Ask anyone who has landed a job as a flight attendant on a major airline, and they'll tell you that the flight attendant hiring process is one of the most challenging experiences they've ever had to face. It's long; it's intense; it's mentally and physically exhausting... and to those who impressed recruiters enough to get hired, it's completely worth it.
The burning question that every hopeful applicant wants to answer is, what exactly are recruiters looking for? Is there a personality type or physical appearance that will help give you an advantage over your competition? What should I put on my resume? What should I wear to my interview?
If you've been looking for flight attendant jobs but you feel like you still need an edge, this article will address some of those concerns.
Learn What Recruiters Want
By now you've probably told your friends and family that you're looking to become a flight attendant. And surely you've heard tons of advice--some of it good, some of it, well, not so good. Given the history and reputation of this line of work, there's a lot of misinformation being spread, and as you'll soon find out, not everything you hear about being a flight attendant will turn out to be true.
The best information you can find about becoming a flight attendant comes from people in the industry. You know, the men and women who actually live this--day in, day out. Those who have logged the miles and have literally been to the end of the earth and back as flight attendants.
Luckily, there are some valuable resources online if you're looking for this kind of insider information. If you'd like to know exactly what airline recruiters are looking when hiring flight attendants, pick up a copy of Airborne, an excellent book written by the professionals at the Flight Attendant's Academy. It is the most comprehensive resource to becoming a flight attendant, and includes interview guidance and resume tips as well as real advice from airline recruiters that will help you get hired. You can even read a sample of the book on their website.
Perfecting Your Resume
Your resume is the first impression of you an airline will see, so it's important to spend time getting it just right. While the HR departments across different airlines will place varying emphasis on different parts of your resume, by and large recruiters are looking for the same basic two elements: relevant experience and culture fit. I'll explain what these two mean individually.
The first primary criteria that you'll need to emphasize on your resume is work experience that exhibits basic customer service skill. Being a flight attendant is primarily a customer service job, so candidates who have a long and successful history of dealing with the public are at an advantage. You may consider your status as top selling ad rep for five years in a row to be impressive, but working the concierge desk at a five-star hotel would probably impress airline recruiters even more. Your objective isn't to show that you've been an exceptional employee, but more specifically, to show that you can be an exceptional flight attendant.
Often overlooked but quite important as well is the idea of culture fit. If your only experience is at four-star restaurants and prefer to work with an upscale clientele, then perhaps applying for a job at Southwest Airlines won't be the best culture fit. And on the flipside, if you enjoy a down-to-earth, casual atmosphere, applying for a position at Emirates probably wouldn't work, either.
It's important for you to understand the culture and personality of the airline you are applying for and making sure it aligns not only with your own personality, but the kind of work environment you'd like to find yourself in. Airlines know they don't have the time or even the ability to teach cultural fit, so they want to hire employees who will fit in with their culture from Day 1. Show that you understand that culture and emphasize it on your resume.
Most flight attendants will tell you that the interview is the most daunting stage of the flight attendant hiring process. So many questions hang over the interviewee's head: what to wear, what to say, and how to behave.
For women, either a formal skirt or dress pants are ideal accompanied by some light, conservative jewelry and low heel pumps. This isn't the time to bust out your flashy jewelry or high heels. You'll want to look clean and professional, not extravagant or over the top. For men, wear a pair of dark slacks accompanied by a nice shirt and tie (suit is optional). You'll want to be clean shaven and wearing polished shoes, as well.
In case it isn't clear already, you'll want to look like a flight attendant.
During the one-on-one interview, your objective is to bring life to the person you were showcasing on your resume. Recruiters will want to see that you can handle being put on the spot, and the best way to excel under pressure is by preparing yourself before the interview to ensure your answers come out naturally and organically. Ask yourself the kinds of questions you're likely to hear during your interview:
Why do you want to fly with this airline?
Why do you want to become a flight attendant?
Tell us of a customer service crisis that you handled at your previous job.
How would you approach an unsatisfied customer?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Recruiters don't expect you to understand the exact procedures of being a flight attendant, but the confidence you exude and the thought you give to each of their questions should demonstrate that you take this job seriously and that you're prepared to handle whatever situation comes your way.
Keep Your Composure
It isn't a mistake that the flight attendant interview process can last for a grueling 12+ hours. One of the criteria that recruiters will be judging you on is your ability to maintain your composure throughout the day and leave with your head held high, regardless of how drained you might feel on the inside. After all, international flights will often span 10-12 hours (or more), and flight attendants must look as calm and composed at the end of the flight as they did at takeoff.
Instead of complaining and lamenting the length of recruiting day, keep in mind that your ability to maintain composure is a key critiquing point for recruiters.
Make no mistake: becoming a flight attendant isn't for the faint of heart. It will test your will and you probably won't get the first position you apply for. But if you educate yourself on this field by learning from those in the industry and prepare yourself mentally for the long application process, you'll soon be on your way to an exciting career flying the friendly skies.