The career advisor
Q: I finally received the call! I have an invitation to interview with my top-choice regional airline. Do you have any suggestions?--Frank, Birmingham, Alabama
A: The interview is the make-or-break event for anyone seeking a career piloting a turbine-powered aircraft. To get a real sense of what the experience is like at one airline and some of the questions that you might face, see "Careers: The Call" (September 2005 AOPA Flight Training) and "Careers: The Inquisition" (May 2006 AOPA Flight Training).
Naturally, all of the important elements that apply to any interview are relevant: professional grooming and dress; positive demeanor; honesty. However, it is virtually impossible to dispense wisdom specific to each air carrier because each airline has its own interviewing philosophy. Some companies have applicants complete a written test based on federal aviation regulations; others may require the completion of a psychological profile. Certain companies interview in groups, whereas others interview one on one.
Without a doubt, the best strategy to employ is getting "the gouge"--inside information--well before interview day. The most effective way to mine this information is to pin down a recent new hire. This is why networking is so important in the airline game. The best source for interviewing tips is the person who was hired last week.
The Internet offers several sources for interviewing scoop. One of the best seems to be www.willflyforfood.cc. Remember that postings on the Internet can be deceiving, and there are a lot of so-called "experts" out there.
One important fact to remember is that an interview is in reality a sales presentation. In this event, you are both salesperson and product, and the airline is the customer. You are hoping that the customer is going to "buy" you.
Advance preparation is critical. Doing homework on the company; relearning the systems of a particular airplane that could be the basis of several interview questions; reviewing the Aeronautical Information Manual and the FARs; expecting and rehearsing the inevitable psychological questions are all part of the drill.
Going it alone without professional guidance is certainly possible. For anyone who seeks professional help, the folks at Kit Darby's AIR Inc. conduct interviewing seminars and workshops in addition to publishing "how to" handbooks. One of the most renowned interview prep gurus is Cheryl Cage. Cage's Checklist For Success has withstood the test of time and still remains as one of the best "how to" resources.
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