The pilot shortage is here. The regionals are hiring like crazy to make up for the exodus of their First Officers to the majors.
The hardest part is over, you got the call for an interview and the day is fast approaching. How do you make sure you are prepared? Airline interviews typically involve three in depth interviews (chief pilot, HR and a technical interview) and a simulator period.
There are 4 steps you need to take to get ready for interview day.
Before you begin preparing, though, you need to go to Will Fly for Food. Click on your intended airline. Read every interview gouge for the past 10 years. Do more than read, though. As you go through these gouges multiple times write down every question the airline has every asked.
Now you are ready to start preparing.
Step 1: Set aside time each day to study for the technical interview.
Cramming is bad. You need to get back into the books, hard.
Stop checking Facebook in bed when you first wake up. Send 5-20 min in the morning studying instead.
The morning routine is so important because you are declaring your intention to get hired. Acting intentionally can have a powerful impact.
I recommend a short burst in the morning for a reason.The short amount of time will mean you are more likely to knock it out. Setting a goal of an hour might be too much and you might not do it. You can (and should) always go back in the afternoon/evening and study more.
This is your future career. Start acting like a professional. Get up early. Go study for 5-20 min. Get hired.
Most technical interviews will require you to dissect an IFR flight from the beginning to the end. They will expect you to talk in detail about topics such as alternate, altitudes, weather requirements, which approach to use etc.
Here are some tips for preparing for the technical interview:
- The best book to reference is Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot. Yes, at $50 it is a tad expensive. Buy it anyway. It’s invaluable.
- Ditch the Ipad for a while. You must be able to decipher the TAF/METAR and NOTAMs in original raw text. So for the next few weeks only look at the raw weather data and NOTAMs to help you remember.
- Also, study Jeppesen plates. Start with this article on The Differences Between Jeppesen and FAA Charts Part 1 (of 3)
- Have a CFI sit down with you grill you on everything you could possibly need to know on an IFR flight. Cover every minute detail (like what are the dimensions of Class B airspace? What does the green airport marking mean? What is an MEA? If you don’t have a CFI handy, you will need to do this yourself.
- Go over all of the technical questions ever asked in the technical interview from the interview gouges. While it is no guarantee you will see those questions, you will probably see over half of them.
Step 2: Practice your answers for the interview questions out loud and in front of a real person.
Go to Will Fly for Food and score the gouges for every question ever asked in an interview. Put it in one document.
Now for the hard part: write out compelling answers to all of them. USE STORIES.
Remember, pilots love good stories. You are going up agains a bunch of other 25 year-old white guys who look and talk exactly like you do. The only way to stand out is to have a good story.
Don’t stop there, though! The important part of that process is to grab your best friend and PRACTICE these questions over an over. OUT LOUD.
Do NOT memorize the answers. I suggest you write out bullet points to each question. If you memorize the answers you will sound like a robot.
You also want to be able to use these stories to plug and play into whatever variation of question they ask. Having a bag full of stories will let you react to a question you didn’t anticipate. Almost every interview question can be asked four different ways. Know this basic fact about interviews and steer the answer back to your stories.
Hey!! Do NOT skip this step of practicing out loud in front of someone. Get your stupid out at home.
Whatever answer you came up with in your head will NOT sound the same when you try and spit it out. I cannot over emphasize how important it is to practice these questions in front of a REAL person. Saying them out loud with no one around is completely different then looking someone in the eye.
Do not wait until the last minute to do this. The more you practice, the more you will remember stories you can use. The more I practiced I figured out which stories I could comfortably spit out and which ones sounded stupid. By interview day I was able to have a conversation with the pilots in the Chief Pilot interview.
You are not going to want to do this. It is uncomfortable. That is the point. Get your uncomfortable over with someone you trust.
Step 3: Go to Men’s Wearhouse and invest in a suit, get a haircut, and for God’s sake trim your fingernails!
Notice I said “invest?” A new suit is exactly that. An investment in your future. I know, you love your kicks, cargo-pant shorts, and logo collared shirt, but it is time to take it up a level. I know you don’t make any money, so what?
You are trying to start a career that will make you hundreds of thousands of dollars so quite drinking beer for a week and go spend $300 on an interview outfit.
I recommend the Men’s Wearhouse specifically because the salespeople are trained to help you. This might hurt, but if you are this guy, then check your ego at the door and let these people dress you. It works.
A friend of mine let the salesperson dress him completely and he looked awesome.
I am jealous, I wish women had an equivalent of Men’s Warehouse. I would love to walk in and tell someone to dress me.
As for the women reading this, wear an equivalent suit. If you wear a dress, go conservative. What I mean by that is, cover the shoulders, cover the knees. If your makeup, fingernail polish or earrings enter the room before you do, tone it down.
Step 4: Get the required paperwork together….EXACTLY as they tell you to do it.
Read the instructions and knock it out right away. Don’t let anything take you away from studying and practicing (out loud) your interview questions.
I wish I had managed my time better and knocked out the required paperwork as soon as I got the HR email with the documents. It took me a good 5 hours to get all the paperwork together and I already had my FAA license up to date, and current Class 1 medical and passport.
As a Review:
Adopt a daily study habit.
Practice interview questions out loud in front of someone and incorporate stories.
Invest in your appearance
Make sure your paperwork is straight.
Did I leave anything out?
If you have any suggestions on what I should add. Comment!
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