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Home > Interviewing Process > My experience in the Qantas Cadet Pilot Selection Process…
My experience in the Qantas Cadet Pilot Selection Process…
Pilot Career - Interviewing Process
Saturday, 13 December 2008 13:18

Hello Captain Lim,

Firstly, many thanks for this site. I love it! I would like to contribute an article to your site. It is a recount of my experience in the Qantas cadet selection process.



Hi James, 

Many thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of the aspiring pilots (not necessarily for Qantas pilot wannabes only). 

I am sure you did well and I wish you all the best! Smile


The Qantas Cadet Pilot Experience 

This is just a recount of my personal experience and is, by no means, a realistic or accurate representation of what you will experience in the actual application process. This is intended to be a recount only. Points to consider before applying:-

? Training is conducted in Adelaide, Brisbane or Melbourne, depending on the program you select. It is likely that you will apply for the ab initio programs in Brisbane or Melbourne. The one in Adelaide is for candidates who already have flying experience. You should be aware that if you are successful, you will be required to move to that city to study. Unlike other airline cadet program, Qantas does not sponsor its cadets, so you must also consider living costs on top of the training costs if you relocate.

? Applying for selection itself is a quite expensive process as well. Qantas charges you for every stage of the selection process, except the interview. On top of that, you will also be required to obtain a Class 1 medical if you proceed to stage 3 of the selection process. Obtaining the class 1 is a very long and costly process as well.

? As you should know, becoming a pilot is a risky investment. It costs a lot and in the end, you may not end up with a [well paid] job. Make sure that you are determined to become a pilot for your career, and you have a strong passion for it. Having said that, do not put all your eggs into one basket and think only aim to become a pilot. Have an alternate option in mind for you to proceed to in case things don’t work out. 

The Application Process

The initial application process is all done online. You will be required to obtain an ARN (Aviation Reference Number) from CASA. No costs are involved in obtaining this number. There are quite a few long answer questions in the application for you to answer. Don’t try to answer them all in one night. Think deeply about them and plan your responses before you write them. It is a good idea to first draft down dot points of all the things that you’ve done in the past and then decide which ones you feel will be relevant to include into the application. 

I would recommend you to only include things that have happened in the previous 3 years. Anything older than that is quite useless, especially if you’re a high school student, like me. Talking about coming first in a swimming competition when you were in year 9 isn’t quite relevant or useful. The questions are designed in a way so that you can reflect on your personal attributes, like leadership and team working skills, so you can make yourself stand out in the many applicants. As with all applications, be honest and don’t construct any stories of your own. You may be risking your only chance.  

Stage 2

After sending in your application, you may get a call from Pilot Recruitment for a brief interview over the phone. The aim is just to assess your motivation to make sure you have the right personality they’re looking for. Don’t panic if you get a call, just stay calm and be yourself. 

For me, I didn’t get a phone interview. I heard that you only get the phone interview if you’re shortlisted with other applicants and they’re not sure who to pick. I got an email the next day after sending in my application inviting me to go for stage 2. There are a number of dates which you may choose to do your stage 2 tests. Just give them a call to confirm your date and then they will send you an email confirmation. 

Stage 2 is completely computer based, and consists of 2 parts: Skills test and a Psychometric Test. Before you do the test you will be required to pay [an unjustifiable amount of] AUD$195. Then you will be briefed by one the staff members and the testing will begin.  

The test itself is an extremely long and tedious process (really). It is conducted in small dedicated rooms within the Qantas building, and there should be roughly around 6 other candidates who will do the test with you at the same time. The whole test takes about 4 hours to finish, with about 5-10 minutes break in between each section (shall you need it). Each section in the Psychometric Test goes for 20-25 minutes, and the Personality questions will take longer. Make sure you take a break between each section, as you will need time to relax and recover from the extremely mentally demanding tasks, especially the first bulk of the psychometric test. Bring a bottle of water with you as well if you can. 

You will be spending the majority of you time doing the Psychometric Test. The best way to prepare for this stage is really to just keep practicing. Definitely take a look at the sample tests they have on their website, as the actual tests is very similar to that one, except much much longer. This Website is also not bad for the psychometric questions: Qantas’s Test is designed by SML so you can browse on their Website for sample tests as well. Stay calm throughout the test. It’s a long test, and not easy neither. Skip questions you don’t know and come back to it after you get through all of them the first time. You may just have enough time to finish each section. Don’t worry if you don’t have a chance to finish them all within the time limit. For me, I ran out of time for about 2 sections. Keep an eye on the timer throughout the test. The secret is to work fast and accurately, but do not rush. 

Now to the skills test… If you get a chance to chose, I would recommend you do the psychometric done first. It’s a relief to get the hardest parts done first. The skills section is, compared to the Psychometric test, much less mentally demanding. I’d probably just describe it as tricky. The aim of it is to assess your hand eye co-ordination, and your ability to process diagrammatic information. Stay calm throughout the test, because you WILL stuff up, especially in the hand-eye co-ordination section. I don’t think Qantas expects you to get perfect marks in this section – I don’t think it’s possible, actually. Just try your best, make small adjustments when necessary and focus on improving your results each time. Secret is, again, work quickly and accurately, or accurately THEN quickly. You will get more wrong if you rush. Don’t think back of how you’ve done; leave that till you leave the building. 

I was the first to leave the place so I really wonder how much longer the other guys spent in there.  By the time I got to leave I was already thoroughly exhausted.  You will probably also feel you have no chance of getting through to the next stage, as I was. But it’s ok, because you’re not the only one who found it difficult and chances are if you got through a large portion of the test you will proceed to the next stage. 

Stage 3

Two days later I got a call from Pilot Recruitment again. I got through to Stage 3! I was happy by the news, but also a bit annoyed. I wasn’t expecting any call from them till around a month or so later, which by then I would have a large bulk of my HSC exams done. I was already stressed out enough by my HSC exams which are happening in two weeks time, and now I have to stress about the interview happening next week… Qantas’ Pilot Recruitment team is just is a bit too efficient.Wink

Stage 3 consists of a medical check and a panel interview, which Qantas happily charges you AUD$150 for the medical. I was booked in for the medical in the morning. The medical is conducted at the Jetbase at Sydney Airport, which is a pain to get to. I had to walk from Mascot down there, then get a pass, and catch the Qantas bus to get into the building. Since I was only given a week’s notice before the actual interview, I had little time to arrange for the class 1, blood and eye tests prior to the medical. The staff there got a bit annoyed that I actually didn’t possess a Class 1 medical at that time, as all the other cadets who got through had already got one. Well, didn’t bother me much as possessing a class 1 medical isn’t a requirement to apply for the program. The lady who done the medical for me, however, was very kind. She explained the process and nature of the medical tests very thoroughly. If you have done a class 1 medical before then the test that Qantas does in very 

The most feared panel interview was booked in for the afternoon. During the medical in the morning the lady had assured me there is nothing to really be afraid of. Unlike some other airline interviews, the one by the Qantas staff isn’t as “hostile”. They’re not there to “have a go at you”, as the nurse told me. They want to give you the chance and it is up to you to take it. Still, I was really really nervous about the interview, and I think for the first 15 minutes of the interview I was completely “LOST”!!! 

There were three people on the panel for the interview. One was the Pilot Recruitment Manager and the two others were pilots. I remember one was a Second Officer and the other was a First Officer. I believe the interviewees are different in most if not all the interviews as I know someone who had two 767 Captains and another Pilot Recruitment staff interviewing him. They are all very well mannered and professional people, and very nice too. They didn’t try to “challenge” me at all, as I had feared would be the case as I had read about interviews conducted by other airlines. The interview lasted for about an hour. Each interviewee had a booklet with the questions in which they filled in as I made my responses. 

As to preparing for the interview, you must really thoroughly think about your past achievements and examples of leadership/teamwork. Knowledge of the Cadet Program and the role of a pilot are also essential, as it is likely they will ask you about it. Think of how they’ve contributed in building up essential skills for you, like team working, being able to work independently, etc. At about the same time I was doing the Qantas application, I was also filling in applications for some university scholarships, which contained questions of the same substance, so it really helped me think about my achievements and how they shape my personal attributes.  

The interview will start off with each interviewee introducing themselves. Then they will ask you to give a brief introduction about yourself. At this point I started to stuff up. I started introducing myself and briefly outlined some of my achievements. Then, all 3 of them started to write. I felt that I had to keep talking, and in the end I gave a very long, and vague, self introduction. Not a good start, I thought! One of the guys, realizing that I’ve got myself into a never ending spiral, told me to calm down, drink some water, and then they’ll give me a chance to “show them my cards”. The questions (roughly) are listed below. I am sure I have missed out on some but this is roughly what it was like:-

  • Tell us about a time where you had to generate ideas.
  • Tell us about a time where you had to explain something technical to someone.
  • Tell us about a time where you had to work with someone you disliked.
  • Tell us about a time where you had to manage priorities.
  • Tell us about a time where you were part of a team, and how you contributed to the team effort.
  • Tell us about a time where you played a leadership role.
  • Can you tell us about what challenges you will face if you get into the program?
  • Can you tell us about what challenges you will face if you become a pilot?
  • Can you tell us about the Swinburne Program? (like what you will be doing)

As you can see, these are by no means one-word-answer questions and require some thought and preparation. The best strategy is to prepare and act confident at the interview. Even if you are panicking and your hands are shaking (like me Tongue out), don’t let your emotions show. Stay calm, maintain eye contact and act confident. 

One of the questions I remember most clearly is “what was a true challenge” to me and how did I resolve it. I was really stuck on this, and ended up talking about really random things (having NO idea what to say). Then, an idea suddenly sparked and I ended up giving a much more decent question. Phew!~~ Cool

They finished off by asking me about what the Cadet course includes and some of the difficulties I believe I will face if I was chosen into the program or became a pilot later. For these questions, research will be necessary if you don’t already know them.  

At the end they will allow you to ask them some questions. Prepare some questions that you want to ask before you head to the interview. Don’t say you have no questions. Try to ask about working at Qantas, what the atmosphere is like. I asked one of the pilots what the atmosphere of working in Qantas is like and he gave me like a 5 minute lecture on it. I kind of lost interest in him after he started to go around and around in circles, but I just acted like I was very interested in what he was saying. Ask a few questions and then shake each interviewees hands, thank them for their time and then you will be led outside by another.  

This will be the last contact with Qantas until you know whether or not you are successful. 

Costs Involved.

As I said, this Qantas Cadetship is an expensive process. The costs listed below include the costs for the Class 1 Medical Certificate, Qantas Test and Qantas Medical.

  • Skills and Psychometric Test             AUD$195
  • Medical Examination by Qantas         AUD$150
  • Blood Test                         approx.   AUD$60
  • Ophthalmologist (Eye Examination)   AUD$160
  • Class 1 Medical                                AUD$163
  • Transport to Mascot (More expensive since its Airport Link) approx. AUD$15 (2 return tickets)
  • Casa Processing Fee                         AUD$75

I definitely recommend you to phone different clinics for their prices as they can differ considerably. I called an Ophthalmologist which charged AUD$263 for the eye examination!!! All the medical examinations fill in the same forms so I don’t see what difference going to a more expensive one makes. 

Final Words

When I first applied to the program, I didn’t really think of advancing to next stages at all. My attitude was just to give it a try and see how far I can go, so I feel very lucky to have got all the way to Stage 3. And the experience was really enjoyable! Though I was very nervous throughout the interview, I had enjoyed the experience thoroughly. It was great to be able to talk about my achievements and experiences, and have people listening so attentively! Also, I’m not as scared of interviews anymore. I don’t think I’ll have an interview as hard, or with as many interviewees, anytime soon! Right now, I am still waiting for a reply from Qantas. To be honest, I am not very confident about my performance, but I will have to wait and see. 

Well, I really hope all this has helped you better understand the cadetship program. I wish every one of you who wish to pursue a pilot career the best of luck and hope that one day your dream comes true. To find career that you like isn’t easy, and you should really cherish this interest you are blessed to have. In the end, there are plenty more opportunities out there other than a pilot.  

My best wishes are with all of you! Good Luck! Smile


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How far along are you now with the course?
vince , 09 Jan, 2010
Do many people try out for the Qantas cadetship. Is it a 50/50 chance of getting in or a 1/1000 chance.
Tim , 11 Jan, 2010
Hi guys, as a current pilot in Australia i'll try to give you some info:

Many people try out - they used to have about 500-600 applicants per year and about 20-30 would be selected from that.

From my aviation university course i knew guys who were dedicated, hard working, passionate and smart as rocket scientists who never got in.

By the same token i know another guy who wasn't so smart or dedicated but had big pockets and could afford to pay it and got in.

You have to remember that you pay about 30-40 k more than you would for any other flight school and youre not guaranteed a job.

At the moment the cadetship is closed anyway due to the economc crisis. The Cadetship has gone downhill over the years, and back in the early 00's the pilots would spend one year training then straight onto S/O with Qantas. in about 2003, That then deteriorated to 2 years work placement with Air North after graduation, and nowdays, the conditions are even worse.

Currently know of 2 guys who did the cadet course and are now sitting around jobless, paying for their own flying to stay current and working normal everyday jobs, still with no guarantee that they will be hired when things pick up. Meanwhile some other guys i know have done it their own way, are currently in their GA flying job of which they are loving flying for a living (and not having to work another job meanwhile they wait to be called up to see if they can fly for a living when things are good) and at the same time theyre building important hours and keeping their options open for when things do pick up.

If you really want to be an airline pilot then you'll love flying for a living and won't be phased by doing it by taking the "longer" track (even though it's comparable at the moment!). If you're only going to consider becoming a pilot if you get a cadetship then this isn't the career for you.
David , 03 Mar, 2010
hey there,is the cadet programme opened for Malaysian ?
Melvin , 28 Mar, 2011
Have you finished the cadetship yet, and were you offered a job with Qantas after you finished?
Man , 24 Dec, 2015
This is so different from the cadet program in Thailand. When you are selected, the airline pays (which you have to pay them back once you start working) for the whole process for you including relocating, food and all that jazz. And by succeeding in all the processes means that you are guaranteed with the job once you finish the training.
Warangrut , 10 Jun, 2016
Please answer my question
Do we have to be a citizen of Australia to be a pilot in Qanats. Lots of people are telling that other nationalities cannot join this airline. I'm a Sri Lankan. Please answer
Lakdilu Sachin , 30 Dec, 2016
loved the text!!!!!!! i want to become a qantas pilot so bad!!!!!!!! also did you get in????
charlie , 14 Mar, 2017

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