Pick a weakness that is not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness. Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours!
"I believe I could improve on some technical skills including Excel and PowerPoint. Currently I am at a beginner to intermediate level; however, I would be more comfortable at an advanced level. I have enrolled myself in an evening/weekend workshop for the next six weeks. We will see how stellar my skills are after that course!"
"I tend to work too hard. I am always striving to be, and do better, that I forget sometimes it is best to embrace the chaos! Despite that, I make a point to have fun with it."
"This is super cliche, but it's also true. I am not good at delegating to others. When I become submerged in a situation, I don't like to give away any of the control. While this can be good, it can also inhibit the outcome of the project and my growth as a team player and individual. I am currently working on this, as I know it is a deficit."
Being an air traffic controller is one of the most stressful jobs out there. Tell the hiring manager how you feel you handle stressful situations. You can back up your answer by talking about any feedback you have received from previous supervisors or colleagues.
"I handle stressful situations very well. Throughout my career, I have been consistently complimented by my colleagues on my ability to work well under pressure. In my previous performance review, my supervisor commented on my ability to think clearly in high-pressure situations."
"Stress is part of any demanding job, and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."
"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful, and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."
The interviewer would like to know the driving force behind your choice to be an air traffic controller. Talk about your passion for the industry, assuring the interviewer that you have a real motivation to succeed in this industry.
"I have always had an interest in flying and initially, wanted to become a pilot. After spending time in the military, I realized that I have a solid aptitude for making decisions and taking the lead. I wanted a career that would offer variety and would keep me sharp. Naturally, I was attracted to a career as an air traffic controller and haven't looked back since."
"I discovered the traffic controller career while in the army, and it fascinated me from the start. I look forward to being fully trained and enjoying a lucrative career as an ATC."
"I have been an air traffic controller for 12 years now, and I cannot imagine enjoying a career more than I do, this. It's exciting, continually challenging, and unique. All of these components make this a permanent career option for me."
Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with delays in the workplace.
"Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be a bit disheartening, but I understand that it happens from time to time. If I experience a major setback, I will take a few moments to debrief with my manager and discuss what I could have done differently. Then, I move on!"
"Setbacks happen for a reason, and they do not affect me emotionally in the least. I am a very pragmatic thinker and stay focused despite the challenges that come my way."
"Setbacks can be trying, but I find that you have to learn how to lose before you learn how to win. While I never enjoy a setback, I use them as a stepping off point to something even better."
CTI school can prepare you for the job in general, but the hiring manager would like to know if you have any real-time, hands-on experience. If you do have experience outside of CTI school: "I have worked as an air traffic controller for the past three months since graduating from CTI school. It was a temporary position that I was fortunate enough to land right after completing my certification."
"I have worked as an air traffic controller for the past three months since graduating from CTI school. It was a temporary position that I was fortunate enough to land right after completing my certification."
"If you do not have experience outside of CTI school: "I have not worked as an ATC as I just completed CTI school last month. I look forward to learning everything that I can on the job."
"Absolutely! I have been an air traffic controller for the past three years. I hope to expand my experience to include leading and training other ATC's in the future."
Mental health is a critical topic in the ATC industry. Tell the hiring manager how you cope with stress. Are you one to hide your emotions, or are you able to deal with stress healthily?
"When I was younger I did cope with stress through avoidance. After recognizing that this was not a healthy practice, I taught myself other healthier ways to manage stress. Now, I exercise and am more open about my thoughts and feelings."
"Here are some healthy ways to cope in times of distress: - Ask for help or support - Allow yourself to acknowledge the stress - Think of alternate ways to react - Stay grounded in breathing techniques "
"In times of distress, I have found that taking a step back and reassessing the situation helps me immensely. I will acknowledge the stressor and ask for help when I feel distressed."
The interviewer would like to know what type of communication software and applications you bring experience in. There are many options for communication software and messaging applications. Give the interviewer a brief overview of the apps you use and assure them that you can learn their internal system, should it be new to you.
"I have used a variety of team-based messaging applications. I am best versed in Brosix, AOL Instant Messenger, and Freedcamp. No matter which system you use I am sure that I can pick it up very quickly."
"I do not have a lot of experience with team-based messaging applications besides MSN Messenger years ago. I do pick up on technology quickly and have no concerns when it comes to my ability to learn. What team-based messaging applications do you use?"
"I have used team-based messaging apps with direct teams and remote teams. They are effective for updating communications and keeping on track with the progress of team-based work projects."
Being a bright communicator is a critical skill to master and a non-negotiable skill for an ATC. Have you taken any courses in communication and writing? Are you confident in your written communication skills? Talk to the interviewer about your communication abilities and support your answer with a brief example or story.
"I would describe my written communication skills as very strong and would rate myself as a 9/10. I have always had a penchant for writing and have taken university courses related to communication, writing, and journalism."
"I consider myself to be a strong communicator, always calling upon a mix of written and verbal communications. When working in teams, I tap into interpersonal communications to build strong relationships with others."
"I would rate my communication skills as a 9/10. Before becoming an air traffic controller, I completed a B.A. in Communications. My team has always rated me very highly in my communication skills during my reviews."
Before your interview, make sure you have a start date in mind for the new employer. Be prepared with an affirmative answer regardless of your employment situation. If you are currently working, you should always show professionalism by offering 2 weeks' notice to your current employer. No hiring manager is ever impressed when they hear "I can quit my job today and start tomorrow!" Show that you are professional and reliable in all situations.
"I can quit my job today and start tomorrow!"
"I would need to give a customary two weeks' notice to my current company so that they could choose if they want me to stay and transition accounts or make it my last day. But, out of courtesy to them, I need to let them make the decision."
"I would need to give my employer two weeks' notice. Due to my length of employment, it is possible that I may need to work an additional week if they were to request it of me to aid in the transition to the next manager, but I am available immediately following. Can you clarify your timeline for me?"
As an air traffic controller, you will be asked to communicate with a variety of departments and functions on a regular basis. Your ability to work with cross-functional teams will be a significant asset to your potential employer. Talk about your experience working cross-functionally. Share any challenges that came up and what you learned from the experience.
"I bring experience in cross-functional teamwork in my current ATC position. I believe that when expectations are communicated clearly from the beginning, a cross-functional team project can be very successful. I go into these types of projects with an understanding that everyone has their strengths and limitations based on their expertise and job function."
"I have not spent a lot of time working cross-functionally as I just completed my training. With that said, I am confident in my communication skills and understand the importance of being a team player."
"I have worked in a cross-functional setting for many years. Clear communication is key when collaborating with different teams. Clarity in expectations is of huge importance."
The interviewer would like to know what your salary expectations are. The best way to discuss your salary expectation is to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.
"Currently, I earn a base salary of $95,000 per year, and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."
"As I am newer to my career as an air traffic controller, I would like to gain a healthy balance of fair compensation and opportunity for growth. Compensation is not my primary driver."
"I am currently making $130,000 per year. I am looking for compensation that is aligned with the seniority of this ATC role and provides an opportunity for growth."
The interviewer would like to know what you consider to be strong leadership qualities. When describing leadership qualities, try to avoid general terms and give some unique ideas. A great leader is someone who people naturally want to follow. They have exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to build relationships with nearly any personality type. A respected leader will take ownership of their mistakes and will always lead their team by example. True leaders see the importance of motivating others and recognizing even the smallest achievements. Which of these qualities do you most identify with?
"I have taken many workshops and courses to improve my leadership skills over the years. My leadership qualities are best summed as dedicated, attentive, and motivating. I like to recognize my employees' small wins because that motivates them to continue achieving."
"My leadership qualities are communication, drive and mentoring. I seek out the best in people, then help them increase their performance."
"I possess great leadership qualities that include diligence, tenacity, and open communication. I look forward to taking these skills to work for you!"
Airlines and air traffic organizations will have confidentiality agreements for a variety of reasons. These could be to protect their trade secrets or keep sensitive information away from the public. Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on confidentiality agreements.
"I never have, to my knowledge, broken a confidentiality agreement. Despite my reasons for leaving a position, I would never choose to hurt a previous employer in any way."
"No. I have only once had a confidentiality agreement and had no problem adhering to it."
"Confidentiality agreements are necessary and important to protect an organization. I understand the need for confidentiality and take those factors very seriously. I have never broken the trust of my employer."
To many employers, the number of years' experience is flexible - so long as you have the results to show for the years that you do have. Talk to the interviewer about your major career successes. This is the time to sell yourself. Make no apologies for your lack of years!
"Although I have five years' experience vs. eight years' experience I can do this job well. In my previous role, I was outperforming colleagues who had 12 years of experience. To me, it's all about drive and ability to be a quick study. I have all of these qualities and more."
"Along with my five years working in this industry, I have worked in related industries my entire career. Also, I hope that my graduate degree gives me a little boost in experience over the required undergraduate degree."
The interviewer would like to know about your dedication to being present and on time. A part of being a diligent employee is to ensure that you are always on time and present when expected. It's great to even be 10 minutes early rather than just showing up right on the dot. Talk to the interviewer about your attendance.
"I had zero unexcused absences last year. In total, I took 12 vacation days out of my 15 allotted days. I was sick just 2 and those were accompanied by a note from my Doctor. Once I was late due to a terrible snow storm and I always try to be 10 minutes early for my shift."
"I cannot recall the exact number, but I think it was around three days total. All absences were excused and with notice."
"I think I missed ten days, counting vacation time. Of those, five were for my vacation. For three days, I was excused under a doctor's note. The other two absences were pre-approved family days."
The interviewer wants to know that you can handle the workload required of you in this position and that you will not become overwhelmed if/when workloads unexpectedly increase. When workloads increase, stress levels do too. How do you react?
"When I have a large workload on my plate, I do not stress over the tasks that are in front of me. Rather, I make a simple plan of which tasks are a high priority and which tasks are a lower priority. The higher priority tasks, I complete first. Through this system, I can focus on my tasks individually, rather than stress out by the multitude of tasks ahead of me."
"Here are some suggestions on how to handle a large workload: - List your tasks and prioritize them - Think of which functions add to the company's bottom line, and start there (Closest to the money!) - Exhale. Relax for a minute and collect yourself - Organize your tasks by which ones you can complete independently and which ones you need help with - Take sufficient breaks, so you do not exhaust yourself - Communicate your struggles with your leadership or team"
"I first take a step back and make a list of all the deliverable work that I have. Then, I prioritize the list by deadline and ease of completion. I always try to hit the easy tasks first and get them off my to-do list. Feeling like I am making progress keeps me motivated."
Are you accustomed to working with a very large or diverse team of individuals? Assure the interviewer that you can handle an environment that offers diversity.
"I have worked with diverse groups of people most of my career, including my time in University. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers a great learning opportunity."
"In my current role, I work alongside cross-functional teams regularly. Together, we manage our business and effectiveness."
"I would say that pretty much every company I have worked for has valued diversity. Working with people from all walks of life help shed different perspectives and identify potential problems faster."
Air traffic controllers will experience an emergency and stressful situations more than the average individual. Talk about your exposure to this kind of stress. If you have experienced an emergency situation in the tower before: "Yes, I experienced an emergency situation just last week in the tower. One of our pilots had a heart attack while in the air. I was not the lead air traffic controller at the time, but I was on the support team. I did as I was told and made sure that I was alert and there for anything needed of me."
"Yes, I experienced an emergency situation just last week in the tower. One of our pilots had a heart attack while in the air. I was not the lead air traffic controller at the time, but I was on the support team. I did as I was told and made sure that I was alert and there for anything needed of me."
"If you have not experienced an emergency situation in the tower before: "I am new to this career as an air traffic controller and have not experienced an emergency situation in the tower before. I have been exposed to emergency situations in my everyday life and am confident in my training as an ATC that I would manage the situation well."
"I have been an air traffic controller for the past eight years and have come across my share of emergency and high-stress situations. From planes requiring emergency landings to pilots experiencing heart attacks while flying - I have seen it all. During these situations, I remain professional and focused."
When an interviewer asks an open-ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in-depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in becoming an ATC and what you enjoy about it. This is an excellent opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring.
"I am a competitive individual who is driven and likes to win. In addition to my successful career as an air traffic controller, I also spend time playing competitive sports. I give back by volunteering at the local animal shelter and working for a variety of annual fundraisers in our community."
"I am a very active individual who loves to workout and goes to the mountains on the weekend. I feel that my level of activity on my off time greatly improves my work during the week. I have a high amount of energy to offer!"
"I would say that I am both analytical and creative, I'm extroverted at times, but like to hunker down and work on my own at times. When not at work, I love attending musicals, museums, and traveling. Not only is it something I love, but also I think it helps me expand my horizons."
The interviewer wants to know that you are engaged in this industry and willing to dedicate time to grow your knowledge base. Employers expect employees to stay up-to-date on their respective field, and today's technology makes this reasonably easy! List several ways that you receive your industry knowledge and stay on top of trends. Tell the interviewer about those daily update emails you receive from professional organizations, conferences you attend, seminars you have taken, and professional organizations you are a part of. It's a great idea to ask the interviewer what resources they refer to for industry trends. That question can start up a great conversation, and you may learn a thing or two as well.
"Every morning I listen to Air Traffic Management Podcast because I find the information to be fresh, and valuable. In addition to this podcast, I also subscribe to a couple of industry blogs. One is ATC Network, and the other is NATS. I greatly value the information shared among fellow professionals. What resources do you prefer in order to stay on top of industry trends and changes?"
"I am an avid reader. I read about air traffic news online, every day. I am a member of many key associations that allow me the opportunity to attend industry conferences, receive newsletters and network with top professionals in my field."
"I am a member of several professional associations and receive regular magazines. I also follow trendsetters in the airline industry, on my LinkedIn account."
Air traffic controllers will experience some emergency and stressful situations more than the average individual. Talk about your exposure to this kind of stress. The interviewer would like to know that you can remain calm, collected, and professional during emergency situations.
"Yes, I was involved in an emergency situation just last week in the tower. One of our pilots had a heart attack while in the air. I was not the lead air traffic controller at the time, but I was on the support team. I did as I was told and made sure that I was alert and present for anything needed of me."
"I have not yet been involved in a work-related emergency situation. I am well-trained in emergency response and am confident that I will respond appropriately should an emergency arise."
"The most challenging problem that I have faced in my career was last year when a terrible winter storm came in during our busiest season...Christmas. Everyone was on high alert, and people's patience was running thin because everyone wanted to be home with their families for the holidays. I was able to remain on task and started encouraging people and keeping the mood light. Later on, I was recognized by my supervisor on my ability to manage the situation flawlessly."
Which personal strengths make you excellent at your job? Advantages can be skills or qualities that help you overcome difficult circumstances or accomplish challenging tasks. In a work context, your strengths will help you to complete your to-do list, understand client needs, and help you to apply what you have learned in your training. Talk to the interviewer about a couple of your strengths and why those will help you to be successful in this role.
"I think my strengths are in my perceptiveness and ability to be observant of the needs of others. These strengths are part of what makes me an excellent performer as an air traffic controller."
"Some great strengths to mention are: - Communicative - Loyal - Collaborative - Tech Savvy - Flexible in Schedule/Availability - Persistent and Determined - Eager for Knowledge/New Skills "
"I have developed many strengths in my career. One strength that consistently stands out is my strong documentation skills."
The interviewer would like to know your least favorite aspect of being an air traffic controller. Every career has its downfalls. Discuss this openly with the hiring manager. Be sure to keep the discussion on a positive note.
"I really love nearly everything about being an air traffic controller. If I had to choose one downfall I would say that I would change the sporadic schedule. Some days I think it would be nice to have a regular 9-5 gig. However, that certainly isn't a deal breaker for me."
"I prefer to focus on the positives but if I had to pick out a negative component, I would say that the stress level is quite high. With that said, I thrive in a role that has high-performance expectations."
"That is a loaded question! The thing that I dislike the most is also the component that drives and motivates me the most...the stress! Over the years as an ATC, I have come to balance the stress very well. It was certainly a juggling act at the beginning of my career."
The interviewer would like to know how confident you are in your ability to succeed in this role. It is imperative that you display confidence in your ability to successfully do this job. Even though you may be new to this career, you have the training and have made it this far! Now is the time to speak highly of yourself.
"I have trained hard, and for a very long time, to ensure that I am fully prepared to be a strong air traffic controller. I am incredibly confident in my ability to succeed in this role, and I look forward to showing you what I can do."
"I will succeed because I believe in myself. I bring a stronger level of dedication than most and my penchant for continued education sets me apart from the crowd."
The interviewer would like to know if you consider yourself a patient individual. Impatience can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in coworkers, so it is essential that you can showcase your ability to remain patient and professional in workplace situations. Patience is indeed a virtue but can be challenging to maintain when it seems that situations continue to push your buttons. Show the interviewer that you possess the ability to keep your cool in challenging conditions.
"I do consider myself a patient person. I would rate myself an 8 /10 for patience because I certainly have room to grow, but I do have a very long fuse. If I need a boost of patience in a challenging situation, I will take a step away, count to 10 and then return to the situation. I recently read a book, 'The Power of Patience' by M.J. Ryan which also gave me some excellent new methods for coping with stress."
"I am fairly patient, with other people. I tend to be impatient with myself if I am not finishing a project as fast as I think I should be. But, I am learning to be patient with myself as well. I find that breathing exercises, and closing my eyes for a few seconds can help me regroup."
"I was once working with a group that could not quite get along, and it tested my patience a bit because it prevented us from staying on track and focusing on the goals. I went above and beyond in helping the group get along by scheduling lunches as a team and helping to mediate situations that needed it."
The interviewer would like to know how flexible you are on your schedule. Being an ATC will almost always require shift work, on-call work and nights/holidays. Be sure that you express to the hiring manager that you understand these requirements and that you are a team player.
"Going into a career such as an air traffic controller, I am fully aware that the schedule is demanding. I am open to working any shifts required of me."
"If overtime is required in this role, I am happy to accommodate whenever I can. My only restriction is that I cannot work Wednesday nights as I have an evening course those days."
"I am willing to work overtime, but how much and how often are the first questions that come to mind. I firmly believe that downtime, or personal time, is essential to recharging your batteries and staying focused. When the pressure is on, I will be here. I just hope that the pressure is not "always on."
Air traffic controllers work at airports, specifically in the air traffic control tower. This is a highly responsible job as it involves coordinating the movement of air traffic. An air traffic controller's main responsibility is to ensure that all aircrafts stay within a safe distance from each other. Other responsibilities include issuing takeoff and landing instructions to pilots, monitoring and guiding traffic on the runway and in the air and providing vital information to pilots regarding runway and weather conditions at their takeoff and landing destinations.
A bachelor's degree will provide you with an entry into this field but it is by no means enough. Prospective employers will consider your application only if you have at least 3 years experience in this field as an intern or in a junior role. You will also have to pass stringent medical and background checks as well the Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test and the Federal Aviation Administration pre-employment test. Keen observational skills and the ability to think quickly on your feet are crucial attributes for this role.
Be prepared to undergo a rigorous interview. Prospective interviewers will want to be 100% sure that you have the skills, experience, and aptitude necessary to do this job as there are lives at stake. Answering all questions confidently is the key to convincing the interviewer that you are the best person for the job. To see the kind of questions that you are likely to be asked at your interview, go to Mock Questions.