Leadership and the airline pilot.


New Member
When I come across web sites for aspiring pilots(webjetcareers.com, jet-jobs.com, jetcareers.com, etc.), I'll often find a list of "example" questions that one might find in their interview. One of these is something to the effect of "Tell me about a time you were a leader" or "How do you lead?"

What kind of response is the airline/interviewer looking for? What do they like to hear?

I ask this because I know I've never really been a "rah-rah, round up the troops" kind of guy. If anything, I've tended to be more of a "follow the leader", or at least prefer team efforts.

For those who've gone through the interview process, what story did you give them as an example of your leadership? (I understand they like stories.) And for those who haven't, what story are you intending to use?
Have you ever had any experiences in scouting or sports or work where you had to lead or teach others? All of these are examples of leadership that you can use. (e.g.- sports team captain; scouting's highest rank is a biggie).
The story I would intend on using would probably be one from when I was in JROTC yeah I know a long time ago. But I was in put in charge of over 100 cadets...and even though it wasn't part of the "job" I managed to go to every class of JROTC and announce to them who I was (especially the people who weren't in my grade) what my job for the corps was and if they needed any help, (homework, rotc, personal, other, etc) that I would be there to help them. Basically going above what was needed for my job.

Also, when I was a camp counselor last summer I was called into the director's office and he asked me if I wanted to be a "Specialist" in charge of one of the subjects taught there....I said sure...and literally 2 minutes later I'm thrown in with all the other specialists who've been preparing their stuff for weeks now. I was in charge of making syllabi for three different subjects under my main one, teaching those classes throughout the day, making sure the other counselor's knew how to teach the classes, and doing a lot of finishing work behind the scenes on my own time to be able to have the kids take thier projects home on time. And then working on my own time to set up the projects for the next class the next week. Damn, was that a challenging job...but I loved it. Hope this helps at all....
Well, I can give you a couple "advice items."

1) Tell the truth. Interviewers can smell BS from great distances.

2) Answer the right question. You'd be surprised how often someone tells a story that has nothing to do with the question.

3) Be specific. Tell "about one time." Avoid phrases like, "I would do this." These are experience questions. The interviewer does not want to know what you would do, they want to know what you did. In this specific case, they don't know want to know how good a leader you are or will be, they want to know what experience you already have as a leader.

4) Every story has three parts. Start with a beginning, "I was in (this) situation (at this time) ..." then do the middle, "I did (this) and I did (that)" and don't forget to end it! "I learned about (this) from doing (that.)"

5) Make eye contact. Don't look around the room. I've been tempted to put a sign in the ceiling in interviews that say "The answer is not up here."

6) Talk slowly and clearly. Use pauses if you need them. A pause if up to five seconds while collecting your thoughts is fine! Avoid time fillers like, "but um" or "and uh" or just plain old "uhhh."

7) Be animated. Move a little in your seat (avoid the "electric chair" look!) Shift your gaze between all the interviewers. Don't concentrate on just one.
Thanks guys/gals for your responses.

And thanks especially to John Tenney. I was hoping you might respond, as I know you're a speaker for an airline interview seminar.

Speaking of which, do you have any idea when the next seminar might be?
I have an agreement with Doug and Kristie not to post that info here. You can follow my links to get to the site however.