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Cabin Crew Applications And Interviews

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The Application – Taking the plunge

Making the decision to apply for a cabin crew job can be a hard one. I have come across dozens of crew who spent 10 years in a job they hated before plucking up the courage to apply for the job they dreamed of. Your friends or family may disapprove, you might be worried about all the early mornings, night flights, the upheaval of your 9-5 routine etc etc…

All these things, and your own preconceptions, are issues which you must weigh up alongside the many many positive aspects of this career, before you make the decision to apply.

It is worth mentioning some things about the job you should be aware of. This is not to put you off, but just to make you aware that the job isn’t as glamorous as a lot of people think, and it is good to get an idea of what to expect before you go giving up a well established career in another field completely.

There are many early starts, I get up at 3.30am a couple of times a month and I know others who have had to get up just as early or earlier for up to 6 days running. This is tough on your body, and you must make sure you get enough sleep so you are well rested for your flight, when you walk into your crew room you have to sign to say, amongst other things, that you are sufficiently rested. Inevitably this means some early nights, and when it’s Saturday night and your friends are all going out, you are ironing your uniform and turning in for the night just as they are calling a taxi, and your alarm clock is bleeping just as your friends are all leaving the club… It is tough, but there are other times when your friends are all going to work on a cold Monday morning and you’re lying on a beach somewhere exotic. Are the early nights on Saturday nights a small sacrifice? Or do you love your weekends too much?

Another issue if you work for a large airline is that believe it or not, the job can be a very lonely one. It is likely that you may not fly with the same person twice, or at least for a long time, and essentially you have to get to know people in a matter of a few hours. You could spend a few days in an amazing city and it takes a pretty strong person to get out and about on your own in a strange place if you don’t get to know any of the crew on your flight. The question here is are you a people person, do you like the idea of meeting brand new people and having to tell people from scratch your name, where you live, if you’re married, single, what you did before this, when you started with the company etc on every flight you do? I personally love it, meeting all sorts of interesting people, and if you don’t like someone on a flight, it’s water under the bridge as you may never see them again!

The tiredness is not on a par with most other jobs, it is completely different. In some cases you may be awake for 24 hours straight and have passed through different time zones during this time. Short haul is demanding work, busy flights, no breaks, you are on your feet for a full day and still expected to be smiling! Long haul is a different ball game, the flights can be just as busy, but you have legal rest periods during the longer flights and on the largest aircraft there are places to sleep.

So if after reading this, you decide to apply, here is what will happen. Airlines differ in their approach to recruitment, for example charter airlines tend to have yearly drives with applications being accepted from October onwards to match their busiest seasons, i.e. the summer ahead. Whereas other airlines do not do recruitment drives but rather accept applications all year round and recruit as and when. You may find that you get to interview stage and are accepted but are put in a holding pool to await a start date.

Most airlines use an online application process now, with some of the larger carriers actually enabling you to book interview dates online, and track your application. Gone are the days of sending CVs and covering letters!

A point to bear in mind here from my own personal experience of online applications is to keep a written record of what you have entered on the online form as you may be asked about specific experiences and be asked to expand on this at the interview stage, which is not easy if you cannot remember what you said on the application!

With regard to the application, take care if completing an online one as it is easy to make typing errors, it is important to make sure everything is gramatically correct. Equally important is to answer all the questions as honestly as possible. There will inevitably be one or 2 questions thrown in which are difficult to answer, ones that draw on previous customer service experience. It might be the easy option to invent a story which paints you in a good light but remember the recruitment team see many applications and may see through your far fetched efforts! It is a wiser option to think back to any times where you feel you have done a little bit more than was asked of you and try and apply it to your potential new role.

The Interview

So, you’ve followed all my advice on the application and you’ve got an interview! Well done!

From this moment on until the interview is over, you will no doubt be a nervous wreck… We’ve all been there, an interview is a terrifying experience, but a cabin crew interview can be potentially even worse in that it tends to be a full day interview, or if you’re really unlucky, split over 2 days which can be weeks apart.

I hope you haven’t been disheartened so far! So, you have the letter with the interview date and time, please do all that you can to make sure you can make it to the interview venue on time and with minimal stress. If this means you have to stay overnight close to the place, then so be it. You will learn that punctuality is of utmost importance in the aviation industry. Don’t be late!!

Some airlines hold their interview days at a hotel near the airport, others have dedicated training centres where they hold interviews. Wear smart business attire, i.e. a skirt or trouser suit for the ladies, and suit for men. Pay attention to detail, because so will the interview team. Grooming is very important to airlines, in the job you must look polished and smart at all times so this naturally applies to the interview as well. For ladies, hair must be tied up, no wispy bits or bands showing, and makeup tastefully applied, no thick eyeliner or glittery eyeshadow. Oh, and make sure you wear lipstick! Nails must be well manicured, and beware if you wear false nails that none of them have pinged off, take some glue just in case! For the men, just make sure your hair is neat and tidy, no facial hair, no makeup :)

Formats of the interview can differ slightly but are usually group interviews, ranging from 10 to 40 people attending the day, with generally 3 or 4 of the recruitment team. The first part of the interview is usually of group format, my experiences were group tasks involving being given a list of 10 items and us having to discuss and decide in which order we would have to get rid of them on a life raft. This type of exercise is all about getting you talking, and the recruitment team are looking for the people who voice their opinions without coming across as bossy. They certainly don’t want to see anyone sitting back and not saying anything, this will make you look disinterested. Even if this is the case, please make sure you forget it and get involved, it doesn’t matter if your group get it right or wrong, as long as you talk about it and try and involve everyone you will be fine! You may get a short exam, this sometimes includes some arithmetic questions, the aim of this is to eliminate anyone who can’t work out how much change to give people on board an aircraft etc. Very basic stuff, stuff which you do every day without thinking about it. The reason I’m stressing this so much is that for every single person on my interview, including me, the maths test was the one thing that reduced us to quivering wrecks! Please please please don’t worry about it!!

Now onto the next part of the interview. There may be a break for lunch or even a break of a few weeks while the recruitment team deliberate and decide who they are selecting to go through to the next stage (I know, you could be forgiven for thinking I’m talking about a reality TV talent contest!). This stage you may hear referred to as the 2 to 1, or 1 to 1 interview. This is to say that you will be interviewed individually by 1 or 2 people (the nervewracking part!). Well done to you if you got this far as it really is one hurdle after another to get there. When you are questioned, really take time to think about what the question is asking you, there are no trick questions here, just think before you speak! It is hard to try and tell you what you might be asked as all interviews are different, but the main thing to remember is to sell yourself, this is your chance to shine, so really go for it. Airlines like confidence, no shrinking violets here, but also no complacency. Some people think they have it in the bag, so make sure you respect your interviewers. Ask questions at the end if you like, but only relevant ones!! And do your homework. It will be expected that you know about the company, when they were established, the routes the airline flies, all the basics. The last piece of advice I have about the interview is to smile, smile, smile. Good luck!

A few words about the job

If you get the job, it is the best feeling! To think you have done better than thousands of others is a great achievment. I hope I have helped you make a decision on whether you want to pursue a career in the aviation industry. Have fun!

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  1. hi,the eitihad airways should hold a forum interview in kenya for applicants

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