Adding a new staff member to an already established team is never easy. Even more challenging is the whole selection process as no one can know in advance whether the decisions made will be fruitful in the long run. It might seem that experience is the key here but a new simulation engineer will hardly have direct experience studying or working with simulators, thus other features and qualifications have to be taken into account.
Arturas Bartkevicius, Head so Simulation Department at Baltic Aviation Academy, explains that students majoring in electronics are much more desirable than those of aeronautical engineering. “The reason is simple – I look for people capable of working with computers up 20 years old, people able to manage cables and connections, people curious about the simulator’s architecture. Aeronautical engineering diploma is more of a bonus than an actual requirement, because the knowledge they gain in the universities is rarely put in use when working with flight simulators.”
During the interview, it is highly recommended to check personal qualities such as curiosity, communication skills, ability to work in a team, flexibility, willingness to take responsibility for ones actions, analytical thinking, etc.
One of the most desirable personal features is flexibility. In the everyday life of an engineer, being flexible means more than ability to adjust to the shift-based work schedule. It also includes ability to quickly shift from one task to another no matter how diverse they are, e.g. one minute a person might be doing paper work and the next he’s have to go and tighten a screw or answer instructor’s questions. This “jumping” from task to task is no doubt tiring and might cause a lot of stress. In addition, an employee must be open to the completing tasks he or she has no previous experience in. Some people might want to avoid the responsibility and refuse to do tasks in fear of failure. Further, engineers work in shifts but the tasks are planned following other time parameters. “Sometimes some tasks have to be completed by a certain date and it doesn’t matter who’s working the night before. The job must be done.”
“Self-confidence is crucial. Everyone experiences stress during the interview, but person’s ability to cope with it gives me more hope that the person will be self-confident at work or in cases of emergency” explains Bartkevicius. No doubst about that, who would want a panicking engineer running around like a headless chicken when alarms go on?
Another advice would be to use the interview for professional knowledge check, i.e. electronics and language skills. The latter might not be relevant for English native speakers, but for the rest of the world, it’s crucial. It might be a good idea to bring a specifications manual into the interview and ask the candidate to interpret a passage. As these specifications will be a daily tool in career, fluency and ability to understand them is a must. Bartkevicius shared his experience that there were cases when people would indicate a relatively high English language level in their CV abut in practice were not able to translate a passage or requested to make a call for a friend who would help with the text.
Bartkevicius has figured out a way to test the electronics knowledge during the interview. “I bring in a printed circuit board and ask candidates to name the constituting elements. It’s an easy task for those who know. ” says Bartkevicius. At other times he asks the candidates to draw or read electronic schemes as there are a lot of scheme reading activities in the daily practice. “Some people upon hearing this request immediately say they won’t do it, they don’t know how etc. though in their CV, several years of electronics studies were included.”
Finally, it is very important for the interviewer to evaluate whether the candidate is fit for the position not only at a given moment and also what the future prospects are. These insights might be achieved through discussion of candidate’s hobbies and expectations during the interview. It might be asked directly or indirectly posing questions. “We sometimes have candidates who are only interested in salary and nothing else. Others, upon hearing about rotating shifts, immediately want to know how they can swap as their weekends have been already planned for couple of years ahead.” says Bartkevicius. “Any attempts to accommodate the requests of a newcomer would be highly unwelcomed by the team and the person would definitely have problems fitting in.”