By Scott Arnold; Sājet Solutions
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.
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!
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
The Invisible Hurdles
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
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
Dress for Success
Position Yourself on the Screen
Go for a Practice Run
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.
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 solely focus 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.
Scott began his aviation career in 1988 as a commercial flight attendant, transitioned into business aviation in 2001, is the Founder of The CFA Connection resource platform and Sajet Solutions, former director of a major crew staffing company, and the past Chair NBAA Flight Attendants Committee, and is the Chief Flight Attendant for a private owner.