Airline pilots have a demanding position, so naturally the tests for them are rigorous and comprehensive. Employers want to know that the candidate they are hiring is going to perform well under stress and will be an asset to the team. Being able to fly is not the only important piece of the job.
What Is an Airline Pilot Test?
An airline pilot test is a combination of tests that assess a variety of skills in addition to the personality of each job-seeker and graduate looking to acquire a position as a pilot in any capacity. The tests cover a variety of topics in addition to the usual numerical, verbal, and abstract aptitudes. These will be covered in detail further on. Beyond the aptitude tests, a pilot is often required to take COMPASS, which stands for Computerized Pilot Aptitude Screening System. This is usually found in assessment centers. The last thing that will definitely be part of the test is a flight simulation. If an applicant does not pass this, they do not fly.
What Will Be on the Tests?
To begin with, each airline or hiring company is different in what brand of test they use. So, the tests may vary in content based on who produced them. However, the basic skills tested will be the same, so those are covered below.
- COMPASS covers some of the same things in math and spatial awareness as those two individual tests do earlier on, but it also tests memory, hand-to-eye coordination, multitasking, and understanding of aviation tech terms.
- Flight simulations require applicants to fly autonomously for about forty minutes while demonstrating takeoff, climbing, descents, turns, and emergency responses all with no outside assistance.
- Personality tests are used to ensure pilots will get along well with their co-pilots and cabin crews along with dealing well with the difficulties wrapped up in the position. In particular, the Hogan personality test is frequently used for pilots. It highly impacts hiring. If an applicant does not pass, they are likely to be passed over for the position.
- Group exercises or role-play exercises are used to check how well individuals get along with others and handle leadership or follower positions.
- Numerical reasoning tests check for swift ability to do calculations and read as well as interpret numerical data. This is often required on the job and is a necessary aptitude for pilots.
- Verbal reasoning tests are used to ensure that pilots are capable of reading and following written instructions in addition to properly drawing conclusions with given information.
- Abstract reasoning tests also test the pilot applicant’s ability to reason, but in this case, this tests their ability to reason using non-verbal information and recognize patterns.
Most of these tests will be multiple-choice, with the flight simulation being one major exception to that. Questions may take a true or false format as well. For the personality exams in particular, they are usual formatted as true and false, rankings, or agree and disagree.
Hogan Personality Test
Since the Hogan personality test is so widely used in testing pilots, it bears discussing a bit more closely. As mentioned earlier, it can often make the difference between being passed to the next stage and being turned away from the process entirely. It measures a series of six traits.
First, it measures the HPI or Hogan Personality Inventory. This is an individual’s day-to-day personality or the bright side. This test section assesses how one relates to others, whether that individual leads or follows, and whether they are successful as a leader or a follower.
Second, the Hogan Developmental Survey (HDS) is used to measure the applicant’s personality during times of stress. This stressed personality is often called the dark side. This is used to ensure an individual is not a risk to the company.
Next, the Hogan Motives, Values, Preferences Inventor (MVPI) helps employers understand the individual’s values, core goals, drives, and interests. It helps show the motives behind the personality traits.
Then, the Hogan Business Reasoning Inventory (HBRI) is used to measure cognitive abilities and skills. Specifically, this one looks at problem-solving styles and strives to help employers understand how any given applicant will approach problems given to them.
Finally, the Hogan Judgment portion measures the applicant’s approach to decision-making, post-decision reactions, and responses to negative feedback. In a high stress environment, how the individual handles these things is extremely important, and this section of the Hogan personality test aids employers in understanding these areas of the individual’s personality.
How to Prepare for an Airline Pilot Test?
This is the portion of the article that cannot be skimmed or ignored. While knowing what to expect is important, it will not do any good if you do not understand how to use it to prepare. This section will help with that.
First, pay attention to what test bundle your position or company uses. Each company uses different ones and may even use different bundles for each position. Find out ahead which one will be yours and practice online accordingly.
Practice test bundles should, ideally, cover PILAPT practice, spatial orientation or awareness, numerical reasoning, mental arithmetic, hand-to-eye coordination, memory and recall testing, mechanical reasoning, verbal reasoning, and personality testing. Aptitude in these areas may make the difference before passing through the process or failing it. Most of these tests are online for both practice and the real thing, so be sure the area where you are taking it is quiet and that you have plenty of time to work on it.
As you work, keep in mind that these tests examine potential job skills, not your knowledge. Answer questions accordingly. Always be honest, but learn to answer in a way that paints you in the best light possible, particularly in the personality testing portion.
Tips for Succeeding on the Test
- In group exercises, focus on being a team player and solving the group tasks with the other participants.
- If you are in a leadership position in either a role play or group exercise, be ready to delegate and to share credit for success with the rest of your team.
- Make sure you prepare based on what tests you know you will be taking. The test preparation packages will vary based on the company producing it.
- Identify areas of weakness and focus on shoring them up before test day.
- Get in plenty of practice for the personality testing, especially if you have to take the Hogan personality assessment. It is very important here.
- Select practice test bundles carefully. Make sure they cover everything you will be tested on, otherwise they will not be effective.
- Spend time making sure you are ready for the flight simulation. This is the second big thing that will ruin your chances if you fail. Do yourself a favor and be prepared for it so that you will not fail.
Airline pilot tests are well-rounded and comprehensive. They are by no means simple or easy tests, which means that preparing correctly will be key to success. If you do not practice and prepare, you will not succeed. It is that simple.
However, if you practice and start early on your preparation for the tests, you should be able to do well. The tests are meant to weed out those who are not qualified. If you have prepared and know how to take the tests in the right way, you should not have much to worry about besides whether or not the company feels you personally are a good fit personality-wise.
So take time to make sure you feel confident in yourself and your abilities. Then take a deep breath and go take the exams. This is something within reach if you are dedicated.