Do Check Ride Problems equal Interview Problems?

Discussing failed check rides on the application and during the interview.

We receive many calls from pilot applicants regarding failed check rides.  Let me first preface this article by saying that failing a check ride is not the end of your job search!  Yes, failed check rides will be a topic of discussion for the interviewers, but it does not necessarily mean that you will be removed from the interviewing pool or denied a job.   However, as with any hiccup in your background, proper presentation of the information both in written and verbal format is imperative.

Before you even begin to fill out any application you should review your logbooks and contact the FAA in Oklahoma City to request your COMPLETE AIRMAN’S FILE.  This file contains all of your FAA medical and check ride history since the beginning of your flying career.  Once you have received your airman’s file, take some time to review it thoroughly, re-acquainted yourself with your past performances and research any discrepancies.  After you have completed this task you are ready to apply this information to your applications.

When filling out your applications, and I can not stress this enough, Read the directions and application questions carefully! There is nothing worse than misreading the application question, offering inaccurate information, and then realizing it after you have submitted it to the airline.  One excellent way to minimize mistakes is to fill out ONE application at a time. This lessens your chances of confusing one airline’s directions with another.

Answer the questions on the application accordingly.  Be concise and factual with your responses.  Be sure to specify the type of checkride, (private pilot), the date, (month and year), the area that failed (simulated engine failure).  Follow this process for each failed check ride always beginning with first failed ride ending with most recent.

During the interview your verbal presentation will closely reflect your written explanation; don’t be concerned about that. The bottom line is you want to make sure your responses are consistent and clear.  Listen to the questions carefully and respond accordingly.

For example when the interviewer asks, “Have you ever failed a check ride?”

Give the number of check ride failures right up front. If you have failed two check rides say “Yes, ma’am. I’ve failed two check rides.” Also, if your check rides were during your initial pilot training, say so. However, if your failures are scattered (say private and ATP) then simply give the number of rides failed.

Explain what you failed, not why you failed. What you failed: “I failed my Commercial check ride because my soft-field landing was too long.”
Not WHY you failed: “I was really tired and the weather was bad and I wasn’t used to the airport.”

Explain WHAT additional training you received and WHEN you retook the ride:
“I had one more lesson with my instructor. One week later I retook the oral portion of the check ride and passed.”

So, now let’s put these steps all together:

Interviewer: Have you ever failed a check ride?

Applicant: Yes, ma’am I’ve failed two check rides. Both were during my initial training.

Interviewer: Tell me what happened.

Applicant: First was my Private Pilot check ride. The examiner stopped the ride when I went outside of the parameters during my steep turns. I then did one lesson with my instructor. A week later I returned and performed the one maneuver and passed.

The second failure was my Commercial check ride. My soft field landing was not up to standards; I went back and reviewed with my instructor and rescheduled the check ride as soon as possible, which was ten days later. I passed.

Do check ride problems equal interview problems?  If you are upfront, clear and concise with your information on both the application and during the interview, your chances of a successful outcome will greatly increase.

For more information or a personal concern please contact Cage Consulting at 888-899-2243 or e-mail

Angie Marshall with Cheryl Cage
Pilot Consultants
Cage Consulting, Inc.