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On the Record: Camielle Ence, Manager of Crew Resources, SkyWest Airlines

Camielle Ence has been with SkyWest Airlines for 20 years. Nineteen of those 20 she spent in the Flight Operations Department managing everything from crew pay to pilot-hiring. Today she oversees the pilot-hiring/recruiting as well as crew legalities.

Camielle EnceALPC: How many pilots have you hired in the past year, and what is the outlook for hiring in the coming year?

CAMIELLE: We hired 589 last year. We've hire 160 to date in 2006 and are looking to hire another 500 through the first quarter of next year.

ALPC: In addition to the minimums, what does your airline look for in a pilot?

CAMIELLE: Our minimums are 1,000 hour total time, 100 hours multi-engine and 100 hours instrument. A current first class medical and passport are required. The applicant must be over 21 years of age.

What do we look for? First and foremost is a good attitude. Flying actually comes second. We want to hire pilots whom we feel will fit in well here; pilots who will add to our existing culture. It's important to us that we hire pilots that want to work for SkyWest, not those who merely just want a job. We want them to feel vested from day one, and contribute in whatever they can to our continued success.

ALPC: Is there an "ideal" pilot for SkyWest?

CAMIELLE: Yes, one that goes above and beyond. One that, if he/she sees something that needs to be done, does it. One that is constantly looking for ways to better our company and add to our passengers' experience while they fly on our airline.

ALPC: Hoe does a pilot apply to SkyWest?

CAMIELLE: We would like candidates to apply using our online application at www.SkyWest.com/careers.

ALPC: How and when are they informed of being selected for an interview?

CAMIELLE: Upon receiving their application, they can expect an email or phone call, sometimes within days. It depends a lot on what is going on at that time.

ALPC: Please describe the intervew process.

CAMIELLE: The interview process consists of four phases. They can happen in any order. The written test consists of 50 questions from the ATP test standards along with a 20-question mechanical aptitude test. The simulator ride will take place in either an ATC-810 or a FRASCA142. The interview will be conducted by a line captain along with myself. We always say that anything is fair game in the interview - from approach plate knowledge, weather and systems, to what you can do in your spare time. And lastly, there is a CRM scenario, which is a role-playing event where they will be given a situation to work through, usually alongside another applicant.

We take a "big picture" look at each applicant, running them through all four phases and making a final decision at the end of the day. (Although there are time when that day is cut short because the applicant severely fails a portion of the interview.) Failure to complete the interview process will result in a 6-month wait to reapply.

ALPC: What makes a pilot stand out in an interview?

CAMIELLE: A nice tie! No seriously, there are several ways in which a pilot may stand out in an interview, both good and bad. The best way we will typically see this applicant is on the interview day. Whatever he/she brings to the process, we know it will only get worse/better once they are out online. How well they dress will certainly tell us how they will wear the uniform and take pride in how they represent SkyWest. How they get along with other applicants durng the day is also very telling as to how they will conduct themselves in the flight deck on a long four-day trip. How well-prepared they are will tell us that they have cared enough to put forth the time and effort to pass our interview process.

ALPC: What would you say are some of the most common mistakes made by applicants?

CAMIELLE: One big mistake is to bring your resume and think that it will speak for itself. You will be expected to demonstrate the knowledge and skill level your resume says you have.

The information we send out to applicants prior to interviewing is very, very clear. You are expected to bring certain things with you and come prepared. For example, if you don't bring copies along with your originals of your pilots' license, medical, driver's license, etc., the process will be terminated at that time. We expect attention to detail in the interview process, just as we do out flying the line.

ALPC: How many pilots that you interview end up coming to work for SkyWest?

CAMIELLE: We have an average failure rate on the interview day of 50%. Of that 50% that accept the position, very rarely do we have them pull out of the pool.

ALPC: What advice would you give to a pilot planning to apply for work at your airline?

CAMIELLE: Take time to prepare. This speaks volumes. A lot can be determined of a person who comes prepared and how well they prepare. You need to be at a certain level once you come to class. There are things that just won't be taught during initial training. We want you to be able to hit the ground running. We make that determination during the interview process. We don't want any training failures to occur. Also, be honest and forthcoming. I know it's been said many times, but it bears repeating. If you don't disclose something in the interview and we are made aware of it after the fact, your employment status will be terminated.

ALPC: Why do you believe SkyWest is a good choice for employment?

CAMIELLE: SkyWest offers many, many things to a pilot candidate. Quality of life is big at SkyWest Airlines. We have many bases which often affords the pilot to live in or close to their domicile, leaving the neccessity of commuting to a minimum overall. I believe our work rules are better than most. Management has a great relationship with our pilot group. We are fortunate to have excellent chief pilots who care and serve the pilot group well as their advocates. Upgrade time is very short, one of the shortest of any of the regionals. (If you have one of our upgrade minimums met, which are 2,500 hour total time, a first class medical and 1,000 hour in a 121-crew environment, and an ATP written, it will come very quickly - like two to three years). Stability is also something to be considered. We have never furloughed a single pilot in our 34 years. Also, your training will be done quickly. You'll be online flying within approximately 70 days. Whether you're in initial, transition, or upgrade, your training will be just as efficient.

ALPC: Would you say there are certain qualities that would make a pilot right for SkyWest?

CAMIELLE: Integrity is probably the biggest quality I look for. If you have that quality, others are sure to follow. A great work ethic, a team mentality while striving to be a good leader will also serve you well.

ALPC: Does SkyWest have a probationary period for pilots?

CAMIELLE: Yes we do, you can expect to spend your first year here on probation. That day starts from the first day of ground school. I might also mention that although the average upgrade time is two to three years, occasionally - if you have the upgrade minimums - it is not unheard of to hold upgrade within your first year in times of heavy training.

ALPC: Do newly-hired pilots have input on where they will be based? How is it determined?

CAMIELLE: When they are in initial new-hire, they are asked to list every base in order of preference. It is then awarded by seniority in class, which is determined by the last four digits of your social security number (unless there happens to be a current SkyWest employee in class, in which case, they are automatically most senior). The domiciles are awarded based on availability.

ALPC: What would you say is the hardest part of the job?

CAMIELLE: I would say that being on reserve is the hardest part. Others may have a different opinion.

ALPC: What do your pilots say are the most satisfying aspects of flying for SkyWest?

CAMIELLE: For the most part, they feel like they are part of a family here. You can ask almost any employee here and I would bet their answer would be that they love it here because of the people they work with.

ALPC: What are the best reasons you would cite for choosing SkyWest as a career destination?

CAMIELLE: As mentioned before, quality of life and the people you are associating with continue to be the biggest reason why our pilots choose to stay here and make it their home.

ALPC: Is there anything you would like to add?

CAMIELLE: I have spent half my life here at SkyWest Airlines and I can't imagine any other place I could have done that and remained so happy and satisfied. We have surrounded ourselves with people who take real pride in ownership in working here, and those are the people that have made SkyWest what it is today.

This article originally appeared in Airline Pilot Careers, August 2006