ATC IssuesA place where pilots may enter the 'lions den' that is Air Traffic Control in complete safety and find out the answers to all those obscure topics which you always wanted to know the answer to but were afraid to ask.
Hi, I sat my initial selction test last monday, I've received an email saying they want me to do an SHL Online personality test. Is this normal? Has anyone else had to do this? This is my second attempt and this has scared me, I didn't have to do this last time, and I've not heard that this happens. Am I borderline? Did they lose the personality tests I sat last Monday? Please can someone tell that this is quite normal, and that I'm not going to have the personality transplant that I booked somewhat nervously on the NHS!
Calm down!! When did you last apply? Things have changed with recruitment and application methods- you have passed stage one, just relax and follow all instructions - you will not be treated any differently whether you are borderline or not, you have to reach a certain level; if you do, you pass, if you don't, you fail... simple as!!
Same thing happened to me! But i sat my satge one on the 22nd January and it took them the full 15 working days...and some...to get that sent to me! I was a little confused too but i know of some other people on my selection day that have had it too so it seems pretty standard stuff now.
This is to try to help those of you who are thinking about interviewing for an ATCO position with NATS.
I have recently been successful in applying for a position as a trainee ATCO with NATS (last October). As has been previously said the Sticky topic is reasonably outdated although I found it extremely useful during my selection (thanks chaps) I'll give you a brief run through of what to expect.
Stage One -purely to get down the numbers. I had my tests in a hotel in London and dressed in a suit. This is not deamed necessary, but I think any way of increasing your image will ultimately improve the chances of success. The tests begin pretty promptly with a dire psychological personality questionnaire which is laborious and well just deathly boring. (You'll see what I mean)
Next was a diagramming test in which you have a net of a cube with different patterns on it. Next came a cross-checking test which was where you were given a number and you had to locate it in a list by the side, then came the actual aviation-related questions. Gonzo hits the nail on the head when he mentions,
"that the majority of the motivation paper is based on the .pdf document you should have been given. If you read through the document, that's the level of detail of the questions. If you learn the document, then you'll know all the answers. It's that simple. And good practice for when you're at a unit as a trainee and have to learn a fancy document call the Manual of Air Traffic Services Part Two, which might have hundreds of pages!"
These tests are multiple choice, with answers which are very similar. So long as you have learnt the information, you'll be fine.
About a week after the tests I received my invitation to the second stage. Here I had an hour HR interview, another aviation test and a computer test. Although you are given a lot more information to learn prior to the aviation test, this is of little use with the computer test. You cannot prepare for this, just soak it up! Sorting shapes, mental arithmatic, reasoning skills are all tested and I thought I had done appallingly and apparently everyone does!
The third stage, which I received and invitation to about a week after the second stage, consisted of a group exercise which was effectively a board game (and quite fun), and the technical/HR interview, which was tough. DON'T FALL FOR THE ATCO'S TRAPS! Stick to your guns providing you're sure they are sound. If you are unsure, do not be frightened to say so. When I was quizzed I said I wasn't sure, but I would imagine...to some of the questions.
In June I start at the college in Bournemouth, earning 10000 pounds without a living allowance. Providing I make it through a 3 month basic course, I'll either be chosen to follow training as a aerodrome/approach controller for a further 3 months; or as an area controller for a further 6 months. This, as was stressed, is not my decision.
Hope this helps! If you need any further help, do not hesitate to contact me.
Best wishes and good luck, Ricky Brown.
Last edited by rickypbrown; 3rd May 2007 at 12:15.
Thanks for the run through of the different stages. I have one question with regards the spatial awareness cube problems, are you allowed to use scrap paper to assist with working out the solutions, or is it solely a mental exercise ?
You are given pieces of paper to do with whatever you choose. The test consists of around 15 questions per net with 3 different nets of the cubes. Having said this it's worth noting that this is a mental exercise and is designed to test your spatial awareness - so making a working model of the cube from the paper might not be allowed!
The purpose of the HR interview is to get a glimpse at your personality, interests and aptitude for the job. The questions ask for you to recall situations where you have been resourceful, organised, practical, etc., alongside roles where you have shown team-work, leadership and quick thinking. Much better to try to remember events from your life now, than try to remember in the split-second time you have to respond!
I had the same reply from NATS, i had to do the SHL test, which i did on the 13th and didn't hear anything for ages. I phoned HR today and apparently they had 'lost' my printout and that they would get an answer to me by the afternoon, so i waited and eventually wasn't asked to stage 2.
Now, the woman in HR said that the SHL personlaity test was a new thing for 2007 and that anyone who applied from January would be asked to do this in between test. Thing is, i have read (on PPRuNe) that people who did their stage one, after me, only had to wait a few days before being invited to stage 2.
It seems that the left hand isn't talking to the right here and no-one really knows what's going on!!!
I'd imagine doing an online personality test is a way to increase the speed of application. Although, by the sounds of it, it's not helped. When I had my interviews before Christmas, the guys who went through with me all followed exactly the same route as I did and found out at the same time. HR might be able to give you a little bit of information as to why you failed. They're lovely and extremely helpful if you give them a chance!
I got a cheeky little email this afternoon from HR (I'm in!), wasnt expecting ANYTHING on this 'day of rest'... maybe HR are working shifts like ATCO's!
Ayway, I thought I'd write up my experience. But personally, I thought that stage 2 was the hardest, followed by, yes-stage 1!!!..... or maybe I was just more thoroughly prepared for this final stage.
I really think that these Stage 3 events start earlier than is necessary, I mean 8:30 does SOUND okay, but when you factor in:
1- Get up early enough to eat, shower and be presentable.
2- Get on public transport, which involves one or two changes, and you crossing your fingers that no delays occur, or even that there is room for you to squeeze your body onto the tube when it arrives at rush hour!
3- Allowing enough time to find the place which is usually easy enough… but you have to factor in some insurance time!
4- Getting there STILL a little early to feel the place out and at least calm your nerves, or go the bathroom.
….well then you would be in for a wake up time that most ATCO’s know all about, as they are well used to it [but then maybe that’s the point!]- its quite funny really when you introduce yourself to your assessors and they tell you that NATS paid for them to crash at the luxury hotel last night… but if that’s an indication of how NATS treats its committed and qualified staff- I cant wait to be in the company!
But quite honestly I don’t mind getting up at that hour as I actually am used to it for work- but it would be a lot more worthwhile if this event was held at an ACTUAL NATS establishment [this was an opinion shared by my two assessors].
On my day, there were just 3 sweaty wannabees; things were never awkward or tense. The group exercise coming first does actually puts you at ease- even though the hawk-eyes are watching over you. I think the main thing to remember is that you do not have to succeed in the game you just need to listen to and help each other…. It’s a TEAMWORK assessment!
You do feel the gradual warmth of the company being introduced as not only do they Pay for your travel [within reason], but they also provide you with a delicious lunch.
I appreciate all of this and wouldn’t have issues if these nice gestures weren’t there- I think I share the opinion of the ‘old’ passionate [&luckier] generation that we are fortunate to be getting these ‘give-backs’… in some professions- especially with pilot training/jobs you have to PAY for such assessments[they say “GIVE US £££”]. NATS are offering Golden tickets to this TATCO factory, we should appreciate the providential offer that is on the table… they even give you a little help whilst you train!
…. Okay ‘Pizza hut’ paid me whilst I trained too- but that was for 3 weeks and the pay didn’t change much after a month or two years.
Lunch is ‘sandwiched’ between the interviews… it was a casual affair, just pigging out basically…and interrupting the assessors between each mouthful for a mouthful of answers to our questions- I didn’t ask them any Q’s in the interview as I didn’t feel right to switch from the position of being grilled to being inquisitive… I did however ask about my stage2 results… I was denied, [they simply said- good enough to sit me down across the table from them and that’s all that was required] - I think the main justification would be that if they told me I might tell others [or even post on PRRuNe]- and then everyone with a pulse would demand to know... (I think that they are busy enoug as it is!)
I wasn’t asked any technical or a/c recog Q’s. Having done a PPL, and the amount of research I had done in preparation meant it would have been a formality anyway.
They were interested in my tower visit, and how I had arranged that.
I was given a couple of scenarios to handle and they are looking for you to explore and exhaust all schemes and initiatives, not to fix on one solution adamantly if the situation develops and at least ACT like you are re-thinking the situation with the new information in mind.
People say it time and time again:
“don’t be easily led, be flexible in your position when new info comes in…. and with HR relate everything to ATCO qualities whilst providing examples”. However, the thing you may not realise is that when you are in the interview it will beckon on you that you don’t HAVE time to think too much and its better to just give an honest response. A short 3-second pause is all you feel is appropriate, a bit of ‘ummmmm’-ing and ‘errrr’-ing CAN help but it does not LOOK too good for your credibility when you say you make quick decisions without faffing around.
Lastly, I think it’s important to be friendly with them before the ‘assessing’ starts, and at lunch because at the end (or rather- at the beginning) of the day they ARE nice people, human like us, and are obviously interested in improving the company and the quality of the people in their profession. They also appreciate that as long as you have skills for the job it does not mean that you are a pleasure to work with. Being an ATCO is a lifestyle and it might be useful if the people you work and socialise with are people that you can get along with. We know you are nervous, but try to say something interesting/ make a joke or just don’t sound completely dry- it IS easy to do that when you are nervous.
PS: I went to the bathroom 4 times in the period of the 1st interview… so did the guy I was waiting with!.... mind you, at least we didn’t go together!