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Posted 21 days ago ago by jhadmin

Job interviews come in many different flavors.  They can range from short, informal conversations during a social event to a virtual meeting with one or two managers to formal, multi-day assessments.  Sometimes, being prepared and knowing what to expect is not as easy as it sounds; however, regardless of how the interview is structured, most companies are pretty much looking for the same things.  They want to see skill, aptitude, judgement, reputation, and safety from a drama-free, loyal, adaptable, predictable work force.

If you are seeking a job in the commercial aviation sector it’s helpful to have an idea of what these companies are actually looking for. Will you share the company culture? Will you enhance the company’s reputation? Will you speak up when necessary? Are you able to handle conflicts professionally?  Do you operate to a higher standard?  Are you trainable?  Do you have a positive attitude?  Will you make an effective captain or mechanic?  Will you help protect the company’s most expensive assets while making good contributions to the company’s bottom line?  Most of all, will they feel comfortable putting their families on an aircraft that you fly or maintain?  Additionally, they will want to know about your reputation. Your social media will be stalked, and people in the industry will be polled to get an idea of who you really are.  A little self-assessment prior to an interview may help you put your best foot forward.  

Based on the above, you may be asked some very specific questions. Here are a few:  You may be asked to take an aviation knowledge written or oral exam – study! You may be asked to interpret a NOTAM or METAR, or complete a simple planning task using ForeFlight, or manipulate a GNS430 or G1000, or react to an inadvertent IMC event in a simulator or flight training device for an aircraft you’ve never flown, or interpret a Jeppesen terminal procedure or interpret and document an aircraft MEL.  Don’t know what these are?  Perhaps a Cliff’s Notes version of modern aviation tools is just what a transitioning Blackhawk pilot or Chinook mechanic with a freshly minted commercial license may need.  Other inquiries may include: What do you know about our company, and why are you wishing to work here?  Tell us about a time you made a mistake and how did you recover from it.  What do you see as your biggest strength or biggest weakness? You may be asked scenario-based questions to test your judgement, decision making, or thought process.  They may ask a line of questioning intentionally designed to frustrate you or put you in a compromising situation.  Be prepared for questions like these.  You may not know the answer to all the questions being asked, but have a plan to work through them.

At the end of the interview, you will most likely be asked if you have any questions for them.  You should most certainly have some!  The interview is a two-way street, and if they are unable to assuage your concerns, they may not be the company for you.  Ask them why the position is open?  This may give you some insight as to whether people are leaving or the company is growing.  Ask them directly about their company culture and safety philosophy.  You may be surprised how these things can differ from one company to another.  Ask them what they see as your biggest challenge starting out so you have a better idea of what to expect.  Inquire about the training program and upgrade pipeline or growth opportunities within the company.  Ask questions that help you find out where their safety dollars are going: Are they upgrading avionics or buying new aircraft? Do their VFR pilots receive IFR training? How often do their IFR pilots actually fly IFR?  What is their opinion of CRM/AMRM and how do employees receive training?  Ask them about the relationship between management and employees.  Ask them about the company’s last accident or incident, what they learned from it, and what changes they made going forward.  If the answers to these questions satisfy you and you want to work for the company—ask them for the job!

About the Author:  Gene Reynolds is a U.S. Army Aviation veteran and currently works as an assistant chief pilot for Life Flight Network in Washington state.  He also works with the Helicopter Institute teaching several flight instructor refresher courses throughout the year and is an active mentor, writer, CRM instructor, and speaker at military-to-civilian transition seminars through HAI.

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