Preparing For Your First Commercial Helicopter Pilot Job Interview
Do you want to land a commercial helicopter pilot job with a top company? Do you want to make good money while working for a great helicopter company? Then be prepared to follow this advice… The purpose of this article is to teach new commercial pilots how to conduct an interview with a prospective employer AND LAND THE JOB!.
Our first recommendation is to refrain from pursuing a commercial helicopter pilot job (scheduling an interview) until you’ve done ALL of your homework on the prospective employer(s). To be successful (which means you are offered a job) you need to be totally prepared for the interview. You have to “kill it!”
You Need to Know the Company, and Know People within the Company – Be Strategic
The first step to a successful interview is to get an interview scheduled. There is an art to scheduling an interview. For the best advice in setting up an interview with a Tier 1 helicopter employer.
If you have already networked with industry leaders and you have the necessary flight hours to compete for a job, your next step is visit the company (the interview). In the best scenario, you already know someone who works for the company, or someone who once worked at the company. It’s always helpful to know someone in the company (insider leverage) who will make an introduction and a recommendation on your behalf.
If you have not networked, or you do not know anyone within your company of choice, read “Helicopter Pilots: Landing a Good Job Includes Networking“. Again, there is an art to getting an interview, just as their is an art to landing the job through the interview. They are both connected to each other. There are no short cuts.
Become Known and Make a Positive Memorable Impression
If you do not know someone who currently works, or worked, for the company, be prepared to make your own memorable introduction (but please, do not attempt before you know everything about the company).
Although it may seem awkward, you have to get to know someone within the company of your choice. At the very least, be brave enough to call someone within the company and ask the right questions. Follow the company’s Social Media Accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram…). “Friend” employees of the company (especially pilots). “Like”, “Comment” and “Share” their posts (be supportive and postive, but be geniune).
Take your time building relationships through Social Meda, and don’t be pushy. If you do “friend” people within the company, make sure your Social Media account are 110% professional. Thier first impression of you might come from your Facebook news stream. An inappropriate meme (politically charged) or an image of a drunken escapade will not help your chances.
After building “professional relationships” through Social Media look for opportunities to schedule an informal visit. Let your intentions be known, but always be appropriate in your engagement with staff and employees. And, most importantly, if you do schedule an informal visit (“just dropping by to introduce myself in person”) make sure you are ready for an impromptu interview on the spot (you just might get one).
BIG WARNING: Find out all that you can about a company before you submit a resume and fill out an application – the goal is to get an interview. But if the employer does don’t know your keen interest in their company you are just a resume on a stack of many resumes.
In addition, before you submit your resume and complete an application, make sure the targeted company knows the resume is coming. If the company is lookin forward to receiving your resume, you have won half the battle. Then, we highly recommend that you “get prepared” for the interview. Don’t wait! You might get a call for hastily scheduled interview (“can you come in for an interview tomorrow?”). Be ready for anything.
For advice on writing a solid commercial helicopter pilot job resume, click here.
How Do You Get The Interview?
How do you get an interview with a Tier 1 helicopter company? There seems to be some “magic” to it. The more you are invested into the process, and the more you know the prospective employer, the higher your chances are of setting up an interview. It’s weird, but the truth is that when you are prepared, you are more likely to be bold. The more bold you are, the more likely you will find unique opportunities that others miss.
To be successful in landing an interview with a helicopter company, you must first be willing to invest in yourself. Be prepared for an interview by investing into the process, as if you already have the job (at least in your heart and mind).
For example, be thoroughly prepared to slam dunk the interview before it is even scheduled. For instance, be willing to go so far as to seek out people who have gone through the interview process with the company and actually landed a commercial helicopter pilot job with them. Know what to expect and be ready to successfully navigate the employers unique interview process.
The more you are invested, the better you will show up (but don’t be cocky). The employer will see your heart and your good intentions (the employer will see you as a potential loyal and committed employee… his or her impression of you will be positive, as you increase your chances of being the one they choose to hire, over all the rest).
Second, invest in yourself and your future. Remember, this will be your first aviation interview, but not your last. If you are a good pilot and career-minded, there will be many more interviews in your future as you advance your career – so be prepared to learn from the experience and become a “professional interviewer”. Those that show up the best in interviews tend to get the job, even if they have less qualifications and experience than other interviewees.
Finally, to become an experienced pilot whose career has advanced up the employment ladder, he/she has viewed the interview as being a part of the job. These pilots have taken the interview process seriously and have developed a positive attitude about it. They found a way to “like the chase” between the employer and the employee, and they got good at doing it. It’s almost like dating. To get the best “girl” or “guy”, you got to know how to play the dating game. If you hate/loath/fear the interview process, your career will be stifled. I recommend that you change your attitude now, and find a way to like/love the interview process.
How to invest in yourself in constant preparation for the next interview:
- Do your homework on prospective employers and know everything about them.
- Know yourself.
- Know your personal mission – be able to articulate it.
- Know your personal brand – know your values and career plan.
- Know your weaknesses and how you plan to address them.
- Find out what these employers are looking for in their pilots.
- Let your mentors know your career path.
- Continuously keep in contact with industry references (friends and colleagues) and previous employers.
- Attend industry events and network with influencers.
- Share your professional pathway and vision with people who like you and believe in you.
- Visit the prospective employers (always schedule an appoinment).
- Always be patient – never be pushy.
- Be diplomatically persistent and always show continued interest.
- Keep your one-page “aviation” resume updated with relevant info only – ready to send out at anytime.
- Know your strengths and continue to work on them.
- Keep educating yourself.
- Take leadership and communication courses.
- Take “people skills” courses.
- Mentor others.
- Have positive and professional Social Media accounts – employers will check you out.
- Don’t be involved in negative posts in industry forums.
- Don’t get arrested for domestic violence, drunk driving, or drug use.
Once I get an interview, how do I prepare?
Be prepared to demonstrate, answer, convey, and articulate the following (practice makes perfect):
- Know everything about the company who is interviewing you.
- Stand out from other candidates because you know the company intimately.
- Know the company’s mission, vision, and culture.
- Know their interview process.
- Know what they are looking for in pilots through the interview.
- Know the top people in the company and their experience.
- Know what strengths you bring. Have a plan to work on your weaknesses.
- In everything you do communicate how your personal brand message matches the company’s brand message.
- Show how you are committed to “safety”.
- Know the company values and be able to articulate how you will represent them.
- Outline your best attributes (but do not brag).
- Be ready to describe how you handle pressure or adversity.
- Be ready to describe your experience working with the public.
- Be ready to describe how you are a team player without bragging.
- How are you willing to improve your communication and people skills?
- How do you deal with any transition (i.e., be willing to relocate)?
- Receive employer training with eagerness.
- Arrive early.
- Be ready to describe why the employer should hire you over others.
- MOST IMPORTANT: Be ready for the test flight and any other exam.
What is my Personal Brand?
Be prepared to demonstrate, answer, convey, and articulate the following (practice makes perfect):
- Your values.
- Your attributes.
- Your attitude.
- Qualities that make you trustworthy.
- Qualities that make you memorable.
- Your legacy – who did you train with and why that matters.
- Your career goals.
- Your career plan.
Sins of the Interview Process
Avoid the following:
- Failing to do your homework on a company.
- Not knowing the history of the company.
- Not knowing the experience and credentials of the key players within the company.
- Exaggerating your flight experience.
- Certificates not signed.
- Medical not updated or not signed.
- Log book in disarray or inaccurate.
- Failing to be prepped for the test.
- Bashing present or former employers.
- Dressed inappropriately.
In summary, if you follow these guidelines you will have a much better chance of success in landing your next job as you advance your career.