You’ve been slogging around in crummy weather flying checks or doing crunch and goes as a flight instructor for a long time now. Or perhaps you are at a regional and got your dream shot at a major. Maybe you just retired from military flying and are headed to your first airline interview.
Whatever the case, you have your big day coming up and you don’t want to blow it. Although the shine has worn off from airline jobs in recent years, they are still highly coveted jobs with plenty of qualified applicants clamoring for them. The thought of an interview and all the hoops to jump through seems daunting. The good news is that there is a lot of support out there from people who have been there.
Many companies, from regionals, cargo, majors, etc., follow fairly similar formats for interviews. I have gone through the process several times, including regional and major interviews. I have found a few general tips that are applicable anywhere and should help you:
1) Company IQ – Make sure you have done some basic research on the company and are confident it is one you would be happy at. Make sure on the day of the interview you know the president, CEO, stock price, fleet, bases, and principles of the company at a minimum…there may be a pop quiz during the interview!
2) Survive the Sweatbox – Some interviews have simulator rides. The profile will be pretty basic and you won’t be expected to be Yeager, but they are looking for basic airmanship. There are many prep companies out there, usually $500-$1000. If doing the prep takes the edge off and gives you confidence going into the interview, by all means do it. That $500 is chump change compared to the career earnings at a major. It would be a shame to lose your dream shot because you wanted to save a few bucks. Better to regret spending the money than regret not spending it!
3) Be Paranoid – Make sure you are on your best behavior at all times! Most airlines will fly you from your home to their headquarters on their airline. The interview starts as soon as you step foot into the airport. Some guys have blown it by giving ticket and gate agents a hard time. It may not be hard for an agent to deduce that you are interviewing and make a phone call to HR, sinking you then and there..IT HAS HAPPENED (especially if you are interviewing at a certain Texas LCC!) Smile and treat everyone respectfully because they are watching.
4) Know thy question – You know the expression RTFQ? When you are interviewing, LTTFQ!
Airlines used to ask What Would you Do type questions, but most interviews these days are Tell Me About a Time (TMAAT) where they want you to tell them a story about something that happened to you. They feel that past behavior will predict future behavior. The format for the answer should be the SAR model:
Situation – give them a brief overview of the problem or situation
Action – how did you decide to solve the problem
Result – what was the end result of your action and what did you learn
Sometimes you have to decode the questions. For instance, they may ask “TMAAT your schedule changed?” On the surface it may seem like a obscure question, but what they are really asking is if they junior man you and make you work into a day off, will you get mad and storm off the jetway or will you make a positive experience out of it? Thus you would want to tell them about a story where you got your day off rolled but saw it as an opportunity to make more money, help the company, etc.
5) CRM: Use all resources – There are tons of resources out there for you. Wikipedia is good for researching the company. There are several “gouge” sites where people who interviewed post their experience. I strongly recommend an interview prep service that specializes in airline interviews, they will teach you what they are looking for when they ask questions and how to formulate your own answer. However, you don’t want to sound “canned” as the interviewers are trained to see through it.
Some interviews, such as Cathay Pacific, are more in-depth than a typical interview, and there are guides out there that explain how.