We've all had a crazy childhood dream and mine was becoming an airline pilot. Many young people who aspire a flying career are unaware of the content of flight training and the preparations which are needed. On November 23rd, 2015 I started my ATPL(A) training. Time to realize my childhood dream. I'd like to take you along on an adventure and I'll happily answer all your questions on the way. Let's do this!
We are all well aware that finding a job as a pilot is not an easy task. It's also one of the main reasons why people doubt wether they should start flight training or not. Because of that reason I want to take you on my personal road to the right seat and tell you all about my personal experiences. May the jobhunt begin!
Once I had sent my first application letter on June 29th, 2017 the waiting game began. I prepared myself for the interviews while hoping for a response from the airline. But what does an average selection process look like? Let's find out!
If you want to find a job you have to be prepared. Not only your theoretical knowledge should be on point, but also self-knowledge is essential to successfully pas an interview
As I mentioned before I studied the ATPL theory multiple times before sending out application letters. By doing this I lost little time after graduation and could start my jobhunt almost immediately. This gave me an advantage over those who still had to start preparing at that time. "Be the right person at the right place at the right time.”
It's obvious that you should have good theoretical knowledge, but don't forget that you have to able to sell your personality a bit. It all comes down to self-knowledge once again! What's my background? What are my strenghts and weaknessess? Why am I a great candidate for this position? Too many people seem to underestimate the HR interview ("Because I know myself better than anyone"), causing them to fail while it could have been avoided easily.
Another tip: wear your best suit when going to an interview. A nice appearance will surely give a positive first impression so dress and act like a pilot.
How do I apply?
When looking for a job as a pilot there are multiple websites which can help you quite a bit. Flightdeckfriend.com and aviationjobs.me are two websites which have helped me out a lot. They are filled with job offers and plenty of good information about many airlines.
Depending on where you completed your flight training you can also apply through the flight school itself. As an example, CAE does the interviews for airlines such aseasyJet UK, BMI Regional and Titan Airways. The selection process isn't free and takes place in Oxford, but it's a nice opportunity to get that first cockpit job!
I didn't apply through the flight school myself, but four of my classmates managed to get hired by easyJet UK so a big applause for them!
The airlines I applied to were Luxair, easyJet Switzerland, ASL Airlines Belgium, Ryanair and TUIfly Belgium. Now I just had to be patient and wait for an answer. Exciting times ahead!
The first answer I received was from Luxair, Luxemburg's national carrier. I applied for a job on the Bombardier Q400, a real turboprop! The company also offers advantageous working conditions, giving me enough reasons to apply.
I ended up at easyJet Switzerland via Flightdeckfriend.com and after having done some research it seemd like a good option. A modern Airbus fleet and a beautiful base in Geneva!
Three of my instructors during flight training work as First Officer at ASL Airlines Belgium (the previous TNT Airways) and I've heard nothing but positive stories. Interesting flight operations, a good company culture and a classic aircraft: the Boeing 737-400SF.
Many graduates usually end up at Ryanair. It's the perfect company to build hours and it's one of the better job opportunities as a young pilot. There was no reason to hesitate I thought!
The last company I ended up at was TUIfly Belgium. I know a few people there and besides that the company offers a modern fleet and good career opportunities.
The selection process
Sending the application form is step one, but what comes afterwards? Let's focus on the selection process so you know what to expect from it.
If you're lucky enough to be contacted by an airline the whole process starts. You'll most likely be invited for an initial interview which contains both personal and technical questions. Be sure to review the ATPL theory before you go! It's going to be a first filter where they want to get to know you better and see if you could fit in the company.
Succeeded the first interview? Then it's probably time for some good old psychometric testing where you will have to do many exercises. Maths, situational awareness, reasoning, reading... It's also possible that a technical test takes place which contains ATPL questions. It all depend on the airline and their requirements.
The third (and usually last) test will take place in a simulator or in a real aircraft! During the selection process at TUI I went on a real flight with a Cirrus, while for ASL I flew with the 737NG simulator. It was quite a big difference!
The whole selection process isn't too complicated, but it all depends on the airline you apply at. They will decide which tests you need to pass and what level is required from you. The length of the process may also differ significantly. At Ryanair everything is done in one day and at Luxair the process may take several months.
I think it is clear now that the content of each selection process depends heavily on the airline, but as always preparation is key!
Do you still have questions about the airlines or the selection process? Feel free to leave a comment if you do! Next week we'll find out if the pilot shortage is a fact or fiction.
Story series: Road to the Right Seat
Follow student pilot Bob's journey to the right seat of an airliner!