Landing Corporate Flight Attendant Interviews in Business Aviation: Tips, Techniques, and Professional Etiquette Skills

By Scott Arnold, Chief Flight Attendant/DaVinci Inflight Training Institute

THE INTERVIEW PART 1: TELEPHONE and VIRTUAL 

As we are all anticipating the return of business as (almost) usual. Many of us will be returning to “normalcy” within our flight operations, while others may be facing new challenges like seeking work and jobs lost. I still believe business aviation will rebound faster than many are forecasting. However, it won’t be concurrently.  You may find that your current clients are not quite ready to fully resume operations (due to maintenance, pilot currency, etc. as stated in my previous blog), or they were forced to restructure the operation. Therefore, the need for contractors and/or employees has been temporarily reduced or the need is just not there yet— as the economy and tourism rebounds.  

Regardless of the scenario, once the “all clear” has been given, if you are still furloughed or a contractor, you need to start generating an income again. Therefore, you may be returning to a routine long forgotten by having to dust off your “hangar hopping” shoes and begin searching new job opportunities. 

Before you begin self-networking, you need to make sure you have your professional arsenal fully loaded and ready. I have detailed in previous blogs how to create an impressive resume (Part 1 and 2) as well as discussing “the fit.”  If you haven’t already, now is the time to update and amp up your most important networking tool – your resume.  

I believe (initially) that this will be the hiring managers market and not the appliers market; at least in the short term during our economic recovery. Meaning, there is going to be a huge influx of crewmembers applying for less jobs. The hiring managers are going to have more candidates to choose from (now more than ever!). Therefore, you really need to sharpen your professional tools in order to be as desirable a candidate as ever. You need to stand out from the pack instead of getting lost in the stack of submissions.

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Having an impressive resume, training currency, and experience are key in being a viable candidate. However, these tools alone won’t get you hired. There is also “the fit.” This is typically determined during the interview process. Therefore, you need to have a structured plan so that you present yourself as organized and detailed-oriented. We are all experiencing a brave new world, and the competition for open positions WILL be fierce. If you are assuming you’ll be fast-tracked in line because you were furloughed or have more experience than others, you will be extremely disappointed. The slate has been wiped clean, and it’s once again an equal opportunity for all as hiring managers are still looking for ‘the fit.’ 

In order to narrow the field of candidates, most operators conduct interviews in a few phases such as:
Phase 1: Recruitment and resume review.
Phase 2: Telephone interviews and/or virtual interviews
Phase 3: The face-to-face interview.
 

I am writing this blog as a two-part series in order for me to be as detailed as possible on all of the subject matter. The second part of this series will be published soon. Throughout my career, I have coached and prepped countless numbers of pilots and cabin attendants over the years for a variety of successful recruitments and interviews. I have also conducted several recruitments, interviews and placements as a client hired consultant, as part of a management team, and as the former Director Aircare Crews Staffing. I can confidently state the following provided skills, tips, and techniques I am recommending are highly effective and will help you win interviews.  

Interviewing is probably one of the most stressful things to experience in any professional environment. Nervousness, the awkward pause, sweating, fidgeting, tapping of the pen, the “What the hell do I do with my hands?” and so on, are all part of the experience. Suffering from any of these stressors is completely normal and honestly, to be expected. We are all human and as an interviewer, I am actually anticipating you to be nervous. Let’s see…you have no job, no income, in debt, and you don’t know if this company is “the fit.” How can you not be stressed about the interview? The unknown naturally builds anxiety and stress. So, if you are feeling any of these stressors, it’s ok!

Let me help you reduce some of these commons stress triggers as well as provide you with some helpful tricks of the trade to land your interview, whatever type it is. Let’s get to it…

My first recommendation for any type of interview is— if you are nervous, own it! Acknowledge it, don’t deny it and share this information with the interviewer! Yes, tell them you are nervous regardless if you are on the phone, video, or an in-person interview. Otherwise, they will hear it in your voice, see your body language and may assume you are being untruthful instead of just being nervous. Again, all interviewers expect some type of nervousness from the interviewee. Some!

TELEPHONE INTERVIEW

You should be prepared for about a 20 to 30-minute phone interview. It’s vital to create a positive phone experience with the interviewer in order to move forward in the process. Companies pre-screen candidates in phone interviews to save both the candidate and the company time and money. 

Here are a few tips to land your telephone interview:

Have Tools Close By and Ready

  • Keep a pen and note pad nearby for your note-taking convenience, so when it’s time for questions, you have your notes to refer to.
  • Keep your calendar close at hand, so you can readily access it to confirm and schedule a date and time for your next phase.
  • Make sure your mobile device is fully charged. 
  • Do not put your phone on speaker mode. I recommend wearing headphones to enhance the sound connectivity.

Be Prepared

  • Try to schedule the phone interview so you can be prepared. Always keep the resume you submitted to the client nearby so you can accurately review your work and personal history. If the call comes in unexpectedly, and you’re not able to talk at that time, it is completely appropriate to request the interviewer if you can reschedule. Otherwise, if you take the call, you may be caught off-guard and appear ill-prepared, which you will be!
  • It’s equally important for you to have done your homework about the company you’ve applied to, so you can speak knowledgeably with them about their company and the job opportunity.  Items such as— the management team, location, type of operation, number and type of aircraft, etc.

The Invisible Hurdles

  • I highly recommend standing during a phone-interview. So stand up, walk around, and even smile during the call. All of these actions really make a big difference in the projection and quality of your speaking voice. It literally projects confidence. Trust me, it works!
  • Remain professional and avoid being too personal during the call. In other words, avoid making jokes, asking the interviewer personal questions, or making comments off-topic.
  • Speak in full sentences and avoid answering questions with comments such as, “uh huh”, or “okay”, or “sure.” Instead, answer questions fully with well-chosen words to make a good impression. Give yourself a very short pause before responding to allow your brain to catch up with your mouth!
  • Try your best to keep your answers short and avoid providing information the interviewer has not asked to know. Let the interviewer guide the interview.
  • If you are asked a question you are not prepared for, simply repeat the entire question out loud. This short pause will allow you to process the question better and helps you find the proper response. 
  • Avoid asking questions regarding compensation during the phone interview stage. The topic of salary and benefits is generally discussed in the face-to-face interview. 

VIRTUAL INTERVIEW

A virtual interview allows employers and candidates to “meet” and interact using video, instant messaging programs, and web-conferencing services. 

Online job interviews have become very common. I believe in our brave new world— this will be ever more common practice. Hiring companies interested in reaching a geographically diverse applicant pool are finding it easier to search well beyond their backyards for ideal candidates without spending loads of time and expense on travel. 

Whether you’re participating in an in-person or virtual interview your goal is the same— to make a positive impression that earns you the ability of moving on to the next level. Virtual interviews can present unique challenges including use of technology and management of the setting. Other challengers are the ability to effectively show enthusiasm and interest, to “sell” your qualifications, and send the right “vibe” in the absence of in-person interaction. Plus, completing all of this with only a face and shoulder shot from your camera.

Here are a few tips that will help you navigate a virtual interview, putting you in the best light instead of appearing like a deer in headlights.

Get Your Technology in Order

  • For these types of interviews, I recommended using your desktop, laptop or tablet for the best visual results, sound and stability of the projection. Avoid using your smart phone as the screen is smaller, and you really want to be able to see the interviewer(s) and “read” their reactions. 
  • Be sure the program/app being used for the virtual interview is installed and working before your meeting. Test the Internet connectivity, as well as the accepting access to your device’s microphone and camera to ensure you’ll be able to proceed without a hitch. 
  • If you need to wear headphones in order to hear better, do it. This is completely appropriate for a virtual interview. It silently displays your attention to detail and wanting to clearly hear the interviewer(s). In fact, often when there are multiple users, it definitely enhances the sound.

We all know technology glitches happen. However, if you hesitate to inform them you are having connectivity issues, some interviewers may get the wrong impression by casting doubts on your interest in the job, your technological savvy, and your ability to problem solve. If you are experiencing issues, own it, and speak up immediately! If you cannot manage the technology of a virtual interview, they will be thinking how are you going to manage an aircraft’s cabin systems, connectivity, and entertainment systems?

Prepare Your Environment

  • If possible, position your device so there’s a blank wall or simple artwork in back of you. If that’s not possible, manipulate the background so it appears you are in a professional setting. Think bookshelves in the background, rather than your unmade bed or messy room.  Obviously, we are cabin crew so a home office is not expected but a clean and sterile environment will enhance the experience for the viewer regardless if you are at home or in a hotel room.
  • Make sure to turn off the television, music, or other noise before beginning. Definitely make sure your pets and/or children are situated so they don’t make unannounced, and unappreciated, guest appearances and noise. Children playing and screaming, dogs barking, and cats jumping on the table are all part of home life. If it happens, once again own it. It’s not preferred… but it’s ok! Shit happens. 

Dress for Success

  • Dress for a virtual interview the same way you would for an in-person interview. Avoid wearing bright or distracting colors, or jewelry that will make noise (like dangly bracelets). Do a video test and THINK CREW MEMBER UNIFORM and ATTIRE. You want the interviewer to focus on you, not your outfit.
  • If they state this is a “casual dress” interview, I don’t care if they are in t-shirts and baseball caps, you need to dress like a professional. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Show them what professionalism looks like.

Position Yourself on the Screen

  • The camera should be framing your face and chest and you should be centered on the screen. Be very conscientious of the camera angle so you are the focal point. Avoid having too much “white space” above your head so you avoid looking like a small child sitting at the table. The camera lens should be facing straight ahead at the same height as your face so it’s not aimed up to the ceiling or up your nostrils.  If you have to prop up your laptop or tablet on some books or a block of some sort to improve the angel, do it! 
  • Test the lighting and camera angle at the same time of day the interview is going to take place to make sure you have proper lighting. Natural light aimed towards your face always is very flattering and works really well. 

Go for a Practice Run

  • Enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member— someone who will be honest with you. Ask them to run through a mock interview with you using the virtual technology. In addition to testing the visualization of your session, your trusted advisor can also tell you whether you are adequately seen and heard, how the lighting is, how you appear on the camera, and whether you come off as professional, prepared, enthusiastic, and interested.  
  • If you have the option to record yourself during your practice run— do it. It does help bring things to light that you never realize. At the very least this should ease your mind about how you look and sound, giving you the freedom to focus on the things that really matter, like landing your interview.

Note: Some software programs allow the interviewer to record the entire interview. They may review the file afterwards looking for negative body language, awkwardness, bad moments, etc. that they missed during the live session. 

Show and Tell

During in-person meetings, an interviewer may get a sense of how a person will fit into an organization based simply on their presence and the “vibe” they throw off. This is more challenging in virtual interviews. Therefore, it’s important to do some research on both the company and the job, and tell the interviewer in detail why your specific qualifications, experience, and skill set makes you deserving of a second interview. Because of the miles between you won’t allow the interviewer to “feel” your enthusiasm. Make sure you convey interest using voice intonation and facial expression.

Position Yourself to Win

Because you won’t have the benefit of a face-to-face connection, your body language becomes even more obvious and prevalent. It’s very important to manage this in a virtual interview. Sit up straight, maintain the illusion of eye contact by looking straight into the camera lens whenever speaking and not at the image on your screen. This will make it appear as if you are talking directly into their eyes instead of the device. This takes practice but it does have a very positive impact on the interviewer. 

Take Your Time, Get It Right

Practice managing your responses to potential questions so they are clear, succinct, and highlight strong verbal communication skills. Avoid joking about the online portion of your interview and definitely avoid talking about how weird it makes you feel to interview virtually as this will make you look inexperienced. Instead, mention that you are a little nervous due to the excitement of this opportunity. 

Be Yourself!

Hiring managers want to get a sense of who you are so that they can determine if they will advance you to the next round. Instead of trying to be the person you think the interviewer is looking for, be yourself. Being true to yourself is the best way to highlight what you can offer and will make it easier for the organization to determine if you’re “the fit.”

Don’t Sweat It

For most operators, the virtual interview serves as the first step in the job recruitment process by allowing them to cast a wide net, screen potential applicants, and narrow the field to the most qualified candidates. It’s easy to get thrown for a loop at the prospect of interviewing for a potentially life-changing job from your living room without ever actually meeting another human being. Follow these basic tips I’ve outlined and you’ll be that much closer to landing the coveted in-person meeting and/or job offer.

In Part 2 of this Interview blog series, I will be solely focusing on the one-on-one interview. In order to prevent my recommendations from being repetitive, many of the tips I will be sharing in part two are interchangeable with both a telephone and virtual interviews as well. 


About the Author Scott Arnold

Scott is a Partner at DaVinci Inflight Training Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, former Director of Aircare Crews Staffing (Aircare International), past Chair NBAA Flight Attendants Committee, and corporate flight attendant with over 17 years of experience in business aviation.

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