Before the Covid pandemic, the highly-respected Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook predicted that by 2035 the aviation industry would need more than two million new aviation personnel. While this has no doubt been impacted by the effects of 2020, the fact remains that the airlines are working, goods need to be transported and even commercial airline pilots will be more and more necessary as travel comes back online over 2021 and 2022.
The aviation industry is not going anywhere. So you’ll want to be prepared for your next aviation interview. And whether you’re looking to move on to your next challenge, or simply searching for a job post pandemic, here are five steps to ace your aviation interview.
The days of blanket applications are over. Your application and all supporting documentation must be targeted for the specific role that you’re applying for in order to bring you to the top of the pile of applicants. And that means doing your homework. It should go without saying that you need to read all the requirements of the role carefully, and ensure you meet the non-negotiables. These will be things like licences and certifications that are required for the specific role. And it may require educational qualifications and in-field experience. But once you have the negotiables down, it’s time to look further.
At this stage you’ll want to think about how you can best strategise your qualifications to meet the expectations of the potential employer. And that means understanding the ‘negotiables’ that the employer is looking for. This will be things like the values and ethos of a company. It might be understanding who the executives of the company are and their mission and goals for the organisation. Or it might be knowing the types of systems and processes they use and getting across those prior to your interview.
Whatever it is, it’s vital that you’re across these prior to the interview. After all, one of the most sought after traits in a new recruit is that they’ll be an ‘engaged’ employee. Use this interview as an opportunity to go above and beyond and show that you’re engaged and ready to be a fully engaged employee.
Remember, even though you need to meet the requirements of the role (for the most part), you are still able to (and should) advocate for yourself. And you can do this by preparing, researching and strategising how your specific skills and expertise are well suited for the role.
Tip: Use LinkedIn posts and articles about the company and the interviewer and review media releases and news about the organisation
Your interview is the place for you to ask questions. While it’s critical that you’re well informed about the organisation ahead of any interview, there will still be plenty of questions that would be beneficial to you to ask. And they can help you nail that all important first impression.
Relevant, thoughtful questions can give you a better understanding about whether the role is the right one for you. But more importantly it shows your interviewer that you are genuinely engaged and interested in the position and that you’ve carefully prepared to meet with them. Questions give you a chance to demonstrate your understanding of the company and its goals, the industry and the role itself, and to help you understand how you might fit in that organisation.
Tip: Prepare a list of five to 10 questions ahead of time.
Building rapport is important during an interview. Your ability to make a personal connection with your interviewer is the perfect opportunity to make a good, lasting impression. In fact, research shows that conversational, personal interactions enhance cooperation and ethicality – great for you as a potential candidate.
Establishing rapport isn’t always easy. But there are things you can do to help you create a personal connection with the interviewer. It starts with simply making good eye contact, sitting up straight and looking engaged in what the interviewer is saying. Then be friendly and personable. Look to make a connection based on a commonality if it comes up organically (but don’t be nosy). It can help to mention some of your own outside interests and background information that shows the interviewer who you are outside of work as well.
Most importantly, listen to your interviewer. When they are speaking, ensure that you’re quiet and attentive, but of course responsive when required.
Tip: Talking about yourself is good in an interviewer, but not too much. Listen as much as (or more than) you speak.
There can be a lot of documentation required for jobs within the aviation industry. Organising these for ease of review will go a long way to showing a potential employer what kind of employee you would be.
Take your CV, cover letter, references, certifications, logbook, medical forms, IDs, passports, transcripts, licences or whatever else is required, and organise them for submission and to take along for the in-person interview. Having the items organised (into categories if helpful) and easily accessible means that you’ll look professional and the interview will go far more smoothly. While it may be that you’ve already sent those items over, having them in printed form to hand to the interviewer when they are needed will help differentiate you from the rest of the crowd.
Tip: Use folders to keep everything neat and organised.
Perhaps the most important interviewing step once you’ve made it to the interview is the ensure that you’re following the interviewer’s lead. That means taking cues from the demeanour and tone of your interviewer.
Are they fairly casual and relaxed? Then you should try to do the same. Or are they quite formal and upright. In that case, you should lean into a bit more formality in your own speech and mannerisms.
This is not about pretending to be someone other than yourself. It’s important that at your interview you be yourself. But the best version of yourself. And part of being the best version of yourself is learning how to follow the lead of the person that you are looking to impress.
Tip: Be yourself by dressing in clothes that feel great to wear, but that showcase your professionalism.
At the end of the day, the aviation industry is not going anywhere, and when you’re ready to interview again, for any reason, you’ll want to ensure that you’re primed for take off (pun intended). These five steps can help you get started.