Jodie Brown is the founder and president of Summit Solutions – the only Business Aviation... Read More
The “Horse Fair” oil on canvas painted in 1852 by Rosa Bonheur depicts the horse market held in Paris on the tree-lined Boulevard de l'Hôpital. You can sense the heightened excitement of sellers leading carefully groomed horses with tails neatly braided to be sold in the open market.
The scene reminds me of the upcoming NBAA convention and the opportunities awaiting both flight department managers and aviation talent. Suits pressed, shoes spit-shined, business cards and elevator pitches ready to deliver, aviation professionals burst onto the convention floor with various objectives in mind. Many attendees are present to sell their goods and services. Others are there to seek employment. Some use the gathering to find new hires for their flight department.
Entering into any transaction brings inherent risks. Will expectations be realized, and if so for how long? Hiring personnel is particularly challenging as some people can spot talent naturally. Others should not attempt it themselves.
The first step in hiring personnel for your flight department is determining what skills are needed. Have economic forces or company’s demands created a requirement for additional staff with certain talents? Do gaps exist within your department? You hire for the present with an eye on the future. In addition to knowing best practices, does the candidate have the ability to support your department’s growth plans?
Flight department managers do not have to fly solo. They may want to retain a recruiting business that specializes in the selection and hiring of aviation personnel. Also, NBAA’s Corporate Aviation Management (CAM) program provides training and courses with valuable resources to develop hiring techniques.
The NBAA Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (BACE—the event’s official name) provides a great venue for meeting, interviewing and selecting personnel. So, within the midst of the mind-numbing environment of a convention, how do you determine whether or not a person or opportunity is good for you? With a few key tips, both clients and candidates can present themselves at their best.
Fundamentals are important for both interviewer and interviewee. First impressions are the most lasting. Personal appearance and behavior make a statement about your flight department, your management style, how personnel within the department are valued, and how the opportunity is truly special. Remember, as the interviewer you want the job opportunity to appeal to the best candidates. Thus arriving late, rumpled and distracted kills an interview, regardless who is interviewing whom.
Crucial Tips for Personal Presentation
The following basics apply to managers doing the interview as well as to candidates being interviewed:
1. Depending upon the position, a black or dark suit is the most conservative. Keep jewelry and accessories to a minimum: a watch, ring and good pen.
2. Facial hair should be freshly trimmed and hair styles conservative.
3. Marketing materials include a clean, crisp business card, a job description or resume in an envelope. Better yet, job candidates should provide a thumb drive.
4. The first introduction includes a firm, dry handshake and clear pronunciation of your name which you could repeat with spelling to help the other’s retention and recall.
5. Posture and body language speak loudly about self-confidence.
6. The introduction is followed by your features and benefits—or in the case of the interviewer, the benefits of the job opening—so make it memorable. Pause and relax. Make it pleasant for the other person. Speak clearly and with a lower pitch - especially when ending your sentence to convey confidence. Prepare your summary “pitch” (maximum five minutes, preferably shorter) and learn it so you sound natural when it’s “show time”.
7. Create a dialogue, not a monologue, by keeping statements short and by asking questions that invite your counterpart to speak.
For interviewers, explain the organization and team and what is needed in the job, the physical and mental demands of the job, and any conditions such as hard days off, limited vacation schedules, or the possibility that the Part 91 flight department might develop into a Part 135 operation.
For interviewees, prepare to ask and answer pertinent questions. Be clear about the capabilities you wish to convey. Take notes.
All parties to the interview must listen naively. Einstein said, “Our theories dictate what we measure”. Often we hear what we expect to hear while ignoring critical information that contradicts our expectations. Be clear when describing the values, abilities and attitudes that you personally believe support success. Use open-ended questions to learn what your counterpart believes are important qualities. Choose your words with care. “Frugal” conveys an entirely different mindset than “cheap”.
What Not to Say
Interview topics forbidden by federal law include (but are not limited to) age, marital status, children, disabilities, club memberships, religious or political affiliations, financial situations and ancestry. If you are concerned about conflicts between a personal life and company demands, ask if there are any reasons other than occasional illness that would limit the ability to work according the company’s culture and department schedules.
Interviewers should ask questions that require complex thinking. You want insight as to what makes the other person “tick”. Prepare questions that require someone to reflect on their own behavior and reasons for actions that demonstrate values and assumptions. “When you talk about smart operations and working efficiently, what does that mean to you?” Let the person think about the answer. How well was the response presented?
Throughout the entire interaction, show enthusiasm for learning about the other individual. Even if it’s not a good match, you want this person to leave as your good-will ambassador.