Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Interview and the phone call

Back in June I was invited to interview for a pilot position at American Airlines.

I live just a few miles from the American Airlines headquarters. There were 10 in my group and I was the only "local".

I was told to arrive at noon. I was there at 11:30 AM.

In the recruiting office were 9 other pilots. Six military and 3 civilians.

The recruiting team does everything possible to get the applicants to relax.

Day one was spent on a computer. There was a battery of skill and math test. Some tested your one that lasted 20 minutes watching a dot move around a circle...each time it jumped I had to click a button. I assume it was designed to test attention span. There were others that tested memory and pattern recognition.

The hardest test for me were the math questions. The computer showed various numbers like 2 10 4 5. I then had to put math symbols in between to make the numbers make 2 X 10 ÷ 4 = 5. They were much harder than that.

All the applicants left the first day feeling like they didn't do well. The test were designed to challenge you. The better you did the harder the questions got.

Day 2 was the real interview. Face to Face with American Airlines pilots.

A 787 Captain and a 767 Captain interviewed me. Prior to this day I paid $400 for interview prep...and it really helped.

I was able to keep the interview going and had them laughing all until the last question. It was "Explain a situation where you didn't get along with a co-worker". After my answer they didn't like how I handled it. They felt I should have escalated the issue to a Chief Pilot.

The interview ended abruptly after that. I was handed off to a Human Resources employee who asked a few follow up questions...then that was it. I was free to go.

I left feeling VERY uneasy. Like I just blew my chance to be an American Airlines pilot.

The tension was high. I kept rethinking everything I had done. Things I could have done differently. Better answers. Better math.

I completed one more trip then took off 6 weeks for bonding time with my new daughter.

About 12 days after the interview the military pilots in my group sent out messages to our group text that they had all been hired. The civilians were all quiet.

I checked my email multiple times per day. An email was bad...meaning I didn't get the job. A phone call was preferable.....I did get the job.

A month went by and nothing. I did get a copy of my PRIA paperwork...but that's it.

August started. All the airline pilots in the interview group were still in the dark.

I started back at work and was stress free. I figured there was nothing I could do. They would get back to me when they did.

On August 17th I was at the airport waiting on a jump seat to Oregon when my phone rang. No name on the caller id...just a local phone number.

"Hello this is David Tatum calling from the American Airlines recruiting office...." is how the phone call started. The next three minutes are a blur but I did hear "sorry for taking so long to get back to you but the decision to hire you has been made...and it was unanimous...welcome to American Airlines."

I thanked him several times and told him he has the best job in the world as he gets to change lives with the news he gives.

The next day the emails flooded in from American Airlines. Good ones. Great ones. I had a conditional job offer contingent on passing a background and drug test. I am excited beyond belief.

So how did I get the interview? Volunteering, Networking and Persistence.

I'm passionate about flying. I truly enjoy teaching. I went to college initially to be a teacher. I took a side road into technology and then flying.

I loved being a CFI. Once I started at my regional I continued instructing the RJ transition course at ATP. Aside from that I volunteered for youth camps and at job fairs. I spent 2 years being a volunteer for my union. In short...I went above and beyond.

I'm 40 and will have 24 1/2  years of flying left once I start at AA.

It feels great knowing I have completed the last job interview of my life.


  1. I've followed you for a number of years now, well done and good luck!

    I hope you'll be able to continue posting but understand if your new job means you're unable to..

    All the best from the uk

    Dave W

  2. Congratulations -- thanks for keeping us in the loop. Hope your new job lets you keep blogging.

  3. Congratulations!!!!! Off to the majors.. You deserve it man... You worked hard, keep your ego in checked, learned as you went, taught.. And now the rewards!!!! Cant wait to hear about the next phase of your flight career!

  4. Congratulations! I've been an anonymous follower of your blog for several years. I'm very glad for you that your persistence has finally paid off. I hope that your career with American Airlines is everything that you wish for it to be.

    Good luck now, and in the future! Also, please accept my best wishes for the health and welfare for your family.

    A technology-career guy who wishes he had done what you did!

  5. Congratulations!! I've been following your blog since your first year at the regional. You deserve it. Very happy for you!


    1. My former Academy Sports brother! Had no idea you followed this blog too!

  6. So happy for you! Not in the aviation industry, but I truly enjoy seeing the "process" pay off. Wish you the best and hopefully I'm on one of your flights in the future.

  7. Congratulations man. Well deserved. Have fun!

  8. Congrats! I have been following you since your first year as a regional pilot back when I was in high school as a student pilot (2009). I remember I would read your blogs during my computer class. I am now a Commercial pilot and CFI, CFII, MEI and starting my journey to getting to the airlines. Awesome to see that all your hard work and persistence has paid off! Can't wait to continue to follow you on your new journey at American!

  9. Congratulations. I've been reading for a few years and this is absolutely wonderful, I'm very much looking forward to more stories at the majors - might even see you there sometime in the near decade.


  10. Congratulations! I periodically check out your blog because I am an aspiring pilot. I'm 32, and will be 33 in March and felt like my window was gone. After speaking to a ton of pilots and friends they all assured me that there was no better time than now, and I'd have plenty of time! Best of luck and hope to keep reading new posts from your experiences!

  11. Happy for you. Hope all goes well. Looking forward to hearing all about it.


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