Halldale’s Business Manager Michelle Viens catches up with Zenia Bharucha, GoJet Airlines’ Manager of Pilot Recruiting (pictured) to find out the most common interview mistakes made by aspiring pilots and get some top tips for interview success.
GoJet Airlines is sponsoring the Student Education and Careers in Aviation (SECA) conference being held on 19 April 2018 in Orlando FL. For more information on the event or our exhibitors and sponsors click here or e-mail SECA2018@halldale.com.
Michelle: What’s it like recruiting pilots at GoJet?
Zenia: We hired approximately 220 pilots in 2017, which accounts for approximately a third of our pilot workforce. GoJet sends a huge number of pilots each year to major airlines – attrition was at 200 pilots in 2017! That kind of turnover at regional carriers was unheard of until recently.
We thoroughly screen and interview our candidates to see if our existing line pilots would be happy to fly a four-day trip with them. Every regional will screen for background issues and checkride faliures, but we’re also looking for that special quality in a candidate – do they embody the GoJet culture? We want someone who wants to do more than fly, someone who wants to mentor other pilots through our various University Ambassador and Wingman Cadet programs, or to take on a recruiting or check airman role.
Every new hire pilot class gets to meet with our Director of Flight Operations, Chief Pilot and various training managers on day one of class. One of the first things we tell them is that we will support them in whatever their goals are with us. If it’s to fly and be a senior line holder with GoJet for good; we will be better for the experience and knowledge you bring! If it’s to use us as a stepping stone and move on to FedEx, United or Delta? We will personally write you a letter of recommendation.
As with any job, you’ll work hard. It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go to plan, but in the aviation industry things are always changing. As a pilot, you can do everything right and still encounter challenges along the way, be it with maintenance, weather or customer service. We need younger generations of pilots to be resilient and forward thinking when faced with such challenges.
Michelle: Are there any patterns you see when you’re interviewing?
Zenia: We see pilots with all sorts of flying backgrounds. Everyone has their own strengths, but we tend to see that the CFIs have very sharp instrument knowledge and ace the technical portion of the interview. Someone who is used to flying a crazy cargo/135 schedule will understand more about airline operations and answer behavioral questions really well.
Michelle: Have you had an interview with a candidate that was particularly memorable?
Zenia: I had a candidate once who tried to do a full skype interview while she was driving the car. Another turned up with two different shoes on because he was so nervous about the interview – funny how stories like that always stand out in memory!
Michelle: What’s your most important advice for potential interviewees?
Zenia: Values and hobbies – everything that makes you an individual – is important. We go through hundreds of applications every month, so know what makes you stand out from the crowd and own it. Own all your flaws and mistakes too. Nothing is better for a recruiter than a pilot being able to own up to his or her mistakes in the past and talk about how they’ve learned from them.
Come prepared to ask questions. Research the company, the work rules, the pay and bonuses. Don’t hesitate to raise any concerns you may have – the recruiter will be prepared to handle this.
We want our candidates to be realistic about what pilot training involves. The next step entails a rigorous three-month training schedule as well as leaving family and friends behind. It sounds hard, but we believe minimizing distractions while training can be a blessing. The last thing candidates want is a 121-training failure on their record, as it could hurt their earning potential in the long run.
Finally, we tell all our candidates a regional interview should probably be the second to last interview they will ever need to do. With programs like our pathway with Spirit Airlines, it could be the LAST interview they ever do! Candidates need to come ready for the next step.
Michelle: What about things that interviewees should avoid? Zenia: We’re not impressed when a candidate doesn’t dress well, is missing documents or paperwork or turns up late to an interview. This shows the recruiter they’re not going to be a professional while flying the line.
We also ask our candidates to be honest during interviews. If we find out a candidate has left things out in their interview or application, it makes it very hard for us to hire or keep them on.
Michelle: What are your three top tips for a successful airline career?
Zenia: The first would be to pass all your checkrides. One or two failures won’t end your aviation career these days, but they will add up, so make sure you always study for them. The second sounds obvious but it would be to stay out of trouble with the law. An incident in the past that you have learned from won’t be the end of your aviation career as well, but when it becomes a pattern it’s a problem. The third is to live a healthy lifestyle! Good eating and exercise habits are crucial to keeping your First Class medical for as long as possible. Healthy habits start young!
Michelle: Do you have any other nuggets of wisdom?
Zenia: Yes. Get involved early. There are so many cadet programs out there. They give you a great overview of how big or small the company is and about their training and culture. Every candidate is going to have their own reasons why they choose to fly for a regional; some pick a base close to home, some will pick the biggest bonus, some want a small family-like feel or just a small pilot group where seniority rises extremely fast. Research while you have the time, because when you are at ATP or RATP minimums it will be a whirlwind and won’t have the time.