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What are airlines looking for when they select their cadet pilots?

Airlines are creating many opportunities for cadet pilots, but competition is still very strong. How do the airlines select cadet pilots? What are they looking for, and what can you do to be a stronger applicant than others?

Historically, airline pilot candidates were selected based on academic background and relevant industry experience.  Recently, airline operators have recognised that there is far more to what makes a good pilot than this alone.

Cadets nowadays attend airline preparation and interview courses taking advice from specialist airline interview consultants.

Initial screening and selection is a key element in identifying applicants who might be a good fit for a specific airline.  It also provides an indication of who is likely to be able to cope with the intensity of a full-time flying training program.

Every airline has their own selection criteria for initial cadet pilot application screening. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Age
  • Schooling and previous education
  • University qualifications
  • Any previous flying or aviation-related experience
  • Other relevant or additional qualifications

Cadet pilot applicants must check the key selection criteria for the specific airlines they are applying to and find out what they will be looked at during initial screening processes.

Group skills and exercises form an increasingly important part of cadet pilot recruitment processes for nearly every airline.  Airline flight crews are made up from various nationalities, personalities and cultural backgrounds inside the cockpit and around the flight deck.

One of the most important things you can do in your interview is demonstrate your qualities as a team player that can work effectively with a range of people.

Some of the key things that airlines will look for during group activities include:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Situational awareness
  • Workload management


The airline may conduct a HR, human resources interview which explores your motivation for becoming an airline pilot as well as your background.

Airline interviewers will ask questions exploring your past experiences with a focus on how you overcame and learnt from past challenges.

 Questions that explore your motivation to become a pilot:

  • What interests you the most about becoming an airline pilot?
  • Which of your qualities are best suited to becoming a pilot?
  • Why do you want to work for our airline?

Questions that exploring your past experiences:

  • How did you overcome the challenges that you have experienced throughout your career or life?
  • What is the most satisfying part of your career to date?
  • What preparation have you done for today’s interview?

HR interviews may be conducted in front of a formal panel, and may be combined with technical aviation questioning.


Even though you are not required to have any previous flying experience to apply for airline cadet pilot roles, technical knowledge is one of the best ways to demonstrate your motivation towards an airline pilot career.

The technical evaluation may include practical aspects of flying an aircraft, the role of an airline pilot, and knowledge about the aviation industry in general.

Airline interviewers understand that the level of technical knowledge varies between candidates, but it’s a great opportunity for you to communicate your motivation. Your technical knowledge demonstrates time spent preparing for not just the interview, but towards actually working in an airline pilot role in the future.


There are many online tools available to help you prepare for each aspect of the airline cadet pilot interview process, but the best preparation knowledge comes from those who have past experience and success.All of our programs are highly successful, and have helped many applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds to achieve their airline pilot dreams.

Contact us to find out how we can help you.

airline career, cadet pilots, pilot career, pilot training