How does attitude play a part in pilot hiring?


Well-Known Member
When interviewing candidates for a pilot position, how is attitude and interest valued compared to experience? At my flight school we have some CFIs that have 1500-2000 hours, some an ATP, and terrible attitudes. A quick look at reveals a high degree of negativity as well. I can certainly understand and appreciate what 9/11 did to the industry. I was let go by two companies in a row that saw business slide after 9/11, and lined up for unemployment like everyone else.

I am planning to go to a flight school this summer/fall to get my ratings through CFII, and begin teaching next year. After a while teaching, I hope to move to charter or freight, and would like to see a Delta flight deck eventually. Does a good attitude and positive outlook help in an interview, and even compensate for fewer hours than other candidates?

Why would an airline interview be any different from any other kind of interview? From everything I've read and heard, not only is attitude important, it's darned close to PARAMOUNT in an airline interview. Remember - this is a customer-based industry. If you've been called for the interveiw, the airline probably can see you have the hours and experience. What they're looking at is your character and how you react under different circumstances.

If I'm way off base here, please feel free to correct me. After all - I'm a newbie.
the basic thing to keep in mind it the interview is done by other pilots. these guys (girls) are thinking to them selves, Do I want to spend a 3 day trip with this person? if the answer is no F'n way. it is back to tearing movie tickets in half.
Attitude means EVERYTHING.

Let me tell you a true story about a guy I used to work with when I was a CFI.

This guy was extremely high strung. He had a big thirst to get ahead, but he was so thirsty that he'd darned near cut your throat.

Whenever he percieved that I had more students, he was in the chief pilots office complaining about it.

If I took a few days off for a mini vacation, he'd go right to the chief pilot saying that he wanted my multi students because he needed flight time.

My students were staying with the chief pilot during training and they'd tell me pretty much everything that went on.

He loved to debate on how women and minorities didn't belong in the cockpit. Seriously! Doh! That lead to us nicknaming him "Adolf" behind closed doors.

This guy would speak poorly of other instructors in clear earshot of their students. Yow! Bad karma!

Everyone really learned to dislike this guy! It got to the point where we'd try our best to avoid him during ground time between instructional flights.

This guy had such a poor attitude that when a regional airline did finally get around to hiring him, about a year later he had an incident.

This guy had a verbal confrontation with his captain and ended up punching him on the ramp in clear view of passengers and was fired instantly.

This guy completely and permanently ruined his flying career.
The reason I asked this is because I perceive that pilot hiring is to a large degree a numbers game. I have kept a positive outlook through this downturn, and family and friends are amazed that I will plunge headfirst into an industry known for instability. Resilient is a word, but I answer them with a smile as I put on my headset.
Seaking of attitude. I have an aching question to ask.

I've been observing this site for about 2 months now. I like reading alot of the information and chats put on here. But I don't notice alot of females in this arena. And I'd love to talk to any females that are or have done the same thing.

I am a 25 yr old female. Changing professions-from corporate to flying(So I already have a BS in Accounting). (I look 19 if I'm lucky). I started flying knowing that this is the career I am going to pursue with all I've got.. the more I do the more I want to do it. Not a whole lot of people know because of my job and other reasons. The one thing that is constantly in MY mind is "young female pilot(minority at that)" perceptions. I realize that they will be in any industry. But the stats in the airline industry are one of the lowest.

I'm a female officer in the military and can handle pretty much anything that gets thrown my way. But I'm EXTREMELY curious about the generalizations about us. What has ANYONE encountered or how do you feel about flying w/females (assuming that their abilities are just as good if not better than your own).!!!

And doug I know that alot of companies have "quotas".. how do I avoid getting hired to fill a "quota"?

Thanks much for all and any comments !!

Absolute #1 on the list is to join WIAI. That's Women In Aviation International. These gals network, have conventions where scholarship recepients get airline interview offers, support each other and do their darnest to have a fun time being involved in aviation.

Attend one convention and you will realize that the tops of the totem poles do not have "quotas." There are enough qualified women airline pilots that the major airlines have their pick. This is reality versus what many aviation and women magazines whine about.

I find age is more of a problem than my gender. I'm not sure if this is because men can perceive "young woman" vs. "old hag" better or if men don't show their age as well. Possibly this is the only seemingly acceptable excuse for not putting females in certain positions. Your military experience has given you the same b.s.

Keep the 'military bearing' in your professional pilot career and it will help take down some barriers. The shine of your shoes will be noted and recorded. Join ISA+21, International Society of Women Airline Pilots, and read their website for the sexual harassment situations encountered by their members. Stuff still happens, usually by the more juvenille members of society along with some very old gentlemen that think women belong in the kitchens, barefoot and pregnant. Learn when to be assertive and when to be "THE Bitch." It may save your passengers lives some day.

Don't put up with jerks for flight instructors either. Yelling, military style or not, has no place in the cockpit. Belittlement, comments about ability to learn, sarcastic remarks. . . Remember, YOU are the customer here.

And use humor. Humor is the way to survive. When passenger #1000000 asks the male co-pilot why the airline is allowing stewardesses to fly the airplane, you will need it. (It's take your daughter to work day, she was F/A of the month, she arm-wrestled the captain and won so he had to be an F/A on this trip, She's not -- George flew, that's no F/A -- that's my mom!, she won a sweepstakes, she won a court case, she has claustrophobia and needs to be able to see out, she's not an employee -- she's a passenger that bought the super-premo deluxe ticket with 1 million frequent flyer miles) Do have the F/As show you where to stow coats and such. When a pax hands you one, you'll be able to serve the customer by taking care of it (unless preflight duties beckon). I've watched all of these responses by various members of an airline I worked for on the ramp.

Generalizations by the other pilots?
When you are FO: I sure hope this FO knows what they are doing!
When you are the Captain: I sure hope the Captain knows what to do!

Generalizations by others? ATC sure seems to like a sexy female voice on frequency... ;-)

Fly SAFE! And welcome to flying!!!
Jedi Nein
Although I am not female, at my airline there are quite a number of female pilots, and I don't think too many male pilots care about the gender issue. This could be because most of the pilot cadre there is relatively young and used to it, so it doesn't get much thought. I'm sure some still care, probably more so at the majors where you are more likely to run into a crusty old-school captain (although there are some at the regionals also). I flew with several female captains, and enjoyed each flight. Interestingly, a number of flight attendants (female and male) with whom I worked did not like flying with female captains (generally speaking), as they perceived them to be more "having something to prove that they are not F/As themselves", along those lines.
Also of interesting note, there are many, many more female airline pilots as a percentage of the total airline pilot group (U.S.) than all minority pilots combined (black, asian, hispanic, etc). I just mention this to point out that female airline pilots are nearly as much a rarity as they used to be.
Well thank you for the insight. I am very glad to hear the industry itself is generaly young. That's comforting considering I will still be in my 20's when I start entering competitively. (I am presently 25, late bloomer.. I feel OLD).
I figured F/A's have a prob. possibly because I encounter secretaries that have problems with our professional women in my industry with the same attitude. We learn to ignore it.. it personally NEVER bothered me.. to each his own.

Your words are most inspiring I can't thank you enough.. And I mean it.,,

If ANYONE cares to give me opinions and examples or incidences positive and negative I would love to read all about it... So please pile it on.. Don't tip toe and don't be bashfull..

Thanks ahead of time..
Actually the avg. age for new hires at majors is about 30-31. So, if you really get to it you might be competetive for hire at the majors at about or just slightly above the avg age. Besides, you said you look 19, so who'll know?!
>>This guy had a verbal confrontation with his captain and ended up punching him on the ramp in clear view of passengers and was fired instantly.<<

A while ago there was an FO and Capt. in Egypt who got into a confrontation, the FO went back to the office to file a complaint, the capt. got in the airbus and took it off. When they realised what he had done, they got him to land. Funny how when we were still living in caves they were building the pyrimids, but they can not understand a bit of CRM.
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
I've been observing this site for about 2 months now. I like reading alot of the information and chats put on here. But I don't notice alot of females in this arena. And I'd love to talk to any females that are or have done the same thing.

[/ QUOTE ]

Hi! I am female, and remember what it was like to be 25 and look like 19... which is not the case any more. /ubbthreads/images/icons/frown.gif

I've been in aviation for a long time and am currently working for a Part 135 charter company. I believe that there are both advantages and disadvantages to being female and a minority (which I am also), but they tend to even themselves out.

I think the thing that is the biggest advantage/disadvantage about being female and/or a minority is that you are immediately memorable to everyone. That's a good thing if they have a favorable impression of you, but not so much so if you screw up.

The person who said that having a sense of humor and a good attitude is important is right on. That applies to men too!
Finally.. A WOMAN PILOT.. I am so glad that you replied. I grew up around all boys.. love the fun stuff in life.. I finally found something I can definitely get up and smile about doing on a daily basis (instead of the corporate world of wolves).. I would love to hear all about your experiences. What your opinions and advices are.. I need a MENTOR in the flight industry.. (1 female 1 male preferably .. he he). Again please email me /ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif
I work for a small 135 op. (one Ce-500, and a Lear-35) we have 4 FOs, one is a female. and she is a riot and very very qualified, Almost ready for the Type rating ck ride in the lear. that will be very very cool indeed.

She said to me the otherday we were headed to lunch, that this is the best job, that really isn;t work, and she never wants to work again in her life.

HA! /ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif
Angel -

Another organization you might want to consider joining in addition to WIAI is the 99s They also have scholarship opportunities. If you are a student pilot, you can join as a Future Woman Pilot member.

Best of luck to you. At the FBO I train at, there are no fewer than 3 females who are working towards a professional aviation career.

And as an aside, attitude plays big part in whether you interview successfully no matter what your field of work is.

Attitude plays a very important role in pilot hiring. At SkyWest they want to see you are energetic and ambitious. Be careful with this though they want you to be ambitious but not too ambitious. Show up with an ATP written but not a Flight Engineer Written. A Flight engineer written shows an interest in a Major Airline Career. I don’t know about now but back when I got hired if you wanted to get a job at SkyWest you had to act as if this is going to be the Airline where you will spend your entire career. And you have no intention of going to the majors. Especially at the regionals, it just cost too much money to hire someone and have them fly for you for 5 years just to leave and go on to the majors. That’s probably why they hired so many high school graduates with the bare minimum’s back then. They are not looking for you to use Skywest as a stepping stone for the majors they want you to make it your career. Your attitude should also change to conform with the airline that you are interviewing with. Most regional Airlines are not too thrilled to hire someone itching to move on to go to the majors.

Just take your flight career one step at a time.
When asked in an interview what you can offer to The Company, do not reply with "I'm a good pilot."

You will have a tough interview.
Bog I just came back to this board today. What's with the blue shirt? You flying a CRJ for jetBlue now?