Making it through pilot training may seem like the hard part is finally over, but now it’s time to find a job and in the world of aviation that’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Take a look at our guide to standing out from the crowd and how to prepare to pass a pilot assessment and interview.
The first step in the process is to complete an online pilot job application. This can be a timely affair, each airline has their own online requirements, from uploading various training records to the all-important motivational letter. Take your time to complete all the required stages. Proofread it and then proofread it again, rushing and missing a step can cost you a place on an assessment day.
What to expect if you get invited to an assessment day
Much like the online applications, assessment days differ from airline to airline, but they will most likely consist of more than one part.
The airline will want to test both your ‘technical’ and ‘non-technical’ skills, they often achieve this by separating the day in half with a morning and afternoon session or by spreading the assessment over more than one day.
The technical assessments will look to assess your aptitude as a pilot, the non-technical assessment will look to judge how well you can work in a team or lead a team.
It’s important to have an understanding of what you can expect through each assessment phase. Below we have listed some examples of technical and non-technical assessments:
Technical - Numerical Reasoning
Pilot Aptitude (situational awareness, workload management, hand-eye coordination)
Non-Technical - One to One interview
Do your research, make sure there are no surprises on the day for you, knowing what is involved throughout the day will help you prepare and study. Here’s our top 8 tips to standing out from the crowd.
1. Research the airline
You need to show you know about the airline you are applying for and of course why you want to work there. Start researching aircraft numbers, bases, network, environment, company values and growth strategy. You need to persuade the airline that you can add something to the company, to do this you need to show that you understand and believe in their philosophy.
2. Show you are customer & safety focused
Safety is your number one priority as a pilot, and you need to show this understanding throughout your assessment day, practise how you can show your interviewer that you are customer and safety focused, think about incorporating this into some of your interview answers.
On the assessment day it will be important to look the part. Follow the airlines dress code for the interview closely. At interview you will also often be asked to show evidence of your flying hours. Your Log Book is your flying CV so be sure to keep it in good condition to allow a good first impression. To really stand out from the crowd, consider an Aileron Personalised Pilot Logbook.
4. Get the inside track
Reach out to a fellow flyer at the airline - From someone who has just started and been through the assessment process to an experienced training Captain or Flight Operations manager who can tell you about the company culture and what they are looking for in their new recruits. Aviation is a great community and almost all pilots are happy to share knowledge, experience and best practice. If you don’t know anyone from the airline, try to use online forums to help you.
5. Competency based question - prepare examples before you go!
Competency-based questions are very popular in many recruitment processes nowadays. These are questions that ask you for an example of a time you displayed a certain skill. Airlines will often be looking at examples for when you displayed effective skills in leadership, teamwork and decision making.
Here are some examples to give you an idea…
Competency-based questions are endless, you only need to google the term to find help. A useful tip is, you should be able to adapt your scenarios to apply to multiple questions.
6. Relax - eat well and sleep well
Relax - it is easier said than done. Being well prepared, will allow you to rest, relax and sleep well the night before. Get yourself packed and ready to go the night before, and ensure you are comfortable with your transport arrangements, being rushed on the day can be enough to stop you performing at your optimum.
7. Get technical
Some airlines will want you to get technical, it really depends on the company and the role you have applied for. This could be more likely if you have applied for a type rated role. Make use of those previously mentioned pilot forums to find out what might be asked in interview.
Use all the resources out there to brush up on your theoretical knowledge. Sometimes you will be asked aircraft technical questions and sometimes airlines like to see if you have retained much from your ATPL days. Prepare as well as you can and never fabricate the answer to the question. If you don’t know then just be honest, otherwise you will become unstuck.
8. Beware of your online footprint
Keep your profile private and post only for your friends and family. It takes recruitment teams 30 seconds to track you down online and build a picture of you. They are not hiring celebrities they are hiring safety conscious First officers and Captains. Just be aware of how a moment of fame could cost you your career.
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