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If you're reading this and have been been invited to a selection event at Dibden Manor then congratulations! If not, never mind I hope this post will still be informative for you. In this, the second post of the L3 Airline Academy Selection Tips Series, I reflect on my time at selection and provide tips on how you can best prepare for the day.
L3 Airline Academy used to run both the technical and non-technical assessments on same day but in recent months have changed this to only assess an individuals non-technical abilities should they first pass the technical assessment. With this in mind you may well find yourself having to return to L3 on two separate occasions.
If you do find this series of posts helpful, or have questions let me know in the comments or get in touch via the Contact page of this website.
This post has been broken into smaller sections. Click on a heading to get started.
As of mid-2018 applicants will now sit a couple of Cut-e assessments online as part of their initial application form. This includes behavioural questionnaires and a numerical reasoning test. The tests must be completed them no later than three days prior to your Dibden Manor assessment date to allow the selection team time to process your results.
As these tests technically form part of L3 Airline Academy's technical assessment you can find out more about them in the newly written Technical Assessment (Cut-e) - L3 Airline Academy Selection blog post.
The L3 Airline Academy selection day started quite early and I certainly remember there being plenty of zombie-like faces in the lounge on arrival. Thankfully, L3 came to the rescue with a supply of tea, coffee, juice and biscuits which perked most of us up although, thanks to the B&B I stayed in, I had already eaten a big breakfast! This brings me on to tip number one.
I was surprised when some of the applicants told me they had commuted to Dibden Manor on the morning of the assessment. A few of them must have left so early, especially as we were starting at 08:45am! Personally, I feel I performed so much better at Dibden having had a great rest the night before. If you're looking for a place to stay, I would highly recommend Dale Farm House (as pictured). The couple who run it are very accommodating and are now quite used to seeing L3 hopefuls so know all about our struggles - which is a nice touch. The plus side to this place is it's no more than a 10 minute walk from Dibden Manor and you can have a nice breakfast ahead of the big day. If you're considering booking a room with them then i'd recommend giving them a call to book direct. Don't forget to mention I sent you and Chris & Pete might well be able to find you a little saving compared to prices with the well-known online booking sites.
The day kicked off with a 15 minute presentation on L3 Airline Academy and the structure of the day. This took place in a conference room just off the main lounge area. If you're attending an airline assessment, as I was, this presentation also encompassed a talk from the airline themselves too. Virgin snuck in a useful bit of info here and there which I then used in my interview, so top tip.. take a pad and pen. In total there were about 16 people on my assessment day and we split into two groups so that we alternated each activity.
Personal Difficulty: Medium / Hard
Result: Fail (2014) | Pass (2015)
Note: British Airways Cadet Program Maths
If you are applying to the British Airways Cadet Program launched in 2017 then it is worth noting you will also be asked to complete an additional Numerical Reasoning test in addition to the standard Dibden Manor testing. To the best of my knowledge, this test is done prior to selection as part of the initial screening process. I could be wrong so feel free to correct me if it's taken on the day. In any case, this test is conducted by a company called CEB Global or otherwise known as SHL Direct. From memory this test is something like 24 questions in 12 minutes. Again, correct me on that if need be. It's more applied math than the Dibden test but isn't really designed to be finished in the time allocated. CEB Global are very good at assessing a benchmark from your time and accuracy. Best of luck!
At both selections my group went first in the Maths test. You are led to the assessment room which resembles a driving theory test room. A computer will be displaying your name on the screen. You are given a briefing, pen and paper and basic non-scientific calculator before then being allowed to crack on with the test. The Maths test is electronic and consists of 20 multiple choice G.C.S.E. level questions in 16 minutes.
Despite being G.C.S.E. level this was the area of the assessment I was dreading as I'd never been amazing at Maths in school. Being 20 at the time of my first Dibden visit in 2014 it had been a couple of years since I'd really focussed on mental methods and quick written calculations as let's be honest, we're so dependent on the calculator. It was safe to say I had forgotten quite a bit and this later led to me failing Dibden at my first attempt.
In not wanting to fail again I ensured I revised Maths techniques as frequently as I could. In searching YouTube I came across a chap called Arthur Benjamin. His mental math was ridiculously fast and was something I wanted to aspire to be like. Thankfully he plugged his book in the video and I would highly recommend it as a way to improve your mental maths skills. I've provided a link to it under the numerical reasoning test section of my newly written Technical Assessment (Cut-e) - L3 Airline Academy Selection blog post.
Sample questions may look like these:
A factory workshop is 0.05km long. How many metres is this?
A working pit has a base area of 860 square decimetres. How much is this in square metres?
If 1GBP is 1.20EUR and 1EUR is 1.50AUD, how many GBP can you get for 35AUD?
An aircraft requires a fuel uplift of 8700kg. How many US gallons is that at 3.2kg/gal?
You can find out a bit more about the Numerical Reasoning maths test as well as an example video in my newly written Technical Assessment (Cut-e) - L3 Airline Academy Selection blog post.
Result: Pass (2014) | Pass (2015)
Since mid-2018 the L3 Airline Academy technical assessment is now facilitated by Cut-e, a professional psychometric and aptitude organisation. The phrase PILAPT which many of you may have come to recognise is no more.
You can find out a bit more about the Technical Assessments as well as tips, example videos and preparation tools to give you head start in my newly written Technical Assessment (Cut-e) - L3 Airline Academy Selection blog post.
Result: Pass (2014) | Pass (2015)
For the group task you are taken room with a number of chairs around a table. Two assessors sat at the head of the table. There were two questions in this section. Interestingly, the group interviews at my first L3 selection day seemed a lot more airline focussed whereas the second year seemed to be quite generic and on that basis I can't really suggest to you what the questions will focus on as it could literally be anything. I'm also not allowed to share the specific questions with you as L3 Airline Academy made us sign to say we wouldn't. This group interview is like any other and is designed to see how you perform as a group. However, if you Google questions asked in any group interviews that require open discussion and decision making you may get the idea of what to expect. Here's my tips on this section.
When working as a group it's important you get stuck in. I do not mean become the group leader, I simply mean contribute your view in any discussions and ensure that any you do provide helps the end goal. Hand-in-hand with Tip Seven I would also say that if you strongly believe in something and another group member shoots you down, as happened in my selection, that you demonstrate CRM attitudes by remaining respectful but confident as you explain the reasons why you think you are correct. The same would apply if you feel someone offers a good point, but not one which is perhaps suitable to the original question. If you're struggling for ideas, you could offer to time keep at the start of any task and take notes for the rest of the group.
If you don't know what CRM is then it's worth Googling. As I don't know the specifics of L3's selection criteria I can't be 100% certain here, but it's my guess that L3 Airline Academy are looking for CRM qualities during the group assessment. Why? Well, if you're an avid viewer of Air Crash Investigation you'll know that many accidents have happened due to pilots not listening or communicating with one another. The whole point of selection is to find future airline captains so reading up on CRM may help you understand what attitudes a pilot should have and thus which you should demonstrate during this section of the selection day.
Result: Pass (2014) | Pass (2015)
This part seems to have everyone worried but I can report it's a fairly standard interview. Having attended two selections, I can report that the one-to-one interviews on both occasions focussed on your competencies and motivation for wanting to be a part of the industry. The L3 Airline Academy selection team provided so many hints throughout the day as to what the interview would involved and constantly asked people to think about examples from their life so there's a tip right from the horse's mouth there.. lookup common competency questions and practice answers.
Some of the questions I remember being asked were:
Why L3 Airline Academy?
Why do you want to be a pilot?
Why Virgin Atlantic?
Tell me about a time you've led a team
How do you cope with failure?
How does it make you feel when you're told you are wrong?
Whilst you may not directly be asked, as questions can change all the time, it would be expected you know about L3 Airline Academy, the industry you want to join, some current affairs in the industry etc. So maybe read up on those too!
During my interview I was often asked follow up questions such as "...and how might you relate that to being a pilot?" or "...tell me how you would apply that to the career of flying?". I don't believe I was in the wrong for not relating my answers to flying as some of the questions asked were quite widely scoped. Nevertheless, having now completed selection I would recommend thinking about how you could relate your answers to the flight deck environment. Granted, it may not be appropriate for all types of questions.. but if you can actually demonstrate to the interviewer how you can apply your strengths to the environment you wish to work in it may show you in a good light.
That's a wrap. After a very long day, or two if your assessment is over two days, you will most likely have mixed feelings about your performance. The truth is there really is no indication as to how well you have done. Some leave confident, others leave incredibly anxious as to the result (like me) - of which you usually receive on the next working day. Make sure to have a safe journey home and do whatever it is that can help you relax: be that walking the dog, taking a bath, watching a movie or whatever it happens to be. Your attempt is now behind you and you will hear your result soon enough. Whatever the outcome, here's my final tip of this post...
If for whatever reason you are told that you do not match the criteria, do not be disheartened. I can say this with confidence as I was in this very position once having failed on the Maths test. L3 Airline Academy will at first send you a fairly generic email but they do tend to give you a follow up call a day or say after. In my case I was offered pointers as to where I went wrong and what I should work on in order to improve. As I had left Dibden Manor feeling like I had failed the Maths test their feedback was not that surprising. The year that followed was one in which I practised again, and again, and again until I was able to consistently pass all of the practice tests. Usually L3 will provide a window in which you must wait before you can reapply and for me this was 3 months. I decided to wait for the Virgin MPL to open again. So... if you do fail, ask for that feedback, work on your weak points and try again. Flying isn't going to go anywhere anytime soon :-)