You're Hired

Even I sometimes find it hard to keep up with ever changing Part 121 hiring landscape. Rumors abound and there is often conflicting information posted in various websites, blogs, threads, etc on the inter-web thing. Therefore I thought you might find it refreshing to read some information directly from Captain Rocky Calkins, Manager of Pilot Hiring at Southwest Airlines regarding the Southwest process for pilot hiring. The article posted below was cut and paste directly from a Southwest Airlines Flight Ops Briefing that gets emailed out weekly to all company pilots and other Flight Operations personnel. One thing from his article that jumps out at me immediately is that initial pilot hiring screening is performed from the pilot résumé, not the application. The next factoid that stands out for me is that the screening tool is looking at much more than just flight hours. In addition to flight experience, they also screen for education and leadership. So if you thought the weight of your effort should be placed on the application vs the résumé, you might want to rethink your approach. If you're targeting Southwest, read on and then use this information as a guide to go back and enhance your pilot résumé and application to highlight your strengths that match the qualities Southwest Airlines is looking for to ensure a good long term fit between company and pilot:

You’re Hired | Captain Rocky Calkins, Manager Pilot Hiring

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Southwest Airlines is currently in the process of hiring an additional 785 Pilots this year. A few weeks ago we published the process on how you can recommend Pilots who interview with Southwest. This piece is intended to help you understand who is currently competitive and the process by which we select candidates for interview. 

Prior to selection, candidates have applied through and built a profile through From there, we use a resume screening tool to help select best qualified and most competitive candidates based on flight experience, education, and leadership. Our Chief Pilots and Flight Training Center Leadership help provide the attributes and skills we are seeking in our Pilot candidates. Our Pilot Hiring Team then conducts a thorough personal review (human touch) before finally sending out the formal invitation to visit us in Dallas for an interview. 

As a result of all this prescreening, our goal is to hire 100 percent of those applicants we invite for interview. The interview itself is our only opportunity to ensure we are a good long term fit for each other and to make certain Southwest Airlines can offer the Pilot candidate professional and personal satisfaction in their professional career. 

Despite what you may have heard, the Pilot market is still very competitive at the major airline level. Make no mistake, we are actively promoting Southwest Airlines but the applicant must also be prepared for interview day armed with knowledge, enthusiasm, and willingness to share their professional resume with our interview Team. 

Competitive Pilot candidates will be invited to a four-hour interview event in Dallas. Currently, we are interviewing 16 Pilots per day in two groups--a morning and an afternoon group. Candidates will receive a briefing from the Pilot Hiring Team Leader prior to interview and also have an opportunity to tour the Flight Training Center. 

The interview process is comprised of three events:

Line Oriented Interview

This interview is conducted by two of our Pilot Interviewers in a cockpit trainer with the applicant as the Captain and Pilot Flying. The Candidate will be given a set of parameters, a difficult situation, and asked to utilize all of their resources to come up with a solution. This exercise lasts about 30 minutes and is very similar to our LOE in a more condensed fashion. The focus of the interview is to evaluate CRM and Leadership skills in a slightly stressed environment. 

Logbook Review

This interview takes about 45 minutes. During that time all flying time and details of events associated with a candidate’s flying history are verified. We also calculate flight hours to verify their profile matches their logbooks. Additionally, our Pilot interviewer will examine the candidate’s license and medical to ensure the required ATP Certificate with AMEL rating, current First Class Medical Certificate, and that the Pilot possesses an FCC Radiotelephone Operator permit. 

Panel Interview

During this interview, candidates will be asked to share examples of their flying experience, why they are interested in Southwest, and share what they would bring to Southwest Airlines. This is a conversational interview lasting about one hour and is conducted by a member of the People Department’s Recruiting Team and a Pilot Interviewer. 

After the interview in Dallas, all candidate applications and materials will be sent to Decision Committee. The Decision Committee is made up of Flight Operations Leaders and Chief Pilots—they make the final selections based upon our Team’s recommendations. This is where your referral letters are considered, along with reference calls and background checks. 

Once a final decision has been made, we will assign class dates to candidates. It is important to note a candidate is not considered a Southwest Employee until the first day of Pilot New Hire training class. 



Marc HimelhochComment