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Typical Airline Pilot job interview & selection questions

I write this from my 12 years experience as an Airline Pilot who has completed several airline schemes and selection procedures. I will split this into two sections as usually interview questions are either the Human Resources type or technical pilot.

Technical Pilot Interview:

In the technical part of your interview you can expect questions based on your school mathematics and physics if you’re applying at a cadet level or ATPL theoretical type if applying for your first co-pilot job. ATPL theory is very broad and do don’t expect certain subjects like radio communication or Air Law questions. It will concentrate mainly on relevant theory that transitions into the Jet job. There are several good books and online sources to help you prepare in depth for such questions but don’t be too overwhelmed by it as the interviewer will not be there to trap you or put you down in anyway. Technical question examples are shown below for your reference:

  1. Explain the lift-drag curve?

  2. How do jet engines work?

  3. Explain what is a micro-burst and why is it dangerous?

  4. Why are jet aircraft wings swept?

  5. Explain why icing is bad?

  6. How do you recover from a stall?

  7. What is ceiling altitude?

  8. What are jet-streams?

  9. Explain a METAR or TAF?

  10. What are the different flight controls and their purpose?

Such questions will range from easy to mid-level. They will not ask things they know you would have studied in your theory for regulation sakes to simply pass the course. The questions will be based on items that are useful and used even in the airline jet job on a regular bases, like the example above of decoding a weather report.

Human Resource Interview:

The HR part of the interview will check on the non technical skills you bring to the company. These include but are not limited to leadership skills, management, team work, communications, problem solving, etc. Examples of such questions will be:

  1. Have you ever worked as a team member to accomplish a task with a deadline?

  2. Did you have any set backs or problems and how did you as an individual and team player solve this?

  3. Have you ever been a leader in a project or work place and explain how you managed this?

  4. As a leader did you have any problems or misunderstandings with a team member? And how did you manage this?

  5. What challenges have you faced in terms of communications in a team project?

  6. Explain what CRM is and why it is important in an aviation environment?

Always attend airline interviews well groomed and smart. In my period, I used to have two suits and a variety of shirt colours and ties. The reason being, I would always try and match the airlines style and colours (😉). This is a good technique as psychologically the company already views you in employee mode. Speak confidently during the interview and don’t make up an answer if you are unsure. Don’t be shy to say “I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to this”. This does not mean you have failed as there will be plenty of other questions! In fact it shows a sort of honesty personality in you. Remember an interview has a time limit, so if you’re asked a question whose answer you know very well, give plenty of details and examples as these will get you points. Don’t speak too fast as this means more questions fired at you (🙄). During selection schemes there will be other candidates around. Make sure to show you are social and a good team player. The company selectors are always watching you in even such moments. I used to break the ice by grabbing a coffee and asking others if they would like one. It showed you were not shy to speak up and you were straight away considering the team members. At the end of your interview, the selectors always ask if you have any questions for them. Never say no! Ask something, anything! It shows you are highly interested in knowing more about your future work place. I used to ask things that showed I am here for the long run and to progress my career with them. Ask them about their future plans, career progression, other jobs you can help with e.g training, etc. Once I was asked by the Pilot, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’ Don't say at another company (😫)! In fact I impressed him by answering, ‘I would like to be successful like yourself sir. A Captain who also helps the airline hire new cadets as such a role would bring challenges I would enjoy outside the flight deck.’ (😉)

Make sure to thank the team well for inviting you and wish all the other cadets the best of luck before you leave. Start and end professionally and don’t get put down if you fail. Every failure is a learning step towards success. Without it, success wont exist or be worth your hard work and efforts.

If you really want to be ahead of the game and other candidates, then I would recommend investing a little further and purchasing the 'Airline Pilot Technical Interviews' or 'Ace the technical interview' guides shown below. It will be worth every penny of your investment, especially when you get through and sit on that first officer seat for the first time. Click the icons below to get more information on either one:

1 . Ace the Technical Pilot Interview:

2. Airline Pilot Technical Interviews:

I hope this blog helps in a tiny way to give you some insight on what to expect. I wish you the very best in every step of your aviation career.

Best regards,

Captain. Faraz

insta: @flightcopilot


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