Ditch Interview Advice from JH

I’m still kicking around, just don’t have the time to post much. Been talking to a few potential employers, but (and this gets in the way of many prospective flight instructors) my options have been limited by my ability to pick up and take a job anywhere. Thanks to those of you who’ve helped out though.

Here’s the redux from a couple of posts in response to advice for interviews with the Grand Canyon tour operators. The first response deals with the questions that this poster has run into on interviews.

Most interviews for any job will start off with 4 questions (or variations on these):

1. Who are you? (education, where did you grow up, related experiences)

2. Why do you want the job?

3. What have you done to qualify yourself for this job?

4. Why do you think that you are more qualified for this job than others?

Once you have spent some time writing answers down on paper and becoming knowledgeable with those answers, you should be able to go into any interview and do well.

What is an interview anyway? It’s a chance for you to introduce yourself to whoever is interviewing you (the Chief Pilot, the Training Captain, the Check Airmen) and sell yourself to them. You should be able to do that in some detail by preparing to answer the questions above. Don’t be afraid of silences – not too different than a check ride. Answer all questions with as much factual detail as you can; after that, there may be a moment of silence. They may ask additional questions for clarification; they may move on – just don’t run on and on.

The first question (“Who are you/tell me about yourself”) can be a stumbling block if you haven’t thought about it in advance. I’d focus on answering the question “Who are you as a professional/tell me about your career as a pilot?”, and focus on education, training, professional interests, unique qualifications, and career aspirations. Keep it brief, and avoid minutiae, negativity/bitterness about a job you lost, and personal interests/information/details.

The “Why” sounds like it’s about you, but the best response twists in what the employer is going to get from you as well. For the tour companies, you might bring up that you love working with people and being sociable, for example.

The last 2 questions you should expect to hear. Don’t use a canned response, but be prepared for it. Your answer should be based, in part, on what you know are the employer’s needs.

As for silence…immediate, snappy answers are something we associate with intelligence and professionalism. Not true. Silence is also uncomfortable for us as humans, so fighting the urge to constantly be talking takes practice. A friend of mine (who always grills me when we get together) has gotten to where he finishes his questions with “and think about it first.” Good advice. An organized, well-thought out answer, even if it takes 5-10 seconds to formulate, is better than a ramble, fluff, or backpedaling to amend an incorrect answer.

The second (useful) post deals a lot with appearance and attitude. Individualism is great, but remember that you are selling yourself to your employer (and often their clients). That being the case, they are hiring/buying preconceived notions of what a pilot should look like. And the image society has of pilots is one of the strongest stereotypes we have of any profession. The only thing I disagree on is the suit and tie…wear them. You do not want to be underdressed, and for a large company, you may spend most of your time in front of casually-dressed pilots, and then sit down with an executive in suit and tie. There may be some exceptions–and you think this might be the case, you will clarify it with the person who’s interviewing you. Even in these situations, you want to be the best-dressed in the room. At the least, that probably means slacks and a dress shirt. For the logbooks, I’d add to double check that everything that should be signed is signed and organized. Not doing this demonstrates that you are incapable of planning ahead.

Keep everything as conservative as possible – color & style

Cover all tattoos

Lose any piercings

Don’t show up in a suit

Dress shoes – polished

Tie not necessary but can’t hurt.

Your hair should be neatly trimmed

No jewelry other than a ring (one) and a watch

Good luck – remember, you are selling yourself here.

1) Bring ALL of your logbooks from hour 1, not just your current logbook.

2) Bring your medical, pilot certificates, sunglasses and your headset.

3) DO NOT have any decaorative decals, logo’s, or NO FEAR stickers on your logbook.

4) Wear a suit or sport coat, forget what the other guy said, WEAR A SUIT.

5) Have your best personality tuned-up and ready to impress, its a Tour Pilot job, not logging.