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Becoming a Flight Attendant 101

cadams
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Last year 7,593 applicants were interviewed for the job of Flight Attendant. From this number 880 were hired. The big question: "What are they looking for?" While serving on the Flight Attendant Hiring Team, I was looking for those who stood out from the group. Professional appearance, positive attitude, and enthusiasm. A question I asked myself was, "How will a passenger respond to this person for five hours at 35,000 feet - while strapped down in a seat?" They certainly don't want to be encapsulated with a Flight Attendant they feel is mad at them! If you feel you have what it takes to be a Flight Attendant, what's the next step?  I suggest a person research the job. Many of our applicants have read the book Nuts! written by Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg. Google "books on the life of a flight attendant" for resources. These can give you an inside look at a working Flight Attendant's job. For all the hilarity there are the sobering topics of commuting, duty hours, irregular operations, no shows, etc. Try to make sure that, before you apply, you have the attitude, flexibility, and stamina this job requires. You still want the job? Great! Go to the Careers Page of southwest.com and follow the instructions for submitting an application online. Then the wait begins. If you meet the basic criteria, you will eventually receive a letter (Flight Attendant hiring is timed with the arrival of new aircraft into the fleet) from our People Department inviting you for a Group Interview. Come prepared with the information for which you are asked, and I recommend getting there early, as there will be paperwork to fill out. Do not be late under any circumstances. If you have a conflict, call the People Department immediately. If you don't know how to get to the interview spot, drive it the day before. If you are flying in, allow enough time to get from the airport to the People Department in our Dallas Headquarters, or to the interview location.  What do you wear? Business attire is always appropriate. Wear something that makes you feel good so you will be relaxed and confident. For women, makeup is required on duty so come to the interview looking like you will if you are hired. Men are not required to buy or borrow a suit, but you want to look starched and business like. Arrive knowing why Southwest should hire you. After the Group Interview you could be asked to remain that afternoon for a one-on-one interview. You could also be scheduled another day for this in-depth interview. If the latter is the case, you will receive a letter giving you the time and date. There is no set time for when you will receive a response, but three to six weeks is a reasonable expectation.  During this second interview, you will spend time with an active duty Flight Attendant and a Company Recruiter. Come prepared with examples of when you have demonstrated being an outstanding Employee at your previous jobs, in a school environment, or times you have interacted with a group. The questions are in a format that begins, "Tell me about a time..." Relax and allow your personality to come through. If you do not get a second interview, or if you do not get hired, please understand that you can interview again in one year. We have many excellent Employees who were turned down the first time but came back and were chosen. A strong desire for the job is a plus and coming back demonstrates that desire. If you are not chosen IT DOES NOT MEAN WE DON'T LIKE YOU. It could merely mean on this given day when interviewed by a given group you were not deemed a JOB FIT. There may even be other jobs in the Company that you may want to consider and apply. I recently flew with an outstanding male Flight Attendant who moved to a city that was hiring and started out on the Ramp at an airport. He wanted to get his foot in the door and was willing to move and take whatever job was available. He enjoyed his job but his goal was to be a Flight Attendant and fly out of Dallas. It took him three years, but he did what it took to make it happen. Do you have a Warrior Spirit? Do you have a Servant's Heart? Do you have a Fun-loving Attitude? If you understand what these three things mean and want to join a team of dedicated Employees striving each day to keep Southwest Airlines successful for our Customers and Employees, please apply!
166 Comments
James5
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Carole - GREAT article. For those that have additional questions or want to have some discussion about being a Southwest Flight Attendant, they can also check out http:/www.flightattendants.org/swa to have some discussions, get some of their other questions answered by people who are also wanting to be SWA Flight Attendants and from those who are waiting in the "pool". Safe Flying! James Malone MDW FA P.S. It was good to see you in ABQ at the Culture Committee E-Team Visit the other day!
angela
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Great article Carole. I did a "day in the field" as a flight attendant and it was exhilerating and exhausting at the same time. There was a great article this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer about our need for ramp agents in Philly. http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/15369334.htm I believe we're still looking for rampers in Baltimore as well. I'm friends with several of our rampers across the nation and they are such a fun and hard working group. Keep up the good work!
Leah3
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Hi, Carole! This is a wonderful article! 🙂 I just had my second interview last Wednesday; in fact, this time last week, I was in the taxi on my way from the hotel to HDQ! I wish it were last week! I'm, of course, now in the process of waiting; it's certainly not easy! I first heard it would be a couple of weeks afterwards that I would know something, but then was told at the interview it would be four to six weeks. Sometimes, I think about some of my answers & think, "Oh, I wish I'd also said that, too!" Grrrrrr! This was my second time to have interviews. I tried seven years ago & had a GI & one-on-one; unfortunately, I was not invited back for training. 😞 I feel like it will happen this time! If (I emphasize that word) it doesn't happen this time, I will try to be a CSA or an RSA first; then, after at least two years, I'll try again to be an FA. I really feel like I have the right qualities to be a flight attendant for SW. I'm very outgoing, enthusiastic, & personable (when flying alone, I like to visit with passengers sitting next to me), I LUV to help, I'm flexible, & I LUV to have fun! I also have a lot of determination. Maybe we'll work together someday, Carole & James! Southwest LUV, everyone! :)
Leah3
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P.S. It's been my dream & goal to be an FA for SWA since elementary school! 🙂
Leah3
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I thought of something else. I want to remind people to get the names of those interviewing you (I went ahead & wrote them down, too) & send thank you notes afterwards. I sent thank you notes to the Recruiters from my GI & to the Recruiter & FA from my second interview; all four got their own. :) Okay, I'm done with my advice for now! *Does the sign for finished!* 🙂
Jonathan_Gonzal
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I just wanted to follow up on the excellent article that Carole wrote. Having just finished training earlier this year, I just wanted to add that training is incredible intense and that is STILL part of the interview process. JUST BECAUSE one gets invited to attend training, does not guarantee hiring. It is exhausting and not something I want to do again anytime soon, but was one of the best experiences of my life and I learned so much about this outstanding Company, what is expecting/required and most importantly about myself. Training truly showed me what I am made of and answered just about any question I could have about what this career choice expects of me. Well, except for the question "Why did it take me so long to do this?". I am so pround to be among the BEST company in the world and a part of this great group of people. Again, I can't believe I waited so long to do this. Thanks Carole for being a part of that team that puts "the reality" in to the candidates hiring process so they make an informed decision to go forward. I am glad I did.
VALERIAN_LOHRKE
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THIS IS THE BEST ARTICLE I HAVE EVER READ, IT TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT THE GREAT COMPANY THAT SWA IS, AND WHY THEY ARE LOOKING FOR ONLY THE BEST. THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO WRITE ON THIS SUBJECT THIS TRULY SHOWS THE " FAMILY LIKE " WORKING CONDITIONS AT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES. SET THE LUV FREE: VALERIAN LOHRKE
Francisco_Delga
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Great article. I often wonder how flight attendants are hired. The flight attendants I usually encounter are funny, helpful, and are always smiling. Then there are those few times when I often wonder why Southwest hired this particular person. No smile and no jokes. But then i often tell myself, these people have been flying all day, away from their familes on holidays and important events; they have to deal with sometimes mean customers who bring their whole life's worth of luggage on the airplane and who refuse to follow the simple rules of flying. Kuddos to you guys for your hard work and for making me laugh with all of your funny jokes.. TO LEAH: BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE YOUR-SELF...................
Jean51
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What a wonderful company to work forI! And the freedom it gives one to be themselves, color outside the lines. The flexibility of our schedules, the security of a stable company, to be able to have fun while working-who could ask for anything more. I was a CSA for Southwest for 22 years, when I took the early retirement. It was too early & I had to wait a year before I could reapply at SWA & thankfully was hired as a Flight Attendant and I LUV it. I am grateful for everyday that I am able to work for the BEST company.W
jmalone
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P.S. I wrote a blog on "A Week In The Life Of A Flight Attendant". You can find it here http://www.blogsouthwest.com/2006/07/06/a-week-in-the-life-of-a-swa-flight-attendant/ should you be interested in reading it. Good Luck, Leah! James Malone MDW FA
Leah3
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Oh, Francisco, it's certainly not hard to be myself! 🙂 I have a joke I might tell when I'm an FA. Here it is: Where does a newly theme painted Southwest plane go to show off? Answer: The runway! Ha, ha! I thought of that myself. I have a question I just thought of & don't know why I didn't think of it during my one-on-one. Anyway, when I become an FA & begin getting to know the ones I work with, if I have any that I want to work with again, can I request that? That may be a strange question & I don't want to play favorites, but I'm just curious, just like George. Get it? Ha, ha. It will be fun working with & getting to know different crew members & Customers!
Mary_G_
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I would love the opportunity to attend a group interview session - I applied and was invited in 2002 and 2004 but had to cancel both times! Does that count against an applicant? I'm hoping that it doesn't because I just applied again and am keeping my fingers crossed that the third time is the charm! I've flown on SWA just recently and was so impressed with the attitude of the crew - your company really does bring back the joy to flying!
Jennifer7
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Greetings, Southwest is an outstanding company and being a Southwest flight attendant is a priviledge. The simple fact of 'jetlag' during your work day makes the job a physical challenge so stamina is a must. The applicant with a love for people will find this job fullfilling, because they get the opportunity to 'do the golden rule' with hundreds of people each day. Yes, we pass out peanuts and cokes... but oh, our job is so much more. Be blessed, Jennifer
FriendofBlogBoy
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Leah, We're still hanging in there with you through the interview process and hoping that you make it! In reference to your last question about choosing your 'plane-mates', I have no idea. But, if you make it to being a FA, you're going to have to let me know when you graduate and start flying, because as a passenger, I want to choose a flight with YOU on it just to meet the very enthusiastic Leah!! Kim 🙂
Leah3
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Hey, Kim! Thanks! 🙂 Yes, I'll let you know when I hear something. If I go for training, & I'm still certainly imagining all of this working out, I'll let you know! SWA LUV to all! 🙂
Leah3
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Hi, Mary. I'm sorry you had to cancel your Group Information Sessions! 😞 My thought in response to your question is to call the Company Headquarters People Department to ask. Maybe other "bloggers" have a better suggestion than I do, but I don't know. I wish you well! Please KUP-Keep Us Posted!
PLM
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Yet another great article Carole!! I loved "So When Are You Going To Get A Real Job" as well! I will be in Dallas in three weeks for FA Training Class 227 and I cannot wait!!! It's been a 5 month wait - but I know it will be WELL worth it! Maybe we will get to meet someday!! Thanks again for the article - and to those of you who missed the above-mentioned article - PLEASE go back and read it!! See ya!!! PLM in OKC
James_Hurst
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I am not sure if this is the web site that I need to post this, but my husband James would love to work as a flight attendant with SWA, but he has only had two jobs which are a tree logger and now working with General Electric as a welder. Can someone give him any advice on the best way to stat with SWA. Everytime we fly we use SWA and everyone appears to be very friendly. Thanks for you help Dawn
Leah3
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Hi, Dawn & James. My suggestion to you, James, is to go ahead & email your resume. As I'm sure you read, Carole gave great information on the processes it takes to become a flight attendant. SWA LUV to all from a Future SWA FA (No, I haven't heard anything yet about coming back for training, but it will happen! Yes, it will!) 🙂
Leah3
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I thought of another question. If FAs have a layover in a city where they have family, can they stay overnight with them? I'm just curious. I don't mind staying in a hotel (not that I wouldn't want to stay with family); I just wanted to ask! SWA LUV to all, & to all a good flight! 🙂
Randy_Anglim
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Leah J, I commute from Nashville to Houston and I love to try and get overnights at home so I can sleep in my own bed so the answer to your question is no you don't have to stay at the hotel. I aslo have friends thru out the SWA system and it gets hard to go see them on my days off so I try to get long overnights in there city so I can go visit them I even got to take my neice to her first day of school on an overnight last month . We can also take people on overnights with us and the can stay with you at the hotel (you just have to get it approved first) gotta luv it.
cadams
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Leah, let me just add when you stay with family or friends on an overnight, you do need to give your crewmembers a contact number just in case you are rerouted. This seldom happens but it is a precaution. Nice answer Randy!
Leah3
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Hi, Randy. Thanks for the information. That helps! I live in TUL, so maybe if I overnight here, I can stay with my parents. I have family (a sister, brother-in-law, 3 nieces, & a nephew) in AUS. I bet if I ever overnight there, my nieces & nephew-once he's older-might want to stay with me! That's a great idea about the phone number, too; I'll do that.
Pamela_Kay
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Going for my group interview tomorrow, wish me luck!
Leah3
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Yea, Pamela! You'll have fun. I had fun at mine & my one-on-one. Are you too interviewing for FA, I take it? LUK-Let Us Know how it goes, please! SWA is So Wonderfully Awesome! 🙂
FriendofBlogBoy
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Leah, I sure do wish you could manage to drum up some enthusiasm...gee, we're really not sure if you want to be a flight attendant or not... LOL Kim P. S. I still hope you make it, but I also hope my Longhorns beat your Sooners again this year, too! 🙂
Leah3
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Ha, ha Kim! Thanks! 🙂 I wish it were two weeks ago today, because I was at my hotel in DAL, getting ready for bed & eagerly (but also nervously) awaiting the next day! When the FA interviewed me, she said things like "Great!" & "Good!" after almost every answer I gave! I don't know if that means something or not. If I don't hear anything tomorrow, I plan to call Thursday (or maybe Friday) to remind them & let them know I'm still very interested! I've been thinking since I've not yet heard that it's a good sign, but I'm scared to get my hopes up! I have a feeling something interesting will happen this week, but I don't know if I'm saying that because I really do, or if it's just wishful thinking. Seven years ago when I didn't get asked back for training, I heard one week & one day later. I knew it was bad. :( Go, Sooners! I went to & graduated from a different college (actually two-I have an AA & a BA) but I have a cousin who graduated from OU.
PLM
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Leah - Do you know about the SWA "poolie" website??? PLM
jmalone
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PLM - check out http://swa.flightattendants.org Also, everyone else, check this video out. It is pretty cool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVpEFQIYFak Regards, James Malone MDW FA P.S. You Tube has some great amateur take off videos of our Wanna Fly Away ads...just go to www.youtube.com and do a search for Southwest Airlines
Leah3
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Hi, PLM. No, I don't know anything about the "poolie" website? Do you? I wish I did! I called People Dept. this afternoon to remind them when I interviewed & for what position & to let them know I'm still interested. The lady said they have to do my background check & they'll get in contact with me. I know if I'm recommended from the one-on-one, they do a background check next, then the drug screening. I don't know if the lady I talked to knows if I made it through (I of course told her my name), but I'm thinking I have (hopefully!!) since it's been two weeks & I've obviously not heard anything.
Robert_Dennard
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As a person who was not a job fit the first time around, I find this artical uplifting. I intend to re-submit my resume next year and give it another shot. I also made a SWA tribute video but not sure how to share it with the Men and women of SWA. From the view point of one who did not make it the first time, Don't Give up, also, hearing the stories of others who did not make it the first time gives me hope for the future.
Pamela_Kay
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My group interview was packed. (9/6/06) The frist time e-mail invites where used and almost 40 showed up. I think they were overwhelmed! No one -on -ones that afternoon, will have to wait 3-4 weeks for a call back. Everyone say a prayer for me, this is my second attempt at FA......I really want to flyyyyyyyyyyyy. Hugs to all- PK
Leah3
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Wow, Pam! At my GI, there were 40 (or close to that), too! They called back 20 that day, I believe, & did five one-on-ones. The remaining 15 came back in August. This is my second time to go through the interviews (GI & one-on-one), too! I'll pray for you. You sound like I do-I really want to fly! I'm looking forward to working with different Crew & Customers everyday, & the challenges, too! I will never be bored as a flight attendant! When I hear from my second interview, I'll post it on here.
PLM
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Leah - Go to swa.flightattendants.org for some of THE BEST information you can find! I did not know about it before my interviews, but it sure has been great while waiting for training! Check it out! Thanks! PLM
Leah3
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PLM-Yes, I've been checking out that website! I started yesterday, & it's great! Thanks! 🙂
PamelaKay
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Have not heard anything yet.....keeping my fingers double crossed. Will say a prayer for all who are waiting, waiting, waiting for a phone call...... and to those already in class....good luck! Pamela K
Leah3
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Thanks for the update, Pamela! If you feel comfortable letting us know when you hear, please do! You sound like I do! Who knows, maybe we'll work together some time! I checked my mail three times Wednesday! I really did! I won't check it that often again in one day. I asked the FA who interviewed me if I'd hear by phone or mail, & she said probably by mail. I'm assuming again that if it's a while before I hear, it's good. SWA LUV! 🙂
nicole_box
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my name is nicole, i am 21 years old an i am very interested in working as a flight attendant, i should finish with my bachelors soon, please help
Leah3
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I really don't want to post this, but I said I'd let you all know when I heard about training. I received my letter Monday, the 11th, & unfortunately was not picked again this time; it's the second time I've not been invited back for training. I've shed some tears, & I'm not done yet! 😞 I really felt like it was going to happen this time; I'm not going to lie & say I wasn't scared before the interview, but I felt better about it. I sent in my resumÃ
Rhonda_L_Hopson
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Thanks a bunch for posting this article. I just, today, found the blog for SW Airlines... is awesome and full of information. On Monday, 9/11/06, I was in Phoenix, AZ for the FA group session/interview. It was such a great day~ Although, after our break and whomever wanted or needed to leave left - there were still 27 of us left. Time was just noon - and Randy and Connie said they would not be able to interview everyone that day - so 1/2 of us got sent home. I was part of that group... although I know the obvious of not getting to all 27 of us to be interviewed, I was still let down knowing I had to go home. Randy and Connie said to the 1/2 that were sent home - we will be receiving a call with a different set day and time for our interviews to be done. Unfortunately, I am impatient because I want this so bad and am willing to do whatever it takes to become of the SW Family!!! So now, me along with the rest of the folks who were sent home Monday, MUST be patient and keep the Faith~ We will get our calls or letters letting us know when our interview(s) will be. I hope I am blessed to see you folks I met Monday again @ the interviews. Again, was a great day~ THANK YOU SOUTHWEST~ Warmest regards, Rhonda L Hopson
Tara_Layton
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I was a flight attendant several years ago for a major airline.I flew that airline recently because SWA did not fly to a place that I had to go. I have to honestly say that "the other airline" was BORING... I would LUV to apply with SWA now that I have raised my family. Is SWA hiring the "50 something" crowd? SWA is the only airline I enjoy flying because of their fun-loving, down-to-earth crew. I have so much respect for the airline and they are definately doing everything right because I cease to be amazed whenever I fly and receive the happy 🙂 emails. The NUTS ABOUT SWA blog is amazing! Thanks and LUV all around! xoxo, Tara Layton
Rosita_Pounders
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I just sent my only child off to college. I have plenty of free time on my hands. I do work in the office of my husband's business, but the hours are flexable. I have flown almost nothing but SWA in years. I love everything about the airlines, from the pick your own seat, to the pleasant and hilarious flight attendants. I did speak to one of your flight attendants, and he said I would be perfect for the job. I did fill out an online application about 4 weeks ago. I live in Michigan, but am willing to relocate if necessary. What are my chances of hearing back from them for an interview? I really want this badly. Any suggestions? warmest regards, RP
Jodi_Ruddell
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I just want to say THANK YOU to all of you on here. I have wanted to be an FA since I was a little girl. I now fly as much as possible and know that I am at a time in my life to go for my dream. I am currently a teller in a credit union I have been here 5 years. I was in another dept. for 2 years and came back to being a teller because I missed the people interaction. I am relocating to Phx and am planning on applying online here this week. I am also going to apply for reservations and customer service because I know it is a long process and really want to get my foot in the door. I am 41 and my son is now old enough for mom to be away. I know that I will love working for SW in whatever capacity they feel I would be the best fit. Again thank you all and wish me luck 🙂 I am also going to read those books out there.
Jodi_Ruddell
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OH one question, I will be flying to Phx (not on SW 😞 could not get the right flghts was very disappointed) but was wondering if there is anyway that I could go to the main office for a look around and if there would be anywhere that I could meet with a FA or 2 to ask some questions. I will be there on the 7th, 8th and 9th of October. I am going there to find a place to live and to let SW know that I am really interested in working for them. I am also taking my 17 year old son so that I can show him where he will be living. Thank you so much for all of your help I am getting so excited I can hardly stand it. I just told my boss what I am going to be applying for and she is so excited for me and thinks I would be perfect that is a great sign for me.
Brenda13
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Hi Carole! I was wondering if it was you that was at the group interview i went to in Baltimore Yesterday (oct 3rd)? If so, I thought you were great, you came off so personable and I could tell you love your job. Hope to see you again.
Jake_Martinez
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Hey guys and gals: I recently went to a Group Interview in Phoenix on 9/25. I was really excited and nervous at the same time. I have been asking for a calling and sometimes you never know what you are meant to do with you life. Well I believe that I was meant to fly and become an ambassador for customers who fly. Flying can be a stressful and daunting experience but I would love to flourish my personality and make customers happy flying. There were 20 people at my Group Interview and I was the 3rd one called for a one on one interview. Unfortunately, I did not get picked this time for training. However, I am not giving up and was told not to give up if I really want to do this as a career. I do not even have airline experience and I was chosen so there has to be something they liked. It was nice meeting all of you at the Group Session and I wish you all luck. Southwest , I will be back next year and I hope to finally get picked for training and embark on an exciting career. "You are now free to work for a great company ~ "
Leah4
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Jake, I can't say I know how you feel, but I know what it's like not to be invited back for FA training-if that makes sense; I don't know how you feel. I flew to CMH (Columbus, OH) for a GI that I had on October 16th. If I'm invited back for a one-on-one, I will get a call in 2-3 weeks; if not, I will get a letter. On November 8th, I have a GI for RSA (Reservations Sales Agent) in OKC. I think both would be fun & good ways to get my foot in the door before trying again for FA in a few years.
Leah4
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I had my second CSA in CMH on Thur., the 3rd; if I get a call in two-three weeks, it's good. Hopefully, I will get another call & not another letter. I really want to be a CSA & an FA & wish I could do both at the same time! 🙂
Raymond
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Do guys really have to wear a suit to the interview to get more recognition from the interviewers or is that just what most recommend?
Ayda
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Hey. Thanks for the great Blog. I had a question which I really canÃ