Getting a job in the airline industry is not an easy feat. Not only are you required to pass several exams and tests as well as fill out numerous applications, but you’ll also have to attend the dreaded interview if you’re successful.
Yet that's not the worst part. Due to its perception as a glamorous and highly desirable career, it's likely that you’ll also be competing against hundreds - if not thousands - of other candidates from all over the world for the same job.
Therefore, in order to enhance your chances of success, you need to put your best foot forward. A good place to start is by carefully preparing for the interview process.
To help you out, we’ve put together this list of the 10 most common flight attendant interview questions, along with tips on how to answer them!
1. ‘What do you know about our airline?’
With this question, your potential employers are essentially checking that you have done your homework about the airline you’re applying to, so make sure you do your company research before the interview and familiarise yourself with the key details.
The most important things to know are the airline's operational features, such as the number of aircraft it owns, its flight routes and what their plans for the future are. You can find all of this information through a simple Google search or by looking at the airline's website.
It's also a good idea to mention any positive aspects of the company that you've noticed through external industry websites, news or magazine articles. Ultimately, you want to show off that you are aware of what your employers do, as well as what they are planning to do in the future.
2. ‘Why do you want to work for our airline?’
Though your main motivation for applying for any job is likely to be financial recompense, it's never a good idea to use this as an answer. Instead, focus on the opportunities for professional growth that working with the airline might offer you. For example, you can mention how the airline in question has a sterling reputation for professionalism and flawless customer service, and then explain how the opportunity to work under and alongside such industry leaders is a massive driver for you.
Of course, there's no harm in talking about how it will allow you to travel and see the world, but remember that this is a perk that every airline offers. Always remember to focus on why you want to work for this particular company.
3. ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’
This is a common question in many interviews, but in the context of the airline industry – where staff turnover can be high – you're essentially being asked how long you're planning to stick around. After all, it's fairly common for cabin crew to gain experience with a smaller airline and then jump ship to a bigger one that flies more ‘exotic’ routes. Even if this is your long-term plan, though, you should never admit it in an interview.
Instead, talk about how you want to focus on growing, learning and improving yourself, and mention how you are confident that the airline you're applying to allows you to do that. You don't have to convince your interviewer that you're committed to their company for life, but you do have to give the impression that they will see some degree of return on their training investment.
4. ‘What are your strengths?’
To answer this question, you need to first understand the key skills and personality traits that airlines are looking for. You then need to apply this to your answer.
For instance, air hosts and hostesses deal with hundreds of passengers a day, each with their own needs, demands and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, you'll need to be an excellent communicator, capable of handling multiple requests at a time and even diffusing situations where necessary. You'll also need to display strong teamwork skills, attention to detail and a relentless work ethic.
The trick is to select the qualities that best describe you and then align them with what your interviewer is looking for.
5. ‘Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?’
In the context of a cabin crew interview, the answer to this particular interview question should be pretty obvious.
Airlines are looking exclusively for people who work well in a team, as the success of their entire customer operation depends entirely upon a smooth running service. You’ll have to convince the interviewer that you are a team player and that you can work alongside all kinds of personalities and backgrounds in order to put the company's customers first.
Don't completely play down your ability to work independently, though. Airlines want their staff to be capable of thinking on their feet and not just relying on instructions from others. Point out that while you are indeed a team player and you fully understand the importance of playing well with others, you can also think for yourself when you need to.
6. ‘Have you ever dealt with a colleague who wasn't pulling their weight? How did you handle it?’
As tempting as it might be, this question isn't an excuse to start ripping on Debra from your previous job; disparaging your former (or current) colleagues isn't really professional, anyway, and even less so in an interview setting.
Rather, it's a chance for you to explain how you might handle a similar situation in the future. Give a very brief backstory of the situation you have in mind (you don't need to spend 10 minutes setting the scene) and then explain clearly how you stepped in and what you did. If you don't have any real-life experience to draw on, then you can say this, but make sure you follow it up with an explanation of what you would do in such an instance.
7. ‘Recall a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer. How did you resolve the issue?’
There is a conventional ‘wisdom’ in customer service circles about how, in any given situation, the customer is always right. And while call service handlers, retail assistants and waiters/waitresses the world over might fervently disagree with this sentiment, it's important that you remember it when answering this question.
As previously mentioned, good customer service is a large part of an air hostess's job, so your potential employers will be carefully scrutinising your response.
When recalling your story, be sure to mention how you were empathetic and non-judgemental towards the customer and how, at all times, despite your own personal feelings, you demonstrated a sincere desire to help them. Whether or not your customer got what they wanted is irrelevant, but showing that you remained calm and professional, exercised sensible decision making and went that extra mile to try and accommodate them can be the difference between you getting hired or not.
8. ‘What are your hobbies?’
This question may sound irrelevant, but your hobbies can actually be a good indicator of your overall personality. Therefore, be sure to focus on things that involve other people; team sports are a perfect example, as they highlight your teamwork and leadership abilities.
Don't just make up what you think your interviewer will want to hear, though. Airlines, like most companies, want to hire people who have a diverse range of interests, and every hobby reveals something positive and relevant about you. For example, if you enjoy hosting dinner parties, then this demonstrates that you are sociable and hospitable, while if gardening is your bag, it might show that you have a caring side and enjoy looking after things.
9. ‘How will you handle being away from family and friends?’
This question isn't just alluding to the physical distances you'll be travelling but to the long and demanding working hours, as well. Flights operate at all hours of the day, 365 days a year, so it's likely that, at some point, you will have to make sacrifices in your personal life.
If it's going to be your first time away from home, then there's no shame in admitting that it will be a challenge. Make sure you emphasise, though, that it's an exciting one, and that you are fully committed and willing to adjust to the demands of the job. You could also mention that, rather than focusing on being away from friends and family, you see it as an opportunity to make new ones, all while experiencing new cultures and learning new things.
10. ‘Are you applying for vacancies at other airlines?’
This is a tricky question and, to be honest, a little naughty. If indeed you are casting the net wide, though, the best approach is to be truthful about it. Not only does it show your potential employers that you are serious about finding a job as an air hostess, but if you've performed well and are a strong candidate, they might be a little more keen to ensure that they secure your services.
Don't overplay it, however. If you give the impression that you'll work for any old airline, it undermines the rest of your answers and suggests that you'll take the first offer that comes along. That said, recruiters are not naïve, either, so strike a balance by confiding that, yes, you are interviewing with one or two other airlines but that you're fully committed to their recruitment process.
Ultimately, in an air hostess interview, most of the questions are designed to find out two things: whether or not you can work effectively within a team, and if your customer service and people skills are up to scratch. As long as your answers highlight your proficiency and enthusiasm for those two things, then you should do just fine.
Can you think of any other questions that are likely to come up in an interview for a cabin crew job? Tell us in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 15 June 2015.