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Job-Hunting Pilots

Are You PREPARED for Your Aviation Interview?

by Tim Genc

December 2020

She glanced at the minotaur horn in my hands, then back at me. I imagined she was going to say, “You killed a minotaur!” or “Wow, you're so awesome!” or something like that. Instead she said, "You drool when you sleep.” Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.

It’s just as true today as it has always been that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Regardless of the hiring market, a bad interview can eclipse even the best and most qualified of pilots. So, to ensure that an employer’s assessment of your qualities as a future employee is the correct and lasting one – that the company remembers that you’re so awesome and NOT that you drool in your sleep – FAPA recommends that you be P.R.E.P.A.R.E.D.

PROFICIENT: If you are applying for a position as a pilot, you should be reasonably proficient and current at those skills. If you have not flown an airplane in a year, that should be remedied prior to making application to any airline or company. If you are trying to convince a company that you are qualified to fly their passengers/customers, then it stands to reason that you are ready and qualified to do so.

RESEARCH: Do your due diligence and learn a little about the company for which you are applying; show that you are interested in them as well! Every company hopes you have questions to ask during the interview process but can get annoyed when they’re some of the easiest questions to answer if you only checked their website. Be an educated candidate!

EARLY: A famous football coach put it best when he said, “Fifteen minutes early is on time, ten minutes early is already five minutes late!” Nothing starts your interview off on the wrong foot worse than showing up late. Plan for the unexpected and plan to arrive for your interview early. With early, you have options; with late, you only have excuses.

POLITE: From the shuttle driver to the receptionist at the hotel, the office staff to the HR staff, your behavior is being measured! Please and thank you; yes, sir and no ma’am ... manners matter. Treat everyone with the same respect with which you would like to be treated. Remember that the company is not just looking for a warm body who satisfies their minimums; they are looking for a team member who blends in and contributes to their culture and standards.

APPEARANCE: You should be dressed in your best attire for an interview and your appearance should exemplify being well-prepared. From a wrinkle-free shirt and matching tie, to polished shoes and appropriate dress socks, to neatly manicured nails and a pleasant smell about you ... every aspect of your personal presentation makes a huge difference.

RÉSUMÉ: You’ve likely already presented a résumé at the point of application, but you should still plan on having a few up-to-date copies included with the rest of your required documentation. Make sure that your résumé is appropriate to the job for which you are applying; nothing looks worse than having an objective statement that indicates you are applying for another job with another company. Double, triple and quadruple check for grammar and spelling errors! Formats vary from candidate to candidate, but make sure that all formatting is consistent, and that need-to-know information is obvious and easy to locate. For example, flight hours, certificates/ratings and education should be located near the top. There is nothing wrong with having a more-than-one-page résumé, as long as you have more than one page of job relevant information to disclose.

ENGAGED: Not only is there plenty of good information being shared during the interview presentation that you should be noting, your attentiveness is being observed and measured. Put away your phone and do not be checking messages. Caffeinate if need be so you are not falling asleep. Interact with other candidates, if present, and be prepared to show that you can be social and pleasant with your future flying crew.

DOCUMENTS: You were likely sent a very detailed list of documents to provide at your interview. Treat that like a checklist and follow it to the letter! Some companies will end your interview due to being unqualified if you cannot simply follow their instructions and bring copies of licenses and certificates. Do not assume that something does not apply to you due to your previous experience or employment; follow the checklist verbatim!

The acronym P.R.E.P.A.R.E.D. gives us pilots a checklist as a reminder of how best to prepare for an important time in our aviation career. Run through these steps early and often to ensure that there are no surprises or unwanted reveals on the day of your interview.

And good luck!

Bio: FAPA.aero