified for an airline job, it is important to make the best of the opportunity to fly for the airlines. Be prepared and succeed!