While the job isn’t as glamorous as many people think, being a flight attendant does come with its own unique set of perks, among them the ability to travel the world at little cost and the flexibility to arrange your work schedule.
Because of this, the competition among flight attendant candidates is so fierce that, for certain airlines, applicants compete with thousands of other applicants.
“You want to have your résumé ready to go because sometimes airlines like Southwest or JetBlue only open the application window for just a few hours for people to upload their résumé,” Annette Long, a flight attendant with 13 years of experience, tells Business Insider.
It’s even been said that it’s harder to get invited to the Delta flight-attendant training center than to get into Harvard University.
“It’s very competitive, and people get passed over all the time,” Long says about becoming a flight attendant.
If a candidate has a compelling enough résumé, they may face a variety of interview techniques including video interviews, Q&A sessions, and in-person meetings. Long says that many flight attendants apply and interview several times before getting the job, having to wait six months to a year between interviews because job openings are so scarce.
“When you make that first impression, you’ve gotta do it perfectly — you don’t get a second chance,” she advises. Here are some of Long’s tips for aspiring flight attendants to leave a lasting good impression.
Consider your surroundings during a video interview
'Have a clutter free background: nobody wants to look at your dirty dishes or your bedroom,' Long says.
She suggests sitting in a dining room or other less cluttered area and propping your laptop or phone up so that it's still and you're not moving around with it.
Most airline video interviews are recorded, she notes, and you're not actually dealing with a live person, so not paying attention to the details is a missed opportunity.
She also suggests keeping the recording device at eye level so you're not looking down at it, 'because isn't that the most horrible angle to be seen at?'
Whether you're conducting a video interview or are interviewing in person, Long suggests dressing conservatively. 'You want them to be able to imagine what you'll look like as a flight attendant in uniform,' she says.
This means sticking to solid-coloured blazers and suits and keeping prints to a minimum. 'They look busy on a screen and this detracts from someone looking at your video -- you don't want them looking at your dress,' Long says.
She says you don't have to be fashionable, but you need to be clean and well-groomed. 'I think if you're unkempt, that's an instant turnoff. If you've got visible tattoos, they need to be able to be covered up. And you're not going to want to be in an interview with a purple streak in your hair,' she says.
Clean up your social media
'Lock it down -- if you're on Instagram and you've got your sexy selfies, you wanna take those down,' Long says. 'If a recruiter were to look at that, they're not going to hire you. You want to come across as polished and poised and professional.'
Practice talking about yourself -- a lot
'When you're answering questions like, 'Tell me about yourself,' you should be able to talk about yourself and have it just flow because you've practiced it,' Long says. 'And I don't mean in your head -- I mean literally saying it while you're cleaning your house, or you're in your shower, or you're driving somewhere.
'Practice answering interview questions until it doesn't sound like it's the first time these words are coming out of your mouth so that you sound more polished and poised,' she says.
Have great customer service examples ready to go
'You want to have a pocketful of examples from the experiences you've had where you've really shown yourself as a customer service person,' Long says. This could includes examples of great customer service or dealing with a difficult colleague from when you were a sales associate, a barista, the clerk at a bookstore, or in a management position.
Fly in the night before the face-to-face interview
Once the airlines get video interviews back and if they like you, they will invite you to a face to face interview. Long says that most airlines will fly candidates in for the interview, but they won't pay for hotel fare.
'My suggestion is if you can afford a hotel, go in the night before. Find a hotel that's got an airport shuttle. That way you're there, you're relaxed, you're not stressing about travel, you're not stressing about your flight being delayed 30 minutes and you're going to be late for the interview,' Long says.
Always be 'on'
Long says that, since the airline flies candidates on standby, there's a chance you won't make your intended flight. In this case, simply call the recruiter and ask to reschedule the interview.
'And then you have to act as if you were 'on' -- just like you do when you're a flight attendant,' Long says. 'From the minute we walk out of our hotel rooms, we're representing the company. Well, when you you find out that you're not going to be getting on this flight, the company will know about how you act.'
'If you were rude, if you were not polite, I'm sure they will know about it and you won't get hired,' she explains. 'You just have to act like you're on the interview all the time. Just behave that way.'
But also be yourself
'You also need to be yourself, and 'yourself' needs to be a person that is great at customer service and unflappable, because we get into some situations where your head is spinning sometimes,' Long says.
Give some thought to why you want the job
'The old joke with all of us flight attendants is 'we love people, we love to travel' because that's what people usually say in their interviews: 'We love people and we love to travel.''
'Well try to come up with something different,' Long says. 'If that's the only thing you've got and you can't put anything behind it, then I don't really think they're looking for that.'
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