Monday, October 09, 2006


Audience participation time:

We are interviewing candidates for a flying job at my company in the very near future. Yeah, it's too late to send a resume for this round of hiring. Yeah, I'll post if/when we need more resumes.

Interviews are like checkrides in the sense that they are both completely artificial situations. In an interview, presumably the candidate is on their best behaviour, and we (the employer) are also trying to sell the job to the candidate so they'll be eager and keen. We sit across the boardroom table and grin at each other, while trying to size each other up for any possible deficiencies.

What questions would you ask a candidate for a corporate jet job? Or for any job?

I want someone I can stand to fly a 14-hour day with, someone who is smart and can anticipate things before they happen, and someone who has a level head on their shoulders, who can transition to Captain when the time comes. A sense of humor would be a plus.

Any tips on getting past the interview facade so I can maybe get a glimpse of what the candidates are really like?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The standard personal information stuff:

What was the last book you read.
What was the last movie you saw.
If you've read/seen those ask questions about them.

Non-sense questions:
In the middle of serious technical scenario questions ask something totally off the wall.

If you are flying as my F/O and notice that there are three mosquitos buzzing around my head, what would you do and how would your answer change if there were only two? Don't smile. The key is to ask the question as straight as possible and throw them off of the game of tossing out preprocessed answers to questions that s/he knows you're going to ask.

Questions with no answer:
Why are manhole covers round?
Possible answers:
* Because manholes are round. (I hired the guy that gave me this one).
* Because it's the only shape that won't fall back through itself when turned on edge... you don't want to be dropping manhole covers into manholes. (also a great answer)
* Because it makes them easier to move if you can roll them out of the way.
* Because it is the most efficient shape with the least amount of wasted space.

etc. etc. etc.

Of course, you want to ask the technical questions too and it's best if you mix the non-sensical stuff in to hide it. Doing this relax's the candidate which can show you the "less professional" side of them that you'll have to deal with 14 hours a day. Do they find the scenario's funny. Do they take them as an intelectual challenge? Do they just blow them off and frown at you? Which person do you want to fly with?

Sam said...

"What's your favorite beer?"

There's only one wrong answer :-).

Aviatrix said...

"As you know, corporate flying sometimes involves being creative and bending over backwards to meet the needs of high end customers. I know you [have|haven't] been working with customers like this. Can you tell me about a time when you bent a rule to get something done for your company or your customer?"

The trick is to set it up so if he doesn't have your standards of professionalism, he'll tell you about the time he took off with one alternator offline, because the passengers had a multi-billion dollar deal to negotiate, on a VFR day. And if he successfully dodges that bullet, does he automatically follow up with a story of something creative but legal he did for customer satisfaction and mission accomplishment?

My Name Is Not Steve said...

Think up some hypotheticals. Not of the "one burning, one turning, what next Lindberg?" variety but more mundane ones close to what you see every day.

I also throw some personal questions in, usually through the back door by telling a short story or sharing something about myself. People tend to reveal more about themselves in the low stress questions than in the ones requiring lots of thought.

Anyway, that's how I've weeded out interviewees in the past.

Jake's Dad said...

When I was interviewed for my current job, I was expecting to be grilled with questions of all sorts. The first question after I sat down was, "So, what would you like to know?" Having only prepared two rather lame questions for the end of the interview, I was suprised and tried to come up with something quick. Fortunately, the person doing the interview quickly put me at ease and explained that he was just trying to make sure that I was someone he and others could get along with. Instead of an interview, it was more of a meet and greet and by just talking casually, we really got to know how well we'd get along in the workplace.

My Name is not Steve said...

One other thing "Jake's Dad's" comment reminded me of...ask them something you are sure they don't know but you do and guage their response. If they say they don't know it, tell them the answer, explaining it fully. Then have a later interviewer ask the same question. Compare the answers with the other interviewer afterwards.

This will be pretty revealing on several layers. The things you're looking for are an honest "I don't know" and if they are willing/able to learn and absorb things quickly. It'll also give some indication of whether the person will fit into your team as opposed to someone with "captainitis" or other know-it-all types.