FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

 1. Is it a great advantage to be familiar to aptitude/pilot testing?
The objective of psychological aptitude testing is to assess capacities and potentials that are basically stable over time. Familiarity, preparations and knowledge of psychological testing should then be of generally limited importance. Some tests are however more skill-based, and preparations may elevate the result a bit. Others are almost impossible to prepare for, like in reading flight instruments fast and accurately when speed of perception is tested. Variations in the test score profile often indicate when familiarity has influenced test performances. Finally, both lack of and good knowledge of aptitude testing, is something the aviation psychologist considers when evaluating the value of the test scores.

2. What is the best way to prepare for testing and selection?
Some feel better about going to tests after having looked into aptitude testing, available on Internet and many bookstores. A good advise is however not to make too much out of it. It may increase the stress level by itself, especially if the tests actually given are different and energy has to be spent on relearning rather than focus on the given tasks. In most cases, anyone attending tests will simply gain from meeting well rested, trusting that s/he will be able to show their true potential.

3. How to get the best possible test score?
During the testing, it is a very good idea to question the test administrator when the instructions are given if something is unclear. When the test is running, it is too late. It is in most cases important to balance speed and quality. The best way to achieve this is normally for the applicant to work as s/he usually works, without making experiments and giving extreme attention to either speed or quality. Both are important, in tests as in most real work situations, the cockpit included. Most tests have time limits, some very tight limits too. There is however no need to complete all tasks to get a good score.

4. How to succeed in the interviews?
The answer is simply to enter the interviews with a positive attitude and ambition to be the one you really are. The interviewer is collecting pieces for the assessment puzzle throughout the interview, and if you are consistent to yourself the pieces will fit much better together. Ability to communicate is always an advantage, and so is reflection.
Honesty is critical and whatever you tell and don't tell, lying is definitely high-risk behaviour. If integrity is harmed or weakened, trust is gone too, and in most cases also the likelihood of getting an employment offer. For most people, lying and keeping obviously relevant information back tends to have uncomfortable boomerang-effects. This goes for the selection interview as well. If the applicant is tense, it often helps to state it. It shows some openness and courage, and it is easy to understand considering that the interview is a possible turning point in the career. In most cases a statement on it also reduces the tensions by itself.

5. Is any group of applicants more likely to succeed?
In general, the group of applicants with military background are somewhat more likely to succeed, simply because they have passed a comprehensive pilot selection procedure earlier and have gained flying experience for several years. The applicants with commercial training and background have in many cases not been through any testing, and flying experience is varying more. The selection procedure aims however to assess potentials, and number of flying hours is not influencing future suitability. There are also differences in the value of the flying experience. In testing and assessments all this will be considered, and less experienced applicants may well be on top of the list of recommended.
Safe operations is always the goal. The company wants pilots who fit into the company culture in and outside cockpit, and employees that will contribute to their commercial operations and business. As in any profession, there are people who meets the requirements in one kind of operation and company excellent, while they are less suitable for others. The ones being recommended for a given company are however a versified group of people. There are many ways to succeed, and the challenge is often for the candidate to trust her/his own.

6. Will younger applicants perform better?
In a study comprising 146 applicants we find that the "older" ones do get somewhat lower scores on the written tests. This is reasonable as we all tend to get a bit slower on some kinds of tasks as "age takes it's toll". But in spite of this, and more important, they do not get lower final prognoses. They are thus credited for the value of their professional and life experience.

7. Are mistakes done?
In all selection there are two kinds of mistakes that can be done. One kind, called "False Positives" is when someone passes and is employed who do not meet the standards and requirements. When this happens we always try to explore the reasons behind and check whether there are any systematic factors that indicate need of adjustments in the selection procedure. "False Negatives" is when someone does not get an offer on employment, but could have performed well in the company. The extent of this kind of mistake is naturally harder to identify. The only tool we have to check that the selection standards are optimal, is to collect data and experience on how the ones who do pass are performing.
If everyone passing the selection procedure turn out to be performing way above the required standards in training and operations, the applied requirements in the selection might be too high. Besides being assessment mistakes, "False negatives" make the recruitment more expensive than necessary. It might even make it impossible to meet the need of pilots in the company and all involved have thus a shared goal in trying to keep the number of "false negatives" as low as possible. Like in work on flight safety, good pilot selection requires a continuous focus on quality.

8. Why do we still use paper and pencil tests?
Simply because we are working out in the field, wherever the client company wants us to do the testing. It might be in client company offices, conference centres and hotels anywhere, and it is lot more practical to bring along what is required of paper-and-pencil tests than the required number of computers. Paper and pencil-tests also allow us to test groups of up to 50 candidates, which is very cost-effective.

If you have questions regarding our testing and assessments, you are welcome to send an e-mail to: siap@online.no