Ace the Pilot Interview: Insider Tips and Top Questions Airlines Ask

Thanks for meeting the 1500 flight hours rule and finishing your flight training. You’ve come a long way, and now it’s time for all your hard work to pay off. Youve applied for a job as an airline pilot, and theyre interested in having an interview with you.

While this is exciting news, it also comes with some stress. Thats why we have written this article. We will tell you what to expect during the interview and give you tips that will help you ace the interview and get the job as a professional pilot!

You’ve logged the flight hours, earned your licenses, and now you’re prepping for pilot job interviews. Whether you’re fresh out of flight school or a seasoned aviator aiming to advance your career, nailing the interview is critical to landing that coveted job offer.

In my years as an airline pilot and hiring manager, I’ve seen both sides of the interview table. I know exactly what airlines look for in candidates and the types of pilot interview questions you’ll be asked.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll discover

  • An overview of the pilot hiring process
  • How airlines assess candidates
  • 13 of the most common pilot interview questions with sample answers
  • Expert tips for impressing your future employer

Let’s get started and prep you to ace that upcoming pilot interview!

The Pilot Hiring Process

The typical pilot job interview process consists of

1. Prescreening

After submitting an application, you may complete an initial phone screen with HR reviewing your minimum qualifications, availability, salary requirements, etc.

2. Technical Interview

If you meet basic criteria, you’ll advance to an interview focused on your technical expertise, including general aviation knowledge, systems and procedures.

3. Behavioral Interview

Here the focus shifts to soft skills and assessing your professionalism, communication abilities, and fit with the airline’s culture. Several rounds of interviews may be required.

4. Simulator Assessment

If advancing further, you may be asked to complete simulator scenarios to demonstrate hand-flying aptitude and CRM skills.

5. Final Interview

This final discussion solidifies the airline’s hiring decision. You may meet with the Chief Pilot or other department heads.

Preparation is key as competition is fierce for airline pilot jobs. Understand what carriers look for:

  • Aviation expertise – Study your aircraft systems, operations, regulations and more. Know your logbooks cold.

  • Communication skills – Airlines need pilots who can communicate clearly and professionally with the team.

  • CRM proficiency – Demonstrate you operate safely, follow procedures, and function effectively as crew.

  • A professional image – Airlines want pilots who will represent their brand well. Show maturity, honesty and sound judgment.

Now let’s look at some of the most common pilot interview questions and how to best respond:

13 Common Pilot Interview Questions and Answers

Here are several questions frequently asked in airline pilot job interviews along with strong sample responses:

1. Walk me through your aviation experience and licenses.

This is your chance to showcase your credentials! Share highlights from your logbooks, flight hours, ratings, and training.

Sample Answer: I began pursuing aviation in college, where I earned my private pilot certificate and instrument rating. I then completed my commercial pilot training, accruing over 250 hours. Recently I obtained my multi-engine rating and now have 320 total hours. I’m current and proficient in aircraft including Cessna 172s, Piper Seminoles, and Beechcraft Bonanzas. My ultimate goal is to gain an Airline Transport Pilot license and fly for a major airline.

2. What do you think makes a successful airline pilot?

Share must-have qualities like technical know-how, CRM skills, professionalism, and excellent communication/teamwork.

Sample Answer: In my view, several key qualities make a standout airline pilot. First is technical expertise – having in-depth knowledge of aviation systems and procedures that aligns with airline standards. Just as critical is CRM proficiency, functioning effectively as crew and maintaining safety through open communication and adherence to SOPs.

Additionally, professionalism and strong decision-making are vital. A pilot must represent the airline with maturity and integrity. Overall, excellent teamwork and interpersonal skills are fundamental to success in this role.

3. Why do you want to work for our airline?

Show you’ve researched the airline and share specifics on why you’re excited to join the team.

Sample Answer: I’m very interested in XYZ Air because of your commitment to safety and industry-leading training standards. I’d be proud to be part of an airline with one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings that takes such great care of its pilots and employees. Your focus on strong core values and giving back to the community are so important. Your airline’s domestic and international route network would also allow me to gain valuable experience. This seems like an excellent environment to truly develop as a pilot.

4. How do you prioritize safety as an aviator?

Safety is the #1 priority in aviation. Share your mindset and preparedness.

Sample Answer: Safety is absolutely paramount in everything I do as a pilot. I maintain this focus by always operating under established procedures, briefing checklists, and communicating clearly with my co-pilot and air traffic control. I’m constantly evaluating conditions and proactively mitigating risks. If ever unsure about the safety of a situation, I will voice concerns directly and take action to avoid compromising safety. There is nothing more important than operating securely and making decisions in the best interest of everyone onboard.

5. Are you willing to relocate for this position?

If required, express your flexibility and excitement about relocating to align with the airline’s needs.

Sample Answer: Absolutely. I fully understand that relocation is likely in this role and I am prepared and excited to move wherever the airline needs me. As an aviator, I value gaining diverse experience operating out of different hubs and airports. I do not have any constraints keeping me from relocating. I look forward to living in a new city or region and pursuing this next phase of my career.

6. Tell me about a time you faced an emergency or difficult situation in flight. How did you handle it?

Share a specific example that highlights your calmness under pressure and strong decision-making.

Sample Answer: During a night cross-country training flight, shortly after takeoff we experienced a complete electrical failure. The cockpit went black and instruments shut off, presenting a challenging, high-stress situation. However, I remained calm and focused on flying the aircraft by reference to lights on the ground. I promptly advised ATC of the emergency. Per my training, I ran through emergency checklists and was able to safely land the aircraft using flashlights and the backup radio. This experience demonstrated the importance of maintaining composure and always having a plan in an emergency.

7. How would you foster positive relationships with crew as an airline pilot?

Airlines seek team players. Discuss open communication, resolving issues early, and supporting co-pilots.

Sample Answer: If hired as an airline pilot, I would foster excellent working relationships with my crew by maintaining open communication from day one. I understand important decisions happen as a team in the cockpit, so I would actively collaborate with and welcome input from my co-pilots. If any conflicts ever arose, I would address them professionally and respectfully to quickly resolve issues. I appreciate that crew cohesion and morale has a direct impact on safety and performance. I would take a team-minded approach and contribute positively to sustain a supportive environment.

8. How do you ensure you operate at peak mental and physical condition before a flight?

Share how you prepare for duty through proper rest, diet, lack of alcohol, and more.

Sample Answer: To operate at my safest and highest level, before each flight I ensure I am well-rested and free from any fatigue by maintaining proper sleep habits when on duty. I abstain from alcohol for an appropriate window before flights. I stay properly hydrated and fuel myself with healthy food to be energized and focused. If I ever felt I wasn’t in the appropriate physical or mental condition for safe operation, I would immediately notify the airline and remove myself from duty until issues were resolved. My own health and readiness directly impacts flight safety.

9. What qualities do you have that make you a strong leader?

Airline pilots must lead crews and passengers. Discuss your leadership skills and training.

Sample Answer: Through my aviation training and past work experience, I’ve developed strong leadership skills that would translate well to this role. Specifically, I’m able to remain calm and decisive under pressure, enabling me to motivate and direct crew and passengers through complex situations. I’m an excellent communicator who provides clear direction and encouragement. When leading teams, I foster inclusion by actively listening and considering diverse perspectives. I also leverage my strong technical knowledge to effectively evaluate options and risks when making decisions as a leader. My focus is on enabling crews to operate at their highest levels and maintaining the trust and confidence of passengers.

10. Where do you see your aviation career in five years?

Share your professional goals and desire for advancement to demonstrate your commitment to a long-term airline career.

Sample Answer: Looking ahead five years, my goal is to be advancing in my career as a commercial airline pilot and working towards upgrading to a senior flight position such as captain. Throughout this time, I will focus intently on refining my piloting skills, systems knowledge, and leadership abilities to excel in more advanced roles with expanded responsibility. I hope to gain invaluable experience operating various equipment and routes across the airline’s network. With

Hire an Airline Interview Consulting Company

As you work toward becoming a pilot, our article can be very helpful. However, there is no replacement for the advice professionals give.

Spitfire and Cage Marshall work hard to make sure their clients have all the necessary preparation to ace their job interview. They are dedicated to giving aspiring pilots the best possible chance of success.

What qualities do you feel make a successful airline pilot?

The hiring manager wants to know what you feel is essential for success as a commercial airline pilot. Here is a great chance for you to talk about the important and unique qualities you think would make someone a great pilot.

Learn about the airline’s rules and culture so you can give a good answer.

Remember, they will see how you answer this question as a reflection of traits you have within yourself.

    • Teamwork
    • Communication
    • Knowledgable
    • Organized
    • Calm
    • Customer service
    • Self-discipline
    • Self-motivation

PILOT INTERVIEW Questions And Answers! (How to PASS an Airline Pilot Interview)

How do you answer a pilot interview question?

It is common for interviewers to ask this question because it helps them determine your understanding of a pilot’s role and responsibilities. In your answer, choose two or three essential skills and describe the benefits of each one.

How do I prepare for a pilot interview?

A valuable step in preparing for an interview is learning about the questions you might be asked and how to answer them effectively. Below is a list of common questions a pilot might be asked during an interview, along with sample answers to guide your responses: How would you handle a disruptive passenger?

What to expect during a pilot interview?

When applying for a role as a pilot, knowing what to expect during an interview can help you feel ready and at ease. Interviewers often ask questions to help them assess a candidate’s knowledge, skill level and suitability to work as a pilot.

How many questions are in the airline pilot interview database?

The database consists of over 350 example questions (with suggested answers) that are regularly asked at flight crew interviews. Unlock the key to acing your airline pilot interview with our comprehensive database of interview questions.

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