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Flight Attendant Interview with Virgin Airlines

Posted November 21st, 2013 in Applying by Judith Howe

It has taken swashbuckling adventurer and legendary entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson less than twenty-seven years to revolutionize and to rise to the head of the class in the tired and worn out looking airline industry. His flagship international enterprise, Virgin Atlantic, scoffs in the face of an airline industry and culture in decline and retreat. Instead, it constantly succeeds at bringing back the golden age of the skies with unrivaled professionalism and enviable elegance and luxury. As a case in point, this innovating leader among airlines pioneered seat back, individually controlled entertainment, as well as menu choices for even those in economy class.

It should not come as much of a surprise that the real jewels of the airline are its flight attendants. Dashing and debonair in their red suits and supremely confident in their bearing, these model looking women appear ready to pose for photographs all the while they are giving instructions for an unexpected emergency landing. All of this makes it only natural that Virgin’s steward and stewardess positions would be in great demand. Virgin receives mountains of job applications, sometimes numbering as many as sixteen thousand in a single hiring period, yet they accept a mere five hundred, or about three percent, from these incredible numbers, much like a prestigious university or ivy league college. Naturally, to weed out these thousands of applicants takes a fairly rigorous and involved application and hiring process.

Step 1 – Applying Online

The first step in beginning a career with this justifiably envied Virgin Airlines is to apply online at their website. This application pulls the basic information, such as education, previous employment, and references, but it also requires applicants to fill out a questionnaire and to take a personality test. Out of the countless thousands who go through this first step, the most interesting or qualified applicants will receive a coveted phone call about a week later. This call will mark the beginning of the recorded over the phone interview.

Step 2 – Passing the Recorded Phone Interview

rich-mimosa-virginamericaThe recorded over the phone interview is as much a screening to eliminate still more candidates as it is a get to know the interviewee session. Virgin phone interviewers want to understand the reasons that prospective candidates wish to become a flight attendant in general, and why they want to work for Virgin Airlines in particular. They also inquire closely about why a person wishes to leave their present job.

Following a few more routine questions that help the interviewer to establish the prospect’s personality, they will decide whether to schedule an in person interview and activities day. This decision is made on the spot. Many times, but not always, another questionnaire is dispatched to the applicants by email to be completed and returned in advance of the in person interviews at Virgin facilities or hotels near the airport.

Step 3 – The Face to Face Interview

As many as twenty-five to thirty prospective hires will be brought together at a time for the group activities, Virgin Airways presentation, and face to face interviews stages. This typically involves four to five or more hours of engaging in group activities, then listening to a ten minute company presentation, before the one on one interview commences. Applicants are closely scrutinized the whole time at the facility. After the one on one interview, would-be flight attendants typically engage in a two on one interview. Interview questions commonly fall into categories. The most difficult ones are under the headings of group, situational, and problem solving questions.

The toughest five Virgin Atlantic Airways interviewing questions are “What have you done to support diversity in your unit?” “What do you consider to be your most significant strength?” “Give an example of a time that you placed yourself in a position of leadership,” “What are three positive character traits that you lack?” and “Do you think that you are actually overqualified for a position as a flight attendant?” Besides this, they also ask competency questions, group interaction questions, panel questions, other strengths and weaknesses questions, and communication skills questions in both the phone and in person interview stages.

The hardest part of the one on one and two on one interviews is that Virgin Airways deliberately interviews multiple individuals in the same room at the same time. This allows them to determine how well an applicant concentrates under pressure and with distractions and to learn if she becomes easily irritated. All of these interviews and group activities games are conducted by the station manager and a couple of his supervisors and GST’s. Out of these thirty applicants, Virgin plans to hire around six, or about twenty percent.

Step 4 – Receiving An Offer

Now comes the suspenseful moment of truth. Sadly, it will be more than a moment, or even many moments, before the qualified and fortunate applicant learns that she has obtained a position with this most admirable of airlines. Generally about a week after finishing the group interviews, the selected new hires receive an email that they have passed the interviews and have been selected, pending successful drug testing and background checks. This starts with taking and successfully passing a standard drug test. Once the results are in on this, another email will arrive stating that Virgin Airlines is conducting their extensive background check. When both are successfully passed, a congratulatory phone call is gratefully received. Virgin typically follows this up with an email reiterating the offer of employment and outlining the details of three weeks paid company training.

Employees say that the whole hiring process from online application step to email outlining offer of employment and training takes around a month or more. While the process is lengthy and rigorous, all of the employees surveyed said that it was fun and engaging. They also encouraged would be applicants with observations that while the supervisors watched them closely in the interview process and group activities day, they were all friendly and encouraging all the while.


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