When you go for an interview for a position as a flight attendant, you will be asked the question ‘Why Do You Want to Be a Flight Attendant?’. No doubt.
Which is a good thing because it means that you can learn what the right answer should be and you can practice delivering it.
Having gone through this interview process myself multiple times, I’m going to give you advice born of experience and practice, on how to answer the question in the best way possible.
What is the purpose of that question?
The first thing to understand, the very first thing, is that the question is not about you.
As ego-deflating as it sounds, the airline doesn’t really want to know about you and what it is that you want.
They are looking for the best candidate and this interview question is one of the tools that they use to do that.
So, the purpose of this question is:
- To discover if you have a realistic idea about the job: and everything that it entails, all the good and all the bad.
- To find out if you are not only the right person for the job but that you have the right reasons for wanting it.
This means that they are not at all interested in people who are applying because they can’t find anything else that suits them or just have a vague interest in becoming a flight attendant.
The person interviewing you is not a careers advisor, nor are they there to help fulfill any romantic notion that you may have about flying around the world and staying in luxurious hotels with all expenses paid.
So, the take out from all that?
It’s not about you and your needs, it’s about the airline and its needs.
Understand the difference between those two things and you’re well on your way to a successful interview.
How to answer the question?
Bearing in mind what I just said, you need to match up what skills and attitudes that you have with the ones that the airline wants.
Okay, so how do you do that?
Focus on how you can fit into the flight attendant role and prove that you have the right reasons for pursuing this career.
Focus your response on what you can bring to the airline, not the other way around. Help them understand that you can fit into their team and that your attitude is one that lends itself to training and molding to the company’s corporate values.
Always remember that the unwritten question that is predominant in the interviewer’s mind is, ‘What can this person bring to our airline?’
And to do that, you will need to talk about the strengths and skills that you have acquired and developed in your previous working life, the sort of skills that the airline needs and values.
Focus on common skills that recruiters seek after, like:
- Great communication
- Excellent customer service
- Teamwork skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Caring & Understanding
- Friendly & positive personality
- Professional & Responsible
- Flexibility, both personal and professional
When you have got together your list of the skills that you have and where you obtained them, you could say something like this in the interview:
‘I have lived abroad, I’ve done volunteer work and activities, and I did a bit of au-pair work. And there was that time I did some waitressing and I was actually a travel representative. And I’ve been a lifeguard and interpreter as well.’
That is flat out boring and doesn’t convey any real information.
You lost the interviewer’s interest after about the tenth word because you just gave them a verbal list, not participated in a conversation.
So how about taking exactly the same list and answering the question like this?
‘I’ve got a wide range of skills that I think would be an asset for your company. I’ll start with what I think are the most relevant to the job description first, if I may?
I have excellent communications which have been honed by my work as a travel rep and my face to face customer dealings with a large retail outlet.
I found working as a travel representative to be very demanding in terms of listening to exactly what the customer wants, and ensuring that they get it.
My work as a waitress gave me an insight into how to deal with difficult customers and my work as a lifeguard taught me to understand that safety relies on being prepared and paying attention to detail’.
You have taken the same list of skills, but in the second example, you have woven it into a narrative that is interesting and factual.
The key is not just to verbally list your skills, you must talk about them, discuss them, weave them into the conversation.
Incidentally, don’t lie about any of this, please don’t.
You will be found out because airlines are nothing, if not thorough about making checks.
Basically, you should follow the next format:
Graduated/Education background + Work/volunteer experience
How Work/Education aligns with job or strengthens qualities
Tell them the qualities you have that are important to the job and back them up by your experience.
What NOT to answer (boring and overused answers)
This is your chance to shine, to show that you have that little extra something that the company will want.
And, trust me, you’re not going to do that by giving the same cliched, well-worn and boring answers that they have heard so many times before.
So here are the sort of answers that get recruiters and interviewers rolling their eyes and switching off.
- “I want to become a flight attendant because I love to travel and meet people from other cultures.”
That’ s the sort of thing you hear from beauty pageant contestants. Try to avoid this answer. Apart from being naïve and so overused that it’s annoying. If you really want to say that, do it, but just make sure it has more depth than that.
Remember what we were talking about before? It’s not what the airline can offer you, it’s what you can bring to them that will get you the job.
- “It was my dream job since I was little and it’s still my biggest dream. It’s a super glamorous job and I can’t wait to fly in an airplane as a flight attendant”
This is idealism and fantasy, two things that airline companies are not keen on hiring. The primary function of a flight attendant is that of looking after the safety and welfare of their passengers. It’s not about glamour and childhood dreams, it’s about long hours, hard work, difficult customers and a work environment that is, by its very nature, one of high pressure.
So set aside the, ‘I have a dream’ answer. Remember that you need to prove that you have a realistic idea about the job.
- “I want to get paid to travel”.
You won’t even get brownie points for honesty with this reply. I know it’s a cliché too often used nowadays, but there really is no ‘ I’ in the word ‘team’.
This reply makes you sound selfish and self-serving and wanting the airline to do things for you, not the other way around.
- “I love to travel and I know that flight attendants can get cheap tickets for them and their families”.
This is pretty much the same sort of answer as the one above, and my advice not to use it is also the same.
You’re only in it for the perks? Next candidate, please.
So, in summary, as you can see all the wrong answers above are about what the candidate wants, not what they think they can bring to the airline and its team.
To progress through the interview stage, you have to change your way of thinking from what you like and want and enjoy, to what the company wants and needs and is looking to employ.
3 Sample responses that may be helpful
I’ve prepared some examples of my own for you, but please do only use them as a guide. Create your own answers, the ones that best suit you and tell the interviewer what you are all about.
Practice your interview replies by all means, but DON’T try to memorize them word for word.
Firstly, you’ll sound like a robot and completely without personality.
Secondly, when you memorize something, you often do it in the context of imagining how things will happen and how questions will be asked.
For some people, if there is a change from what they expect or what they have rehearsed for, the first thing that gets forgotten is that carefully memorized speech.
Rehearsing and practicing is a must, memorizing word for word is not a good idea
“I’m currently a tour guide who has graduated in Travel and Tourism. Which means that I’m educated to a high level, and trained in scheduling, interacting and communicating with groups of people from all over the world. These are transferable skills that I would be able to bring to the position of a flight attendant, I do enjoy my current job and I’m grateful for it but I want a career that is more exciting, demanding and varied. I believe that the skills that I have outlined have prepared me well for this new challenge. I understand that addressing passenger’s needs, making sure they are safe and delivering outstanding service is a priority in this airline. This is something that I would enjoy most doing.”
“My teamwork skills were honed during my time as a summer sports counselor. Working with kids in that environment means that you have to have a strong sense of responsibility, and a keen eye for safety, while at the same time being friendly, approachable and able to communicate effectively. From what I have been reading and learning about the skills needed in a flight attendant, these are the ones that I am able to bring to the team.”
Tailor your answer
Don’t talk in general terms about airlines, talk about their airline.
This demonstrates two things: that you have done your research and that you are thinking in terms of ‘us’, not ‘I’.
“I would like to be a flight attendant in no other airline than Emirates because it has well -earned a reputation for being a leader in customer service and safety standards and I’d love to be part of such an innovative and dynamic team.”
A few more tips
Match what you can bring to the job with what the company is looking for
Sit down and pretend that you are running the airline.
What do you want from your cabin crew? What skills will help you to provide better customer service and standards of safety?
The airline game is about bums on seats, so how do you get the best staff in order to attract the most customers?
Ask yourself those sorts of questions and then build yourself the right answers.
Be yourself, and be unique
You are going to be part of a team, not a herd, so standing out is not a good thing, it’s what is being looked for.
But stand out for having all the right qualities and by letting the interviewer know why those qualities will be an asset to her company.
Don’t memorize your answer
We’ve covered this before, but it is well worth repeating.
Memorizing your answers means that you run the risk of forgetting what to say if things go even a little bit differently from what you expected.
And, of course, you’ll sound robotic and flat.
Refer back to my last point – be yourself and be unique. You’re a nice, warm person with bags of personality, show it!
Speak from the heart and be real
Above all else be real.
Anything less than that will be picked up in a heartbeat by the recruiters.
The people interviewing you are highly trained, highly perceptive and have built-in b****t detectors.
It’s ok to say that you like the lifestyle and travel perks, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t think that they were worthwhile having.
But you do need to show that you are also aware of what the job is really about, and that includes all its downsides.
This is another chance to show that you have done your research.
Don’t forget to thank the recruiters
At the end of the interview, don’t forget to thank the recruiters.
It’s a small thing perhaps, but a lack of courtesy will really jar with the recruiters.
Remember, saying goodbye is the very last chance that you will have to impress them.