An assessment day is a very stressful event to go through. Very few people go to interviews relaxed, confident and knowing exactly what to do and expect. An airline assessment day for cabin crew is even more stressful because it is a full-day event – sometimes it will spread over two days, and after every stage of the interview the people who did not make it are being sent home. It is more nerve wrecking than American Idol.
Knowing in advance what are the biggest no-no’s of job interviews could be a real help – you become more aware of your own gestures, dialogue and even body posture. The list below focuses on the aspects your interviewer sees as unacceptable, and will probably cost you the job even if you have the perfect CV.
MISTAKE#1: Dressing inappropriately
Have you ever been to an interview and in the waiting room there is always that one person who stands out? I certainly have! Just when I was waiting to go in for an interview, across from me sat somebody wearing very high platform heels and a very short skirt and a lot of metallic blue make-up.
While some interviewers will definitely enjoy the view, the chances of this person to be taken seriously is much lower than if she just wore a classic suit.
At the other extreme, do not dress like you just went to grab a sandwich at the deli downstairs. No jeans, T-shirts, flip-flops, sport shoes, unkempt hair or no makeup. You are not interviewing for a hip creative web-design company or a painter’s PA position.
Your are interviewing for an airline which puts a high value on perfect appearance and a professional look at all times.
Wear a business-like skirt-suit with an average, but comfortable high heel and some mascara and lipstick. For gentlemen, go for a suit with a collared shirt and tie and polished shoes. If you don’t own one, you can always rent it for the day.
MISTAKE#2: Talking negatively about your current or past employer
People who are negative tend to bring us down. If your friend talks negatively about other friends, will you not start thinking that she does the same behind your back?
When you get hired you might be there for 10 years or just 1 month, however no company wants to take the chance that you will go around badmouthing them.
Any gossip and negative comments about your previous employers is a deal-breaker during the interview (or after).
Keep the conversation light, be positive and encouraging when discussing a former employer and give a diplomatic answer when asked why did you leave a previous job.
Things to say:
‘I enjoyed my time at Company A. I joined them right after school and I was grateful for being given the chance to apply my knowledge in the work environment. I decided to leave as I was pursuing my graduate studies and I was looking for a job that will give me a chance to be flexible with my working hours while attending school.’
Things NOT to say:
‘I hated working at Company A because my supervisor was really strict and always breathing in my neck about customers and deadlines and even during lunch break I had to work. And when I wanted to go back to school they really told me that I have to work around their schedule and attend classes after working hours. So I left.’
MISTAKE#3: Not listening to the interviewer
During the first session you will be given the ‘house rules’: which groups go first, mobile phone policy, what liquids you are allowed to bring in, what papers need to be filled in, etc.
At the beginning of every task, the interviewer will give you a set of instructions. Listen very carefully and take notes that you can consult later. There will be important information given to you at the most unexpected times.
Not paying attention is disrespectful for the person talking and shows no real interest in the company and the entire assessment process.
MISTAKE#4: Not interacting with the other candidates
You have to become very comfortable at the thought that during your assessment day, everything you say and do is of specific importance. You will be observed during the entire day – not only during your exercises, but also during the breaks.
Make it a priority to interact with the other participants in a kind and respectful manner. You are not looking for your new best friend, just polite conversation.
Some lines to break the ice:
‘Hi, my name is Kara, what is your name?’
‘Where are you from?’
‘Is this your first time doing an assessment day?’
‘Have you worked as a flight attendant before?’
‘I love you shoes/lipstick/purse/blouse… Where did you get it?’
You can never know if the stranger you just talked to might become your batch-mate and even your flat-mate when you join the airline.
Greatest conversations start with ‘Hello!’
MISTAKE#5: Over-confidence/under-confidence in a group exercise
The purpose of the group exercise is to show the assessors how you interact in a group.
Being a cabin crew means being part of a team, working together with other people, helping them even if its not ‘your side of the cabin’ and being there for each other.
During the assessment, the interviewers need to see the team spirit in you. Here is how you can show it:
- Do not interrupt other people when they are talking.
- Do not take charge of the task unless you are asked by the assessors or the group to do so.
- The success of the task is not your goal. Focus instead on how you interact with others even when you do not agree with what they say.
- If you see somebody of the group not participating, you can include them by saying: ‘So Anna, what do you think of this idea?’
- Do not be silent. Try to contribute with pertinent opinions about the task ahead, even when other members of your group might seem in charge of the situation.
- Help your colleagues without being asked.
- Volunteer to do certain portions of the task such as taking notes, keeping the time, etc.
No matter what the task is, settle your position somewhere in the middle: Do not take charge unless you are named the group leader by the assessors, but in the same time remember not to be silent and invisible.
Voice your opinion, give arguments why your point of view should be considered, but do not insist on it if the other members of your group do not accept it or seem to be going in a different direction.
MISTAKE#6: Mobile phone ringing
During the intro and company presentation you will be asked to switch off your phones or activate the silent mode. If you forget to do so, it will show your assessors that the interview is not as important to you as a call from your friends. If you have a family emergency and it is extremely important that you keep your phone on, approach the assessors, explain your situation and ask permission to do so.
MISTAKE#7: Checking the time
The assessment day is a full-day commitment. You should expect your day to start before 9AM and finish after 6PM. Do not make other appointments for that day and do not be eager to finish faster. The more time you have, the more the assessors can see more of you and what you can offer to their airline.
Remember being at a boring class and checking the time? A glimpse at your watch, as subtle as you think it might be, if it’s spotted by one of the interviewers will bring you a negative point.
MISTAKE#8: Asking about the salary and benefits too early
On every airline’s career website is a section that explains the remuneration. It is a standard fixed basic salary and an hourly rate for every flying hour or training hour that you are required to undertake.
If the salary package is not public, it is relevant to ask about it at the end of the interview, when it has been established that you are what the company is looking for, and the airline is what you are looking for in an employer.
Show that you did your homework and during the initial O&A session ask other relevant questions such career advancement, lifestyle in the country of the airline, company’s expansion plans and fleet, colleagues, atmosphere and other company facilities, but stay away from salary questions at the beginning of an interview.
MISTAKE#9: Your enthusiasm is missing
Being truly passionate about having a career as a flight attendant is the area that will truly separate the people who are there just because it sounds like a good job to have, and the ones who are there because they dreamed all their life to travel, they are passionate about meeting new people and experiment new cultures and have an honest desire to be of assistance to others. This is also what ultimately will separate the people who get hired and those who don’t.
In your final 1-on-1 interview, the first question will most likely be ‘Why do you want to be a flight attendant?’
Tell them your story! When was the first time you thought about it, what did you do to get closer to your dream, a little inside information that will show them not only your desire and motivation, but also the skills which will put you ‘up there’ with the high performers and ambassadors of the airline. Talk from the heart and communicate your full commitment. If you truly want it, you cannot fail!
Now that you are more aware of what you should be saying and doing during the assessment day, and more importantly, what you should avoid saying and doing, proceed with more confidence and make the best out of your interview!
To be truly prepared, read How to Become a Flight Attendant for airlines in the Middle East