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Diary of A CX Interview

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Diary of A CX Interview

Old 12th Apr 2007, 06:57
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Canada
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Diary of A CX Interview

I recently had an interview with CX.

I arrived for my interview 15 minutes early and was asked to write a "technical exam". The very lovely secretary offered me a glass of water and provided me with 30 minutes to write the exam. It took 16 minutes including enough time to go through the exam twice and double check my answers. Everything was straight forward there were 30 questions. I was sure that I answered 28 of the questions correctly, but stumbled on a couple of meteorology questions on topics that I haven't thought about in 15 years.

There were a couple of decent guys also waiting to be intereviewed. They were fairly low time guys and said they had about 4000 hours. They were currently flying CL65's for American regional carriers. They were making really lousy money flying for these regional carriers - in fact, I couldn't believe how really lousy Yank regional pilots get paid. I am not sure why anyone wants to be a pilot in the U.S.A. An entry level job at the GAP pays better. I always thought the Yanks were capitalists. The regional pilots in the U.S. must have been out for a piss when they discussed capitalist principles at school. I suspect most of them are forced to supplement their paltry incomes by holding out their invisible hand.

On the way back to the hotel I saw a bunch of homeless people sleeping on the street. It seemed to me that these American regional pilots could probably volunteer their time at Habitat for Humanity or some other charity and do more good for the world and themselves rather than "volunteering" to work for the U.S. regionals. One of the pilots told me that their F/O salaries are so low that the F/O's qualify for food stamps! These F/O's are a burden on the U.S. economy and really should probably be out looking for work and get off the dole.

The interviewers had me wait 90 minutes in the waiting room before they actually interviewed me (very unprofessional in my view). I was ushered in for an interview with an HR specialist and a CX passenger Captain.

The interviewers didn't provide any business cards and didn't have their names written down to refer to during the interview. When I did ask them their names, particularly the Captain, he mumbled and I had to ask him again. The second time he said his name he also mumbled and I didn't get the last name. I didn't bother asking again.

The HR specialist began the interview with the standard series of interview questions. Most modern HR departments actively utilize behavioural based interviewing techniques and CX does a little of this, but generally the interview is the standard canned set of questions. Modern HR professionals will tell you that the old style that CX predominantly uses is about as effective at providing a basis for selecting candidates as putting the resumes on a cork board and throwing darts at them.

As a good pilot candidate I supplied the proper canned set of answers to their canned set of questions. There were a couple of behavioural interview questions that were more interesting and required a little bit of consideration. The interviewer wasn't really very good at interviewing and her approach was awkward and mechanical. When I asked a few questions about the airline the HR specialist was reluctant to answer. I got the sense that she thought I should know everything about the company before I arrived. I read the Annual Report ("AR") on the plane ride over and understood the direction the Swire Group was taking the airline and got basic fleet facts from the AR. From a financial and business perspective CX is a wonderfully managed company that made money in 2006 and all of the years reported in the financial history section of the AR. Very good work considering that most carriers are lossco's.

I was amused when she asked me to breakdown the fleet by the number of each type of aircraft the company operates. She wasn't amused that I could only tell her the total aircraft operated by the company and the various types. I understand they want "interested" candidates but I have better things to do than memorize the numbers of each type in the fleet. I can barely remember how many cars I own.

The HR speciaist didn't seem to understand that I was interviewing CX as much as they were interviewing me. At the end of the day if they don't like me they won't call and at the end of the day if I don't like them I won't be pursuing the process any further. It has to be a good fit both ways or down the road we both might not be happy. They don't seem to quite understand that the employment relationship is a relationship. I get the sense that the typical candidate is a little more contrite and willing to accept whatever is offered. I also get the sense that not considering the employment relationship as a relationship is why a good number of CX pilots are breaking it off with CX. Perhaps a little soul searching is necessary.

After 30 minutes of mind numbing canned HR interview questions the HR specialist turned me over to Captain Low Talker for an oral technical exam. This was amusing to say the least. The first thing he did was provide me with an unlabelled graph and he asked me what it was. I said it looks like an unlabelled graph.

He asked me what the lines represent. I said I couldn't be sure because it wasn't labelled, but if I had to guess I thought it sort of looked like a drag graph. I think this was the right answer. He asked what each of the lines meant. I provided an answer assuming that it was a drag graph. I am not sure what he was assessing with this question perhaps he was testing my sense of humour.

He asked me some WXX questions regarding weather systems in Asia. I told him that I have never flown in Asia and could tell him what the chart said, but couldn't really offer any insight into general Asian WXX patterns.

He asked me to identify an image on a WXX chart that was what we call a "hurricane" in North America. Despite being from Europe I have done all of my flying in North America and the Carribean and my knowledge of Asian WXX is sorely limited. He asked what direction the "hurricane" was headed. I told him.

He asked what things I would be thinking about if I had to land in a typhoon in Asia. I told him that we generally don't land in hurricane's in North America and that I would be proceeding to my alternate if I could anticipate hurricane conditions at my destination. He said that wasn't an option and that I had to land in the typhoon and there were CB's on final and over the airport. He asked me what things I would consider on such an approach. I told him again that I would choose to go to my alternate rather than land in a typhoon at an airport surrounded by CB's. He wasn't having any of this fly to the alternate stuff and said I had to land. I discussed the usual considerations about landing in heavy rain and lightening, on wet runways - hydroplaning, crosswinds etc.

We discussed derated takeoffs and CX's recent policy in Japan to reduce thrust off of a 7400 foot runway to increase their maximum takeoff weight where they were ASDA and VMCG limited. Personally, I wouldn't use this procedure, but it is interesting. He said most CX pilots don't like it either.

He asked me a bunch of engineering questions to which I most assuredly gave incomplete answers. There were theoretical questions about C of G and its effect on stall speed, basic aerodynamics, wing mounted vs. fuselage or wing root mounted engines. All kinds of silly questions that have no real world applicability. I thought Captain Low Talker's questions were the kind of questions an ab intio instructor might ask a student pilot because they have no real world experience from which they could answer relevant operational questions. In my view, these types of questions are a poor tool to assess an experienced airline pilot. I would rather know how the candidate thinks about real world operational problems rather than querying him or her on basic theory. Theory is nice to know, but it won't help you make difficult decisions when you are having a bad day at FL370. How a pilot processes information and what his or her thought process is to get to a workable solution to a difficult operational problem are much more relevant in my respectful opinion.

Nevertheless, I did my best to answer the questions as the Captain seemed keen on them. He was ultimately a very nice chap, just a little poorly focussed on things that have no real world applicability to flying jet airliners. I suspect he is much smarter than he appeared, and his corporate masters are telling him what to ask interviewees.

We concluded the interview with a discussion about my log book. I must confess I have not had a traditional log book in nearly a decade. My company keeps a computer log of my flight times for me and I have a binder full of these computer records to satisfy the air regs. I also keep a day timer. I thought it would be bad form to bring my binder and 10 years of day timers to the interview, so I purchased a couple of log books and had friends and family work in shifts to help me compile the thing. I am kind of glad we did this. It turned out to be an interesting record of my aviation exploits - although all the detailed comments about the various adventures in the cockpit and on the road are properly in my day timer away from the prying and seemingly conservative eyes of CX pilot interviewers.

The other strange thing about the process is that they want me to call them to find out if I passed through to the second round of selection. This is truly bad form in North America and Europe but perhaps the norm in Asia. Maybe it is a cultural thing.

All in all it was a worthwhile experience as the city in which the interview was conducted had some great restaraunts and very friendly and beautiful women.

Lord Denning M.R.
LordDenning is offline  
Old 12th Apr 2007, 12:35
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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and the point of this post is ??
sizematters is offline  
Old 12th Apr 2007, 13:11
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 67
Wind up artist?

electricjetjock is offline  
Old 12th Apr 2007, 13:33
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Dallas, TX
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I suspect that you and I interviewed in SFO on the same day this week. I was one of the last ones there in the afternoon, so I didn't get a chance to meet any other interviewees. I had read many previous interview descriptions similar to yours, and I went in expecting the worst. Basically I expected everything you just described.

On the contrary, my experience there was wonderful. Everyone I came into contact with was professional and courteous. The whole afternoon went better than expected. I'm sorry that you had a bad experience and felt the need to act like a pompous ass during your interview. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Last edited by Chuychanga; 12th Apr 2007 at 14:03.
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Old 12th Apr 2007, 14:47
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Join Date: Jul 1998
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Thumbs up

That was a very funny post

Hear hear!
jetset is offline  
Old 12th Apr 2007, 15:10
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: far east
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Gee I hope you & CX can mutually agree that you should not join. You are way too smart for CX
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Old 12th Apr 2007, 15:54
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Join Date: Jul 1998
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Thumbs up

These F/O's are a burden on the U.S. economy and really should probably be out looking for work and get off the dole.
Hear hear!

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Old 12th Apr 2007, 16:20
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Not over the Rockies anymore.
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I thought Captain Low Talker's questions were the kind of questions an ab intio instructor might ask a student pilot because they have no real world experience from which they could answer relevant operational questions. In my view, these types of questions are a poor tool to assess an experienced airline pilot. I would rather know how the candidate thinks about real world operational problems rather than querying him or her on basic theory. Theory is nice to know, but it won't help you make difficult decisions when you are having a bad day at FL370.

Lack of theoretical knowledge is what got two KIDS killed in an RJ. Luckily they were alone.
Nevermind, they were at 410 when they got into trouble, so your right, knowing the theory would have done them no good!

Very interesting how a diary of a cx interview includes an insight into US economy; but hey, putting homeless guys into right seats of rj's-I'd patent that idea.

act700 is offline  
Old 12th Apr 2007, 16:43
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ACT 700:

I would also say piss poor working conditions and wages were also a contributing factor to that accident. The "profession" is in a crisis in North America and the brightest minds aren't throwing their $80,000 dollars on the table to start flying lessons. Frankly, if these young pilots had any sense they would go and do something else for a living because they aren't going to earn a very good one flying airplanes. That is the real tragedy.

As to the requirement for theoretical knowledge - In my view, there is a significant difference between preactically understanding high altitude, high speed aerodynamics (a requirement) and knowing what an unlabelled graph represents.


My post was written in jest.

Good luck to you.
LordDenning is offline  
Old 12th Apr 2007, 17:00
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: HK
Posts: 62
Lighten Up

You guys need to lighten up. As a tongue in cheek look at the Cathay interview it's not far off the mark.
Funny stuff Lord Denning.
rhoshamboe is offline  
Old 12th Apr 2007, 17:31
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: BC
Age: 81
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I got a good laugh from that Lord D, then I started to cry because its so true. You pretty much hit it on the head. You dont need to know how to build it, to fly it.

CX management just has a whanker mentality...and their little minions like to parrot their masters.
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Old 12th Apr 2007, 18:18
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 139
The really unfortunate thing about any "build the airplane" mentality is it can go too far. I don't remember the company, the Greek 737 with the depressurization problem. The guy was so busy trying to rebuild it and figure out the problem that he ignored the bells and whistles and forgot to put on the mask.

The attitude here in the U.S. is, if you can't fix it in the air then it isn't going to do you much good to know about it. You have a practical knowledge of systems designed to troubleshoot problems. I do think however, that since the industry is back on the fast track here, we need to teach some more basics.

I had an FO a couple weeks back that started to side slip the jet to get down on final!!!! We have to realize that if they did their training at a small school and found their way into a jet with very low time, they may not have looked at high speed aerodynamics. I approached my company about it and got the typical "we'll look into it" that they give to us lowly line captains. Oh well, I did my part.

As for the pay here, it sucks at first. Fortunately, even though on a world scale the pay is low, it is high enough to make a better than average living here. Excluding NYC, LA, and the higher priced areas of course. The cost of living is much lower than many places on the planet.
rjmore is offline  
Old 13th Apr 2007, 02:22
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: La La Land
Posts: 104
Well that's some time i'd like back.
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Old 13th Apr 2007, 03:28
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you've obviously got enough to post the same thread in at least 3 different forums
Old 15th Apr 2007, 13:30
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: nowhere near here
Posts: 64
Helios Airways 737 crash


Not sure if the Greek (actually it was Helios) 737 crash you refer to is a great example of why we should spend less time understanding how the aircraft we fly are built. From the report I read, as the Helios aircraft climbed, with the altitude warning horn sounding continuously, the captain radioed in to company to say there seemed to be a spurious take off configuration warning and he wasn't sure what to do. [In the 737 the two warnings are the same sound but take off config is inhibited in flight.]

Had the captain possessed a bit more tech knowledge and understood the two different warnings and when they might sound (e.g. altitude warning horn while climbing out from 10,000 to 20,000 ft) he might have decided to put on a mask and perhaps nobody would have died.

You are quite correct that you need enough systems knowledge to be able to troubleshoot problems but the Helios guy apparently didn't even know that much. I guess each airline will have a different view on where the balance lies. Personally I think knowing a bit too much is better than not knowing enough (as long as SOPs are there to back it up), especially when lives are at stake.

As for side slipping on to finals, I've never tried it myself but I suspect if I did it might be followed by a fairly swift call of "go around" from my PNF. Was it a comfortable ride?

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Old 15th Apr 2007, 14:14
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: U.S.
Posts: 341

I would just like to raise the point that it is no longer a PNF but a PM. Pedantic I know, but hey, this is Cathay!!!

boxjockey is offline  

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