“Hi! I’ve just been invited to attend an ‘informational session’ at XYZ Airlines that’s being held next Saturday. I sent them my resume a couple of weeks ago. Is this an interview? Is there anything I should know?”
Yes, Virginia, airlines are hiring flight attendants again – and the so-called ‘informational session’ is often the first step in the flight attendant job interview process. Start off by congratulating yourself – obviously, your resume and cover letter did their job, and now the company wants to meet you in person. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they probably also liked a few dozen other people’s resumes enough to also invite them to this cozy little tea party. Much like acting, where there are dozens of people who want that one job, those who fill positions for flight attendants at major airlines have their interview process down to an art. If you’ve been invited in for a flight attendant job interview, here are some things that you should know.
The “cattle call”
The first stage of the interview process is often called a ‘cattle call’, after the same practice in the acting profession. The airline will invite as many as several hundred applicants to a conference center or hotel where you’ll get to fill out an application, then stand up and introduce yourself. You’ll have two to three minutes to wow the interviewers with your personal statement, and if you do, you may get an invitation to a personal or small group interview later in the day.
This kind of flight attendant job interview is great for the airline, especially if they’re hiring a lot of people in a short time – for instance, when they’re opening a new base in a new city. It’s far less expensive for them to rent conference centers in several cities and weed through several hundred people in a day than it would be for them to fly everyone to the home base for personal interviews. Unfortunately, it’s not so great for you – you need to make a good impression in a very short time. Basically, it’s a ‘stress interview’ – you may be asked, “Tell me a little about yourself,” or be hit with a tougher interview question. Your best strategy for this kind of flight attendant job interview is to practice responding spontaneously to many different questions. They’re looking for unruffled poise – and that comes with practice.
Small group interviews
If you wow them in the cattle call, or if your resume is really impressive, you’ll move on to the second round of interviews, usually a small group flight attendant job interview. You’ll be seated in a room with 8-10 other applicants while the interviewer asks questions of the group at large. It’ll be up to the applicants to answer in their own order – and how you answer questions will be as important as what you say in response to the questions. The recruiters will be watching you as much for your demeanor as for your knowledge – remember, they’ll be training you after they hire you, so knowing the job isn’t the most important thing here.
The best strategy is answer first on some questions, last on some questions and somewhere in the middle on most questions. When you answer, be polite and pleasant, never ever belittle another person or their answer, and answer briefly and concisely. The types of questions you might be asked will range from ‘How do you handle a conflict in this situation?’ to ‘What’s the most important thing to remember on an international flight?’
The interviewers are looking for people who are poised, confident and sensitive to other people. Remember, their job in a flight attendant job interview is to find people who will represent the company and make them look good to the customers. As a flight attendant, you are the person that people will associate with the airline. Make sure you project a confident, competent attitude.
So you made it to a one-on-one interview. That’s quite an accomplishment in itself. At this point, the advice isn’t much different than it is in interviewing for any other job. Listen to the questions asked; respond to them briefly and concisely. Take the time to draw out your interviewer a little – knowing whether she or he was a flight attendant, and what his or her experience is in the industry can help you frame your answers effectively. Most importantly, remember that the airlines hire as much for attitude and image as they do for skills – as noted before, they’ll train you in the knowledge that you need. Instead, you should be working to present an outgoing, resourceful and friendly personality – just the kind of person you’d want in the aisles on your flight home.