Does speaking multiple languages help you land a job at a major?
For example, I speak Japanese at a native level. Would that help me land a job at Hawaiian airlines since they have flights to Tokyo?
Does speaking multiple languages help you land a job at a major?
No, a second language will not be of much help. English is the international language of aviation, so there is no need to be able to speak a second language. Furthermore, we have very little contact with the passengers, so that is not really a benefit either.
Speaking Japanese will absolutely help you get hired at Hawaiian! We’re actively recruiting Japanese speakers for both Flight Attendant and Gate Agent positions as we have many flights and many passengers from Japan.
BUT, if you’re asking about being a pilot the answer is no. It won’t help a bit. You need to speak English and speak it well regardless of where you fly or who you fly for.
Fun fact: The few pilots we do have who speak Japanese are prohibited from making PAs in Japanese as we’ve been told making PAs is culturally “beneath” the pilot and is to be delegated to the Flight Attendants.
That sounds very Japanese. I had been wondering the same thing since I’ve been dabbling in Japanese out here in Okinawa. Your story about Hawaiian further got me interested in finishing Japanese (Hawaii is the Japanese Mecca of vacations).
On all the ANA flights I’ve been on out here I never noticed the Pilots lacking of PA activity until just now. (Universe Shatters!)
To be clear, I love Japan and the people, the culture has taken some getting used to buy, it’s fascinating and great.
By the way, you need to be the head recruiter for Hawaiian, you’ve got my attention.
Thanks for the feedback Adam. I speak both languages at a native level. I didn’t know that speaking Japanese was not allowed for captains at Hawaiian. I thought it would make the experience more unforgettable for the many Japanese passengers on board. At Japanese airlines, the captain uses the PA systems to let passengers know of any land marks or sights the passengers should see.
This might be a question that shouldn’t be asked here, but since all pilots have the same skill on paper (since they are judged by total number of hours flown), what gives one pilot an edge over others in the hiring process(I know you probably aren’t too involved in the hiring process but in your opinion) at for example Hawaiian?
This is a perfect question for the forum. You’re 100% correct that on paper most pilots look pretty much the same. There are things that will look good on an application like union work, training dept or working in the Chief Pilot’s office at the Regional you worked for. Most important (particularly at Hawaiian) are letters of recommendation from people you’ve worked with or more important have flown with. If your application has made it in front of a human than you meet all the qualifications. If you have the recommendations that will help you get the interview but ultimately it’s the individual that gets the job and it’s not because of your language skills, hobbies, interests or anything else. It’s simply is this someone I’d enjoy being locked in a cockpit with for 6+ hours OR will they drive me insane?
Want to set yourself apart? Do well in training and at your first Regional. Always be professional and stay out of trouble and you’ll be successful.
Great question. The primary way that pilots set themselves apart from other pilots is through flight time and diversity of flying experience. By this I mean that if you have two pilots with 5,000 hours, the first one has only flown up and down the east coast while the second one has international and mountainous experience, then he could be the more desirable candidate.
As Adam said, personality also plays a large role in the hiring process. Interview panels want to make sure that they are hiring personable people that will be good to sit next to for a four day trip. Also, customer service can be a big focus in the hiring interview.
Some airlines MAY value this as something that sets you apart because you could add to the culture of the company. I had a long conversation with a pilot at Southwest, and he did tell me a diverse cultural background (including the specific question I posed about being trilingual) will increase your appeal as a candidate —> all else being equal <—
Delta also places personality high on the hiring importance. They have a big emphasis on their corporate culture (The “Delta Way”), and on personality that fits with the culture of the company. So while speaking another language will not directly help you land a job, it may help being something that differentiates you from another candidate. Adam spoke about “someone you would be comfortable spending a lot of time in a cockpit with” and this would play into that. Certainly there is a case to be made that people with different backgrounds can provide for more interesting conversation while in a cockpit or in a layover.
It will not, however, ever be a substitute for objective qualifications, nor should it be, since we are talking about flying a plane as a primary job, but could it can set you apart.
It is obviously a very subjective matter. Some interviewers and some airlines may care zero, others may tip it in your favor, even if indirectly. I personally don’t worry about it at all, specially since my goal is to work for an AA subsidiary and then flow to AA, so it won’t make a difference to me.
Like Adam said, just work on training and being professional.
Hey Chris what did you mean by customer service can be a big focus in the hiring interview? How would they screen for that?
Airline interviews can often focus on customer service examples. Questions about how one would handle a troubled passenger, or would you delay a flight for a certain situation, or how would you handle not being catered are common in interviews, at least for my airline. There really are no right answers, they are simply questions designed to see how one would respond to various situations.
Looking back on your interview process, why do you think you were able to get the job?
I see. I feel like getting a foot in the door is the most important part for getting a job at a major. What are some things that pilots can do to try to increase their chances of getting an interview?
I think that speaking multiple languages may have some effect depending on the airline, region, and language. I spent 2 years in Russia, and flew very frequently due to visa requirements. Every announcement was given first in Russian, then repeated in English, even flights where I was likely the only English speaker, as well as both flights between JFK and Moscow.
Fortunately I did well in all the phases of the interview. Obviously things vary from airline to airline but there were some cognitive tests, a sim eval and the big one which was the panel. The panel is where they try and see who you are as a person. Again if you’ve gotten to that point you meet the qualifications. Since my interview I’ve gotten friendly with all the pilots who had been on my panel and I’ve asked them what I did to make them give me the nod? All said it was my relaxed demeanor and sense of humor. What’s key to that is while I really wanted the job at Hawaiian, I already had a great job and was very happy at the Regional I was flying for. That made it less of a “do or die” situation.
While that all may sound somewhat nebulous, sometimes you just have to be a nice person which I somehow tricked them into believing I was
It really will not matter. I used to routinely fly internationally, I made PAs exclusively in English and the Flight Attendants translated them. All US airlines handle this that way.
At any regional or major US airline no.
I have seen it be useful for Corporate and sometimes for overseas airlines (Requirement for some Middle East and Asia jobs).
Overall adds to your resume and will open up a few unique jobs to you than what other pilots have.
Is it hard to get a spot in the training department or working in the Chief Pilot’s office? I assume most people know that it helps when trying to move to the next step??
There’s definitely competition but it’s not that difficult. In many cases it’s simply a matter of being a good employee with a good attitude. I always find it amusing when the pilots with missed trips, excessive attendance issues, and generally bad attitudes get all angry and annoyed when they’re passed over for a position. You don’t have be a model employee (it does help) but if you’re the pilot who walks around telling everyone how lousy the company is and how they don’t know how to run an airline etc you really shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t want you standing in front of a group of newhires spewing your negativity. These jobs are earned not given.
Great to hear! Thanks Adam.
Thanks for the insight all! What I gathered is … it doesn’t hurt to follow your passion and learn languages along with your flying passion. Be professional and approachable and that comes with many facets.
Thank you @Adam and @Chris for your dedication to all our questions, big and small.
I know Russian very well and this has been sobering, no pun intended, as well as other languages, but there is no replacement to being a prudent, kind and professional aviator.