Theoretical Knowledge at Interviews for Aviators

By Anthony Foxcroft, CFI at Aviation Training.

A few years ago, I attended an interview at an airline in the Middle East. I was successful and was offered a position, and while I ultimately decided not to pursue it, the experience was interesting.

There were 15 candidates from all around the world hoping to be chosen, and for many of them, get their big break in the industry. With a career on the line, everyone is spruced up and on their best behaviour. The very first round of the selection consisted of a 50 question multiple-choice exam of questions drawn from the ATPL exams. An hour later I was the only candidate left and 14 others had been sent home.

That got me thinking about how that occurred, as most of them were a lot younger and had written their ATPL exams much more recently. Had they failed to prepare? I can’t believe that a professional pilot with an interview at a major airline would just go there on a whim. They had all polished their shoes but had not “polished” their brains?

It is my belief that the culture, which I discovered is not unique to South Africa, of studying for exams by memorising a bank of questions and answers played a big role in this result. Our memories are fickle things and “knowledge” gained in this way is easily lost once you finish your exams and are no longer constantly reviewing the material.

If you study with the aim of developing a full working understanding of the material, you will retain the knowledge longer and be able to quickly refresh your knowledge on a topic. You will also be able to work out the answer to any question, not just the ones you’ve seen before in a database.

For your future success in this career, invest your time wisely and study for a lifetime rather than studying to pass.