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Airline Ready

HOW To PREPARe FOR

AIRLINE ASSESSMENTs

So now that you’ve got that all-important assessment with your favourite airline, what can you do to ensure you give yourself the very best chance of making the most of the opportunity and land that dream job?  Like everything else in aviation, the answer lies in thorough preparation.  Airline assessors, whether they be HR people or pilot assessors/managers, see hundreds of applicants every year and will spot the unprepared candidate right away.  You must do your homework on your chosen airline and their assessment process and try to anticipate whatever may be thrown at you in the selection process.

The process usually follows the following format, aptitude/personality testing, either on-line or at the assessment centre, sometimes as a basic screening tool to eliminate those in whom the airline would have no interest. The next steps may be a technical test followed by an interview, nowadays often a competency-based one and those who pass that phase successfully advance to a simulator assessment. Some airlines may do all three/four phases and not necessarily in that order, but each of the steps is usually pass or fail.

So, what i can expect

# 1 - THE INTERVIEW

# 2 - GROUP EXERCISES

# 3- SIMULATOR TESTS

# 1 - THE INTERVIEW

Most interviews are conducted by HR personnel with a pilot expert also on the interview board. Candidates need to understand that companies will look at you as an employee first and as a pilot second and they are trying to find out what kind of person you are in a short space of time, typically less than an hour. By this we mean that if they think you wont fit into their company culture, then it doesn’t matter how skilful you may be in the aeroplane.  Accordingly, you need to know the basic information about that airline, show gratitude for the assessment opportunity and come across to the assessors as an enthusiastic pilot with common sense and good commercial awareness. 

Ensure you can describe:

  • History of the company
  • Their business model. stand-alone company, charter/freight operator or Wet-Lease company
  • Who their main rivals are
  • Their current (and future) aircraft fleet(s)
  • Bases; approximate number and location
  • Anything you can find on their stated future aims
  • Rostering patterns and work schedules

Most interviews start by asking the candidate about his flying history so have that ready and be succinct in your answer  no need for your life history but you need to show that you:

  • Are enthusiastic about aviation itself.
  • Short history of your flying training
  • Are very keen to work for this airline
  • Are willing to do whatever is necessary to get that opportunity

If the interviewers get the impression that this is just another company youve applied to, youll be on the next flight home.  Be enthusiastic about the prospects of flying for this company. If asked which other airlines youve applied to, be honest in your answers. Assessors want to hire pilots with integrity.

Types of Interview Questions

TECHNICAL

SCENARIOS

competency

leadership

teamwork

decision making

resilience

commercial awareness

Safety-Consciousness

SOP Adherence

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# 2 - Group Exercises

Some of the larger airlines also use a stage of group exercises to assess potential pilots.  In general, these exercises are designed to see how you work in a group.  Are you a good leader, a good follower?  What are your communication and analytical skills? 

Overall, they are trying to establish how well you can work as a member of a team and if you demonstrate leadership qualities.  The result of the exercise is usually immaterial.  Its the process the airline is interested in.

They want pilots who can work well with others, yet can demonstrate leadership skills.  

They do not want those who take over the task but rather those who show they can lead yet are prepared to contribute to the overall aim of the exercise.  In such exercises, candidates should try to ensure they make a positive contribution to the discussion/task but dont dominate.  All airlines try to hire future Captains, not just co-pilots.

# 3 - Simulator Assessment

Normally the final step in the process. It always involves the candidate being assessed as both Pilot Flying and Pilot Monitoring. 

This second role is often overlooked by inexperienced pilots but remember the assessors are always very experienced TRIs or TREs with vast experience of training and assessing pilot competency and will immediately rule out anyone who is seen to be unhelpful to the other pilot in the sim.

In many ways, the PM role shows more about the pilots character that the PF role.  You need to be a good support to the other pilot when he is flying. Better to err on the side of too much support than the other way around. If the assessors think youre overdoing the prompts, theyll tell you to ease off.  

Always ensure you call any deviations of the basic parameters by calling Heading or Speed or Altitude or Localiser or Glideslope etc as appropriate.

You may find yourself in an unfamiliar simulator so the assessors will be aware of this and will be looking to see how quickly you adapt to a strange machine. Remember, youre not rated on this type and they will be trying to assess your trainability would you get through a type rating without any great difficulty.  Obviously handling skills will be important so you want to fly the manoeuvres as accurately as you can.  This is where you need to have a fast scan so make sure youve had recent instrument flying practice before the assessment.

If you know in advance what type of simulator is going to be used for the assessment, you would be wise to spend some cash on getting a few hours in that type just before your assessment.  This doesnt come cheaply but youve already spent a lot of money on your training up to this and getting yourself some simulator time at this stage would be money well spent!  Many training organisations such as Simtech Aviation will have short programmes to prepare candidates for assessments geared towards specific airlines so you will get the most up-to-date information on what that airline currently asks and expects of the candidates.

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