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Airline pilot training starts with an interview with our psychologist.

Becoming a pilot is and remains a childhood dream for many youngsters. And rightly so. It is a profession that speaks to the imagination and gives an enormous variety. In order to succeed in training as a professional pilot and to eventually find a job, a broad package of basic skills is required.

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To determine whether those basic skills are there, Skywings Flight Training has an extensive selection process. During this process the candidate pilot is subjected to computer tests, written tests and a short flight test in the simulator. At the end of all these steps, the overall result of the candidate and his or her motivation is discussed during a final interview with a selection pilot and our psychologist Kathy. They will go over the results and discuss with the student where his or her strengths and weaknesses lie. We let Kathy explain what she is paying attention to during that crucial final interview.

A common mistake is that candidate students are likely to remain on the surface in terms of self-insight and that they are unable to identify developmental points with themselves

How did you get connected to Skywings Flight Training?

My father is an instructor at SFT and that’s how the connection was made. Growing up as the daughter of a pilot, I know the world of flying well enough to get a good picture of many things!

What do you do in daily life besides your work for Skywings?

I work as a psychologist in a part-time vocational school. In addition to my work, I like to play flute and cello, also in an orchestra. In non-corona times I also like to travel.

What do you pay particular attention to during the motivational interviews?

I pay attention to the non-verbal behavior of the candidate. No matter how much people want to hide their true nature, it comes up anyways. I also pay attention to how self-critical the candidate is. You can certainly expect to be asked to name 3 negative points of yourself, something which some candidates find difficult to do. I also study the attitude and general appearance of the candidate. Finally, I listen carefully to the content of the answers to our questions: Is the candidate staying on the surface? Do the answers seem socially desirable (answering to what we want to hear)? What is the motivation to start the training and so on?

What is a common mistake made by candidate students during motivational interviews?

What I have seen most often so far is that candidate students are likely to remain on the surface in terms of self-insight and that they are unable to identify developmental points with themselves.

What do you think are the most important character traits a pilot should have?

  • Stress resistance
  • Being able to deal with criticism but also daring to question oneself
  • Flexibility
  • Good communication skills
  • Responsibility
  • Team player

Can you give the candidate students 1 tip for their screening process?

The screening is a first good moment to experience stress during a motivation interview, sim check and other tests that will certainly follow in your later career. So be aware of what this stress does to you and stay yourself during the motivation interview!

Before the final interview takes place, candidates have to answer a long list of psychological (often odd) questions. What are all these questions for and how do you best answer them?

The questionnaire you fill in at SFT examines competencies that are important in your job as a pilot such as assertiveness, stress tolerance, teamwork and so on. The questionnaire contains two statements from which you have to choose one. Try not to overanalyze each statement but answer from your first thought. Choose a proposition that suits you and not the one that you think would suit a pilot, because then you will fall through the basket on a conversation. When we notice that you score low on a certain competence, we will discuss this during the motivation interview, and you can explain this further. Be aware of the fact that the questionnaires also contain a so called “lie scale”, so try to answer as consistently as possible.

Do you like to fly as a passenger yourself?

Despite the fact that I have flown many times as a passenger and travel frequently, I do not like to fly that much. I am frightened during take-off and when there is turbulence, I immediately have both handrails fixed. But when my dad asks me to fly with him I immediately say yes and then the scare is much less! ; – )

What is your favourite holiday destination?

Africa!

Pieter Brantegem

Boeing 747 piloot en Vlieginstructeur

Ready to make your dream come true?

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