Don’t Touch THAT Button. Pilot Recruitment 101

You want professionals with a great eye involved in the airline pilot recruitment process. That’s why Sasha Robinson is great to have onboard. Read about her start and successes and next time you’re on a plane kick your shoes off and enjoy that glass of coffee with your best chance of arriving safely.

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

Sasha Robinson knows a thing or two about flying large aircraft. With 16 years experience as an international aircraft pilot she flew Airbus 340 and 330 for Cathay Pacific and Airbus 330 for Jetstar. Her regular routes included Hong Kong to North America, Hong Kong to Europe and Japan, Malaysia and Hawaii. Sasha’s passion for flying began as a teenager and only ended when her fifth child turned 2. Taking a land-based job due to pregnancy in the Cathay Pacific recruitment department it allowed her to experience the recruitment process. With her extensive experience dealing with aircraft staff as her benchmark, she noticed something a little funny going on…

Photo by Andrey Larin on Unsplash
 Highly competent applicants perfect for pilot positions were not getting the jobs. Further investigation revealed it was the applicant’s interview skills, how they behaved during the interview process that determined results.
“It used to be determined by the qualifications on a CV and merit alone that determined who made great pilots”, Sasha says. “The interview process used to be done by former pilots but it’s is so much tougher now, the role is much more about being a great manager of people and dealing with conflict, as much as the technicalities of the role”.
Photo by 贝莉儿 NG on Unsplash
Seeing a niche in the market, Sasha left Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong to set up her own company, Flight Deck Consulting, to give potential applicants their best chance of succeeding this arduous interview process. Sasha sees herself as more of a life coach, helping applicants to find positive aspects of their own character and have the confidence to sell their own skills successfully. “I help give them confidence to be themselves, quite often they certainly are the right people for the job, they just need to put the time in with interview preparation”.
Photo by Mario Azzi on Unsplash
The airline industry parallels other customer demand-driven industries, focusing on customer service in a global climate of fear of terror incidences, security threats and high expectation of meeting needs, budgets and timeframes.  “Applicants who come to see me have excellent technical knowledge but they don’t interview well. There is no ‘winging it’ in the interview, human resource management are looking for pilots and staff who can manage the cabin crew as a team, manage conflict with passengers or staff”.
Sasha believes there is good reason why recruiters set such a high bar during the interview process. “There’s lots of research available about interview behaviour, it is a perfectly valid process”. She explains that procedures have tightened up of late, CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) has brought in new safety procedures in light of the terrorist events over the past decade or two.
Flight simulation is an essential part of the training process for pilots and in Australia the University of NSW offers a post-graduate course in multi-crew co-operation and simulator assessment. Sasha has been a big part of the curriculum development at UNSW, not only developing the curriculum but teaching it to post-graduate students and giving lectures on the interview process on campus.
Sasha’s consultancy business operates from Sydney’s unassuming Northern Beaches, current technology such as skype enables Sasha to successfully consult to clients all over the globe. With the help of Sasha’s husband Jason, a current pilot with Virgin Australia, the success of their business lies in Sasha’s affable and approachable personality and deep passion for the airline business. Keeping abreast with up to date changes in the aviation industry and genuine desire for brilliantly qualified airline staff to experinece the joys of flying this keeps Australia’s excellent safety standards exactly the way consumers like it with suitably qualified personnel in charge of planes.
Flight Deck Consulting also sells interview workbooks and other interview products online. Email Sasha at


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