Why Pilots Don't Get Hired

Published: 11-20-2007
Here are a few reasons pilots don't get that cherished job and some ways too overcome them.

Maybe you or one of your friends received that disappointing letter. You can't figure out why such a great guy or gal didn't get hired. Here are a few reasons pilots don't get that cherished job and some ways too overcome them.

1. Negative first impressions. Treat each person with equal respect and courtesy from the person who calls you for the interview, to the gate agent and the interviewer. If you don't, the word will get back quickly to the recruitment department.

2. Lack of knowledge of the company culture and business plan.
Do your research. You want to be sure the company is a good fit for you and make that clear in the interview. You don't want to say something contrary to the business plan or philosophy during the interview. For example, you don't want to say at a Southwest interview that the thing you like most about your current job is flying a variety of aircraft or at FedEx that you are a morning person. If you are interviewing just because you need a job, that will come through.

3. They don't get to know you. Don't go to an interview over prepared with canned or rehearsed answers. You always hear recruiters say, Be yourself, we want to get to know you. Well, you can be yourself all day, but that doesn't mean they are getting to know you. You need to tell your own stories, your own way. Be careful not to let your friends or what you read in the forums direct what you say or how to act. Each pilot perceives an experience in his/her own unique way. They want to know you, not your friends or someone in cyberspace.

4. Lack of substance in stories. In a pilot interview you need to be very descriptive and provide a lot of detail. If you don't say anything, you won't get hired. Don't time your stories. Once you do that they become scripted. As long as you are describing what they are targeting and they are learning positive things about you, give as much detail as possible. If you start repeating yourself, going off on a tangent, or they look at their watches more than once, it is time to stop. I would rather hear more than not enough.

5. Lack of professionalism. Interviewers want to see pilots who are poised, polished and professional. So don't fidget, crack your knuckles, or tap on the table. You don't want to be stiff and speak in a monotone unless that is your nature. But, you also don't want to come across cavalier or overconfident. Sit up and get involved. Demonstrate interest.

6. Poor grooming and/or inappropriate attire. Wear a conservative business suit and hairstyle. This is not the time to express your individualism. Think about it. You will be required to conform to company uniform and grooming standards. Let the interviewer remember you, your strengths, qualifications and qualities, not what you were wearing.

7. Poor communication skills. Articulate clearly and use correct grammar. Don't swear or quote someone swearing and don't use slang. Again, a little polish is required without sounding like an English professor.

8. Bad attitudes. While we all like to think our attitudes are stellar, sometimes overconfidence or acting a little cavalier in the interview can cause our demise. Stay away from small talk that moves in a negative direction like furloughs, union issues, etc. Interviewers feel that it is a privilege to work at their respective companies, and want to see that you feel that way too.

9. Disregard for the 4 HS. Honesty let them get to know the real you. Humility they want pilots who are humble, with an attitude of service. Humor they want pilots who are easy to get along with. Homework there shouldn't be anything you don't know about that company when you get to the interview.

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