Job of an airline pilot carries a lot of prestige, but also great responsibility. In this article we will analyze what you need to do in order to succeed in an interview for this excellent position. First and foremost, you need to have a bachelor degree in aircraft operations, aviation, aeronautical engineering, or in a related field, to have any chance of getting this job.
Without the degree, and without ground training (typically one to three months) and at least 1,000 flight hours (this can be less or more, depending on the country/state of your application), it makes no sense to even apply. Once you meet the requirements in terms of training, education and hours you spent in the skies, however, the interview itself won’t be extremely difficult. Typically, it will consist in three parts:
- Personal questions – hiring manager from the airlines will ask about your goals and dreams, motivation, and reasons why you want to be a pilot.
- Behavioral questions – your answers to these questions help the interviewers to understand your attitude to work, and to evaluate how you’d act in various situations, including critical situations, such as emergency landing or bad weather conditions.
- Personality test – checking whether you are all right mentally, whether they can entrust you with the lives of their passengers.
Let’s have a look at the questions.
Why did you decide for a career of a pilot?
Say them that you enjoy flying, and that you believe to be a responsible person. You can also say that you have all skills and strengths needed for this type of work. Alternatively you can refer to an experience that motivated you to pursue the career, such as meeting a pilot when you were young, or having passion for aircraft models since childhood.
The key is to convince them that you really want the job, and did not apply just because you’ve already spent a small fortune on your studies and training.
Why do you want to work for our airlines?
Probably you don’t care, and would accept any offer that pays well. But you should still try to convince them that you applied on purpose, and that their company is your first choice.
For example, you can say that you like the list of their flight destinations, or that you have great experience with their airlines as a passenger. One way or another, they should feel special after hearing your answer.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Experience matters a lot for a pilot. Tell them that you want to pursue your career in aviation industry, and that you will be happy to have the job of a pilot in five years time. Show them that they can count on you in a long run, that you do not consider this just a short stint of your professional career.
Alternatively you can talk about some goals from your personal life. Maybe you want to start a family, or improve your lifestyle and diet and become healthier within the next few years, and so on. As long as your answer makes sense, you are good to go.
Why do you think you can be a good pilot?
You should show some confidence. If you do not believe to be good at what you do, they will also start to doubt your readiness for the job. Tell them that you did great in the training, that you feel responsible for the safety of every single passenger, and that you have excellent skills in flying, and everything that relates to it.
What’s more, you can elaborate on your answer, talking about your pursue of perfection. Sure, you have confidence in your skills, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t continue trying to get better in your craft.
Imagine that a weather got bad suddenly, and you saw a storm forming in front of you. What would you do?
Safety comes first for every good pilot. Say that you would consult the navigators on ground, and turn off the auto pilot to take control of the plane. You should not hesitate changing the course, but only after you are sure that you wouldn’t cross a flight corridor reserved for another plane.
The key with such questions is to ensure the hiring managers that you won’t take tricky situations lightly.
Imagine that the ground crew is struggling with loading the luggage, and you are behind schedule. What would you do?
Again, safety comes first. Say that you would conduct all safety checks as usually, and only when everything has been completed you’d go out and help the crew. Remember that your attitude matters the most for the hiring managers.
It is important to demonstrate that you do not look down on other crew members, and won’t leave your comfortable cabin just because you are a pilot. On the other hand, safety comes first, and you should invariably stick to all procedures before helping other crew members with their duties.
Describe a time when you felt pressure in your training, when flying an aircraft. How did you handle the situation?
Feeling pressure is natural for every pilot who truly cares for the safety of the crew, and the passengers of course. Talk about a difficult situation, for example when you struggled with landing, or when the weather was bad.
Ensure the interviewers that you did not crack under the pressure, but oppositely, it helped you to strengthen your focus and sharpen your senses, enabling you to bring everyone safely to the ground.
Describe a conflict you had with your colleague.
Conflicts do happen in every single job, and pilots are no exception to the rule. Tell then hiring managers about a conflict you had (with second pilot, flight attendant, or with anyone else), but ensure them that the conflict did not impact your concentration in work, and that you got over it quickly.
Once again, you should try to show mental stability in your answers. You can also add that you try your best to be attentive to the feelings and needs of your colleagues, and to simply have a great relationship with your coworkers, in order to minimize the number of conflicts.
Other questions you may face in your airline pilot interview
- What motivates you the most in work?
- What languages do you speak?
- Explain the things you’ll do before the flight, during the flight, and after the flight.
- What do you consider your greatest weakness?
- Why should we hire you?
- Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your boss, colleague, or to a passenger. How did you manage to get your message over?
- Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service (for the crew member, for the colleague).
- Tell us about a time when you had to use logic to solve a problem.
- Describe a time when you faced ethical dilemma.
- Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.
Each airline company has their own personality test.
The test can consist in simple questions, or statements you should give your opinion to, such as: “I like to be around other people”, or “When friends need help, they call me first”. You have an option to strongly agree with the statement, agree with it, disagree with it, or strongly disagree with it. Another form of a test consist in rating various pictures, or saying what you see on each picture.
In my opinion, you should not stress about the tests. One can not really prepare for them in advance, and what is more, you will pass them, unless you are unlucky enough to suffer from some mental disorder, or to carry a scar on your heart that affects your decisions in a way that happens to be incompatible with the job of a pilot.
Relax, be honest, and write what you feel. In most cases you will pass the test.
* Special Tip: If you struggle to relax and if you feel anxious, check our simple guide on How to overcome interview nerves.
Final thoughts, premium interview answers
Interview for a job of a pilot belongs to easier interviews. Once you manage to complete your ground training, and spend enough hours in the skies, the companies know that you are ready to fly.
They just need to understand your motivation, and attitude to various situations that do happen in the aircraft. Personal and behavioral questions help them with the task… If you struggle with the answers, you can check our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to all tricky personal and behavioral questions (+ more) will help you streamline your preparation and make sure you won’t flop this one. Thank you for checking it out!
May also interest you:
- Body language in an interview – When you interview for a job that requires a lot of responsibility, such a job of a pilot, interviewers will observe a lot of things while talking to you. Your body language is one of them. Learn how to send them right signals.
- Salary negotiation tips – Get as much as you deserve, or even more…
* You can also download the list of questions in a simple one-page long .PDF document, and practice your interview answers anytime later: