Interview with a pilot: definition and how to prepare

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

During a pilot interview, an interviewer wants to assess whether you're a suitable fit for the role in a relatively short period. There are several ways of effectively preparing for an upcoming pilot interview. Learning about one of these methods can boost your chances of succeeding in the interview and securing a new role as a pilot. In this article, we discuss what a pilot is and outline how to prepare for an interview with a pilot.

What is a pilot?

A pilot is a highly-trained professional who operates an aircraft by controlling its direction to safely transport goods and passengers from one location to another. Governments, corporations and commercial airlines often employ pilots, but they can also work for private individuals or as self-employed pilots.

Pilots may transport private goods, civilians, commercial products or military groups, depending on their employer, and may operate small, medium or large aircraft. They rarely work standard 40-hour weeks because of the constant changes in their itinerary and schedules caused by equipment malfunctions or the weather. Often, they may work evenings, at weekends and during public holidays, depending on the flight schedule.

Related: How to become a cargo pilot (definition, steps and skills)

How to prepare for an interview with a pilot

Find out how to prepare for an interview with a pilot by following these steps:

1. Research the role

Before you attend an interview for a pilot role, it's advisable to carry out thorough research. This includes knowing about the role's requirements and responsibilities. Moreover, this involves understanding the airline's history, performance, corporate values, key competitors, mission statement, destinations, leadership team members, aircraft types and fleet size.

It's also helpful to research the employee feedback about the airline, the benefits and pay. Also, reading aviation publications can be a great way of staying up-to-date with industry developments, which may impress prospective employers. All of this research can help you confidently answer any role-specific interview questions. Additionally, this information can help you to determine whether you want to work in that specific role.

Related: FAQ: qualifications to be a pilot (plus career paths)

2. Conduct mock interviews

After completing your research, compile a list of questions that an interviewer is likely to ask during a pilot interview. If possible, ask a family member or a close friend to help you create this list and conduct a mock interview for you. Most pilot interviews include problem-solving and scenario-based questions, so ensure you have these on your list. Making this list can help you rehearse properly and refine your answers.

During this step, ensure that you clearly understand the examples you want to use in your answers to demonstrate your competencies. In addition to preparing your answers, make sure you practise your delivery. This can improve your confidence and make you appear more comfortable during the interview.

Related: How much does a pilot make? (With salary information)

3. Consider why you want the job

After making a list of potential interview questions, it's also advisable to list at least four reasons why you're the best candidate for the role. During your interview, the interviewer is also likely to ask you to state the reasons why you want the job. When answering this question, state why you're an ideal candidate for the role while incorporating the research you conducted earlier into your answer. For instance, you can discuss the company's corporate values and mission statement, alongside mentioning your rehearsed reasons for applying.

4. Think about your strengths and weaknesses

Another thing to consider when preparing for your upcoming pilot interview is your strengths and weaknesses, as it's very common for an interviewer to ask about these. When discussing your weaknesses, avoid mentioning anything that means you're unable to meet the role's requirements or fulfil its responsibilities. Also, be honest when answering this question and consider how you can turn your weaknesses into strengths. For instance, you might mention that you obsess over granular details, which is actually crucial for working as a pilot due to the many safety checks they carry out before taking off.

Related: How much does it cost to become a pilot? (Skills and salary)

5. Take your time

During your interview, you may encounter a question that you didn't expect. Alternatively, you might briefly forget the examples you prepared for certain questions. In these circumstances, it's advisable to avoid not answering the question or providing an incomplete answer by immediately responding. Instead, take your time to recollect your examples and create a structured answer in your head. This way, you can improve the likelihood of providing a good and complete response.

Related: How to become a commercial pilot (with steps and tips)

6. Collate necessary paperwork

It's also vital to prepare and take all the necessary paperwork that you may need for the interview. Most airlines tell pilot candidates what they want them to bring, but it's also good practice to bring certain documents just in case. Some of these include your CV, a medical certificate, logbook, pilot and driver's licence, your printed application and a printout of your interview confirmation. Bringing these documents can allow you to easily refer to them when required and is also a good way of demonstrating your attention to detail and commitment to the role.

Related: How to become an airline pilot (with salary and skills)

7. Plan your route

Before the interview, it's crucial to consider the interview's location. For instance, if the interview is going to take place far away from your home, it might be a good idea to arrive a day in advance and stay in a hotel overnight. If the interview's location is commutable from your home, consider how long it takes to travel by public transport or car and account for traffic delays when considering the length of this route.

Also, think about where you can park if you decide to drive to the interview. Doing this research ensures that you arrive at the interview in time, which is key to making a positive impression on prospective employers. Alongside planning your route, consider your attire beforehand. Preparing your attire in advance helps you to avoid turning up to the interview late. Moreover, select an appropriate and professional outfit for the interview, as this is also key to making a positive impression.

Related: How to become an RAF pilot (with definition and steps)

8. Attend the interview

On the day of your interview, it's essential to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Upon arrival, conduct yourself professionally and ensure that you politely greet and introduce yourself to everyone you interact with, including the receptionist and interviewers. As part of this introduction, make sure you clearly mention your name and offer a firm handshake. While doing this, ensure that you maintain eye contact, smile and speak with an enthusiastic tone.

Also, try to be mindful of your posture and body language. When the interviewer is asking you a question, it's also key to avoid interrupting them. Instead, listen carefully to the question before giving a response. When answering the question, maintain eye contact, speak audibly and positively and avoid discussing salary or benefits unless the interviewer mentions this.

Related: How to become a royal air force pilot: a step-by-step guide

9. Ask questions and thank the interviewer

At the end of the interview, the interviewer may ask you if you have any questions. Use this part of the interview to demonstrate your interest in the role and hiring organisation. Here, you can use the research you conducted during the first step. Try to prepare several questions in advance and then ask these questions if the interviewer doesn't answer them during the interview. Additionally, if you think of questions to ask due to what the interviewer mentions during the interview, make a mental note of these and ask them during the interview's conclusion.

For instance, you can consider asking about the organisation's mission or how they intend to achieve its goals. After asking your questions, shake hands with the interviewer and thank them for their time, regardless of how well you think the interview went. Also, avoid leaving the interview venue immediately after the interview ends, as the interviewer may invite you to meet other employees or complete a tour if the interview goes well.

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