The Pilot Interview: Tips, Dress Code, and How to Prepare

Throughout an airline pilot interview, or any pilot interview for that matter, you’ll want to take advantage of every opportunity to project a professional and courteous manner. During this time, you’ll be constantly evaluated against your fellow interviewees, as well as the information you’ve included on your résumé and employment application. While it’s impossible to prepare for every conceivable contingency, let’s look at some of the basics you can expect and some tips for avoiding common mistakes.

The Power of the First Impression

For years, Head & Shoulders ran shampoo commercials in which they claimed, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This old tagline is especially true of pilot interviews. From the moment the interviewers lay eyes on you, they’re forming opinions and assumptions as to your professionalism, motivation, intelligence, courtesy, and viability as a future employee of their organization. As a pilot for their airline, your appearance will be one of the images the public associates with the company. Anything less than stellar here could have negative consequences on the company’s reputation, which will only hurt your chances of an employment offer.

Though the pilot interview tips offered below will strike many of you as common sense behaviors, applicants continue to doom themselves by failing in these simple courtesies. Follow the guidelines below to ensure you don’t end your interview before it even begins.

Greeting and Handshake: When you’re introduced to your interviewers, stand up! I’ve witnessed fellow interviewees remain seated when the recruiters appear, which immediately left a negative impression on me. I began forming opinions that such individuals were presumptuous and lazy, though I knew nearly nothing about them. Now imagine what the interviewers must have thought! When the interviewers appear, make sure you stand and greet them at eye level.

            During the introduction, be sure to offer a firm handshake. I’ve even had recruiters offer the jellyfish grip, which made me think they were bored and uninterested (and that my chances were nil). The firm grippers made me feel welcome and relaxed, which left a much more favorable impression on me. Now picture yourself on the recruiters’ side of the shake. Which image would you want to project?

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