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Alaska Airlines Pilot Interview Profiles

Date Interviewed: January 2001
Summary of Qualifications: NA
Were you offered the job? Don't Know
Pilot Interview Profile:

That update from 2 years ago was nearly identical to my interview last month. There were different people involved in the interview process and I used a place called Aviation Training Center on Boeing Field in Seattle to prep. They charge a lot - but everyone I know who was interviewing used them and were invited to class. They charged me about $500. But what is a job with Alaska worth? Their web address is: www.atcseattle.com My Board Interview only had 2 people in it. They are hiring a lot right now - so they have to run two different panels at a time. ATC will give you the same gouge as the one in the previous post - plus the most recent they have gathered. The only thing that I didn't care for with ATC was that they used a Desktop/PC simulator - Yep, just like the one you have on your computer at home. The difference is they have an MD80 on it; it is enclosed in a mock cockpit; it has controls like an airplane & you get 4 hours in it. I prepped for America West in a real sim - paid less - but only got an hour. It is a toss-up really. Heck, it worked for me. Nearly all the questions the previous guy was asked - I was too. The process is two days now. First day is the Sim, second day is the Board Interview. Definately prep for the sim and review the questions. Make a packet with all your info to give during the board. Alaska will tell you what to bring. I was called approximately a week and a half after the interview for a class date.

Date Interviewed: January 1999
Summary of Qualifications: NA
Were you offered the job? Don't Know
Pilot Interview Profile:

If you are selected for an interview, Betty Slater will to call you to try and set it up 2-3 weeks down the road. This does not leave a lot of time for interview prep, scheduling a practice sim or tracking down a lot of info on Alaska Airlines. Betty (Ms. Slater to me) is very very nice and very busy.

The sim is either in a 737 or an MD-80 and includes NDB holding, an NDB approach and an ILS approach. Having never flown a heavy or crew aircraft and very few NDB approaches, I felt some simulator time would really help me. I tracked down several 737 sim companies (those that want to sell us all type ratings) and asked what it would cost for an hour of interview prep time. There are two companies in Seattle right down the street from each other and about a half-mile from Alaska Flight Operations that have a 737 sim. Flight Safety International at $575/hr and Simulator Training International (STI) at something like $350 an hour. I chose Flight Safety based on the words of another Alaska interviewee who got hired.

I thought Flight Safety sim was expensive for what I got out of it. I am glad I did it though because after flying the profile for practice, I knew there was no way I would have passed the interview based on how I flew the Flight Safety sim. The instrumentation was very similar to the Alaska Airlines sim I used for the interview. The instructor also provided me instruction in NDB approaches, which I had never had.

GETTING THERE Alaska Airlines will pay for your trip there and back using a standby ticket. Betty Slater will fax you a voucher to take to the Alaska ticket counter. It would be wise not to rely on getting there on the last flight out of town because any revenue passenger will bump you. In the three trips I had to make up there, I only really had problems on the third trip (for the drug test). Allow yourself an extra day getting to Seattle so you don't have to deal with this kind of stress before your sim or interview.

Alaska will not cover the cost of a hotel or rental car while there for the sim but they will for the interview. Betty Slater did give me the names and numbers of three local hotels to make a reservation. It didn't really matter though. There are tons of hotels along International Blvd near the airport and Alaska Flight Operations and Headquarters so if you go up there without a reservation you're bound to find a room nearby. I also rented a car at the airport that made getting around and a last minute trip to a local mall easy. I drove the route to the Sim to make sure I could get there and park without getting lost. Talk about nervous, I even timed it. I was about as ready as I could be. I spent the afternoon studying a CRM handout from an AIR, Inc. conference.

THE BIG DAY Show time at the sim building was 0630. I had 4 alarms plus a wake-up call set 2-3 minutes apart around 5 AM. I wore an interview suit and it was the appropriate attire. I got there at 0615 and the 3rd of 3 candidates arrived right behind me. The main lobby entrance was locked so I had to walk left a few feet to the crew scheduling entrance where a pilot let me in. He led me to the lobby where we ran into our examiner. He led me and the third candidate, who had just arrived upstairs, to a break area where we met the first candidate, and we all introduced ourselves. One was a female first officer for a commuter flying turboprops out of Chicago with 3700 hours. The other was a cargo operator who already knew a couple of Alaska captains and had about 4200 hours. I was the low guy with only 2900 hours but I was the only one with turbojet experience.

After introductions and pleasantries, our examiner, an Alaska Check Airman, gave us the ground rules briefing. "You will make mistakes. You will be off altitude and airspeed. What I am looking for is recognition, awareness and timely corrections. We would really like for all of you to do well. You can't use any autopilot or computers, fly the airplane yourself. Run all the appropriate checklists like you would for your current aircraft. If you would do an approach checklist, do it. If you would do a before landing checklist, after take-off checklist, or missed approach checklist then run those when you need to. Since the flap switch is a little quirky, I will control the flaps. You just tell me where you want them. i.e. "set approach flaps, or set landing flaps, what ever." The Non flying pilot is not allowed to talk accept to acknowledge commands by the flying pilot. The NFP's only responsibility is to silence the gear warning horn whenever it goes off. Other than that, the NFP may only raise or lower the gear, set airspeed, altitude and heading bugs on the command of the flying pilot." His exact words regarding the NFP were "Forget CRM here, You cannot impress me as the non-flying pilot." We all filled out grade sheets with our total hours, jet hours, and last flights for him.

The examiner already had decided the order of who was going to go first so none of us were faced with the paralyzing dilemma of "should I show confidence and leadership by going first or will I do better if have a chance to see a little bit of the profile?" I was to go first followed by the others. He went over the basic pitch and power settings for the Sim and emphasized the control and performance concept of spending most of the time on the ADI.

The Sim

My Sim profile consisted of the following (Everybody's are slightly different):

1. Takeoff Clearance, from RWY 16 at SEA: "Climb and maintain 5000, passing 2000, turn right intercept the SEA 180 Radial outbound, arc west on the 10 DME Arc, Maintain 250 knots. 2. From the arc, climbing and descending turns to headings were given. 3. After putting me on freeze, He reset the sim with the aircraft about 7 miles out on the 225 bearing from the PARKK NDB on a heading of 195 and issued holding instructions: " Alaska Trainer 1, Proceed Direct PARKK Outer Marker, Hold north on the 338 Bearing From the station, expect further clearance 0731, time now 0726." There were no approach plates to review, you just get a minute to figure out where you are and what you'll do when you get to the NDB. Mine was a Parallel entry. Don't forget to time outbound and inbound. 4. After rolling out on my 2nd turn outbound, he put me on freeze, showed me the approach plate for the NDB 16 at SEA and asked me to tell him where I was on that diagram. Then he said "Brief this approach and fly it." 5. After briefing the Non flying pilot on the NDB approach, I was wings level outbound abeam the NDB and he took me off freeze, so I flew outbound for one minute then turned inbound and configured for the approach. ("Approach Flaps, Gear Down") 6. At the NDB inbound, I started timing and called for "Landing Flaps." I broke out 200 feet above mins and he put me on freeze on short final. 7. He reset the sim and put me on a dogleg for the ILS. We got the jet configured and he said the decision height is 626 feet. Just intercept the course and fly it down for landing. There was no approach plate to worry about or brief. 8. Again I broke out about 200 feet above mins and transitioned to land. Do your best, don't forget to lower the nose to the runway and brake and use the thrust reversers. Bring it to a complete stop on the Runway.

That was it. He said I did fine. "Be at Headquarters by 9:30 am." One of the others also passed but he said the commuter pilot from Chicago screwed up arcing and the NDB approach.

The Personnel Interview:

At 9:30 Betty Slater greeted me in the lobby and escorted down to the break area where we sat down at a table and she gave me some paperwork, pencils, and a legal pad. She described the FAA Records Request, and Company data sheet. The FAA paperwork was pretty straight forward. The company data sheet asks for: 1. 5-Year Employment History with CURRENT numbers for former employers/supervisors 2. Names of all high schools and Colleges attended.(Name, City, State, Phone Number, Degree/Diploma (Y/N), dates attended) 3. Ten-year Residence History - Physical Address and zip codes, dates (No PO Boxes) All dates for the form were in Month/Year format, Actual days were not required.

Civilian Pilots will have to fill out training records requests for their civilian employers under the Pilot Records Improvement Act.

She explains all the paperwork and gives you one hour to fill all of it out plus hand write an autobiography. The paperwork takes all of about 15 minutes so be able to write your autobiography in about 30-45 minutes. She leaves you alone to do all of it. I used a pen for the autobiography instead of the pencils she gave me because it was easier to write with and showed up better which would be needed for making copies. I'd have one prepared in advance so you know what you want to say. The way she instructs it varies from person to person. Sometimes it's "Tell us about yourself" Other times its "Tell us about your flying career" etc. Be ready to adapt. After an hour, you give the paperwork to her and she takes you to a room for the personnel interview.


1. Have you used any tobacco products in the last XX months? 2. Any DUIs, DWIs etc.? 3. Any Disciplinary action taken against you by your employer? By FAA? Anything pending? 4. Ever been fired or asked to resign for any reason? 5. What other airlines have you applied to? 6. Have you interviewed with any of those? 7. As an aside, Alaska is thinking about going to UPAS, what do you think of their service? 8. What is your current phone number? Fax number? 9. Any moving violations in the last 2 years? 10. May we contact your current employer? 11. The application is a legal document, are there any misstatements you would like to correct now? 12. Why do you want to work for Alaska Airlines?

That was it, then we set up a time for the board interview 2 weeks later…

Board Interview

I showed up at Alaska Headquarters 10 minutes prior and was told to have a seat in the lobby. There were no other pilot interviewees there. You're kinda by yourself. The receptionist let Betty Slater know I was there. After about 10 minutes Betty came out and told me "We're running just a little behind." (I was told to expect this by an Alaska pilot and brought some reading material to keep occupied) Betty explained that the chief pilot, Paul Majer, would come out and chat for a minute then escort me back for the Board interview. She also pointed out that when I saw the previous interviewee leave, that my time was approaching. I waited about 30 minutes after my interview time until the previous interviewee left. It was the guy I did my sim with. He said, with him they emphasized the accident he had a few years back and what do you do if a captain goes below mins on an approach? Twenty minutes later, Paul Majer came out to meet me.

Paul Majer came out, shook hands and asked me to sit back down. He explained the goal was for them to find out what kind of person I was, and for me to try and be as relaxed as possible. It's not an inquisition, etc. He's a former tanker pilot and asked if I had ever met so-and-so who I hadn't. Then he escorted me to the interview room.

The 5-Member board consisted of the Chief Pilot, a Human Resources Rep, and three Captains.

Paul Majer introduced me to all of the others in the room. Each had a paper sign on the table in front of them giving their names and occupations. HR began the questioning.

1. Any changes on your application or resume since you completed it, any accidents, incidents, etc? 2. We noticed you took some classes at a junior college while you were in high school. Why? 3. As part of the new FAA regulations we are required to do a 10-year employment review. Start from about 10 years ago and tell us about your aviation career. Anything you want. 4. Tell us what your motivation is for working for Alaska Airlines 5. Now, I understand you're getting out of the Air Force and you are applying to everybody. You could make more money with a lot of the other carriers. Why would you want to work for Alaska Airlines? This particular question received a lot of emphasis for me. They asked it in various forms at least twice during the interview. Apparently there have been a number of pilots who start getting recruited by other airlines right after they get their training with Alaska and leave. That would piss me off as an employer too. 6. Why are you leaving the Air Force? 7. How would you balance a reserve line in Anchorage with your Reserve job in XXXX…? 8. If Alaska hires you and six months later Delta makes you an offer, what would you do? 9. What would you do if Alaska did not hire you? 10. Suppose you are not picked up by Alaska and six months from now you're working for Continental and Betty Slater calls you offering a class date here. What would you do? 11. You're an instructor, Critique your sim. Assign a grade. 12. Using that same scale, how would you rate yourself as a pilot in your current aircraft? 13. What do you think we're looking for in our pilots? 14. What kind of pilot are you? 15. You're an experienced Air Force pilot. How would you feel about having to take orders from a female Captain who's younger than you and has only flown commuters? Do you think she might have gotten the job unfairly? 16. How would you handle a disruptive passenger? 17. Who is Bruce Kennedy? 18. There's a book out there called "The Alaska Airlines Story." Have you heard of it? Have you read it? Where did you learn about it? 19. Ever been to Alaska? 20. You're an Air Force pilot. You could be picked up by anybody and make a lot more than you could make here. Why do you want to pass that up to work here? 21. What would be your toughest challenge if you came to work for Alaska? 22. What would you do to prepare for class if offered a class date? 23. Rank order you base preferences 24. What would be your aircraft preference? 25. Where did you hear about the hiring window? 26. Does Air Inc. have a big list of questions that we ask? 27. Did all those other people you talked to have a list of questions? 28. What is your greatest accomplishment 29. What was your biggest mistake? 30. I was comparing pay stubs with a friend of mine who flies 747s for Northwest and he's making about $50,000 more than me a year. You're young. You multiply that out over a 20-year career and you're looking at about a million bucks. Why would you want to pass that up to come work here at Alaska? 31. Alaska Airlines consistently gets good customer service ratings. Why do you think that is? 32. Sitting reserve in Anchorage, you'll have a number of flights to Seattle in the middle of the night where the highlight of the evening is a 15 deg turn. How do you think you'll handle that after flying combat missions over Iraq and Bosnia? Won't this kind of work be a let down for you? 33. Your resume says you're a volunteer for XX charity. What do you do with them? 34. OK this is your chance. Is there anything you'd like to add? Any questions for us?

It was extremely curtious and professional. They really just wanted to find out what kind of person I was. Would I fit in with their company? But they also wanted to make sure I really wanted to work there.

After the Interview, Betty Slater will give you a list of all the members of the interview board in case you would like to send thank-you notes. She said the board will write their impressions right after the interview and then the package gets sent to the V.P. of Flight Operations who makes the final decision. She said she would get the word via e-mail and would call in about a week. Sure enough, the call came the following Friday. She gave me a class date two months down the road, pending the outcome of my FAA mandatory drug screening. We scheduled the test one week away and again she faxed a ticket voucher to me to get up there on a standby ticket.

The test itself is nothing. Just pee in a bottle. They took two samples. One is used for drug testing. The second is split into two samples; one as a secondary drug test (back up sample), and one to test for tobacco use. They are serious about their no tobacco policy. The hard part was getting there on my standby ticket. The testing center itself is easy. It is inside the Seattle Airport directly across the hall from Gate D-1. It's the door with the doorbell. Not hard to find.

That's it.

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