Singapore Airlines Air Steward Interview Process

There are plenty of reasons why one would consider embarking on a cabin crew career. You get paid to fly while shopping along le Champ Élysées, traversing the landscapes of Marrakech by camelback, or crossing out your Michelin Guide bucket list in New York City.

I, on the other hand, was simply looking for a distraction of sorts. The thought of diving headfirst into a serious career at 22 felt too intimidating. So I signed up to be an air steward for Singapore Airlines.

Day of the interview

Suited in black with my hair neatly slicked, I arrived at the Pan Pacific on a Saturday morning for my interview. When the lift door opened, I was greeted by an overwhelming turnout and registered myself as Candidate #100. There were men dressed similarly to me, and I felt a looming sense of competitiveness in the room.

We were then seated in groups of ten. Most of those already seated had toothpaste commercial smiles, ready to please staff members who wandered by. The entire setting felt slightly Stephen King-esque; rehearsed and frankly creepy.

To pass time, I made small talk with my assigned teammates, to discover their motivations for taking up this job.

“I studied business management but didn’t like it, and being an air stewardess is fun… I think.”

“It doesn’t pay to be an artist in Singapore, so I am hoping I can network with this job and find better opportunities for me to showcase my work overseas.”

“I am in a long distance relationship and I’ll get to see my boyfriend frequently if I get to choose my flight route assignments.”

Round One (Q&A)

Once ushered into a room for our first Q&A, we were arranged in a semi-circle facing a pair of interviewers. As I adjusted my posture to sit upright, I started feeling jittery, given that I wasn’t prepared.

The first question was, “If today’s your last day alive, how would you spend the day?”

Thankfully, I was sixth in line and had the luxury of gauging the responses of other candidates and weighing the judgements of the interviewers.

Other contestants replied:
“I would eat all my favourite fattening foods with my foodie friends because I wouldn’t have to worry about gaining weight and being fat tomorrow.”

“I would be crying all day in my room in the dark.”

“I would cook for my parents lah, to thank them for taking care of me. And then maybe we can go to Disneyland together to have some fun.”

Some of the candidates came across as shallow, unpragmatic, detached from the company’s identity, or plain immature and unprofessional in speech.

The only thing I reminded myself of was to be rational when I responded, and parallel my answer with the airlines’ values and qualities.

I replied:

“I wouldn’t spend my day differently from any other. The most valuable thing I have are my memories, and I am grateful for having lived for as long as I have. Perhaps I will find my way to let my loved ones know that I am so thankful for having them by my side, and I will miss them all very much. ”

I made it to the next round and it wasn’t too difficult to pick out the reasons why six of my team members were eliminated.

Round Two (Debate)

The next interview was held almost immediately after. It involved introducing whoever it was we were seated next to, followed by a debate.

Here, we were also assigned to join two other candidates from another team to make up six members, which provided for a better balance of opinions when it came down to the debate.

I introduced Genesis (his unbelievable actual name), covering as many broad topics that defined him, to show I made the effort to know him better. This wasn’t a challenge given that I consider myself decently sociable.

As for the debate, we were split into two teams of three, and I was assigned to provide points that agree with the statement “It’s better to live in a multi-generation household.”

Drawing from personal experience, I focused on the wisdom imparted by my grandma.

“Having parents that travel often for work meant that the simple yet important act of having a family meal together was a rare occurrence. So, when I was younger, my grandma made frequent visits to live with and care for me.

I recognise now that she attended to my petty whims as a selfless act of love. Moving on to my early teens, my grandma’s failing health left her wheelchair-bound. Indebted to her, I made the effort to wheel her to church on Sundays and share a meal or two whenever I had the time.

What my grandma taught me in my childhood was the invaluable lesson of kindness and that’s something a textbook will never succeed in teaching. Having learnt that at such a young age shaped the person I am today. Now, I never take the kind acts of others for granted and appreciation plays a huge role in my vocabulary.”

Choked speech and teary-eyed, my slightly dramatic display distracted other candidates from their answers. Fumbles ensued.

Lost and unconvinced of their own points, some candidates struggled to be coherent in their responses.

Of the six, four of us made it to the final round; myself included.

Round Three (Personal Background)

As each hour went by, almost 200 of us were whittled down to a handful. The expansive space of the hotel corridor seemed more engulfing, as most of us felt we had made it too far to fail by then.

The final round of interview was a breeze, with unobtrusive questions on my educational, professional, and personal backgrounds. Noticeably, the last pair of interviewers had an air of established seniority, which prompted me to take extra care when providing answers. Especially on ambiguous questions involving my personal relationship with specific family members.

When I was done, I sat outside and waited for my results.

Alone with my thoughts, I started thinking if this was the job I could really see myself doing. Raised in a household with domestic helpers, cleaning up after myself wasn’t second nature.

Recalling my experience as a waiter years earlier, I was only reminded of customer-oriented horrors which, to my disdain, was my responsibility to deal with then. And as a cabin crew, I was, as most detractors would say, a ‘waiter in the sky.’

While the service and hospitality field deserves its prestigious accolades, it was never the industry I imagined myself heading into for self-fulfilment.

It began to strike me that what I wanted from this job was ultimately just mindless revelry.

And I was willing to put whatever career I wanted on hold FOR YEARS to toy with the idea that I wanted time away from being serious about my life goals.

Why I Declined To Be A Cabin Crew

At the end of the interview, my name was called and I was informed I made it through. An administrator then beckoned me to follow her to a small desk where she explained details of the contract.

She told me I had to be bonded to SQ for 22 months (5-year contract) if I signed on the dotted line.

Presented by this reality, I was conflicted by thoughts of what my genuine motivation for being here really was.

“The travelling would definitely be a huge perk. But what else is there besides all the travelling? If I’m always saying that I’m not ready for a serious commitment, then when will I ever be?”

While I weighed my options, I was told this was a choice I had to make there and then.

So I left.

No contract. No job. No Saturday morning brunch this week.

But, if I had to give up four hours on a Saturday to find clarity in what I truly wanted in life, then it was completely worth it.

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