More than pilots, mechanics, and ticket agents, the job of an Airline Flight Attendant can get your travelling the world for free and an interesting career in aviation.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Airline Interview Tips

The interviewing process for the position of flight attendant is like no other interview you've ever had. Instead of a sedate interview of your past, held in the Human Resources office of a corporation, you may find yourself singing and dancing in front of a crowd of people! Because of this, successful applicants prepare for interviews with their airlines of choice by attending interviews with airlines they have no intention of working for, just for practice. That way, they're better prepared for any question or situation an interviewer might throw at them. You can also gain valuable information by utilizing the resources listed in the "Career Resources" section in the back of the Flight Attendant Job Finder & Career Guide. Knowledge is a good thing, and there is no such thing as enough interview knowledge.
During the interviewing process, most airlines will start with a group interview or "cattle call". A large hall will be rented and groups of applicants will be given an overview of the airline and job requirements. You are usually asked to fill out an application at that time, so you will want to have your resume information with you. One of the surest ways to be bumped from an interview is to say, "Can I get back to you on these dates? I don't have that information with me." Or, the airline may have mailed you an application to your home. If this is the case, it should be completely and neatly filled out before you arrive at the interview. As we mentioned in the previous chapter of the Flight Attendant Job Finder & Career Guide, it is even recommended to make a photocopy of the application, so you can practice filling it out, then putting that information on the original copy as neatly as possible. You should also make a photocopy of the finished application, and bring it with you to the interview.
Following the "cattle call", small groups of applicants may be taken before a panel of interviewers. Further interviews may be given at that time or applicants may be notified of follow-up interviews by phone or mail. The second and third interviews may consist of groups of applicants meeting with a panel of interviewers, a single applicant meeting with a panel, or a one-on-one interview. Usually you will be sent a pass to travel on your prospective airline to interview in their training city. These are "on-line" passes, and are good only on that airline's routes. If you don't live near a city your airline flies to, you will have to pay your own way to get to the closest city where the airline operates.
So what makes these interviews so different? The fact is, the interviewers already know your personal history - it's on your application, which has been pre-screened prior to your arrival. What the interviewers want to find out about you is your character:

How do you handle stress?
How do you conduct yourself when faced with a difficult passenger situation?
How well do you work as a team player?
How do you take direction?
Are your social graces sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the job?

These are the most important criteria toward which the focus of the interview will be shifted. Therefore, the interviewers are not necessarily going to ask you about your last job. They're going to put you in situations and see how you get yourself out of them. For instance, in your group of applicants, you may be asked to stand up on a stage and sing the company's slogan, or invent a new one. They may give you an object, perhaps a pen or paper clip, and instruct you to "sell" it to the rest of the group. Many will give you in-flight problem situations, for role-playing, and evaluate how you handle them.
Many of these scenarios will have no "right" or "wrong" solution, and the interviewers do not expect you to know their specific corporate policies. They want to see how well you "think on your feet" and apply common sense to your solutions.

Airlines love to throw hard questions at you, to see how you react. Some examples of these are:

"You have such beautiful long hair. Would you cut your hair short to get this job?"

"This job will require you to move to New York (or Des Moines, Walla Walla, Timbuktu...). Will this create a strain on your relationship with your boy/girlfriend?"

"You are going to have to work every holiday for the next three years, before you even have the possibility of getting one off. Are you prepared for this?"

"Why do you want to be a flight attendant?" Please don't answer this question with the standard answer of "...because I love people and I love to fly!" Interviewers hear that response hundreds of times a day. A more correct answer would be one that demonstrates what you have to offer your prospective airline.

This is where your homework will come into play. Mention the new city that the airline is flying to, or the new nomination for CEO, etc. If you chose them for the chance to utilize your language skills, let them know that. Everyone at the interview wants to be a Flight Attendant. The airline wants to know why they should choose you over the other applicants. What skills will you bring to the airline to improve its standing in the marketplace? The pressure will be on you to perform, as there are no right or wrong responses. If you list a foreign language on your application, someone will test you, so you had better know more than "Buenos Días"!
During the entire interview process, consider yourself "on stage". It's not unusual for an airline to be evaluating you as you're waiting to be called into a session. It's a common practice for one of your fellow applicants to be a company employee working undercover. They may be talking with you before the interview, and reveal that they "heard" the airline is not a good one to work for. Never speak negatively about this company, or compare them to other companies in a conversation. These persons may convey your answers back to the company. (Some airlines even go so far as to ask the working crew how you behaved on the flight in.) They will be observing you to see how you get along with the other applicants. They may be talking with you before the interview, and reveal that they "heard" the airline is not a good one to work for. Never speak negatively about this company, or compare them to other companies in a conversation. These persons may convey your answers back to the company.
Throughout the interviews, whether it is the group, panel, or the individual interview, maintain good eye contact with the interviewer. And always, always, remember and use the interviewer's name. If you're in a group interview remember the names of the other applicants, and listen to what they're saying in their responses. Then use this information in your own responses, in a scenario such as this:

INTERVIEWER: "...and what do you feel is the main reason for flight attendants on an aircraft?"

YOU: "Well, Jane, I agree with Susan when she said it's for passenger comfort, but feel the larger reason for flight attendants on board is for passenger safety."

After the interview, be sure to thank your interviewer(s) by name. Reiterate to them how you would like to be a part of their in-flight team, and what you think is the one skill you would bring to the position. This will leave them with a good impression of you, which they will utilize when they decide who continues on to the next level of interviews, or who gets a rejection letter. If you get the opportunity, this is the time to attach a small photo to your application form or resume. It should not be much larger than 2"x2", and should be a professional looking shot of your head and shoulders. Interviewers may talk with hundreds of applicants in a day, and make notes on their applications. At the end of the day, the interviewers will review the applications that weren't immediately rejected, trying to further narrow down their choices. Having a photo on your application will help them remember your participation in the interview, and the impression you made.
Sometimes it's the little details that will make or break you. Airlines have been known to have applications to be filled out at the interview. If you forgot to bring a pen, you can ask the interviewer for one, and they will give you a pencil. Later, when they're going through the applications, they will throw out all the ones filled out in pencil, as this proves you're not good at planning ahead for a given situation.
Are you friendly and talkative, or are you shy and keep to yourself? Your posture and how you sit, walk, and talk will all be checked. This information may be reported to the interviewers before you enter their office. You will always want to be on guard at all times, not just the time you are in front of the interviewers. Are you slumped against the wall or slouching in your seat while waiting to be called? Is this what you would consider "professional flight attendant" demeanor? Your interviewers will not! . Be friendly, talkative, and sincerely interested in the people around you. Don't criticize the company, or any other airlines for that matter. Always be as upbeat and positive as possible. Even if it is allowed or permissible, don't smoke during the interview process. All US and Canadian airlines are now a non-smoking environment, and one airline even requires you to be a non-user of nicotine products to apply. As a working crewmember you will have the same smoking restrictions as your passengers, so it's best to get in the practice of abstaining from smoking now, before you are hired.
Interview attire is important also. A smartly tailored suit that is clean and pressed will give you a more businesslike attitude than a trendy or extreme outfit. Avoid wearing too much makeup, applying just enough to enhance your natural features. It's a fallacy to believe that airlines are only looking for people who look like fashion models. Actually it's the overall person they now hire. Age, weight, height, and appearance standards have been relaxed over the years, making this career available to a larger cross-section of the public.
It shouldn't need mentioning, but after seeing some of the applicants who have come to interviews in the past, apparently it does:

Shower or bathe before you come to the interview!
Your hair should be clean and styled.
Perfume or aftershave should be applied lightly, and should not overpower the room.

You want to put your best appearance forward. Neat, recently trimmed hair (most beard wearers will be asked to shave if hired), clean hands and manicured nails (nail-biters seldom get hired), clear complexion, and a slim, well-proportioned figure are very important for both sexes. Women, avoiding the excessively large or dangling styles should wear simple earrings. Even though a few airlines may allow male flight attendants to wear a simple stud in their ear, it's best to not wear any to the interview. Body piercing in other locations is not accepted, and should not be worn to the interview. Tattoos should not be visible while wearing your interview attire.
A lot has been said lately on the subject of weight requirements. Recent lawsuits against airlines by older flight attendants that were still required to maintain their hiring weight well into their later years have been settled in favor of the flight attendants. Now airlines will simply say that weight must be "in proportion to height," as opposed to strictly adhered-to weight charts. It will, however, improve your chances at the interview if you display a figure in good physical condition. . It's very easy to gain weight while working as a flight attendant, and maintaining a regular schedule of exercise can be difficult. Therefore, it's imperative that you begin now to control your weight and physical condition.
The appearance criteria may be very subjective. Every airline looks for a different type of person. Some want the all-American look, others want the sophisticate. Still others will want the characteristics most traditionally associated with the regions in which they operate. Each company and each interviewer for that company has a different interpretation of what will fulfill their needs. It's not unusual for an applicant to be turned down by an airline one day, and hired by another the next. One friend of mine was turned down three separate times by the same major carrier, was finally hired by them on the fourth try, and now has over ten years seniority.
After the interview, if you do not hear from an airline within a couple of weeks, it is an indication that you have not been accepted. Don't become discouraged or take it personally. Sometimes it can be the personal preferences of the interviewer subconsciously affecting their judgment. Perhaps they don't like blondes, or New Yorkers, or whatever.
Your interviewer is usually a flight attendant on special assignment, and may not be a professionally trained interviewer. Or, it may come down to five excellent candidates, and they have only four openings. This is where all the little things you could or could not do in the interview will make or break you. Turn this disappointment into a positive learning experience and go on to interview with other carriers.
Perseverance is the key to success. If you are turned down by an airline, you will seldom be informed of the reason(s) why. Any attempts to try and discover why you were rejected will most likely be unsuccessful. Again, keep in mind that an average interview series can have hundreds of applicants, and the interviewers travel to many cities to conduct these interviews. To try and speak with the decision-makers can be next to impossible. Some career counselors will advise you to send a thank-you note to the interviewers. I personally don't advise this, as trying to connect the note with your application or the interviewer may not be possible. Simply accept the loss of this application window, move on, and apply to that airline again at your next eligible date. I remember at my final interview, we were all sitting around guessing which applicants would most likely get the job. The ones we all agreed upon as "definitely" getting the job were never hired. Many of us were amazed that we were chosen instead!

You will want to bring to your interview the following items:

Social security card
A copy of your birth certificate
Copies of your résumé
A copy of the information needed on the application
Letters of reference
Alien registration & work permit (non-citizen)

Allow adequate travel time to avoid a late arrival. Interviewers will close the doors to the interview room promptly on the specified hour. If you're even a minute late, you will either be denied entrance until the next session, or will be allowed to enter- though you now have two strikes against you. Why this test? Airlines operate on strict timetables. You must be on time and reliable if you want to be in this industry. This is not a career for you if you are habitually late for appointments. In fact, if you are even 5 minutes late more than once for your flights, you are fast on your way to looking for a new job. So, as the interviewers see it, if you can't arrive at the interview on time, how likely is it that you will be on time for the flights you work?

-Excerpt from THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT JOB FINDER & CAREER GUIDE by Tim Kirkwood, now in it's 3rd edition. This updated resource also contains the hiring requirements and application addresses of over 80 US and Canadian airlines. To order, go to, or call 1-800-7-FLIGHT.

LOOKING FOR AVIATION EMPLOYMENT? Go to and post your resume for FREE. Job postings for all segments of aviation can be found on the site as well. Just click on this hyperlink or copy it to your web browser:


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Blogger josephine said...

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Blogger helena said...

question about united airlines
after the 2nd interview, do they off you the training right on the spot? or do they tell you they are going to call you? im just curious

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Blogger unique said...

thanks you for the information i had a lot of question that i needed to ask and you answered a lot and what i like the most is that you tell it as it is i have an interview coming soon and its my first so i needed some info on what to do what to look forward to
but now i know so i'll try to do my best

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There is a great blog on Cabin Crew/ Flight Attendant Interviews at

Good Luck,


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This seems pretty insane. Who knew it was such a process to become a flight attendant? I sure didn't. Sounds like some interesting interviews though.

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