20 Airline Pilot Interview Questions & Answers (+ Preparation Tips)

Congratulations on completing your flight training and meeting the 1500 flight hours rule! It's amazing how far you've come and now it's finally time for all your hard work to pay off. You've applied for a job as an airline pilot, and they're interested in having an interview with you.

While this is exciting news, it also comes with some stress. That's why we have written this article. We will help guide you through what to expect during the interviewing process and provide useful tips to help you ace the interview and get the job as a professional pilot!

Let's get started!

A curly haired woman smiling during her job interview - Pilot MallKnowing What to Expect

The airline pilot interview questions will be slightly different from the oral exams and interviews you may have taken in the past as a commercial pilot.

All of your hard work and training are reflected in all the certificates and qualifications you have already earned. The people interviewing you want to get a better understanding of how you will conduct yourself in real-life scenarios and how you will handle making difficult choices as a first officer.

Think of this interview as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge, skill, and professionalism. You will need to give them a specific example related to what you would do or have already done in the past.

The airline pilot interviews are usually broken down into this formula:

    • Technical Questions
    • Verbal Portion

    Technical Questions

    During this portion of the interview, you will be asked to perform tasks related to your job role. You will be asked questions related to meteorology, aerodynamics, and flight performance. These are questions you should already be familiar with from your flight training.

    Here are some examples of technical questions they may ask:

      • Explain what a dutch roll is and how you can avoid it.
      • Explain what is a squall line and how can you avoid it.
      • What criteria do you use for a stabilized approach?

      Verbal Portion

      This part of the interview process is essential for ensuring you have the knowledge and experience required to be a successful airline pilot.

      The hiring manager will take time to get to know you and your skill set so that they can make an informed decision on whether or not you're a good fit to join their team as one of the airline's crew members.

      This is where your communication skills, critical thinking skills, and your ability to remain calm will create a positive and lasting impression on your interviewer.

      The verbal portion usually follows this list:

        • Standard HR questions
        • Scenario-based questions
        • Conflict resolution questions
        • Previous work questions
        • Past situation-based questions
        • Job role-based questions
        • Soft skills (I.E. personal skills, are you personable and get along well with others)

        This list is here to provide you with a starting point for the type of questions they may ask, but to gain a better understanding of what to expect during your interview it's important to learn more about the airline and their hiring process.

        Doing this research will help ensure you are well-prepared for the conversation.

        Three airline interview consultants in suits - Pilot MallHire an Airline Interview Consulting Company

        Our article can be an invaluable resource for you in your journey to becoming a pilot, but there is no substitute for the expert advice professionals provide.

        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.

        Woman during airline interview writing on paper - Pilot MallAirline Pilot Interview Questions

        We've put together 20 possible interview questions that you may be asked, or something similar to these. While these are meant to give you an idea of what to anticipate, it's best to not assume these will be specifically the answers you are asked.

        Each airline interview process will be different, make sure to put together your own list based on your research of the airline you applied with.

        1. What can you tell us about yourself?

        This is one of the first few interview questions you might be asked. The interviewer wants to have a better understanding of your background, previous job, and your education.

        Avoid giving your life story here because there are other questions you will need to give more detailed answers to and you'll have limited time. Just give a summary of your education and relevant job experience.

          2. When did you first decide that you wanted to be an airline pilot?

          If your aspiration is to find long-term job security, you might need to rethink this answer. Aviation professionals thrive on passion and love for their craft.

          Showcase your enthusiasm and detail why being a part of the airline industry and becoming a crew member is a dream come true for you. The interviewer will want to see your reactions to the opportunities that await, so make sure to express just how motivated you are.

          Remember they're looking to not just hire a first officer but also employ future captains. Be open, be honest, and though there is an example to follow, we encourage you to use your own unique voice.

          Sample:

          As a child, I remember my first time on an airplane like it was yesterday. My parents allowed me to take the window seat and I was mesmerized by the sheer size of the plane as it gracefully took off into the sky. I loved it. Everything below us became smaller as we flew higher and higher, and I felt as though I'd been transported to another universe; one that only pilots had access to.

          As I grew older, that feeling of appreciation only deepened further when I realized everything required to become a pilot. Airline pilots have the ability to remain calm in any situation, they proficiently follow procedures, communicate clearly, and quickly reach resolutions.

          These same valuable qualities are useful in almost any scenario life throws at us. Be levelheaded, have a plan, keep your cool, and handle the problem with grace. Combining my love of the sky with that mindset is why I wanted to become a pilot.

          Closeup of an aircrafts jet engine - Pilot Mall

          3. Tell me about your flight training journey. Discuss your flight hours and the different aircraft you are qualified to fly.

          The interviewer is eager to uncover your extensive knowledge and proficiency in operating between different kinds of aircraft. Showcase your expertise on new equipment and willingness to learn quickly.

           

          When talking about your training, summarize the main points—where you studied and your acquired licenses.

          You don't have to explain the nitty gritty, but do provide details about any job/work experience that has contributed to you racking up 1,500 hours.

          Bring the most attention to highlight your type ratings and the array of airplanes you can operate(in both general and commercial aviation). Give special attention to this portion as it relates directly to the job you wish to land.

          4. How do you keep up-to-date with changes in the aviation industry and regulations?

           

            Staying informed on the latest developments demonstrates your dedication to safety and highlights your proficiency as an airline pilot. The interviewer needs to have confidence that you comprehend what is needed in order to preserve the standing of the airline.

            A man looking nervous during his airline interview - Pilot Mall

            5. Tell me about a time you broke a rule.

            This can seem like a counter-productive question for the hiring manager to ask, and it definitely would make anyone feel nervous. The interviewer isn't prying to try and figure out if you experienced any flight violations, they are looking to see your decision making skills.

            For example, use a customer service situation or incident where you had to help please a customer in order to avoid a bigger incident from taking place and help preserve the company's image, but it was at the expense of a rule bend/break.

            6. Can you provide an example of how you've applied Crew Resource Management (CRM) and why it's a beneficial strategy?

              Crew resource management is a crucial part of working within the airlines. It can be a reflection of your leadership style and separates the good pilots from the bad ones. The hiring manager will want to know that you have the proper approach for managing time and resources between yourself, a co-pilot, and other crew members.

              Forecast with heavy Rain and Scattered Storms - Pilot Mall

              7. What measures can be taken to ensure safety during inclement weather?

              The interviewer will be interested to know about an instance where the weather conditions became unfavorable, and how your lessons from that experience have improved the way you make decisions today.

              It's also a great opportunity to show how you've taken those lessons on board and grown since then.

              8. How do you communicate effectively with air traffic control, the ground crew, and cabin crew members?

                This question is a great chance to highlight your communication skills and how important you think it is for everyone to feel respected and heard. Show the interviewer that you understand the crucial role effective communication plays in enabling safety and team unity.

                Pilots Managing the Flight Controls - Pilot Mall

                  9. What kind of strategies do you have for managing fatigue during flights?

                  Taking proactive steps to maximize your time and avoid a situation where you fly fatigued is vastly important. Prepare your most effective techniques, and try to opt for solutions that don't require excessive caffeine consumption or stimulants.

                  Sample:

                  I believe the best approach to good health is following the usual advice given by medical professionals; getting enough rest, eating healthy, and leading an active lifestyle. I make sure my body is well-rested before long trips in the air, hydrate myself with water, and maintain light meals so I can concentrate while flying.

                  With each flight, I will check in with my co-pilot to ensure both of us are on top of our duties. Together we make sure that at least one of us is alert and focused on safely maneuvering the aircraft according to company regulations while taking any necessary breaks or power naps when needed.

                    10. How do you manage stress during a flight?

                    The interviewer is eager to understand how you would manage the demanding nature of being an airline pilot. It is essential for pilots to be able to remain calm and collected while in the air, as any misplaced judgment could have grave consequences regarding the safety of their passengers. By keeping a cool head under pressure, they can make sure that everyone arrives safely at their respective destinations.

                    Sample:

                    There are several ways to manage your stress both on the ground and in the air. There are breathing techniques, motivational audio books, stretching, meditations and sometimes talking with your co-workers can help alleviate stress.

                    No alcohol beyond this point sign - Pilot Mall

                    11. What would you do if your captain arrived to work drunk?

                    Report them immediately, right? Let's think about that first.

                    The instinctive response would be to report the captain and follow protocol; however, it's best to first discuss your suspicions with the captain(or crewmember) privately in a space away from others. You want to approach the conversation calmly and with concern for their well-being, encourage them to go off-duty. If they don't cooperate, you should still respect their wishes while following airline policy and alerting the necessary channels.

                      12. Members of your flight crew are not getting along. What do you do?

                      Interview questions related to conflict resolutions will be brought up during your interview. Demonstrate that you can communicate effectively and respectfully with air traffic control, the ground crew, and the flight crew. Great communication skills are an important quality for a pilot to possess.

                      The interviewer will be looking for your appreciation and adherence to CRM, and their policy regarding managing conflicts. They want to see that you have the patience and skillset to properly communicate with team and build a positive rapport before starting work. This is key in showing your commitment to excellence.

                      Turn your weaknesses into strengths - Pilot Mall

                      13. What would your current employer say is your biggest weakness?

                      Think of a time when an employer might have discussed one of your weaknesses. Reflect on this honestly and objectively. These areas of improvement should not be related to your piloting abilities, but rather personal qualities.

                      For example, if one of your weaknesses is being overly self-critical, suggest ways that you're working on managing it. This could include listening to motivational talks or reminding yourself of all the awesome accomplishments in your life.

                        14. Have you ever had to declare an emergency, or make an emergency landing?

                        Share your experience when it comes to resolving an emergency. Make sure to emphasize the steps you took and how it helped prioritize safety and follow procedure. This will give them confidence in your ability to handle difficult situations.

                        An airline pilot going through their preflight checklist - Pilot Mall

                        15. What measures do you take to prepare for a flight?

                        As an airline pilot safety is paramount. These types of interview questions are to gauge your understanding of pre-flight proparations, proper checklist use, and your ability to follow procedures. Make sure to mention reviewing the flightplan and anything relevant to that process.

                          16. How do you balance your work-life and your personal-life?

                          The interviewer is wanting to gain a better understanding of your time management skills with this question. Share strategies or methods you use to keep a healthy balance between taking care of yourself and performing your duties as a pilot safely.

                          Work life balance - Pilot Mall

                          17. How do you manage turbulence during a flight?

                          Flying can often involve a certain degree of turbulence. As a pilot, it is important to be prepared to follow protocols and procedures in such situations to ensure a safe and comfortable journey for passengers.

                          The interviewer will want to know that your experience has taught you how to carefully navigate any air disturbances while keeping the cabin calm and passengers reassured.

                            18. Can you share with me your expertise on international aviation procedures and regulations?

                            Interview questions regarding international procedures and regulations might possibly be a topic brought up, especially if the airline you applied for performs international flights.

                            The hiring manager will be assured that you will honor and uphold the standards that uphold the airline's values of safety and reliability, creating a positive and secure environment for passengers and crew alike.

                            Airport window with a jet plane mid-takeoff - Pilot Mall

                            19. Why do you want to work for our company?

                            The interviewer will want to know if your values align with the company values. This is where getting an interview guide or using one of the airline interview consulting services we mentioned above will really help.

                            You will need to know what specific qualities the airline you applied for represents and incorporate those into your answer.

                            20. 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. This is an excellent opportunity for you to voice valued qualities and unique attributes that you believe would make someone an outstanding aviator.

                              Do some research on the standards and culture of the airline you applied to so that you may provide an appropriate and well-informed answer.

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

                              Keywords to focus on:
                                • Teamwork
                                • Communication
                                • Knowledgable
                                • Organized
                                • Calm
                                • Customer service
                                • Self-discipline
                                • Self-motivation

                                aircraft parked at the gate - Pilot MallHow to Research for Your Pilot Interview

                                Even though your job search has ended and you landed a pilot interview, go back over the job description and make sure you have it fresh in your mind. It's a summary of the technical skills they're looking for and may bring up in the interview.

                                Research the airline you applied with. see if there is any recent company news online regarding them. Look for company procedures and how they typically handle flight operations. See if the company has future plans, such as implementing new aircraft into their fleet.

                                It is also worth looking into the financial and performance overview of the airline company, it's important to know how the business is doing and it's potential for long-term growth.

                                a man looking over his interview paperwork - Pilot MallPreparation Tips

                                Your success on the interview day is dependent on how much effort you put into your preparation. So take your time and make sure to equip yourself with the right knowledge and tools to increase your chances of getting your desired job.

                                Here are some tips to help you ace your upcoming interview.

                                Prepare a Brief Answer

                                During your job interview keep your answers relevant to the question and informative, try your best to avoid rambling. Allow the interviewer to be the one to ask for more details or information.

                                Index Cards

                                Consider investing in a set of index cards or using an online platform like Quizlet to create flashcards. Write the questions on one side and the answers on the other. You may find it helpful to practice these with a colleague or while looking into a mirror, allowing you to check body language and delivery.

                                  • Here are some additional questions that we didn't address to consider adding:
                                  • What is your greatest weakness?
                                  • What was your most memorable flying experience?
                                  • What was the most challenging experience you faced in your last job?
                                  • What is a personal accomplishment as a pilot that you are most proud of?
                                  • What do you believe are the personal responsibilities of this job role?

                                  What to Highlight

                                  The interviewer will want to see that you understand how to deliver excellent customer service, fully understand aircraft operations, possess good time management skills, and follow regulations & guidelines.

                                  Highlighting any previous work(or from your current job) experience that shows off any of these attributes will benefit you.

                                  Prepare Questions for the Hiring Manager

                                  The person who interviews you will more than likely ask you this, "Do you have any questions for me?" You do not want your answer to be a no. Write down some questions you can ask that are appropriate for the airline you've applied to.

                                  Do not overwhelm them with too many questions, have a few that are your biggest concerns, and make sure to thank them in the process.

                                  Here are some examples:

                                    • What routes are usually assigned to First Officers?
                                    • What approaches does the airline take in order to ensure that its flight crew maintains and develops their professional skills throughout their careers?
                                    • What is the career progression path for a pilot at this airline?
                                    • Could you please explain the airline's scheduling processes, including any restrictions on duty time and rest requirements?
                                    • What are the usual crew rest and layover accommodation plans for First Officers?

                                    Get Plenty of Rest

                                    One of the interview questions that you will be asked involves fatigue and how you manage it. You'll be off to a bad start if you arrive at the interview yawning, seeming tired, or lethargic.

                                    Arrive fresh and energetic, ready to answer questions with clarity, enthusiasm, and confidence. Your actions will speak louder than words when it comes to demonstrating that you manage fatigue effectively.

                                    Bring Your Paperwork

                                    Gather your logbook, a printed version of it, your medical certificate, written exam results from your ATP exam, and any flight school transcripts. Having the right documents with you will demonstrate that you prepared for the meeting and show respect to the hiring manager.

                                    Follow-up

                                    Once the interview is over, kindly follow up to thank the interviewer for their time and thoughtfulness. Express your gratitude with sincerity and optimism.

                                    Interviewer shaking hands with potential employee - Pilot Mall

                                    Remember

                                    Set aside time to research, study, and prepare for your pilot interview. You've spent your last either 1250 or 1500 hours being a good pilot, and now it's time to prepare for the role of being an airline pilot and future captain. Remember that the work is not just about flying an aircraft, it's about being a good crew member that other crew members can look up to and feel safe with.

                                    Look at how far you've come in your training to get to this point. You are amazing! Trust your abilities and push yourself to reach new heights. Your years of hard work have given you the means, experience, and passion to be an incredible airline pilot.

                                    Get ready for an amazing journey that awaits you!

                                    Want a Career with the Airlines?

                                    If you're not quite ready to apply for a job with the airline or are interested in how to get started on the path to the airline, here are some guides that can help you.

                                       Airline Transition Manual - Pilot Mall

                                      The Airline Transition Manual

                                      Start a journey into an exciting career in aviation with "The Airline Transition Manual". This manual covers all aspects of the airline industry and pilot life, from interviews to training to regulations. Whether you're a seasoned aviator or an aspiring student, it's your go-to guide for success - even providing support for significant others of deployed pilots.

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                                      Do you think we missed an important interview question? Let us know in the comments below!

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