Every year hundreds of thousands of people apply for jobs in the airline industry. The idea of being able to travel the world and get paid to do so has become more and more attractive in recent years as social media channels expand and destinations that were once unheard of are becoming more and more popular. American Airlines alone had over 500,000 people apply to be flight attendants last year, but with only 2,000 applicants actually landing the job, your odds are actually better trying to get into Harvard (statistically speaking, of course).
While it varies per airline, when I went for my interview 3 years ago there were essentially 3 parts to the application process. First you’ll fill out an online application. Most airlines don’t hire year round, and instead I’ve noticed many larger airlines will open up their applications twice a year in June and in December. So be on the lookout around then. If you do make it past the initial online application, a video interview will follow, and finally an in person interview. The whole process might take a few months as they so many applicants each year. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from them quickly.
I first applied online in July of 2016, got my video interview a few weeks later, and ultimately the in person interview in September. I then got the job offer “officially” about a month later, even though as I left the interview that day I was fairly positive I had gotten the job (you’ll know, trust me).
Initial Online Application
The initial application will look something like this, when American opens the application process anyone can access this document. Sometimes they will open the website for a specific language speaker qualification though, so make sure you are applying for the correct position. If you do have a language qualification make sure to address this early on as it will set you apart from other candidates. As you fill out your initial application, I recommend looking back onto the initial job application description and review what exactly the job requirements are and what your airline may be looking for in an ideal candidate.
American Airlines Flight Attendant Job Description
• All candidates must be willing to be based from any of our base locations including Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Dallas/Ft Worth, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Raleigh/Durham, NC; San Francisco, CA; St Louis, MO; Washington, DC.
• We are looking for people who want to be a part of the largest airline in the world. American Airlines is in the business of serving the travel needs of our customers. A warm welcome, gracious service and a safe and comfortable feeling, makes our customers’ journey something they will always remember.
• Our flight attendants are proud of this rich tradition – pride that you can share when you embark on a career representing American Airlines as an onboard crew member. Our Flight attendants are the face of American Airlines and are service professionals of the highest caliber, with a desire, drive, and passion to provide outstanding service. If you are a highly customer-focused individual who strives for the best and takes pride in getting the job done, we would like to hear from you.
WE ARE LOOKING FOR GREAT PEOPLE THAT CAN:
• Set a high standard for consistent in-flight service that includes serving meal/beverages and selling onboard products.
• Handle a wide variety of situations while in continuous contact with the public.
• Work independently or as part of a team without supervision.
• Ensure the safety and comfort of our customers.
• Provide leadership by responding to a variety of emergency and non-emergency situations.
• Work in climates and locations across the globe and work variable shifts.
PHYSICAL DEMANDS AND WORKING CONDITIONS:
• Position requires some physical exertion such as pulling, pushing, reaching, bending, walking and light lifting.
• Long periods of standing and speaking.
• Airports ramp operations are noisy and can be hazardous without due caution.
• Extensive travel, must be able to spend consecutive nights away from home and endure all climates.
• Alternative work schedules including evenings and weekends
• Ability to push or pull movable carts weighing in excess of 250 pounds
• Ability to lift objects up to 35 pounds such as galley stowage bins and carry-on baggage
• Must be able to read, write and speak English fluently
• Competent in handling difficult situations, problem-solving and complaint resolution
• Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; friendly reception of all customers
• Must present a professional image, may not have visible tattoos, facial, multiple or upper ear piercing, or extreme hair color or style while in Flight Attendant Uniform
• Work in climates and locations across the globe and work variable shifts
• Able to attend up to 6 weeks of unpaid training in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and move immediately to the city to which you are assigned as a base.
Now that you’ve reviewed what they are looking for in an ideal candidate you can better answer the interview questions, with answers that describe you honestly but that also focus on what they will be looking for.
Quite possibly the most awkward interview I’ve ever done, in this interview you’ll get a serious of questions in which you’ll have a certain amount of time to read the question and a certain amount of time to reply to the questions via video recording. Make sure you dress business professional for this. Here is a good article explaining what you should wear here.
Make sure you record either in a clean office setting, or with a blank wall behind you. The last thing you want is the company to think you are a messy person, as image is extremely important to anyone working in the airline industry. Make sure to smile a lot, and speak loudly and clearly.
Some questions that might be asked of you:
•Why do you want to be a flight attendant?
The last thing you want to do is say “I want to travel”. Everyone wants to travel. Duh. They wouldn’t even apply for this job if not. What they want to hear is that you love meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and want a more exciting work life that goes above and beyond that of a 9-5 desk job.
•Why should we hire you as a flight attendant?
Review what they’re looking for in a candidate and pick the strongest three characteristics you have. Obviously you need to be a people person for this job, and you need to be able to handle complicated and stressful situations. Use your past experiences as examples of why you think you’d be good for this job.
•How do you feel about relocating to a different city?
More than likely you won’t get your first base choice, so they need to know you’re willing to move. If you’re not willing to move don’t even apply for this job because it’s going to be very very difficult. While you’re able to transfer between bases once you are hired, there’s no guarantees on how long a transfer will take. So be open to moving ANYWHERE when you first get the job, or at least open to commuting to your base from wherever you live.
•They may as you to give them an example of a bad customer service experience you may have had in the past, and what you or the other person did to overcome it…
Honestly I remember there being a lot of situational questions in the interviews. They want to know how your past job experience will help you in the airline industry. Try to think of an example that they can relate to how you would handle an angry passenger experience, or a stressful situation in general. This job is more than serving diet cokes and pretzels. They want to know you can handle any kind of situation that may arise.
The in person interview will be held in Dallas, TX for American. If possible, they’ll fly you there and back in the same day. So grab some coffee in the morning. Be friendly to your flight crew and when they’re done with their service maybe go introduce yourself and see if they have any tips for you! It can’t hurt to get some more info from other people who are already in the industry.
Something to note about this interview is that a majority of it is a group interview. You start the day with about 30-40 candidates and finish with only about 10. This can vary, but from my experience (and those I’ve talked to about it) that seemed to be the ratio. The hiring team is going to be watching your every move! So here are some tips for you to keep in mind throughout the day:
•Smile a lot
•Don’t be on your phone
•Show that you can be a leader
•Don’t be too bossy
•Speak loudly and clearly
•Don’t speak too fast (you’ll seem nervous)
•Don’t speak too slow (that’s boring)
When I say they will be watching your every move, they’re also going to be judging you based off your appearance. By that, I mean mostly how you dress, how well-groomed you look, and how you present yourself with confidence.
Some More Tips on What to wear:
•Hair up in a bun or ponytail if it is long
•Neutral or red lipstick
•Watch (not Apple Watch)
•No piercings other than one hole in each ear for earrings
•Cover all tattoos
•Panty hose under dress/skirt if you wear one
Many of the same interview questions will get brought up in your group interview, but more so later into the day as the groups get smaller. The beginning of the day will be all about how they perceive you interacting in a group setting. From what I remember we had groups of about 5 sit at different tables and you’ll do a few icebreakers, stand up in front of the other interviewees and introduce yourself, and also have some group activities to do in which they will be watching how you work as a team player in different settings. Remember to always be yourself, but bring your A game! All of the people who have made it this far into the interview process would make good flight attendants, so at this point it’s just about how well you stand out compared to everyone else.
Hopefully this gives you a little bit more of an idea of what to expect in your flight attendant interview. I wish you all the best of luck and I hope to see you in the friendly skies soon!