Very few people go to interviews relaxed, confident, and knowing what to say, do and expect. An airline assessment day for cabin crew puts even more pressure because it is a full-day event, and after every stage of the interview, the people who did not make it are asked to go home. It is more nerve-wracking than American Idol.
Knowing in advance the most significant mistakes of job interviews could be a real help – you become more aware of yourself. 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 there is always that one candidate who stands out in the waiting room? I certainly have! When I was waiting to go in for an interview, across from me sat somebody wearing very high platform heels a short red skirt, and a lot of metallic blue makeup.
The chance of this person being taken seriously was much lower than if she 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, sports shoes, unkempt hair, or unnatural makeup. You are not interviewing for a hip, creative web-design company or an artist PA position.
You are interviewing for an airline that puts a high value on perfect appearance and a professional look at all times.
For ladies, wear a business-like skirt-suit with comfortable high heel shoes and some mascara and lipstick. For gentlemen, wear a suit, collared shirt, tie, and polished shoes. You can always rent one for the day if you don't own one. Read more about how to dress for the interview in this article.
MISTAKE#2: Talking negatively about your current or past employer
Negative people 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 ten years or just one 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 are 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 you left a previous job.
Things to say:
"I enjoyed my time at Company A. I joined their sales team right after school, and I was grateful for being given a chance to apply my knowledge in the work environment. I decided to leave as I was pursuing my graduate studies and was looking for a job that would allow me to be flexible with my working hours while attending school."
Things NOT to say:
"I hated working at Company A because my supervisor was strict and always breathing in my neck about customers and deadlines, and even during the lunch break, I had to work. When I wanted to return to school, they told me I had 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, the 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 instructions. Listen very carefully and take notes that you can consult later. They will provide relevant information to you at the most unexpected times.
Not paying attention disrespects the person talking and shows no genuine interest in the company and the entire assessment process.
MISTAKE#4: Not interacting with the other candidates
You have to become very comfortable with the thought that everything you say and do is of specific importance during your assessment day. 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 your 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.
The most extraordinary conversations start with "Hello!"
MISTAKE#5: Over-confidence or 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 with other people, helping them even if it's not "your side of the cabin," and being there for each other.
During the assessment, the interviewers need to see your team spirit. Here is how you can show it:
- Do not interrupt other people when they are talking.
- Do not take charge of the task unless the assessors or the group asks you to do so.
- The success of the task is not your goal. Focus on how you interact with others, even when disagreeing with what they say.
- If you see somebody in 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 pertinent opinions about the task ahead, even when other group members 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 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 at the same time, remember not to be silent and invisible.
Voice your opinion, and 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 put your phone's notifications on silent. 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 critical 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 at 9 AM and finish after 6 PM. Do not make other appointments 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 in a boring class and checking the time? A glimpse at your watch, as subtle as you think it might be if one of the interviewers spots it, 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 you must 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. During the initial Q&A session, ask other relevant questions such as career advancement, the company's expansion plans, fleet, colleagues, atmosphere, and other company facilities, but stay away from salary questions at the beginning of an interview.
MISTAKE#9: No enthusiasm
Being genuinely passionate about having a career as a flight attendant is the area that will truly separate the people there just because it sounds like a decent job to have and those who are there because they dreamed all their life to have this career. They are passionate about meeting new people and experimenting with new cultures and have an honest desire to assist others. This will ultimately 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? Here is a little inside information that will show them not only your desire and motivation but also the skills that will put you "up there" with the high performers and ambassadors of the airline. Talk from the heart and communicate your total commitment. If you genuinely desire 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.