Pilot Interview

Addressing the Pink Elephant

Addressing problem areas at an airline interview is, for almost everyone, an anxiety-producing part of an interview.  However, areas of weakness or failures do not have to be overwhelmingly difficult to discuss.

It is important to remember that we all have faults.  Everyone has personal situations they would rather not discuss.  It makes no difference if the pilot is 20 years old with 200 hours of flight time or 50 years old with 20,000 hours-most all have “skeletons” in their closets.  The severity of the problems may vary but the level of discomfort is the same-high!

One of the worst mistakes an applicant can make during an interview is to show irritation, frustration, defensiveness or evasiveness.  These emotions usually surface when an individual is caught unprepared or unwilling to discuss a problem area.  For these reasons, it is important to face these areas you would prefer never to discuss (or think about!) again.  Before you go to an interview, take some time to do a thorough examination of past mistakes so you will:

  • Know exactly what words you want to use when explaining the situation
  • Be able to anticipate follow-up questions
  • Be able to point out what you learned and how you improved
  • Ultimately discover the anticipation is far worse than the actual questioning

Absolutes:

First, let’s look at four hard and fast, never-to-be compromised rules you should follow when discussing problem areas.

1.  Never lie: The majority of pilot candidates would never consider lying in an interview.

However, when it comes to discussing problem areas many candidates are sometimes tempted to “alter” the circumstances of the problem or perhaps present the problem with a few “specifics” left out.  This method will almost always end poorly for the applicant.

2.  Take responsibility: A mature individual takes responsibility for mistakes.  A candidate who rationalizes a mistake will not be viewed as such.  Instead of commenting about how the instructor had it in for you or didn’t know what he was doing, simply state the facts that you had difficulty.  Ownership of the problem shows the interviewer that you are taking responsibility.

3.  Show improvement: Be careful not to make excuses, rationalize or justify but rather specify what you have accomplished since the hiccups in order to improve and move forward.

4.  Provide documentation: If the problem area is documented by a public or private documentation agency (FAA, driver’s license bureau, the courts, college registrar’s office, etc.) bring all applicable paperwork.  Make copies of the originals to potentially leave with the interviewer.

In other words, don’t hide the pink elephant under the rug.  Don’t let your past overshadow your future.  By taking some time to do some honest self-reflection, gather and review your paperwork, you will find that you are able to decrease your anxiety level when discussing problem areas.

By Cheryl Cage and Angie Marshall

For more information contact Cage Consulting at 720.222.1432 or email info@cageconsulting.com

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