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Avoiding Square Corners

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Avoiding Square Corners

Old 03-22-2013, 10:09 AM
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Default Avoiding Square Corners

Avoiding Square Corners…

In fighter aviation, a “square corner” is a position where you find yourself unable to make a required max performance turn, usually because you are out of airspeed and energy, grossly out of position, or at too high of an energy state to make a tight turn.
The way to avoid a square corner while flying a fighter is to always have good situational awareness on your overall position in the sky and be aware of your own relative energy state. If you can meet those requirements, you probably won’t find yourself spit out of fight or screaming at the ground watching the ground rush up as you attempt to pull out of your dive….

After helping over 3000 pilots prepare for the challenge of stepping up to the next level in their careers, I want to share one of my biggest frustrations. Lately, I’ve seen several pilots from various walks of life put themselves in a square corner when it comes to preparing for an interview. Some have pulled out of the dive in time, but were left shaken and stressed by the experience. A few others have ridden it in all the way into the dirt. Here are a few ideas about maintaining awareness on both your position in space (a snapshot of the state of the industry) and about maintaining awareness of your relative energy state (i.e. your own preparation) so that you can avoid a similarly negative outcome.

First, let’s look at the big picture. Where are we in the sky at the moment? How much altitude and airspeed do we have, and what is going on around us?

There are several major factors that will drive airline hiring for the next few years. The primary factor is demographics. There are many pilots who will be retiring in the coming years, as the effects of the age 60 to 65 retirement age start to fade. The five-year period of minimal to no retirements ended in December 2012. Additionally, although not out of the woods the national and global economy has rebounded considerably off the 2007-2009 lows. These factors have combined and major airlines have again begun to hire new pilots. While there are factors that will temper some of this hiring, like consolidation through mergers, more efficient use labor, preferential bidding programs, the trend for the next few years is positive and most legacy airlines and many nationals are currently hiring. These airlines will always have more applicants that jobs available, but the ratio of qualified and capable pilot to opportunities is about to slide back towards the pilots’ favor for the first time in the last decade. Our group is not here to parrot the infamous Kit Darby “Pilot Shortage”, but anyone who can read a graph knows that there are going to be more, not fewer, opportunities in the coming years. For military aviators with a reasonably solid record, or regional captains with a good training history and solid attendance record, opportunities are going to become available. You have been warned—airlines will need pilots, and they are reviewing resumes and applications. Hiring windows are opening. The market has “cried wolf” on hiring before, but this time they are really hiring. In 2013 you can no longer say you were “surprised” by getting an interview call from a Legacy carrier. This is our position in the air right now—airlines are calling pilots in for interviews. Some logjams have finally given way, and there is some positive movement for the first time in several years. Ignoring this is like diving at the ground at 450 knots, and then freezing up when you realize you see a face full of rocks. Your situational awareness should be cueing you—there IS some hiring going on.

Next, assess your relative energy state at this point in time. Can you make a tight corner if required? Typically airlines call potential interviewees two to three weeks out, sometimes offering a small smattering of available interview dates. Three weeks is often a luxury in time available. Some pilots were called for Virgin Interviews recently just one week out. Hawaiian Airlines is infamous for short notice interview invitations—sometimes as short as three days. Sometimes other candidates might cancel, pop up interviews are not that uncommon even at carriers that try to provide more notice. At my own airline several pilots were called on a Thursday and asked if they could make it to a following Monday interview due to an open slot. When you finally get that call—the one that should no longer be a surprise—what you do you need to do? A short list of some common tasks include:

• Coordinate to get off work or schedule work around the interview. Calling in sick at your current employer is not a recommended technique.
• Arrange travel arrangements to and from the interview
• Acquire any required documentation—driving records, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.
• Get the appropriate attire—suit, business casual, or uniform as dictated by the interviewing company
• Schedule a simulator if doing any kind of simulator preparation. This can be very difficult as most sims have very high utilization rates and off the street training slots can be hard to schedule

In many cases, there will be less than two weeks to accomplish these tasks. If scheduled for a 3 or 4-day trip in middle of the period, it’s going to be a hectic, stressful period. Keeping ones’ own energy up means having already done some of your preparation so there is enough potential and kinetic energy to make that tight turn.

So—what does a pilot need to do to keep his energy state high enough to make this tight turn happen? Here are a few recommendations:

• Expect to get called for an interview in 2013/2014. If you have taken the time to apply, you must believe there is a chance you will get called. Don’t let a call from a recruiter stun or shock you. Be prepared and ready to interview with as little as 5 days notice
• Get transcripts, driving records, and personal information ready now. There will be some specific information required for each particular interview, but there are also some standard things that are universally required. Get those ready now.
• Suits—get them ready. Shoes should be polished, but comfortable enough to spend a long stressful day on your feet. Break them in…
• Lose the weight now. If you are trying to drop 10 pounds, do not show be on a low-carb diet two days prior to your interview with a low energy state, a headache and a cranky disposition. Prepare physically for the interview as well as mentally.
• Have simulator profiles available and know the flow and callouts if required. Chair flying and preparation now will save time, money, and stress both during purchased practice sessions and the actual simulator evaluation.
• If planning on doing an interview prep course—with our firm or any of the other services out there—do it early.

In March several clients wanting help for their United Airlines Interviews were turned away because they could not make one our two seminars during the week and there were no remaining slots left for phone preparation. United was at the top of their list for years, and they have waited for this phone call for most of their professional lives. Yet they ignored the fact that hiring was looming, and delayed doing many of the tasks outlined above. When they were called, they faced a huge square corner as they faced trying to prepare for a major airline interview in ten days or less. A few other pilots and are now furiously trying to drop or trade a trip (or worse) to try to squeeze in a seminar or work in a late night phone prep course that will help them—but not nearly as much as it might have helped if done six months ago. If committed to doing a pre-interview prep course—why not go ahead and do it early? It costs the same to prepare six months in advance as it does three days prior to an interview, but the value of the training is exponentially higher if accomplished in a less stressed, more thorough training environment. At our firm, working early provides the benefits of having more time with the instructors, as well as the ability to come back for additional sessions at no charge. Getting help the week prior to an interview then becomes a confidence builder or a chance to polish a problem area instead of a building project from the ground up. A cram course at the last minute is better than no training, but doing things the right way add reduces a lot of stress and provides a tremendous amount of confidence and ability. If you train somewhere else, even if you pay to repeat the course, compared to one hour of dual of in a Seminole or a new suit and a pair of shoes, the investment you make in yourself is going to be amortized over a long career. Why go cheap now with the end goal so close?

The big picture should be clear. There IS hiring taking place, and you may be called for an interview soon. When that call comes, you will have limited time to do a lot of preparation. Everything done now to get ahead to prepare for that moment will mean less of “square corner” and a much greater chance of success. If the desire to reduce stress and improve your performance is not enough motivation, remember that most of the competition out there will in fact do everything it takes and have been preparing for these interviews for months in advance, if not years. The choice is ultimately up to each individual, but success in life usually follows a pattern of preparation, hard work, and vigilance. Getting the dream job at a major airline is no different. Don’t show up surprised or unprepared for that multi million-dollar moment…
Albief15 is offline  
Old 03-23-2013, 02:33 AM
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Thanks Albie for writing this. This advice seems sound and reasonable.
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Old 03-23-2013, 05:48 AM
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:32 AM
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well written and good points. Thank You
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Old 03-24-2013, 01:29 AM
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Albie's advice is spot on. I did his ECIC prep 3 months ago and was ready when I got my United & US Airways calls...no worries taking the first available interview a week later.
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Old 03-24-2013, 04:16 AM
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Providing valuable information as mentioned above proves once again Albief15’s course is the best in the business. His info has been spot on. I look forward to scheduling a refresh course so I am not behind timeline.
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Old 03-24-2013, 08:12 AM
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That was a well written post, and I don't disagree that it's better to be ready and not get a call than get a call and screw it up. While I certainly don't think things will go so far as to be in a pilot's favor, it's nice to imagine some hiring.
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Old 04-01-2013, 04:30 PM
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Great advice, can you PM me info on your prep course?
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Old 04-01-2013, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Winterking
Great advice, can you PM me info on your prep course?
No - he can't really because they would be self-promotion and advertising which isn't allowed on the site; but I can

Emerald Coast Interview Consulting

I'm just passing on that I heard they did good work.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:43 AM
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Thanks, I appreciate the information.
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