If you’ve submitted a strong CV for your very first pilot job, the next stage is to interview for it.
The airline industry has developed considerably over the last few decades, as has the role of a pilot. A lot of the focus today when interviewing a pilot is based around the soft skills they must have.
Pilots will be expected to manage a multitude of situations that can be influenced by any number of things, including technical issues, weather, passengers, air traffic control, language barriers and other crew members. All while also controlling a plane…
What does a pilot interview include?
An interview for a pilot job is usually split into two parts – a performance and competency assessment, and a technical assessment. You could be asked questions like:
- Tell us about a time you’ve fallen short of something?
- What makes a good first officer?
- Give an example of a time you showed initiative?
- What challenges does the company face over the next 10 years?
Pilots are expected to have skills like problem solving, situational awareness, teamwork, leadership, prioritisation and much more.
Think you’re all of the above? Great! Then all you have to do is prepare yourself for the interview. Trust us, if you do this, you’re already one step ahead of the majority of the competition. Below, we’ve included some niche questions you could be asked, alongside some of the more general interview questions you’ll likely be asked.
What do you think defines a professional pilot?
The interviewer wants you to describe the perfect pilot, with the ideal attributes. This is where you can play on each attribute by giving an example of a time where you displayed these skills. Key things to mention for this question include:
- Excellent communication skills
- Strong leadership
- Willfulness to train and develop
- Commitment to company procedures
Why is it important for pilots to be proficient in more than one language?
Pilots who fly publicly on a regular basis must be fluent in languages other than English. This is an added benefit for airlines to acquire multilingual individuals. It’s particularly beneficial when handling situations with a large crew.
What qualities make a good pilot?
Here, the interviewer is looking for you to reflect on the ideal candidate for the job. So you should make sure you can portray that the right person takes their job seriously and is a good risk evaluator, not a risk taker. You can also give examples of why you think you fit this particular bill to strengthen your points and your potential contribution to the role.
Want to see more questions? Take a look at this video!
What would be a pilot’s role during an emergency?
A good way to begin answering this question is by expressing your feelings first. You should try to cite examples of how you would keep your mental calmness intact throughout a problematic situation, and how with your expertise easily self-control the emergency and begin assigning tasks for crew members if necessary. Your goal should be to reassure the interviewer that you are a person who can work calmly under tremendous pressure.
What does success look like to you in this job?
Success in any job should be measured in milestones or goals. Share your 5 year plan, or 10 year plan with your interviewer, and tell them which achievements you would count as successes. E.g. awards, rewards, work anniversaries etc. You could also mention that working for the airline you’re interviewing for would be a dream achievement for you.
Tell me about the toughest crew you had to deal with?
This question challenges how you dealt with behavioural and performance issues within a large team and how you managed them to avoid any detrimental situations within the operation of the aircraft. Try to give an example, if you have previous experience. If not, you could offer up an example of a predicament you could end up in.
Pilots are required to take many simultaneous responsibilities during flight. What’s your view on this?
Pilots have a busy workload, and are expected to be able to perform a multitude of duties at once. Multitasking is a big part of this. Pilots have a key responsibility to navigate the flight, monitor and guide their team of crew members, check & maintain the required technical instruments, while also keeping track of the weather conditions, and controlling height and air traffic. So when you answer this question, keep this all in mind when discussing how you would manage your workload.
What have you done to improve your knowledge of pilots and the industry?
Recruiters want to hire knowledgeable individuals who wish to continue their learning and development. As a pilot, you should already be engaging in the industry, through discussions, seminars etc. with other, more experienced pilots. It will bode really well for you if you mention that you partake in extra learning away from your job e.g. extra qualifications, seminars and workshops.
Technical questions might include: ‘Which airplane are you most familiar with?’
This will be the main question, and within this could be a series of questions testing your knowledge on the airplane, like ‘What is the fuel capacity?’ or ‘What is the max takeoff weight, landing weight and ramp weight?’ or ‘Can you explain to me how the landing gear systems works?’. Below, we’ve include a video that also includes technical interview questions specific to a pilot’s job:
Other technical questions may consist of:
- What is the process for take off?
- What is the process for landing?
- How would you respond during an emergency during the flight?
- How would you modify a flight path?
- When should you increase your final reserve to 45 minutes?
- Can you define V1?
- Can you define balanced field length?
- What would you do if you lost an engine during take off?
- Have you ever flown an aircraft with mechanical problems? If so, how did you handle it?
This is just a taster, of course, of the types of questions you could be asked. While airlines want to know how vast your knowledge of flying, security and engineering is, they also want to get a feel for your personality, your life outside of aviation and why you chose to become a pilot. General questions that might prove useful to prepare for include:
- Tell me about yourself
- What can you bring to this role?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
Want some advice on what questions to ask your interviewer? These might help.
Want more advice? Why not download our interview guide below, made specifically for pilots?
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