6 Frequently Underestimated Pilot Interview Questions

What are some of the most underestimated pilot interview questions?

As a result of airline interview preparation courses with ACS – Aviation Consulting Services and Learn to Fly, we have had many successful candidates who are now flying large turboprop and jet airliners with airlines around the world. We have assisted candidates through the interview process, and successfully improved both preparation techniques and interview performance.

Let’s take a look at some overall preparation tips, as well as some specific pilot interview questions that we have found are underestimated at times.

Overall Preparation: The Earlier The Better

As always, the key to any interview is preparation, and the earlier you start this the better.

It’s important to take into account your interview lead up time. If the interview date is within 1 month, then a lot of preparation is essential. It is essential to step back from initial individual or group preparation sessions and think about your responses. You are then able to develop or evolve more complex answers, and display more knowledge depth during interview.

Most applicants know that they need to get their practical and theoretical flying knowledge right. On top of this though, for many airlines the HR questions play an important role. It is these HR pilot interview questions that we have found often get mistakenly seen as a low priority.

Over the previous 2 years with more than 75 airline job offers from 8 major airlines, the typical successful candidate started their HR preparation at least 6 weeks before the interview. Ideally this time frame is at least 8 weeks. Starting that far in advance allows enough time to develop a strong, well thought out and prepared candidate.

Top 6 Underestimated Questions During Pilot Interviews

Through experience, a number of broader areas and specific pilot interview questions have become apparent. It is these concepts that candidates need to develop further more consistently.

At times the focus can be strong on standard yet obvious questions, such as:

“Why should we employ you?” or

“What are you going to get from working for our organisation?”

Other questions tend to remain underestimated and therefore require more consideration. The top 6 questions during pilot interviews that consistently require more consideration are as follows:

1. Discuss your understanding of the role you are applying for

2. Where do you see yourself in the long term ie 5, 10 and 20 years from now?

3. What has been the most satisfying part of your career so far?

4. Discuss a time when you have been under pressure, and how did you overcome this?

5. What is your PLAN B if you are unsuccessful today?

6. How can your role as a pilot be used to improve the customer experience, and our product?

Whilst the HR components for different airlines have differing focuses in their pilot interview questions, reviewing these areas will give you a great overall base to answer most questions. Developing responses to these will allow you to present as a more well thought out candidate, and ultimately, will make you seem a better person for the job than other less considered applicant responses.

Our Airline Interview Preparation Courses

Captain Darren McPherson from ACS – Aviation Consulting Services is our specialist airline interview consultant. He runs our highly successful airline interview courses, which includes the Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) and Airline Interview Coaching Session.

Captain Darren McPherson is an expert on airline cadet pilot interviews.

Learn To Fly’s Airline Pilot Interview Programs have been created specifically to give airline pilot applicants the best possible preparation. The Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) also offers practical flying training, which makes a valuable addition to your technical knowledge.

For further information or to register your interest, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.


Sharing Experiences: How I Passed My Singapore Airlines Cadet Pilot Interview

We love sharing experiences here at Learn To Fly. Shaun Goh has just passed his Singapore Airlines Cadet Pilot Interview after completing our highly successful Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP).

About Shaun

Firstly some background about me – I got interested in aviation about 3 years ago (2015). Prior to that, I had absolutely no background on aviation at all, no flying experience, no education, nothing. What sparked my interest was a rather chance encounter while I was working full time 3 years ago. Back then, I was working full time at my family’s business where we run a car workshop.

One of our customers happened to be a pilot from Singapore Airlines. I managed to speak to him for a bit while he was waiting for his car to be serviced. He sparked my interest in aviation. After he told me that Singapore Airlines was actively recruiting, I immediately had the thought of trying it out.

However, one thing that did come to mind for me is that there is a rather lengthy bond, 7 years from after your graduation from training. Now I know some people might think it is a small price to pay for sponsored training, but from what I gathered, most people do not realise this before applying. Are you really suited for flying, and can you meet the airline’s strict standards of training?

Singapore Airlines Cadet Pilot Program and Interview

I thought about if I was the interviewer and a candidate told me he is passionate about being a pilot but has never flown a plane before. It does not really sound believable or convincing, does it?

So I thought it wise to see if I was suited to fly first. After all, even if I did manage to get in, what if I got chopped halfway during training? It is a very real thing and it is still happening now. I have witnessed a few cadets being chopped as they are unable to handle the flight training.

Just for your info, for Singapore Airline’s cadetship, you have to complete ground school in Singapore first for 6 months. Only after passing the 14 ATPL papers will you then be sent to Jandakot in Perth to start flight training. There is a waiting period before being sent to Jandakot as well and it can range from 3 weeks to 2 months. So imagine if you are not able to handle the flight training and get chopped halfway through the course. It is not only a waste of your time, but it is also a wasted opportunity. This is why preparation is important.

Prior Flying Experience Is Important

In fact, in the first week when I reached Jandakot, the assistant Chief Flight Instructor (CFI) asked all of us who has the prior flying experience and pointed out that those with experience have a huge advantage over those who do not. This is because the school has strict limitations on the number of hours you can fly under training. It will not allow for multiple repeats. One major hurdle for many people is the first solo, and with prior flight training you can easily pass this.

My Singapore Airlines Cadet Pilot Interview Preparation

Okay, enough about the gloomy stuff. On to the preparation on how I got in.

The first thing I did was to book a simulator session at the now-defunct SG Flight Simulations (Airbus A320), and also one at Flight Experience Singapore (Boeing 737). The experience I had at both these simulators was enlightening, but it was not really as beneficial as I thought as I did not really have any idea what was going on and what I was doing. I thought about what I should do next. By coincidence, I chanced upon the Learn to Fly advertisement on Facebook. I was immediately attracted to it when I read about their Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP).

Not only did it offer flight training at a cheaper cost, but what really attracted me was the Airline Interview Coaching Session with one of the Senior Captains from a renowned international airline based in Asia – Darren Mcpherson. Darren has been an interviewer for cadets at his Airline before. He provided me with the much-needed feedback I required for my preparation for the interview. He was a great help to me – I had even gone through a few skype interview sessions with him before my actual SIA interview.

During my time in Melbourne, I must say that I enjoyed the flight training thoroughly. The instructors are friendly and helpful, and the planes are maintained well, despite the fact that it is cheaper than other general aviation schools. I made lots of new friends with similar goals, and we all helped each other out. There were a few hiccups here and there, but no one is perfect, and if you are considering enrolling in a flight school, I must forewarn you to adjust your expectations. Even with that said, the school manager is a very hardworking person and I am thankful that he was able to make arrangements for me to complete my training in 1.5 months as I was on a tight schedule.

Areas of Knowledge

I only applied to SIA after I came back from Melbourne. I prepared myself by reading up on the following:

– Air crash investigations – Ones such as Air France 447 and Air Asia 8501 which were pretty prominent cases at the time
– Latest news regarding SIA (destinations, new products, and so on)
– What the MPL program was all about
– Watching the video Inside Singapore Airlines by National Geographic
– Reading up about crew resource management
– Learning about incidents involving SIA planes (Herald is a good source)
– Reading up on SIA annual reports and shareholder reports to see how the company is doing
– Reading up about the fleet of SIA (plane models, engine name, maximum thrust, maximum endurance, max takeoff weight)
– Revising on what I had learned at learning to fly (aerodynamics, principles of flight, landing and crosswind procedures)
– Preparation for the HR side of questions, such as what are my strengths and weaknesses, examples of situations when I demonstrated leadership, problem-solving
– Working on a good introduction

The last point is especially important as the interview process is very fluid. They can really ask you about anything if they want to. Why a good introduction is important is because how the interview proceeds will depend on how you do your introduction. For me personally, both my initial and final interviews were very focused on my experience in Melbourne at Learn to Fly. This made it somewhat slightly less intimidating for me. It was more of a sharing session rather than a hard grilling compared to other interviewees.

Moment Of Truth

After completing the final Singapore Airlines Cadet Pilot interview, I got the news the very next day. Fortunately for me, I was selected. I was happy and at the same time grateful to have been given this opportunity. When I left Melbourne to return to Singapore, I remember feeling sad as I was unable to complete my navigation training. Now that I am given another chance to do so, I will cherish this opportunity.

For those of you who require more info on the application process to Singapore Airlines, the Hardwarezone Forum is a good resource. I read all of the pages of it. Also, some other good resources are Ace The Technical Pilot Interview by Gary V. Bristow and Flying The Big Jets by Stanley Stewart. I read both of these as well.

Thank you for reading. I wish you all the best in your application. Disclaimer: In no way am I representing the company. I am just sharing my personal experiences which may differ from person to person.

Captain Darren McPherson from ACS – Aviation Consulting Services is our specialist airline interview consultant. He runs our highly successful airline interview courses, which includes the Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) and Airline Interview Coaching Session.

Captain Darren McPherson is an expert on airline cadet pilot interviews.

For further information or to register your interest in our airline interview preparation courses, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.


Joining the Jetstar Cadet Pilot Program

We are really excited to hear that one of our students, Silas Zhang, has been accepted into the Jetstar Cadet Pilot Program. Silas was previously a nurse before deciding that he wanted to make the transition into an exciting career in aviation.

Why are cadet pilot programs the best way to get into the airlines?

Cadet pilot programs are essentially a short cut to becoming an airline pilot. You can apply with no prior aviation experience. Other airline entry pathways generally require a minimum number of flying hours before you can apply.

It’s as close as you can get to a guaranteed job with an airline (subject to performance during training). More than 80% of cadets usually pass and becoming airline pilots straight away.

What is the Jetstar Cadet Pilot Program application process?

The application process for the Jetstar Cadet Pilot Program covers a number of different components. Each potential cadet will undertake the following:

– An aptitude test covering general and technical questions

– Group discussion, within a group of 6-9 other potential cadets. You will be allocated a task, and will then be observed on your contribution to the task. You will also be observed on how you interact with your other group members

– Two interviews, one with Jetstar and one with a flying school. These interviews will focus more on personality-based questions rather than technical questions

You are usually competing for acceptance into the program with hundreds of other applicants, and on average only around 15 students are accepted into the program for each class. Successful applicants are required to complete their training within 18 months.

What is the outcome of the Jetstar Cadet Pilot Program?

After successful completion of the training in Melbourne, cadets will complete a Type Endorsement for either the Airbus A320 or Boeing B787 aircraft, depending on Jetstar requirements at the time. Following an initial Line Check, the cadet will then join Jetstar to commence their flying career.

This obviously makes entry very competitive, so what is it that will give you that competitive edge?

The key to successful entry into the program is preparation more-so than passion (though passion is obviously still important).

Nearly every single candidate will say that they have passion to fly and to become an airline pilot – therefore, it’s not so much what you SAY, but what you DO to prove you have that passion. For example, if you haven’t done any aviation study or flight training, how do you prove you are passionate?

There are many things that can be done before the interview besides the theory knowledge and flying experience. How you perform during your interview is also very important.

Are you able to show Jetstar that you have the mindset and personality to become one of their pilots? Are you able to work well with other pilots in the cockpit? Do you have good decision-making skills and the level-headedness to handle emergency situations?

How can we help?

Learn to Fly offers a comprehensive Airline Interview Coaching Session, that covers all testing and interview processes. Basically, we will teach you how to pass all of the tests, giving you the best chance of success.

We will also provide you with the opportunity to practice, by providing you with example group discussions questions and then mentoring you on what the Jetstar Cadet Pilot Program interviewers’ expectations will likely be for each question.

Darren McPherson from ACS – Aviation Consulting Services is our Airline Interview Coaching Session instructor. He is an A330 and A350 Senior Captain with a major airline, and has already assisted more than 75 students to successfully pass their interviews and be offered pilot jobs. Successful students now fly for airlines including Qantas, Qantas Link, Jetstar, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, and Sky West.

Captain Darren McPherson is an expert on airline cadet pilot interviews.

For further information or to register your interest in our airline interview preparation courses, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.


The Secret Weapon for 75 Successful Airline Pilot Interview Students

Discover the secret weapon to airline pilot interview success!

Learn to Fly is working with Senior Captain Darren McPherson from ACS (Aviation Consulting Services) to provide Airline Interview Training, and together we have helped numerous candidates successfully pass their airline interviews over the past 2 years.

These candidates have progressed onto various airlines such as Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Airways, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines, Scoot, and Qantas.

They are now flying a range of aircraft types from the smaller Dash 8 and ATR 72 all the way through to larger Airbus and Boeing types including the A330, A350, B747, B777 and B787.


Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP)

Now is a great time to get into the aviation industry. If you are hoping to potentially become an airline pilot by progressing through an Airline Cadetship Program, Learn to Fly can help you. Our Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) aims to successfully equip graduates with the skills, qualifications and experience for any Airline Cadet Pilot Interview. The program will include the following training sessions:

Flight Training

The objective of the training is to give you a good and fair sampling of what flying feels like, as well as an insight into the flight training process.

Airline Interview Training

Darren McPherson from ACS (Aviation Consulting Services) will teach the interview training. As a Senior Captain at a major international airline with 30 years of experience, Captain Darren will teach you how to best present yourself for your interview. In the session he will thoroughly review your CV. He will also enhance your group discussion skills, human relations (HR) and technical knowledge.

Cadet Pilot Theory

The theory sessions will contain everything you need to know to have the best chance of passing the airline interview. They not only cover basic aerodynamics, but also technical knowledge related to airline operations.

Simulation Training

The training is separated into 2 parts. The first part will be conducted by Flight Experience Melbourne on their 737 flight simulator. You will then complete the second component on Learn to Fly’s state-of-the-art flight simulator

ICAO Aviation English

This component of the course prepares you to pass the ICAO Aviation English test. This is required by most airlines during the interview process

The FCPP has a proven record for airline pilot interview success.

Captain Darren McPherson from ACS – Aviation Consulting Services is our specialist airline interview consultant. He runs our highly successful airline interview courses, which includes the Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) and Airline Interview Coaching Session.

Prepare for success with our airline pilot interview preparation courses.

If you are thinking about an airline career, then email [email protected]. You can also visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.


Airline Pilot Career Pathways

Are you serious about an airline pilot career? In this blog we discuss some of the airline pilot career pathways available to you.

Airline Cadet Pilot Pathway VS General Aviation / Direct Entry Pathway

There are two main airline pilot career pathways to consider. Both can lead to an equally fulfilling career as an airline pilot. These are via an airline cadetship or via General Aviation training leading to a direct entry application.

Cadets will need to pass several rounds of exams, including a group interview and aptitude test. Direct entry pilots will require some prior flying experience, often accumulated through work as a flight instructor or charter pilot. Both methods of entry are standard, and each has its advantages and challenges.

General Aviation / Direct Entry Pathway

For this pathway, students need to graduate from a flying school and obtain their Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). This is the minimum qualification to work as a pilot. This can also be obtained in conjunction with a Diploma of Aviation or Bachelor of Aviation qualification.

After graduating, the next step is to gain flying hours whilst working. This can be done a number of ways. Some of the more common roles are instructing, scenic flights, parachute drops or single-engine charter. You can then advance to multi-engine aircraft and build more hours, again through similar opportunities such as instructing.

Different airlines have different hourly requirements, and these are far lower than what they were even 5 years ago.

Cadet Pilot Pathway

An airline cadetship usually involves an intense full-time course during which the cadet must also gain the minimum flying hours. Following this, successful cadets are offered a role with their respective airline.

Entry Points

Cadet Pilot Program

Many airlines now offer cadet pilot programs. There are many benefits, one of which is that airlines can teach pilots according to their protocols. This means they can iron out unaligned habits formed at flying schools. You can technically apply for a cadetship with no flying experience at all. Having said that, we strongly recommend having some flying experience prior to applying.

As there is such high demand for pilots, some airlines will even provide free training for their cadets. The cadetship path can be especially beneficial to students with limited finances.

Out of the two main airline pilot career pathways, the cadetship is the most accessible. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Competition for cadetships is fierce, with only a limited number of spaces available.

For example, an airline may receive a thousand applications each year but only select fifty cadets. This means applicants must demonstrate fervent attention to detail, impeccable attitude and dedication that sees them stand out from the rest. The interview process is rigorous and requires a great deal of preparation.

General Aviation / Direct Entry Pathway

Direct entry is the “traditional” pathway to becoming an airline pilot. You obtain your CPL, build hours, and then apply for relevant airline roles. The two most common direct entry options are for First Officer or Second Officer roles.

The airline will determine the minimum requirements for application, and this usually centres around the number of flying hours you have. Obviously, Second Officer direct entry requires less hours than First Officer direct entry.

The benefit of this pathway is that you are applying based on your flying skills and experience, so there are less variables. You won’t find the same level of fierce competition that you see with cadetships. You either have the hours and experience, or you don’t. Having said that, preparing your application well is still very important. It’s still a job interview after all, and the airline will still want to know that you will be a good fit.

The downside to this pathway is time and money. Learning to fly is expensive. Obtaining your CPL will likely take a minimum of 12 months and cost you $70K AUD at the very least. Only then will you be able to start earning money as a pilot. From there, building the hours you need for direct entry takes time.

Airline Pilot Career Pathway Job Prospects

Cadet Pilot Program

Past statistics suggest that between 85 – 90% of cadets go on to graduate. According to data, there is a 95% chance of a cadet pilot flying for the airline that trained them. Markets can fluctuate, however, and there are often outside factors that can affect employment.

Your level of success will always will always be determined by your level of dedication, aptitude, safety and attitude. Some airlines have been known arrange extra training so a cadet can meet requirements, but that is not a given. It’s not a free ride, and some would say that cadet training requires you to exceed expectations far more than a standard flight training process.

General Aviation / Direct Entry Pathway

The aviation industry is currently booming, with a high demand for pilots around the world. It’s now common for pilots in Australia to be poached by overseas airlines with salary packages they can’t refuse.

Major airlines such as CommutAir, SkyWest Airlines, Qantas, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Scoot are hiring via direct entry. More recently, we have seen a huge reduction in the minimum hours required for both First and Second Officer direct entry applications.

In addition to this, many flying schools are hiring junior instructors as full-time pilots. That means that gaining a job post graduation is very much achievable, as is being able to build hours while you work.

Regardless of which of the airline pilot career pathways you choose, it is ultimately about skill, endeavour, performance and above all, attitude. After all, being a pilot isn’t just about flying machines; it is also about carrying people.

Captain Darren McPherson from ACS – Aviation Consulting Services is our specialist airline interview consultant. He runs our highly successful airline interview courses, which includes the Future Cadet Pilot Program (FCPP) and Airline Interview Coaching Session.

Captain Darren McPherson is our airline career pathways specialist.

If you are thinking about an airline career, then email [email protected]. You can also visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.