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Singapore Airlines Ab-Initio Cadet Pilot Programme

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Applications Closed

Last Open: 19 Jun 2024​

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Singapore Airlines' Ab-Initio Cadet Pilot Programme feature one of the most competitive and rigorous job applications, with many aspiring pilots vying for this highly coveted job offer. SIA receives more than 10,000 applications a year, with this number eventually whittled down to just over 100 cadets being selected, representing a 1% acceptance rate

 

Here is the complete one-stop guide to what you can expect from all stages of the SIA interview process, in your journey to being part of the privileged 1%. The interview can be summarised in the table as follow:

Given the selective nature of the SIA Ab-Initio Cadet Pilot Programme, there are limited attempts to which a candidate can re-apply should he/she fail during any stage of the interview. It can generally be surmised that a candidate can re-apply about 6 months later for the programme if he/she failed at the Preliminary Interview stage, with a potentially longer wait should the failure occur at the subsequent stages. In the past, applications were only accepted for candidates who failed at the Preliminary Interview stage, and not at the latter stages.

Hence, to prevent the long wait time, it is crucial that a candidate prepares extremely well before applying for the SIA Cadet Pilot Programme, and not utilise it as a testing ground to prepare for future applications.

Timeline

SIA are stringent in the requirements for their cadet pilot recruitment, and have listed down a length of pre-requisites on the recruitment page which must be duly followed.

 

Here are the following pre-requisites as indicated:

  • Educational qualification of GCE ‘A’ level, Polytechnic Diploma or Degree. Otherwise, you must have obtained a minimum of 5 GCE ‘O’ Level credits. These must include English, Mathematics and a Science subject, taken at one sitting

  • Myopia of not more than 600 degrees and astigmatism of not more than 200 degrees, fully correctable with optical aids

  • Minimum height requirement of 1.62m to carry out safety and emergency procedures on board

It is highly unlikely for a potential candidate to be called up for an interview if he or she does not meet the above requirements for the Cadet Pilot Programme. Falsifying your documents or height will also lead to eventual disqualification at the interview stage as the SIA HR personnel will perform their own due diligence.

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Tthe interview format is a 4 stage process. Based on the timeline above, candidates can now expect the total duration to reach up to 4 months on average, or occasionally even longer, before receiving the Offer of Employment. This total duration may differ widely due to factors such as the candidates' educational levels, current career or educational commitments or experiences, and more. Also, do note that the Offer of Employment does not represent the commencement of training as a Singapore Airlines Cadet Pilot, which may take an additional 2 to 3 months from the offer date.

We have formulated a detailed guide on all four stages and their respective segments. You may scroll down the page menu on the right to the respective interview segment.

Timeline

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Stage 1 - Online Aptitude Test

Upon submission of your application to Singapore Airlines, should you be shortlisted, you will receive an email invitation to complete an Online Assessment through your personal device(s) as part of the initial stage. You can expect to receive an email approximately one month after your application submission to complete this Online Assessment, with the timeline dependent on an variety of factors such as the candidate's educational qualifications, career experiences and relevance, and more.

 

On a side note for trivia, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, candidates who were previously shortlisted will head to the SIA Training Centre (STC) to attend the Preliminary Interview, and potentially also a Computer Aptitude Test on the same day.

 

The Online Assessment is a series of tests by Aon (also formerly known as Cut-e), and is sent through a link via email. Candidates must complete the tests within a period of 1 week. The Aon Online Assessment consists of multiple sections, with candidates given about 10 to 15 minutes to complete each section. The test may take up to 120 minutes and will comprise the following sections (not listed in sequential order and not exhaustive): ​

  • Aptitude Tests

  • Inductive Logical Thinking

  • Deductive Logical Reasoning

  • English Tests

  • Math Tests

These tests are generally geared towards finding out more about one's personality and compatibility to become an airline pilot through an assessment of multi-tasking abilities and prowess in numerical, logical, inductive and deductive reasoning.

Due to sensitivity issues regarding how SIA conducts the Aon Online Assessment, there are limited ways to which Pilot Kaki can identify the exact components of the assessment. The only methods available through our professional means would be to scour through multiple sites that provide sample tests while comparing and basing them off word of mouth in publicly available discussion forums and chats, alongside volunteer inputs.

 

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Aon Online Assessment

As aforementioned, the Online Assessment contains the following sections (in no particular order):

  • Aptitude Tests

  • Inductive Logical Thinking

  • Deductive Logical Reasoning

  • English Tests

  • Math Tests

Aptitude Tests

  • Hand Eye Coordination

  • Multi-tasking

  • Spatial Orientation

In this test, the candidate has to navigate through a tube with obstacles by dragging the ball inside the circle with a mouse or virtual on-screen joystick when using a mobile device. The goal is to pass as many openings as possible within the time limit given.

Hand Eye Coordination.jpeg

In this test, the candidate's multi-tasking abilities are tested to the limits through juggling three different tasks:

  • Avoiding objects by shifting the position of the aircraft

  • Checking the answer of a math equation

  • Checking if there are duplicate shapes or symbols

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In this test, the candidate's spatial awareness and ability to read instruments are assessed. The test comprises dragging one of the four aircraft given to the correct position in relation to the aircraft instruments shown. 

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Inductive Logical Thinking

In this test, the candidate's logical thinking and inductive analysis are tested. A series of objects or symbols will be presented, with the goal of the test being identifying which object should be ruled out.

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Deductive Logical Reasoning

In this test, the candidate has to apply logical reasoning to deduce the correct symbol for a particular square of the puzzle. Each symbol only appears once in each row or column, from which the candidate must select a symbol from the bottom that best fits the unknown square.

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English Tests

In this test, the candidate may be evaluated through verbal reasoning, which is regarding the ability to interpret textual information and utilising it to determine the value of truth in certain statements. For each of the statements, the candidate has to decide whether it is true, false, or that the information provided is insufficient to allow one to confirm this fact.

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Math Tests

In this test, the candidate is screened for the understanding of mathematical applications through basic mathematical questions such as the translation of units, percentage calculations and more. The type of mathematical applications in this tests are designed such that they are highly relevant to the standards required in the aviation industry.  

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Upon completion of the Aon Online Assessment, candidates will await for the SIA Pilot Recruitment Team to get back on the outcome of the test. Should you have performed well for the Online Assessment, SIA will email that you have successfully passed the test and will proceed to Stage 2, which consists of a Written Assessment, Final Panel Interview and Tea Party. On the other hand, those that performed below par will be informed that they were unsuccessful in their attempt.

As this is a relatively new interview process from which it is conducted internally without any external presence, there is presently no data on the approximate success rate of candidates who make it past the initial Aon Online Assessment stage. The closest number we can put to would be the Aptitude Test pre-Covid, where it is said that only about 30% of remaining candidates who have made it pass the Preliminary Interview stage will also pass the Aptitude Test.

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Preliminary Interview

Stage 2 - Preliminary Interview

After the completion of the Online Aptitude Test, you will receive an email invitation within one to two weeks if you have been shortlisted for the Preliminary Interview at SIA Training Centre (STC). Preliminary Interviews have traditionally been held on a Friday, at least twice every month, or even every week during the peak of hiring.

 

 

Here is a checklist of documents required for the Preliminary Interview:

  1. Copy of email invitation

  2. Identity card and passport (Original and photocopy)

  3. Birth certificate (Photocopy)

  4. All educational certificates (Original and photocopy)

    • GCE ‘O’ Level (green colour)

    • Transcript/SPM, GCE ‘A’ Level (yellow colour)

    • Transcripts/STPM, Diploma and Degree Scroll & Transcripts

  5. 1 recent passport-sized photograph (To be pasted on your completed CV summary)

  6. A qualified doctor’s report for visual acuity eye-test with and without optical aids (Snellen’s chart) and colour vision test (Ishihara). If you are wearing optical aids, please ensure there is support document with myopia and astigmatism clearly indicated in the report with degrees (original). The cost of the eye-test and colour vision test will be on your own account.

    • Note: You will need to bring along a copy of your pre-Lasik report if you had previously undergone Lasik

    • Important Requirement: Myopia must not exceed 600 degrees and astigmatism must not exceed 200 degrees per eye (this applies to both pre- and post- Lasik surgery). 

  7. A print-out of the completed CV summary (Typed, not handwritten) & declaration form attached

  8. NS Certificate of Service and Transcript (Original and photocopy) (where applicable)

  9. Re-entry permit card (Original and photocopy) (for Singapore Permanent Residents)

  10. Relevant testimonials (where applicable)

 

You will need to have all the necessary documents ready upon registration on the day of the Preliminary Interview as there are no printing facilities available on-site at STC. Failure to produce all the items may result in the candidate not being able to proceed with the interview.

Preliminary Interview Checklist

Dress Code

Dress Code

Candidates may have doubts on what to wear for the interview, with the common million dollar question being - "To wear a suit or not to wear?" SIA actually indicates the dress code in the email invitation for the final interview, which specifically states a formal attire in the form of a long-sleeved shirt and tie. This points that you can do no wrong by turning up in said formal attire for the preliminary interview as well. However, this does not actually clear the air on whether a suit is necessary, does it?

 

Some candidates may opt to wear a suit and tie to appear smart and presentable, which we do not deny. After all, airline pilots do wear a suit as part of the uniform (at certain destinations during winter). Yet on certain occasions, wearing a suit have been proven to backfire. While candidates may have the thought that a suit would be a good fit for the interview, there have been instances where the interviewers have instead pointed out their inability to follow instructions as given in the email. Although the instructions were only given for the Final Interview and hence not applicable to the Preliminary Interview, we would like to share that it is not necessary to wear a suit for the interviews and that a formal shirt and tie would more than suffice. Ultimately, there really is no right or wrong to don a suit and the decision remains with you but we would like to reiterate that what matters more would be the amount of preparation you put in for the interviews and tests.

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Preliminary Interview

On the morning of the Preliminary Interview, you will have to register at the STC Security Checkpoint to obtain a Visitor sticker, in which SIA HR would have submitted your name for clearance prior to the interview day. After receiving the sticker, you will head to the Main Lobby and make your way towards the interview area.

There will be a table where HR personnel are seated and upon arrival, you will head straight to them for registration. The very first business of the day will be the taking of height and weight, where although there is a strictly enforced 1.62m height requirement for all SIA cadet pilot candidates, the weight component appears to be just another formality to go along with your height. Should you not meet the height requirement, you will be asked to leave.

If you are having thoughts about trying to 'increase' your height through wearing tall shoes, you can throw that out of the window. Shoes will have to be removed when taking height and weight. Even unconventional methods like stuffing your socks to appear taller will not work as there are instances where the HR personnel will also request that you remove your socks. Furthermore, there will be many more occasions where your height will also be taken, including a detailed Class 1 Medical, leaving it impossible to 'cheat' the system.

Once that is done, you will proceed to submit all the documents as per the checklist above, before heading to one of the many available seats around the area to wait your turn for the Preliminary Interview. Typically, the wait may last anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes, depending on which session you have been allocated out of the three for the day.

As your turn approaches, you will be ushered to a seat outside one of the assigned rooms and asked to wait for the interviewers to invite you in. It is a one-on-two interview, where each room will have two interviewers, typically in either one of these two combinations:

  • 1 Management Pilot and 1 HR Personnel, or

  • 2 Management Pilots

Each Preliminary Interview will take about 20 to 30 minutes, with a myriad of potential questions that can be asked. Obviously, the Management Pilots will pose the more technical and aviation-related questions while the HR Personnel will ask the more generic questions regarding your soft skills and personality. The two interviewers may also put on a good guy-bad guy routine to add a certain amount of pressure and observe how you tackle the interview. You may refer to the SIA Interview Questions page for a clearer picture on what are the types of interview questions you can expect.

Once you are done with the Preliminary Interview, you will be asked to leave STC immediately and you will not be allowed to interact with any other candidates who have yet to be interviewed.

 

You will await for either a call or email from the HR team on the result of your Preliminary Interview the next week, in which typically about 30 to 40% of shortlisted candidates successfully make it pass the Preliminary Interview stage. 

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Final Interview

Stage 2 - Written Assessment, Final Panel Interview, Tea Party

The Final Interview stage is usually held on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, and consists of three components:

  • Written Assessment

  • Final Panel Interview

  • Tea Party

There used to be a Written Assessment component pre-Covid, but has been effectively withdrawn. Should you wish to have a better understanding of this component, you may continue to refer to the Written Assessment section below which we have not opted to remove.

You are again required to bring certain documents for the Final Interview:

  1. Identity card (Original and photocopy)

  2. Copy or snapshot of email invitation

  3. Printed copy of Pilot Application Addendum (Attached)

 

Although the email will not remind candidates this, you should have all the necessary documents ready on the day of the Final Interview as there are no printing facilities available on-site at STC, as well as to leave a good impression. 

For the Final Interview, the email will however indicate a dress code to follow - Formal (long-sleeved shirt and tie). You may take reference from the aforementioned dress code section.

As like before, on the afternoon of the Final Interview, you will have to get a Visitor sticker from the Security Checkpoint, in which SIA HR would have similarly submitted your name for clearance prior. After receiving the sticker, you will head to the Main Lobby and subsequently, the same interview area.

This time round, the HR personnel will guide you into a meeting room with the other candidates, where you will be briefed on the day's proceedings. There can be expected to be about 4 to 6 candidates for the Final Interview stage.

Written Assessment (Withdrawn)

Pre-pandemic, the Final Interview stage used to begin with a Written Assessment, which is a 50-word essay to be completed over 15 minutes. All candidates for the Final Interview session will be seated around the meeting table to complete this assessment, with the topic being:

"Why do you want to be a pilot with Singapore Airlines?"

 

The assessment may sound straightforward and a piece of cake in comparison to the typical essay lengths we are used to at school, but to encapsulate your thoughts in just 50 words while attempting to stand out from hundreds of pilots is definitely no easy feat. After the essays are completed, the HR Personnel will collate them before passing them on to the Interview Panel, who may or may not pose questions to or have a conversation with you regarding what you have written.

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Final Panel Interview

Post-pandemic, the first segment of the day will comprise of an interview session with the Final Interview Panel. Depending on the given order of the candidates for the interview, you may either proceed immediately to the interview room or wait in the meeting room for up to 2 hours.

When your turn is up next, you will be asked to seat outside the interview room to wait to be called in. For the Final Panel Interview, the room is much bigger than the Preliminary Interview as the panel will now consist between 5 to 7 interviewers instead of the previous round's two. The panel will be chaired by the highest ranking Management Pilot involved in the day's interviews, and will typically consist of staff from different departments:

  • 2 to 4 Management Pilots, and

  • 1 to 2 HR Personnel, and/or

  • 1 to 2 other Senior Management from Flight Operations, and/or

  • 1 Psychiatrist

The Final Panel Interview will take about 30 to 45 minutes, with somewhat comparable types of questions being asked as the Preliminary Interview. Similarly, you may refer to the SIA Interview Questions page for a better idea on what are the types of interview questions you can expect.

 

With that being said, the technical questions in this round may be harder and more in-depth to a certain extent, as the candidate is expected to know a whole lot more about aviation to progress pass this round. The interviewers may also pose questions outside of aviation regarding you, your decisions and skills, especially if they pick up something interesting, including the essay you have just written a short while ago. You can also expect the panel to make use of the good guy-bad guy routine like before, and it has been rumoured that for the Final Panel Interviews, they tend to drill down deeper and be harsher than the earlier stage.

When you are done with the Final Panel Interview, you will be told to join the candidates who have already went before you at the same holding area as the Preliminary Interview, where the group of you will wait for all candidates to complete their turn. As you have finished the interviews, you are allowed to talk to (or discuss with) your fellow candidates.

Tea Party

Once all candidates have had their run at the Final Panel Interview and have gathered at the holding area, the interview panel will remain in the interview room for discussions and the selection process. Upon conclusion, they panel will exit the room to join the candidates at the same holding area and host a formal meet and greet session in the form of a Tea Party. Finger food such as cakes and puffs will be provided alongside hot drinks like coffee and tea.

 

The Tea Party, in recent times, is more of an informal Q&A session than an evaluation per se. This component used to be part of the trinity of assessments you will undertake during the day, but it said that interviewers prefer it to be a "get to know each other better" session, although this remains subjective to the preference of the panel. Nonetheless, we strongly encourage all candidates to continue to put their best foot forward for the last segment of the day.

Candidates are encouraged to interact openly with the interviewers and amongst one another, and are more than welcome to pose or clarify any questions on their mind. After about 20 to 30 minutes, it signals the end of the Tea Party and you will once again be asked to head back and wait for the SIA Pilot Recruitment Team to return to you. The email regarding the results of the final interview will usually be sent out within the next day or two, but this may change depending on the situation and season of recruitment.

If you received an email informing you that you are required to do a medical check-up (Class 1 & Class 2), it should mean that you have passed the Final Interview stage. Approximately 40% of candidates who attended the final interview will proceed to the medical stage. This represents a 5% success rate from the start of the interview process at the Preliminary Interview stage, or a selection rate of 1 out of 20 candidates.

Tea Party
Medical

Stage 3 - Medical Assessment

Candidates are required to do a medical check-up for both Class 1 and Class 2 as the last stage of the selection process. You may refer to the dedicated Pilot Kaki Medical page for more information and specific details on what to expect for this final stage.

About 50 to 60% of candidates who go for the medical are eventually selected and recruited by Singapore Airlines for the Ab-Initio Cadet Pilot Programme. This represents an overall success rate of 2.5% from the start of the interview process at the Preliminary Interview stage, or a selection rate of 1 out of 40 candidates. This highlights and reinforces the extreme difficulty and competitiveness in getting into this prestigious programme of our national flag carrier.

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