Passing selection is the first hurdle in bagging your dream job as a commercial airline pilot. Individual selection days will have slightly different assessments, however I have information below for selection days at L3 and CAE.
Stage 1: Online Application:
Stage 1 is simply an online screening of you. It will ask questions about the following:
Aviation Experience and History
Earliest date you could start training
Additional Questions (specific to the course you apply to), asking you what attracted you to the training program in a maximum of 300 words.
Stage 2: Technical Assessment:
If you are accepted past stage 1, you will be invited to complete a technical assessment. This will consist of a maths test and a PILAPT (on screen pilot aptitude test).
The maths test:
This really isn't anything to stress over. You will have 15 questions in 15 minutes and they are all multiple choice. To prepare, simply practice mental sums for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You will be against the clock, and time can be relatively tight, so I would recommend some preparation. The most complicated question gave currency exchange rates, and asked to convert between them. I have included an indicator of what the question is like below:
If €1 = $0.93 and $1 = £0.80, how much is €25 in £.
The PILAPT test:
The PILAPT test is a real challenge, and is designed to test all of the parameters that a successful pilot will have. It will test how you cope under pressure, your short term memory, hand eye co-ordination and reaction times.
For more information about the PILAPT assessment at L3, Click here
It is important to remember that these tests are designed to see how you can cope under pressure, and so do not feel too disheartened if you leave the PILAPT test feeling you didn't do great!
There are subscription websites online which will allow you to practice some of these PILAPT tests and maths tests at home before your assessment day:
Stage 3: Non- Technical Assessment:
The final stage of selection will assess your non technical skills and will comprise of a group activity and interview.
The non-technical assessment day is actually quite enjoyable, but it's important that you prepare well for it:
The first thing you will have to do, is a group activity. Here, you will be given 2 challenges - the first being a practical task and the second a hypothetical situation which as a group you must work through. In both, it is really important that you both take the time to listen to others thoughts, as well as voice your opinions and ideas! Also as a bit of advice, try learning the names of the others in the group - and use their names when addressing them in front of the assessors.
After this, you will be mostly waiting in the Dibden lobby until the time comes for your interview (depending on when you are scheduled for, the wait could be several hours!). Here, I'd strongly recommend talking to as many of the other interviewees as possible; not only to be friendly - but because assessors are constantly walking in and out of the lobby area - and giving them the right impression will work massively in your favour... also as some of the people you meet will end up being on your course - so knowing them from selection makes the first day a lot easier!
Now for the main bit... the interview! All I can recommend is to PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE for this. Going in under-prepared will show you are not really interested. The interview itself, is a competency based interview - and so you must back up your answers to their questions with recent examples of when you have shown these qualities in the past. The types of question are split into these categories:
• Sense of responsibility
• Co-operation (Interpersonal/Team Skills)
• Leadership and Managerial Skill (potential)
• High Standards
• Communication skills
• Business/Customer Focus
It can be very useful to mindmap these skills and write around the outside, case studies of when you have shown these competencies.
Recommended reading: L3 Selection Guide
CAE Oxford Selection Process - by Andrew Bullough
What advice would I give to anyone going through the process?
Preparation! I had about 6 weeks before my technical assessment which allowed me time to practice the typical maths and physics exercises that I would face. I visited CAE Oxford on a Generation easyJet open day and there was an opportunity to try out a typical assessment which gave me an idea of what I could expect.
The content of the questions is not particularly difficult however the tests are carried out without the use of a calculator so I needed to practice basic maths by hand. Over the last 15 years in my job I was using calculator and analysis tools - so I was out of practice.
I signed up to a website www.jobtestprep.com which is a tool for preparing for job interviews and assessments. There is an entire section specifically for airline pilots and this was so helpful. The site highlights the areas that usually feature in assessments for Easyjet, Emirates, British Airways and Jet 2.
For easyJet they recommended the following areas:
Verbal – T/F/C (true/false/cannot say)
I also bought a revision bundle from CAE Oxford for maths and physics. This was GCSE level material but my GCSEs were 20 years ago so this was a really helpful tool to refresh my memory.
On the day of the assessment I had the following tasks:
Maths - 30 minute timed test
Physics - 30 minute timed test
FAST- This is a simulation of a flight which you observe, afterwards there are a number of questions about the detail of the flight and events.For example, show the final position of the aircraft on the map, how many helicopters did you see, how many red lights illuminated, how many beeps did you hear…The task is then repeated with the same questions at the end.
Fixed Wing exercise – This is a hand eye coordination exercise using the DCS world A-10 software.After 15 minute practice at flying straight and level and at constant speed the task begins.You have to follow a route based on a map provided, at a constant altitude and airspeed.The controls are incredibly sensitive so the challenge is keeping the aircraft smooth and stable.My interpretation of this test is that it is deliberately impossible to keep straight and level so it’s a test of how you react and recover.
Fortunately I’ve spent a lot of time playing flight sims over the last few years and I owned the A-10 module for DCS world so it was a useful to get some practise.
The Ball game- This is a moving red dot on the screen and the objective is to move the dot back to the centre of a target.The task is to hold the dot in the centre of the target for 3 minutes.Sounds simple enough – however the roll inputs are reversed (roll left to move the dot right…)
After I passed the technical assessment I was invited to the next stage which was the group assessment and interview.
CAE provided a preparation pack, with suggestions on areas to research – such as company history, current board members and company mind-sets. They also gave some examples of typical questions they would ask such as:
Do you understand the role of a first officer, the training, the lifestyle?
Do you stay informed about the career and the industry?
When did your actions help to resolve a conflict?
In addition to this, they also gave tips on how to answer, using the STAR technique:
As I had a month before my assessment it was again all about preparation. Using the material provided by CAE and the tools on www.jobtestprep.com which had some good training material for group exercises, I was able to prepare as much as I could.
On the day there were two group activities and an interview.
The first group task was to make a tunnel for a ping pong ball to travel as far as possible. We were given some sheets of paper, a ruler, a ping pong ball, a pencil and some blu-tack. The blu tack couldn’t touch the table and the ball had to generate its own energy to move.
The first 10 minutes was planning and design, the second 10 minutes putting into action.
The second group task was a scenario – we were a group of paramedics and our plane has crashed in the desert. One person is injured, we have no radio and 5 litres of water etc. What do we do?
The objective was to agree an action plan based on all of the information available. Halfway through we were given a new set of circumstances which would change our plan.
The final part was the interview. The interviews were carried out by a combination of Easyjet recruitment staff, current Easyjet crew members, CAE recruitment staff and psychologists. In most cases there were two people in the interview for each candidate.
The interview was split into two parts:
competency based questions
Personal questions and skills
This lasted an hour and a half but felt like it had passed by in minutes.
Recommended reading: Job Test Prep
Also worth reading... Airline Interview Guide
Sources: Andy Bullough