Being asked to interview for an airline might be one of your proudest moments. You know that you may only have one shot and can’t afford to screw it up. I’ve outlined a few key points I’ve found that apply specifically to an aviation based interview and as they say in Michigan can give you “the upper hand.”

(some continental humor)


Knowing the background of the company you are looking to fly for is important. Learn the names of the top directors and what they stand for. Learn about the aircraft they fly and how they operate. Search for any recent news about the company and develop an early opinion about it (in favor of the company of course). Remember knowledge is power, learn all you can.


How an airline captain should look and act has always been an MzeroA favorite. You need to dress for the job you want. Now don’t come complete with epaulets and rolling suitcase but a nice shirt and suit jacket always seems to work. Make sure it fits you properly and you look like a million bucks.


Dead fish handshakes don’t show confidence. Would you want a pilot with a dead fish grip on the controls? I don’t think so. Look your interviewer in the eyes with a firm hand shake.


Pilot’s are smart. That is not a cocky statment by any means but I’m sure 99% of Americans would agree that you’ve got to be pretty darn smart to pilot an airplane. However this poses a problem: Most pilots are smartest when it comes to test time. For example on the day of my CFI checkride I could explain the magnus effect in vivid detail. Now after instructing for a while the principle of disuse takes over and I could barely remember the term to tell you that I didn’t know about, make sense?

In other words study up on aircraft systems, emergency procedures, and checklist flows. Obviously in the type of aircraft you are applying for. Brush up on your FAR’s for their type of operation IE: Pilot currency requirements for 135 or 121ops.

Sim ride

The sim ride tends to be the make or break for most applicants. Flying approaches at sometimes triple the speeds most applicants are used to. The sim ride usually involves a full approach and some sort of inflight emergency to handle. You may operate single pilot or demonstarte your CRM (Crew Resource Managment) with another fellow applicant or sim instructor.

The big thing about your sim ride is use your flows and use all available resources. CRM will be part of the grade, if you are in the captain seat you are the leader act like it! Don’t bark orders but use your first officer to your advantage.

A few don’ts

During the interview avoid playing with things on the interviewers desk. Seems so simple but when nervous, people do crazy things.

Avoid bringing up stories about how you barely survived a day of crop-dusting, banner towing, and traffic reporting. Nothing wrong with any of those activities in fact I have a few 1,000 hours doing some of them and developed great experience but these activities aren’t highly regarded in the airline industry.

Don’t act like you know what you’re talking about when you really have no idea. “Ya if the engine fuel pump fails gravity will just take over.” Say what!?!? Avoid saying these sort of know it all comments because no human knows everything. If you don’t know be honest and say so. Be open to learning if he or she wishes to show you.

Don’t touch things before your supposed to in the sim. I’ve heard horror stories about applicants touching buttons while the sim was loading and sending it into a tizzy! Sit back study the panel and listen to instructions.


Most importantly be yourself, follow the tips from above and have fun. Know that you are a great pilot and give it your all.

Have I forgotten anything? Any more advice from those who have been there done that? Leave a comment below.


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