Generic Pilot Based Interview Questions

– Why do you want to be a pilot? – One of the first questions you are likely to be asked. Rather than the usual “it’s all i’ve ever wanted to do”, try and think about some other aspects of the job:

– The responsibility required – Being trusted to operate a multi million pound aircraft – Working in a dynamic environment – Working within a team – Lots of variables mean each day is different – A life long passion for flying – The lifestyle – Well paid – The best office view in
the world.

– What got you interested in flying? – Very similar to “Why do you want to be a pilot?”

– Visiting the flight deck as a youngster – A family member was a pilot / took you flying – The physics of flight – The technology involved – Going to airshows – All the answers for “Why do you want to be a pilot?” are also applicable.

– If you couldn’t be an airline pilot, what would you do? Similar to: “If you lost your medical, what would you do?”

– Still work within the industry as aviation is your passion. For example in Flight Operations, Air Traffic Control, Flight Training, Flight Instructor. OR would pick a profession in another industry such as a Lawyer or Doctor.

– What will you do if you don’t get this job?

– Self analyse where your performance could have been improved to ensure you are successful should the opportunity arise to apply again. Continue to self improve and work hard to demonstrate persistence and passion to ensure you reach your goal.

– What does the role of a modern day airline pilot entail?

– Managing a highly complex piece of machinery, ensuring the safe and efficient outcome of every flight – Communicating with a wide range of people Operating within a defined set of procedures – Managing a diverse team of people – Ensuring the interests of the company and passengers are always considered – ensuring that on time performance is met where possible.

– What skills do modern day airline pilots require?

– Communication, management, decision making, analysis, prioritisation, situation awareness, spatial awareness, team orientated, leadership, awareness of the entire operation.

– Tell me about the typical day of a pilot?

– Start at any hour on any day of the week throughout the year. A 24/7, 365 days a year job. Check in at crew room, complete pre-flight paper work (weather, NOTAMs, fuel), meet other crew members, order fuel, go to aircraft for walk around and set up. Fly the sectors for the day, manage turnarounds to meet on time performance. Complete post flight paperwork, checkout, go home. Every day is different and the unexpected can happen at any time.

– What skills can you bring to the job? – Think about what the job entails. Make sure you understand what the job a commercial pilot actually involves.

– Strong communicator, natural leader, team player, safety and efficiency focused, commercially aware, customer conscious.

– Give us a brief career outline . . .

– Talk about the jobs you’ve had in reverse chronological order, and detail what skills and experience you have learnt in each, and how this is relevant for the job you are being interviewed for. “I previously worked in flight operations control where I learnt how a single decision that the flight crew made could have a significant impact on the flying program for days to come. If this decision wasn’t communicated in a timely manner, it could have a negative impact on the customer service provided to the passengers. I therefore understand how effective communications between the departments within an airline is essential”

– Did you want to join the RAF/Military?

– Did you always want to be a commercial pilot, or did you think about joining the military? Try to answer the question in a positive manner. For example “as a customer focused person, being part of the crew who are safely transporting the public in a multi million pound commercial aircraft has always been my goal”.

– Can you cope with the anti-social hours?

– I like the variation and variety of the hours and shift patterns. Would not like a typical Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job as i’d find it monotonous and boring. Have previously worked anti-social hours and enjoyed the lifestyle it provided.

– Are you happy to work weekends?

– As above.

– What’s your favourite aircraft?

– What ever aircraft you choose, make sure you can say why. Know some facts about it such as it’s history (first flight), passenger capacity, speed, range. For example “My favourite is the A320 as it was the first aircraft to properly utilise fly-by-write technology, which has gone on to shape the future of aircraft design.”

– How do the roles of Captain and First Officer differ?

– Duties are usually split evenly throughout the duty, but the Captain has overall responsibility for the safety of the aircraft and it’s passengers. The Captain my delegate the duties as he/she sees fit, based on the competency and qualifications of the First Officer.

– Are you a competitive person?

– You shouldn’t come across as too competitive, as the flight deck is not a competitive place! It’s a environment for team work and cohesion, not point scoring.

– What is the role of Cabin Crew?

– The primary role of the Cabin Crew is ensuring the safety of the passengers. Their secondary duty is to look after the comfort of the passengers through providing excellent customer service. Cabin Crew are the front line staff, who’s performance will be judged by the passengers to represent the quality of the airline as a whole. It is therefore essential that cabin crew act accordingly.

– Is it acceptable to break the rules?

– Standard Operating Procedures are not written with every single conceivable scenario in mind. In some circumstances, it may therefore be necessary to not adhere to SOPs. An example might be rejecting the take off after V1 with a double engine fire, or using a higher than allowed bank angle to miss a flock of birds.

– What is CRM?

– The definition of CRM, as per CAP 737, the CAA’s CRM Training Document, CRM can be defined as “a management system which makes optimum use of all available resources – equipment, procedures and people – to promote safety and enhance the efficiency of flight operations.”

– What makes a good First Officer?

– A good first officer provides effective support to the Captain in order to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft. He/she
can clearly and concisely advocate their position, enhance the situational awareness within the flight deck, provide additional option
generation and effectively contribute to the decision making process.

– What makes a good Captain?

– Someone who clearly lays out their expectations to the rest of the team, encourages enquiry, listens to advocacy, delegates, communicates effectively, upholds the highest professional standards.

– How can a First Officer improve customer service?

– Help contribute to achieving the aircrafts on time departure and arrival performance. Communicate effectively with the passengers, providing timely updates with concise information. Interact with the customers face to face where possible, for example saying goodbye on disembarkation.

– How can you save the company money?

– Operating the aircraft efficiently, flying to the appropriate company cost index. Careful climb and descent planning, carrying out low drag and continuos descent approaches to minimise fuel costs. Not taking any more fuel than operationally necessary due to the cost of carrying additional fuel. Demonstrating flexibility with your roster and work schedule will reduce crewing costs. Being proactive with requesting the optimum cruise altitude, mach number (where appropriate) and direct routings will also reduce costs.

– How can you affect the profits of the airline?

– Reduce the fuel costs through the efficient operation of the aircraft (see above). Demonstrate a professional image which will ensure the company is seen favourably by customers. Helping to maintain a strong brand image this in turn has the potential to increase sales. Ensure the aircraft is operated safely – you can’t put a price on safety! Have a flexible and reliable approach to the job.

– What are the pros and cons of being an airline pilot? – This is a very subjective question. We would suggest you don’t call them “cons” rather challenges that you might not find in other professions.

– Pro’s – It’s what i’ve always had a passion for, trusted to operate a high complex machine with hundreds of people on board, defined career structure and development, continuos training, well paid, good lifestyle, staff travel, time off.

– Con’s – Work anti-social hours and times of the year such as Christmas, time zone changes can be fatiguing, spending time away from home and family.

– How many hours a day/week/year do you expect to fly?

– Generally speaking, in Europe, pilots are limited to 900 hours a year, 100 hours in a 28 day period, and a duty period in a 7 day period is limited to a maximum of 55 hours. A day duty could vary from 2 hours to 16. In the UK, these rules are laid out by the CAA CAP 371 document.

– Describe how an aircraft flies to a 12 year old . . .

– Air passes over the top of the wing faster than the bottom. This causes lower pressure at the top of the wing, lifting the aircraft up. The aircraft has to be moving forward so that the air is travelling over the wing. The engines achieve this through pushing the aircraft forward.

– When did you start flying? – Try and expand with some details, such as why you started and what influenced you.

– Tell us about how you got involved with aviation…

– Emphasise that aviation is your passion and becoming a pilot for xxx airline has been your goal since you discovered this passion.

– Tell us about your family? Where is home?

– Maybe the airline has a base near your home? That would help demonstrate that you would show the airline loyalty. Highlight that your family are supportive of your decision and that they understand how it will impact your lifestyle.

– Tell us about your current job…

– Try and link your answer to how the experience or skills you have gained are relevant or transferable to a position as a First Officer or Captain.

– Where did you complete your flight training? – Expand on whether it was an integrated to modular course and why it was suitable for you.

– How did you choose your flight school?

– Demonstrate that you thoroughly researched the flight training options available and made a calculated decision with regards to the flight school you chose. Justify why you chose modular over integrated or visa versa.

– What is the role of a First Officer?

– A First Officers role is to provide effective support to the Captain in order to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the aircraft. He/she should clearly and concisely advocate their position, enhance the situational awareness within the flight deck, provide additional option generation and effectively contribute to the decision making process.

– What does a Second Officer do? – This differs between airlines. You should establish whether it is a cruise relief pilot position or a junior First Officer position who effectively has the same role as a normal FO.

– What is your take on the current state of the industry?

– Another way at looking at this question is; “What opportunities are there for our airline within the industry at present”. Do your research on the airline, understand who it’s competitors are and the market in which they operate. What’s the current price of fuel? A decrease in fuel price makes European airlines much more competitive with Middle Eastern carriers as they loose their cheap fuel advantage.

– How has the recent economic depression affected the industry?

– It has reduced the amount of business travellers flying which has had an impact on the high profit business routes for legacy carriers. Some people have turned to the cheaper low cost carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair, who have done very well since 2008. The industry went through a period of consolidation with some airlines going out of business, such as Fly Globespan, Silver Jet, Max Jet, Spanair, Eos Airlines, Oasis Hong Kong, Global Supply Systems, Zoom, XL are just a handful. As the economic recovery continues, generally the industry is improving, with those who lived to see the other side of the recession, in a stronger position than before

– What big events have affected the industry in the last year?

– Make sure you are up to date with current affairs. An example for 2015, would be the significant reduction in fuel costs, substantially reducing the fuel bill for airlines who haven’t got their fuel hedged for the foreseeable future.

– Where do you think the industry will be in 10 years time?

– Moving towards bio fuels as the natural fossil fuel resources deplete, and more emphasis is placed on slowing global warning. Still muli-crew aircraft. Less smaller airlines, as the large airline groups continue to buy smaller carriers (for example the IAG taking over Aer Lingus.

– What technologies are being introduced into the industry?

– Energy harvesting such as solar power or even converting the heat from your body into power. Self reliant materials that are able to clean and repair themselves, reducing maintenance costs. Introduction of more advanced composite materials, increasing the strength of the structure whilst reducing it’s weight. Use of biofuels, bringing an end to the reliance on oil price.

– What are your views on aviation and the environment?

– Know what the airline’s environmental policy is, what it does to mitiage environmental damage. This might be through operating the most efficient aircraft or paying a carbon tax.

– What immediate challenges does this airline currently face?

– Pressure regarding global warming. Over capacity in some areas, particuarly Europe. Competition from middle eastern carriers with access to much cheaper fuel.

– What are the latest developments with bio fuels?

– Following a series of test flights from 2008 to 2011, the aviation industry was given approval to use biofuels in passenger flights. Now that technical hurdles are overcome, the challenge of commercialisation needs to be tackled.

– What threats is our airline currently facing?

– Terrorism and security threats from groups who see aviation as a high priority target. Reliance on oil price which is influenced by the stability of the Middle East. Increased amounts of adverse weather..

– What competitive threats is our airline currently facing?

– Low cost carriers offering flights at a cheaper rate. Business passengers choosing to fly with low cost carriers. Lower fuel costs for Middle Eastern airlines. Increased choice for passengers. Over capacity reducing flight frequencies compared to other airports.

– Who are the airlines main competitors?

– Think outside the box. easyJet and Ryanair are competitors, but British Airways are also competitors for both of these over their short haul network, as they offer similar routes often at cheaper prices.

– What are the long term challenges for this airline?

– A combination of the above answers.

Company Based Questions

– Why do you want to work for this airline?
– Why should we take you on ahead of other candidates?
– What does our fleet consist of (type and numbers)?
– What engine does each type of aircraft in our fleet have?
– Which aircraft do you want to fly?
– Tell us about the history of our airline . . .
– Who is our CEO, and operations director?
– Who is the chief pilot?
– Tell us about our expansion plans . . .
– What do you think of our marketing campaign?
– Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
– How do your see your career progressing?
– What profit did we make last year?
– Where are our bases?
– What destinations do we fly to?
– What aircraft do we fly to which destinations?
– What do you know about this airline?
– How does this airline differ from the others?
– What major events have happen to this airline in the last 12 months?
– How many pilots does this company employ?
– Who are our competitors?
– What can we do to stand ahead of our competitors?
– What orders do we current have?
– What as a First Officer, can you do to improve customer service?
– What as a Captain can you do to reduce costs?
– What challenges does the company face over the next 10 years?
– What do you know about the finances of the company?
– What is our company’s mission statement?
– How will you fund the type rating?
– Talk us through last years financial results
– How much profit did we make last year?

Personal Example Based Questions

Give an example of when…
– You have demonstrated good leadership
– You have worked effectively as a team member
– You have worked effectively as a team leader
– You have disagreed someone
– You have dealt with a difficult situation
– You have dealt with a conflict
– You have diffused a situation
– You have shown good judgement
– You have learnt from a mistake
– You have learnt from a professional mistake
– You have shown compassion and empathy
– You could have done better at something
– You have done something well
– You have done something badly
– You have fallen short on something
– You have motivated others
– You have had to use good communication skills
– You have dealt with cultural diversity
– You have improved customer service
– You have bent the rules to meet an objective
– You have taken a risk
– You have influenced others
– You have disagreed with a team decision
– You have seen or used good CRM
– You have delivered sensitive news to someone?
– You have made a difficult decision
– You have made a decision others haven’t liked
– You have made a big decision
– You have dealt with an awkward situation
– You fell short of your goal
– You under achieved
– You have demonstrated flexibility in the work place
– You have dealt with criticism

Personal Questions

– What have you learnt from the jobs you’ve held?
– What hobbies and interests do you have?
– What is bad in your personality?
– Why shouldn’t we take you on?
– What are you looking for in this job?
– How do you deal with conflicts?
– Why should we choose you over other candidates?
– What was the hardest subject at your training school?
– What would you like to improve about yourself?
– Have you ever worked with someone you didn’t like?
– Are you a team leader or team member?
– What is your educational history?
– How would your friends describe you?
– How would your family describe you?
– If your captain was disregarding SOPs, what would you do about it?
– Could you cope with the hard / antisocial days?
– Is there anything you think you should have told us?
– How do you share plans and mental models with others?
– Explain a complex situation you have encountered . . .
– What were the ups and downs of your flight training?
– How did you prepare for this interview?
– Why should we not give you the job?
– Do you play flight simulator?
– Have you applied for any other airlines?
– What makes you angry?
– What annoys you?

Training Based Questions

– What was the hardest part of your training?
– Which parts did you find easy?
– Why did you choose Modular training?
– Why did you choose Integrated training?
– Why did you choose that flight school?
– How did you develop as a person during your flight training?
– What new skills did you learn?
– What did you enjoy most in your training?
– If you could do your training again, what would you do differently?
– Did you pass all your ground school exams first time?
– Did you pass all your flight skills tests first time?
– If not, what did you learn from the experience?
– What was the hardest ground school subject?
– How was your social life during your training?
– What was your average theoretical ATPL pass mark?
– Why did you fail / partial your CPL/IRST?
– What did you learn from failing your CPL/IRST?

Miscellaneous Questions

– Say something funny . . .
– Did you speed on your way here?
– What would you do if your Captain turned up for dinner on a night stop in a skirt?
– What do your family think about you becoming a pilot?
– What does your family think about the anti-social hours?
– What does your farther do?
– What does your mother do?
– How do you think the day (tests) have gone so far?
– Did you perform well in the group interview?
– If you suspected the Captain was drunk shortly before flight, what would you do?
– If you were the CEO of this airline, what steps would you take to ensure the long term prosperity of the company?
– How would you persuade cabin crew to continue to work if they were over their hours limit for the day?
– If an alien turned up to play in your team, how would you react, what would you do?