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Home > Interviewing Process > Updates on the interviewing process of the SIA cadet pilot program.
Updates on the interviewing process of the SIA cadet pilot program.
Pilot Career - Interviewing Process
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 19:56

Hi Capt Lim,

This is an update on the interviewing process as well as some other issues of the cadet pilot program that were raised in the past FAQs. In my brief description of the recruitment procedure, I have not included detailed questions asked. I think the aspiring pilots should make it on their own merit.

The sequence of the interview process differs slightly from that of Arif. I had mine in 2004. The HR could have made some amendments to the process. I submitted my application in early 2004 and was called for the first round interview around 1 month later.

1st round

The panel consists of a psychologist, HR manager and a chief pilot. 1st round is rather easy to clear. Just show some keen interest and you should get through.

Some questions asked were:-

1. Briefly describe yourself.

2. Why do you want to be pilot?

3. Why only now that you wish to embark on a flying career? (for those who have been working in commercial sector for a few years before trying for a pilot job). For Singaporean, it's almost certain that will go into detail as to why you didn't join the Air Force.

4. Do you have any preference as to which airline to join? (I said 'no' of course! I guess it meant to test if you are genuinely interested in flying or just merely choosy about which airlines to join. Note that you may ended up in SIA Cargo or Silkair for the rest of your career)

5. Briefly describe the theory of flying.

I did fairly well and was invited for the next stage. About 2.5 weeks later, I was informed to attend the 2nd round interview that takes 2 full days. Don't attempt to call in to change for an alternatively appointment. It will not work. It's a case of take it or leave it. After all, there are plenty of people willing to attend and it will add unnecessary administrative burden to the officer. Any case, it is another indicator (in my opinion) about how willing and keen you are about flying.

2nd round, 1st day

1st half of the day is for administration (certifying of certificates, etc). 2nd half, I attended the Psychomotor Skill Test and Psychometric Test. The day ended about 5.30 pm. You are required to sound out if you are not feeling well. No result is given.

2nd round, 2nd day (1st half )

I attended the leadership/reasoning test. You are divided into group of about 5-6. A tester would describe a scenario (aviation related) and by the given time, I am required to develop a solution. I shall not reveal the question. The questions are recycled and I believe at this stage, aspiring pilot should make it on their own merit. They are not expecting a perfect aviation solution but rather a rational and logical one. Everyone is given 10 minutes to present their solution. Thereafter, discuss with the team and come to a consensus on whose solution is the best and improve on it. A member is nominated among the team to give a final presentation.

The 2nd exercise is about playing with building blocks. With a given perimeter, I am required to participate with the team to come out with the best solution to obtain the highest points while observing the given criteria. The purpose is to test our ability to communicate with each other effectively.

The 3rd exercise, just before lunch, they rushed me through an essay. Apart from testing your writing skill, I think the purpose is test how fast you can develop a reasonable and logical solution, given a limited time.

2nd round 2nd day (2nd half)

I attended the final interview with a panel of interviewers (5). They asked fairly similar questions as the 1st round interview.

Then we are invited for the Tea Party. During the tea party, beer is served. We were told by the HR not to drink beer (in case you say the wrong thing or your face turn red). Coffee or tea or a can of soft drink would be fine. An interviewer is around the corner observing how we conduct ourselves.

Results will be known a few days later. Medical test is about the last hurdle. Do note that even making it to the medical (and passing) does not guarantee a place. The medical test is about half a day - traveling to 3 clinics. Again, do not bother to change the medical date. It's not welcome. You would not know if you have passed the medical until they call you, either to reject or offer you a place. How soon SIA offers its potential cadet a place depends on a complex matrix of score (based on tests and interviews). The higher the score, the faster the call up. If a potential's score is low (but enough to make the cut) and consistently there are people outscoring him, he will always remain at the back of the pack until a place is made available to him. That explain why there are some people who waited long.

Regarding your FAQs on 'Aspiring to be a Pilot', here is my humble contributions to part of the answers:-

1: How long would it take to progress from a Cadet to First Officer?

I have been selected as a cadet pilot for Singapore Airlines! Thank you for your tips and all those information in your web site. During the final interview with the 3 airline Captains and the Vice President of Flight Operations, I was asked about my favorite airplane. I told them, Boeing 777 and I gave them a lot of details on the airplane,  like the TAC system, the ETOPS and the joke, etc; all from your web site. The panel was really impressed with me. I guess that was the main reason I was selected.

I will start the training on the 18th of September, 2003. Do you know how long it will take to progress from cadet to First Officer?

Answer: A cadet in SIA starts his training with a 3 weeks OBS course in Lumut, Perak or Singapore. He will then spend about 6 months in local flying school clearing the ground papers and do some basis flying. Next is to Perth for about 8 - 10 months. He returns home to do some ground duties while waiting for the next available 3 month course for Lear Jet in Brisbane. After returning, he will undergo aircraft type course conversion. Thereafter, he will be promoted to 2nd officer doing line duties. Typically, he will be promoted to 1st officer within 6-12 months (though 6 months is quite a norm). The whole duration from cadet to 1st officer will take about 2.5 to 3 years.

2: Would a laser eye surgery disqualify me from the cadet pilot program?

Just a quick question from a wannabe commercial pilot. As with many others, it has always been a childhood dream of mine to fly.   However, I am held back as I have poor eyesight (short-sighted +6.0 degrees). However, with the advent of corrective laser eye surgery and lower risk due to improving technology, I am seriously considering the procedure.

I was just wondering whether the Airlines (perhaps Singapore or Malaysian) would accept candidates for the cadet pilot program if they've had corrective laser eye surgery done?

Would I have to disclose that I have had the surgery done, or would they able to tell anyway through the screening process?

Answer: I have a friend who attended the same interview rounds with me and has not been granted a place (but has made the cut). He was told to wait because they wanted to ensure that his eye sight has 'stabilize' before taking him in. He went for laser surgery in the States less than a year ago at the time of interview.

3: How long would the entire process of the cadet pilot program takes?

Do you have any idea of what are the stages that all potential SIA cadet pilots follow in the recruitment process? I have only been to their preliminary interview (panel of 3) but not their psychomotor and aptitude test. Somehow, the sequence is not as what is described on your web site. Likewise, can give me a rough estimate of how long will the entire process take?

Answer: My experience is largely the same as Ariff. See above.

4: What do I expect during the tea party?

I would be attending the tea party very soon this week, together with the tests/final interview. From your web site, I have gotten a good idea of what to expect for the tests/final interview. However, I do not know what to expect for the tea party.

I know that it will be a test of social interaction. I would be myself that day as I am active socially. Do you have any advice on how to approach this and what the panel is looking for at the tea party?

Answer: During the tea party, beer is served. We were told by the HR no matter what, just don't drink beer (in case you say the wrong thing or your face turn red). Coffee or tea or a can of soft drink would be fine. An interviewer is around the corner observing how we conduct ourselves.

5: Would I be short listed if I do not have Pure Science subjects?

I have gone through the pre-requisites for the program, that is, one must have Pure Science (Physics) and Mathematics "O" levels. I do not have Pure Science for my "O" levels  but in combined science (Physics and Chemistry) instead. My highest qualification is Diploma in Electronics and Communication from Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore. I have applied for the cadet pilot program once but was not short listed.

Answer: As the position is very competitive, it is highly unlikely that a potential who does not have a degree be short listed unless he is previously an Air Force pilot. Sub-science in physics and chemistry or biology will do since Tan has a Diploma in Engineering .

6: Will I be granted a second chance if I had failed the final interview?

I applied to SIA (Singapore Airlines) in 1998 to be an airline pilot just after a year after my Bachelor of Engineering degree from the National University of Singapore. I am a Singapore citizen and have always dreamt of flying for the national airline as a commercial pilot. However, I was rejected after the 3rd interview although I had completed the first 2 rounds with good marks.

I was very disappointed and was wondering why I was not selected as they mainly asked very simple questions which I answered to the best of my abilities. It still puzzles me as to what went wrong. I would like to know the following :

Is it still worthwhile for me to keep applying for the cadet pilot program with SIA even though I had gone through the final interview? It seems that they do not give any second chances to those who have failed the final interview.

Are there any other avenues to pursue and fulfill my dream? I am 32 years old this year.
I am still very keen to join the airline and have applied to them a few times again, and most recently, to the Singapore Flying College as a cadet pilot.

Answer. SIA will not not grant a second chance to a candidate who didn't make it for the final interview as most of the questions and tests are recycled.

7: What would be the cadet pilot's allowance be like?

I am a military serviceman on conscription and will be completing my service in December this year. I'll be returning to Australia to continue with my studies. Whilst doing my degree, I'll be continue with my training. Currently, I'm a PPL-R holder and will be getting my CPL and Instructor Rating soon.

My intention is to work as a part time flight instructor to accumulate the 1500 hours requirement for ATPL.  I'll probably work with an air charter company to clock flight hours on jet or turbine planes for about 2 yrs. Thereafter, I should attain the minimum qualification age of 26 to join Singapore Airlines.
Seniority is a factor. At the age of 26, most people would have earned an average salary of $S3000 plus, while I would be paid about $S1300 a month as trainee.

Answer: The latest cadet allowance has dropped to $1,140 a month for new joiner. This is due to the across the board pay cut during the SARs outbreak. There is no upward adjustment for new joiners even the airline reported record earnings. The purpose of the minimum qualification age of 26 is to ensure that the government (Air Force) has the 1st cut of the cadet potentials before the national carrier. Most people joining SIA are in their late 20s and early 30s. They are likely to be drawing between $3k-$4k and are doing well in their respective field of work.

8: Would my combined science subject - Physics and Biology be acceptable?

I am a Singapore citizen, 25 years old and will complete my degree course in June 2004.The pre-requisite for the cadet pilot program states that one should possess a pure science subject at 'O' Level standard.  However, I only have a combined science subject which is Physics and Biology. Another criteria is a polytechnic diploma. My Business diploma is from Spring Singapore, formerly known as Singapore Productivity & Standards Board. The degree I am doing is a validated program from a U.K. University.

Answer: It is fine that David does not have a pure science in physics. I did sub-science in Physics and Chemistry and got through.



Hi Robert,

Thank you for the additional information about the SIA cadet pilot program. Your updates and account of the interviewing process will be a great help to other aspiring pilots.


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