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HR Departments Need To Get Out Of The Way Of Pilot Interviews

written by Kirsty Ferguson | August 21, 2018
Picture: Tom Arrowsmith
Picture: Tom Arrowsmith


I have noticed a lot of comments lately about how pilots dislike HR departments and they should get out of the way of pilot interviews and pilots should interview pilots. Many of you also add, why not chat over a beer at the pub, as you will see the real person. There is a suspicion around HR and that they are working against you.

I get it, but you are thinking about it purely from your personal perspective and you need to have a good think about the pilot assessment process from the airlines perspective, I will try to address both below.

  • They won’t see the real me on the assessment day if I over prepare:

The only way your interview would be “fake” is if you lie, something we never ever recommend. If you don’t lie, then they did indeed see who you were based on the examples you selected and the work you put into understanding the criteria you had to meet.

  • Airlines don’t know you at all:

Any company, airline or not, has to manage risk in their hires, bad hiring policy costs companies a huge amount so the pub hiring conversation would be based on a person’s “opinion” of someone. Anyone’s opinion is a very high-risk method of assessment.

We must base our decisions on “performance” and “behaviour” and have benchmarks candidates must meet. It is the fairest method we have. I am sure many of you can relate to operators who have taken a personal dislike to you and maybe disadvantaged your progression, ring a bell? Well, the system we have negates that albeit, not perfect.

  • Coaching does not lead you by the nose with robot responses:

It is our job to help you: understand the criteria, and interpret the questions and SOP’s for delivering the information. We help you to make good solid decisions about what to talk about, we cannot give you the answers, as this is the beauty of the behavioural interview technique, you must have had the experiences you are discussing.


The best indication of what you will do in the future is how you have behaved in the past. This way, decisions are based on facts and evidence rather than the slippery slope of opinion.

  • Pilots should assess pilots:

Yep, sounds right, and every airline assessment panel consists of at least one pilot. So you are always being assessed by a fellow pilot.

  • I have the minimums, can fly the aircraft and do the job, isn’t that enough?

The simple answer is no. Your job is not just to fly the aircraft. It involves customer service, OTP standards, problem resolution, multi-crew communication, managing cabin crew, setting goals, safety management and leadership, to name a few areas in and around the core role of flying the aircraft. Any company needs to see that you fit their culture, in all of those areas.

That is where HR comes in, to assess if you can manage those areas under the airline’s policy.

Hiring anyone is a risk, and as a business, you must mitigate those risks as much as you possibly can. In aviation, where you are in charge of the safety of thousands of passengers and expensive machinery, it is even more important.

I would hate to hire someone who was a great coach but once Skype was turned off, didn’t give a damn about you, the candidate. So I check the “care” factor by looking at their behaviour in past roles. As that is part of my culture here at Pinstripe.

I would never hire anyone over a chat at the pub, initial chat maybe, any excuse for a cheeky beverage, but under my duty of care to you, I must be sure that I am providing the very highest standard and to do that I need a system of assessment and benchmarks.

Keep those comments coming.


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