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Southwest Airlines Pilot Interview Profiles

Date Interviewed: November 2013
Summary of Qualifications: Recently retired military pilot, 6,000 hours, ATP, CFI, time in single & multi-engine jet & multi-engine turboprop, current American Eagle first officer, no 737 type rating
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
Overview: I reviewed trip reports on willflyforfood.com for potential interview questions. I did not experience an event or a question that was not in the gouge. Although Southwest hasn't hired in a few years, their process and questions appear to be exactly the same as outlined in previous trip reports. The entire process lasted from 0800-1230. The Southwest team did a great job of making everyone feel relaxed and welcome. There were six interviewees, all current or former military, and all were offered jobs. After introductions and an overview brief we were called one-at-a-time to three interview sessions, in no particular order, each lasting about 45 minutes:


1) Standard interview with an HR rep and a pilot, in my case a very attractive Australian first officer...which I found quite disarming; I had a sleeve of flying stories loaded up and ready to go but didn't get a chance to tell them--all TATT questions dealt more with people issues (details below); they were both very engaging and did a great job of making an interview seem more like a conversation


2) A logbook (military flying history reports will suffice) review; I was asked to show: when I achieved 1,000 hours, total PIC time by aircraft, total jet PIC time, total multi-engine PIC time, total turboprop PIC time, total time by aircraft, flying time for each of the last 5 years; I had an excel spreadsheet and my final military flying history report but still had to do some math at the table to answer a couple specific questions; although this was ostensibly just a logbook review it was really a job interview in a different setting and allowed them to get another look at how I interact with people; interviewer was a great guy and did a great job of making me feel at ease although I squirmed a bit as he asked for flying times that I had not specifically broken out in my excel spreadsheet--I was very conciliatory and he was patient as I used the handheld calculator to breakout the specific categories as best I could


3) Line Oriented Interview; like the logbook review, this is a job interview in a different setting with two new interviewers who were also great guys; although they let you do most of the talking and run the situation, they did a great job of making me feel at ease; your particular scenario is immaterial, I think, as they are looking at your decision making process, how you deal with uncertainty, and how well you work with those around you; I was over Detroit enroute to DC and had a pax with a seizure, weather and wind everywhere, closest option was one knot beyond wind limits, EMT in back of aircraft states pax needs immediate medical attention to survive...gheeze; 7 minutes goes by in a flash as you try to decipher the least risk solution--the first time I glanced at the clock there were 48 seconds left to brief the plan of action and conclude the scenario


Specific questions asked during HR interview, in no particular order:

- tell us about your flying career

- tell us what your resume doesn't say about you

- why Southwest

- TATT you helped a co-worker outside of flying duties

- what are you most proud of, not including family

- what are the 737 FO duties at Southwest

- how do you set the tone for a flight with your crew

- who are Southwest's customers and how are they different from your "customers" in the military

- TATT you went over and above your job description to help someone

- TATT there was conflict on the flight deck

- how do you feel about the time to upgrade at Southwest

- tell us about your current job

- can you get a type rating by class start date


I hope this is of some use. Best of luck at your interview!
Date Interviewed: October 2013
Summary of Qualifications: 5,695 total time; 3,666 PIC; 2,264 IP; 136 EP; USAF Retired; ATP w/B-737 type rating; CFI/CFII; some Part 135 experience
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
• Very friendly, relaxed atmosphere as advertised
• Arrive early for additional paperwork and fingerprints
• Interview group included 2x current USAF (T-1, C-17), 2x former USAF (F-15, me), 1x Spirit Airlines (no prior mil exp.)…1x canx day prior (normal interview group is 6)…2x were interviewing for 2nd time with SWA
• Opening brief by Captain Rocky Calkins, Chief of Pilot Hiring
• 5,000 qualified applications received…hiring 200…interviewing 12/day through Nov…first class Dec 11…plan to hire at slightly higher rate than historical 50% average due to tight timelines…hiring now to meet higher summer ’14 travel demand and new FAR crew rest rules…first notifications in mid-Nov
• Records collection
• I did the LOI first, followed by the panel interview, then the logbook review, but these can be done in any order

• Prepartation tips:
o Read NUTS if you haven't already to get a feel for the corporate culture
o Read the SWA One Report for 2012 posted on their website for most recent info on the company and internal changes
o Know the SWA core values, purpose, vision, and triple bottom line (One Report)...you will not be asked these directly but can use them to help frame your answers
o Read SWA history on wikapedia.com (know the company)
o SWA interview recaps on willflyforfood.com are all very accurate...I used these summaries to get an idea what kind of questions may be asked
o Put your flying stories into the SAAR model (situation, action, result, reaction)...focus on ending your stories with what you learned, how the outcome was enhanced by your actions, etc. Not every story has to have a positive ending (i.e. you hooked someone on a checkride), but you need to be able to articulate "the rest of the story"
o You also don't need to be the hero in all of your stories...showing some humility will go a long way (i.e. What you learned from your failed checkride)
o Don't treat the LOI like a single-pilot exercise...surest way to tube the interview I'm told...use all available resources and seek input from other crewmembers...make a decision and execute, just as you would real world
o Force yourself to relax and try to reveal who you are during the interview...they have a short time to determine who you are and if you fit their culture...as you know they're after a particular kind of person and already know you can fly. If they can't get a reasonable feel for who you are during the interview because you’re guarded, nervous, etc., that probably won't work in your favor.

• Panel Interview
o 1x SWA FO, 1x HR person
o Walk us through your resume and tell us about your career
o Are you available to start as early as Dec 11?
o Any incidents, accidents, or violations?
o Any failed check rides? Tell us about that.
o You were an evaluator…ever fail another pilot? Tell us about that.
o Any issues flying with a Captain who is younger than you?
o TMAAT you had a conflict with/disagreed with your supervisor? How did you handle it and how was the issue resolved?
o You’re going to be at the bottom of the seniority list for a while due to the Air Tran integration…any issues with that?
o Are you familiar with our basing construct? Do you understand you could be commuting to OAK, LAS, or PHX for a few years? How do you feel about that?
o How do you like to have fun on the job?
o Why SWA?

• Logbook Review
o 1x SWA FO
o Be prepared to explain any discrepancies with your times and how you computed your PIC, IP, and total turbine times…last pilot credentials pull is 2 weeks prior to interview
o Know how many hours you’ve flown during the past 12 months
o Resume review – again
o Can we contact your current employer? If not, can you provide a name of someone you’ve flown with at your current employer?
o Tell me something you know about SWA?
o Overall very straightforward and relaxed

• Line-Oriented Interview (LOI)
o 2x SWA Captains…one serves as FO, the other a check airman catching a ride in the jumpseat…don’t know what their backgrounds were
o 7 min timed exercise in front of mock cockpit…timer/fuel on screen in front of you
o Prebrief that they’re not interested in a right answer…they want to see your problem solving process and CRM skills…they do want to see you make and execute a decision within the 7 min exercise
o Given scenario and time to digest/ask questions, then game on
o Read and ensure you understand the scenario
o You will not have time to gather every piece of information you need, but if you use your resources, delegate and ask for input, you will receive enough info to make a good decision (be conservative)…made my decision with 25 sec left
o Captains leave room after exercise and allow you time to prepare debrief…want to hear what you think you did well and what you didn’t do well…this is your chance for redemption if you missed something

After the interview
- Don’t expect any feedback from anyone…they hold their cards close to their chests
- Called by company day after interview and informed that company was beginning background check. I took drug test two days after interview
- All references were called during first week
- 3 of 5 from my interview group were hired (neither 2nd time interviewee was hired)
- 31 day wait for call seemed like an eternity!
- Good luck! In my opinion SWA is still THE company to work for!
Date Interviewed: December 2011
Summary of Qualifications: 11,500 hours Total. ATP, Type rating on A-320, B-727, EMB-190 Jet PIC 1200 hours
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
I was in the afternoon group. Noon to 4:00 pm. You need to arrive at the HQ at least one hour prior becasue you need to do your finger prints before the interview starts.

3 phases of interviews.

1st phase : Panel interview. One from people department, the other one is a line pilot. TMATT type questions. Very relaxed environment. Just be yourself. Approximately 30 minutes.

2nd phase : Logbook review by a captain. Make sure your logbooks are in a logical sequence. Your logbook has to make a sense to him. Remember he has been around, he knows what is going on. Review your logbooks. You need to be able to explain your career based on your logbook.

3rd phase : LOI. 7 minutes. You will have a situation. ie, medical or mechanical emergencies. Use your CRM skills to make a decision. Use all available resouses, your FO, Jumpseater(check airman). Practice this LOI before you go to the interview with a clock.

People at Southwest Airlines are so friendly. It was one of the best interview experience I ever had. Good luck
Date Interviewed: September 2008
Summary of Qualifications: +4000 hours, military, (KC-135E, R & T) Instructor/Evaluator, Cheif of Stan Eval. Retiring after +25 years of service.
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
I interviewed on 9 Sep 08 with 5 other guys. Two of us were ex-military, me with KC-135 experience (about 4,000 hours with IP and EP time) and another guy with C-130 & C-12 experience. He had been flying 737s for several months with CAL but in a strange twist, the day of our interview was his first day on furlough. One guy was a former ATA pilot now flying for Spice Jet, and the other three were all RJ Captains. All seemed like great guys, well motivated and ready to go to work.

Interview is still three parts; a panel interview with a People Department rep and a Captain, the LOI with two Captains, and a records review with a Captain.

I have heard people say that the interview really starts when you arrive at your airport to fly to Dallas. I disagree, I think it stated the moment I got the call to set up the interview. You could tell whenever you talked to anyone at the company and told them why you were heading down to Dallas, that they took an interest in you, started to ask a little more about you etc. Even then, they are trying to see if you fit in.

The folks at SWA were great, from the moment I arrived at HQ, they were very friendly and tried to make everyone relax and be comfortable. I truly believe that they invite you to the interview because they want to hire you and it is up to you to show them that you would be a good choice.

While youre at the interview you spend quite a bit of time in a fairly large waiting area with water available, chairs and couches and couple computers. Try to relax between sessions, but interact with your fellow pilots. I am sure you are being watched during that time and you want to look confident and friendly, not like a loner.

I had my records review first, it lasted about 40 minutes I guess. He collected the copies of my ticket and medical and looked over my records. I explained how I computed my numbers showing where they came from on my military flight records printout. He liked my Excel spreadsheet that I used, copied down the numbers he needed, looked over my checkride history and asked about a couple of rides. Asked for details about my only Q-3 check, and was surprised that the same evaluator gave me my re-check. During the interview I got the usual howd you get interested in flying and why Southwest questions, as well as a few tell me about your best/worst flights type questions. Also got asked a couple questions about where I grew up and my family, very easy to answer things like that. Didnt get asked anything I wasnt ready for and nothing technical at all. Very conversational, like two people sitting and talking over a beer. . . only without the beer.

The LOI was next. Not much to add that hasnt already been written here. Relax, react to the situation, and KEEP AN EYE ON THE CLOCK! I made my decision with about 1:30 left on the clock, and spent the rest of the time continuing to take steps like I was really heading to my divert location with ATC/Company/FA interaction and coordination continuing. Debrief was straight forward, I said that with additional time I would have explained my decision to my FO more, (I agreed with my jump seater as to where we should go) so that he understood I wasnt disregarding his suggestion, but that I felt the other option was better and why. Then they asked me the Why SWA and How did you get interested in flying questions. Again, very friendly, nice guys who just seemed to want to get to know you.

Last I had the panel interview. Maybe because you are outnumbered, this seems to be the one that people fear the most, but there is really nothing to it. They looked over a couple items in my stack of paperwork and asked some basic questions. Yes, got asked the Why SWA and How did you get . . . . questions all over again. But also got asked some questions about integrity (ever asked to falsify a record) and what have I done to improve things in my unit or to change a policy. They asked about my 737 type training, how I liked it, and what I found the most difficult in the training. Got asked what I liked about SWA, and even asked about their core values towards the end. I did get asked about ever having a situation with low fuel as well.

For all the questions, I took the angle of what happened, what WE did as a TEAM to identify and fix it, and how it has improved operations/safety/QOL etc for the unit. I always made sure I credited anyone who worked with me on a project or issue and how we were always trying to make things better for everyone.

How to prepare? A friend of mine who is a Captain at SWA gave me some great advise (Thanks Fitz!). He said to do your homework and learn as much about the company as you can. I was able to list the core values of the company and some of the activities and charities the company is involved in and relate them to things I have done and how I want to be involved with an organization that. He also said to stay positive in all your answers. Dont slam a competitor in an answer to make SWA look good. Just point out the things that SWA does that are better. Of course read Nuts, its an easy read and very interesting. Lastly, like everyone tells you, relax and be yourself, it was a fun time.

After the interview: The following week my references started getting called. I had 9 recs, 4 internal folks (2 Capts and 2 FOs) and 5 senior leaders from my unit. Only the 2 Capts and the top 2 guys from my unit got calls. One additional thing happened that I thought was funny. It seems that the gentleman working my folder happened to know the commander of the Civil Engineering squadron in my unit. . . .so he called him, even though he wasnt one of the references I had provided. After Wednesday that week, everything went quiet. And man did time drag until the week of my DB!

I want to take a moment and talk about a subject people love to argue about. Getting your 737 type before the interview. I did get it, about a year before the interview and I thought it was a great experience. I got mine from HPA and was very impressed by them and their operation. Yes it is expensive, but here is my point: SWA has thousands of applications in their computer banks. They interviewed during only FOUR months this year (July, Aug, Sep, and Oct) and only interviewed about 450 475. People looking for a job in the real world, go out and get a masters degree or other training to make themselves more competitive in the market. Why shouldnt you? I had been told that the guidelines for the interviewees this year were Typed with Check Airman/Evaluator back grounds. When you are interviewing just a small percentage of the applicants in your system, you can be fairly picky on what qualifications you are looking for. I dont know the official hiring numbers for all the months, but I have heard that July had 55 hired out of 105 interviewed and the Aug and Sept (one board for both months due to hurricane Ike) had 107 out of about 250 interviewed. (I think these numbers are very good, but I wouldnt go betting a paycheck on them.) Odds get good if you get invited. And if you get hired, the first year pay at SWA more than makes up for the cost of the type training. It is a personal decision, but I think a fairly easy one to make. If your goal is to work for SWA and not just to fly for an airline. . . get the type rating.
Date Interviewed: February 2008
Summary of Qualifications: Military, 3,400+ TT, 1,100+ PIC, C-141, C-5, C-12, C-21
Were you offered the job? Yes
Pilot Interview Profile:
Previous write-ups were right-on! Flew in the day prior on AirTran (positive space flight), they paid for the flight, I paid for the hotel (Clarion is recommended -- very close to the Alteon training facility where they do the interviews, AT rate is $49). Had a nice conversation on the way to Atlanta with the flight attendants (which I brought up during the interview).

Show time at Alteon was 8:00 am -- busses from the Clarion were at 7:15 and 7:45 am, so I took the 7:15 because I did not want to be late. It turned out that the 7:45 would have been ok, but it was close for the 1 guy who took it -- he was almost late.

Everyone was very nice, and they went out of their way to help you relax. We had Lindsay, Mark (737 CA), and Jerry (717 CA) for the interviews. There were 3 one-on-one's. Started out with a company overview, expansion plans, etc. There was nothing I didn't already know about except for the possibility of a new crew base (within 100 miles of Indianapolis) -- they did not have any official word on this though.

After the overview, the rest of the day was waiting for each of the interviews. My first two were within the first 1 1/2 hours, and then I had a 2 1/2 hour wait for the third one. They brought lunch from Quizno's for all the interview-ees, although I don't know if they do this every time they do interviews.

I did not get any tech questions, although a couple of the younger guys did. All the questions were "TMAAT"-type.

Overall, a great experience. Know the company, be familiar with its mission statement, guiding principles, and values, and have lots of good flying stories available.
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