So you want to become a flight attendant, that’s great news! And you’ve got your eye on Emirates and Etihad Airways, both of which are really great airlines to work for. I worked as cabin crew for 3 and a half years and I remember vividly being where you are now, searching for help on the internet about the assessment day but struggling to find much. Don’t worry, I got you. Here I’ll walk you through everything for the Etihad/Emirates open day/assessment day in the hope to help you feel more confident and more prepared to go get your dreams!
What is a Cabin Crew Open Day?
A flight attendant open day is when anyone can come to drop off their CV (resume) and potentially be shortlisted as cabin crew. They do not need to be invited to the event, they can just turn up. This is different to a cabin crew assessment day, although after people have been shortlisted on an open day, it will turn into an assessment day.
What is a Cabin Crew Assessment Day?
The difference between a flight attendant open day and a flight attendant assessment day is that an assessment day is invite only. It always involves participants receiving an invite beforehand. They will have previously submitted their CV online on the airline’s recruitment website. The airline will then shortlist people and invite them to the assessment day, thus cutting out the ‘open day’ part above. So there is the possibility that if your CV is not strong enough, you will not even be invited to the assessment day. Therefore it is always important to write a CV that makes an impact!
Click here for tips on how to write a winning CV!
When are the recruitment days for Emirates and Etihad?
Both airlines regularly have recruitment days in cities all around the world. Click to visit the Emirates and Etihad cabin crew careers page for details. If the airlines are currently recruiting there will be dates for upcoming open days/assessment days. If there are no dates available it means they currently aren’t recruiting. It shouldn’t be too long until they will open it again, so just try back again every couple of weeks, or see if you can request a notification when something is released.
When should I apply for a cabin crew open day/assessment day?
You must be 21 or over to work as cabin crew in the UAE as the age for serving alcohol in the UAE is 21. So if you are 20 you can still apply, however you won’t be able to start your training until you are 21.
If you are worried you are too old to get accepted as cabin crew, I know some girls who were hired as crew at Etihad at almost 40 years of age. If you are in good health, have a strong CV and have great interpersonal skills, there is no reason why more mature people can not apply. From what I can tell, Emirates is more focused on hiring younger crew (they don’t often hire crew over 30 years old), whereas Etihad is less discriminative about age and more concerned about hiring people who have relevant experience.
LEVEL OF ENGLISH:
PLEASE only apply for a cabin crew job when your level of English is high enough. I saw many people get knocked out of the assessment day because their level of English just wasn’t good enough. Trust me, it is for your own good. Cabin crew training is hard and you will be studying from aviation manuals a lot. If your English is not up to scratch you will REALLY suffer in the training and in the exams (and onboard when you have to talk to people/understand different accents/deal with emergencies/speak on the interphone etc).
It is much better to wait 6 months and really work on your English, than to waste a lot of money and energy coming to an assessment day when you are not confident speaking and writing in English. Your English doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be at a very good level. I reiterate, this is for your benefit and it will make things a lot easier down the line.
How do I apply for a cabin crew assessment day/open day?
Visit the above website for the airline you prefer, and click on the assessment date/open day you will be able to attend. You’ll need to create an account on the website. Make sure to read all the guidelines and check that you adhere to all of them before you apply! You will need to have a completed CV to attach. Click here if you need help writing your CV.
What do you include in a cabin crew resume?
It is important to always tailor each resume to the qualities the airline looks for. Make sure to read their website to see what they expect from their applicants. Click here to download a sample resume!!
When submitting your CV online you also absolutely want to include a cover letter too that highlights your experiences and expertise. Keep it concise and impactful. Click here to download a sample cover letter!!
What happens once you have applied online?
If your application is successful you will be notified by email a few days/weeks later and be invited to an Assessment Day.
What are you required to bring to a cabin crew assessment day?
You need to bring a copy of your CV and often 2 colour photographs – a full-length photograph wearing business attire and a passport style photograph: make sure you are smiling in the photographs, they specifically ask for this! Click here to see the guidelines Emirates asks for in the photographs. Emirates also ask for photos in smart clothes too so make sure you have all these pictures beforehand as they will want to see them at the final interview.
You’ll also be required to bring your passport and a photocopy of your passport, as well as a copy of your highest education certificate (Degree or college certificate).
Most people kept their papers in a smart plastic wallet to keep them clean and prevent them from getting damaged. Girls bring a black handbag that will fit your CV in without it getting crumpled. Also bring some makeup (especially lipstick) with you to replenish throughout the day. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water too.
What outfit should I wear for a cabin crew assessment day?
You need to come dressed in business attire. For men, a smart suit. Most females come dressed in a black blazer, white shirt and a knee length black skirt. Do NOT come in a skirt that is above the knee. Remember Etihad and Emirates are airlines based in Arabic countries and you need to show that you can dress appropriately and respectfully. Also make sure your blouse is buttoned up quite high, regardless if you like how it looks or not. It does not give a good impression if your cleavage is exposed.
I had seen a few people dressed in extravagant and fashionable outfits: bright red trousers, over-the-top smokey eye make up, ridiculously high heels. Don’t get me wrong – these people looked very presentable. But all of them got kicked out quite early. The airlines like that you are able to conform to a standard dress code, as you will all look the same in the cabin crew uniform. They want your personality and energy to do the talking, not your attention-grabbing outfit. So do yourself a favour and stick to the boring black and white attire (which you’ll be wearing through training anyway so you might as well get used to it!).
Also, of course you want to smell nice, but don’t go overboard with the perfume or aftershave. If your smell is too strong it will really put off the recruiters.
How should I do my make-up for a cabin crew assessment day?
Style & Image is a very important aspect of being a flight attendant. You need to look neat and presentable.
Wear a full face of make-up: foundation, concealer, blusher, eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick. Even if you don’t wear make-up every day, you need to make an effort for the assessment day. If you use eyeliner just don’t go over the top – the airlines don’t want to see Cleopatra eyes. I would advise against wearing eyelash extensions, but if you must wear them make sure they are very discrete .
How should I do my hair for a cabin crew assessment day?
You want to look as much like a cabin crew as possible, so see how they do their hair and try to do the same. Many flight attendants in Etihad and Emirates style their hair into a low bun. Do not do a high bun on top of your head as Emirates and Etihad crew never have this hair style because of their hat. A French twist is also common in Etihad, but there is an art in learning how to do it, so unless you can do a French twist just stick with the low bun and make sure you have enough hair spray on to tame any flyaway hairs.
What if I have tattoos?
If you have any tattoos make sure they are covered. They will ask you if you have any – if they will definitely be hidden underneath the uniform it is fine, you can declare them and not have to worry about it. But if you do have tattoos in the restricted areas for Etihad/Emirates cabin crew such as on your wrist you could be in some big trouble.
On my assessment day one girl almost got to the final interview, and then the recruiter saw something really faint on her wrist and so confronter her about it infront of all of us. It turned out to be a very faint tattoo. The girl had been getting laser to remove it and just needed to complete one more session before it was gone. It was hardly noticeable, but the recruiter still spotted it. The recruiter was pretty angry as we had all already declared and signed whether or not we had any tattoos. The girl had lied and said no, so the recruiter asked her to leave immediately. The girl burst out crying, it was awful,
Now I am absolutely not condoning lying. But I do know several crew who put on heavy makeup over their tattoos every single flight and get away with it. Just saying.
What if I have to travel far to get to an assessment day?
If you aren’t lucky enough to live in the city where an assessment day is being held, you’ll have to pay for transport to get there, and often it involves taking a flight. You’ll have to pay for a hotel too as the assessment days start around 8 or 9 am so you’ll want to fly in the day before so you aren’t rushing in the morning (or imagine if your flight was delayed!).
Make sure to check the location of the assessment day on the map and book you accommodation nearby (or even in the same hotel as usually the assessment days take place in conference centres of hotels). You don’t want to be unnecessarily stressing yourself out trying to get across an unfamiliar city on your own on the morning of your assessment.
Sometimes the assessment day lasts just one day, and sometimes it lasts two days, with the final interviews taking place on the second day. Therefore you’ll have to be prepared to stay another night too. Take this into consideration when you buy your plane tickets!!
Paying for a flight, hotel, food, transport to and from the airport and the assessment day event definitely adds up. And there is no guarantee you will get the job. It is a lot of money to spend, but it shows how committed you are to wanting this job.
*TIP*: Only go to an assessment day in a native English speaking country (UK, USA, Canada, Australia etc) if your English is very good. The competition will be fiercer here as everyone else is a native English speaker, so any mistakes in your English will appear more obvious. My French friend and my Swedish friend both passed their final interviews in London though so it is possible, but both of them have almost perfect English.
How many people usually attend Etihad/Emirates open day/assessment day?
There may be a couple of hundred people at an open day! That’s why it is always best to try and go to the assessment days as you have a much higher chance of being selected as there are less people. Plus you have already passed the first stage as they have already vetted your CV when you applied online.
Usually there’s around 80 or so candidates at an assessment day. However, I’ve known some lucky people to go to assessment days when only a handful of people are there, and I’ve also known people to go to assessment days where there were almost 150 people. Obviously the less people the better as it’s less competition for you.
If you have a choice of assessment dates to attend, ALWAYS go to the least popular location as there will be less people (so, less competition). For example if you are from Barcelona and there is an assessment day in Paris and one in Palermo (Sicily), go to the one in Palermo. I know many crew who did this and they said it definitely helped them to get the job.
How to stand out in an assessment day?
Competition for flight attendant jobs is pretty tough. Out of all the applicants, how are you going to create a lasting impression?
I attended my assessment day in Rome (as I was living in Italy at the time). This certainly helped me stand out as I was the only native English speaker and so the recruiters all remembered me through each stage.
Be confident, but not arrogant. Be sure in your ability, but don’t feel like to are superior to anyone else there. Despite everyone at home telling you you’re going to get the job, it isn’t yours yet and you have to prove yourself at this assessment day.
Be yourself and SMILE always – until your cheeks hurt from smiling so much! Talk to other applicants and make friends – I found everyone was so friendly and they all just wanted to talk to someone so they wouldn’t be alone!
You’re going to be nervous, of course. And there are going to be girls there who are so stunning and glamorous that it will probably intimidate you and make you compare yourself to them, but just try not to. There are plenty of people to talk to so just excuse yourself, make some excuse and find other people to chat with if you’re not enjoying someone’s vibe.
How early should I get to the assessment day?
On time performance is very important as cabin crew. They start the assessment days early on in the morning so you can demonstrate that you can be on time. If you arrive late to the assessment day it is a very bad impression and I very much doubt you would make it through the whole assessment day.
Personally I got there about 20 minutes early as I don’t like to get to these kind of things too early as it makes me more nervous. I was one of the last to arrive, and so I would advise getting there no later than 15 minutes early. Some people got there over an hour early due to transportation/personal preference though. It’s up to you. Personally I would rather wake up early and spend the time going over some final questions on my own in the hotel room/airbnb, as opposed to just sitting at the venue waiting.
Whilst you are waiting to be called in, chat to the other candidates! It will calm your nerves, you’ll make some friends, and you might even fly with them one day (I did!). I think they called us into the big conference room about 5 minutes before the assessment day was due to start, hence why it is important to get there early. Also just double check your appearance before they call you in.
What happens on a flight attendant assessment day?
First you’ll meet the recruiters – usually it is a team of 2 or 3, but it can also be just one person. Often they are senior crew still working as cabin crew (I ended up flying with one of my assessors multiple times once I got the job!).
Etihad/Emirates Assessment Days often go in the order of:
- CV drop off
- height/reach test
- recruiters presentation
- individual question
- group exercises
- English test
- Final interview (can be next day).
The order can often vary though. In between each session you’ll all be asked to leave the room for about 15 minutes or so whilst the recruiters decide which applicants they are sending home. So keep chatting with others, and make sure you bring enough money to buy snacks/drinks in the break if you need (there will be a coffee shop or some sort in the venue).
Once the recruiters have made their decision they’ll send some of you away there and then, so make sure you keep all your belongings with you if you do need to leave. They might leave a list on the door of who got shortlisted and who didn’t, or they might just call in the numbers of those who got shortlisted and are staying, and ask the rest to leave.
CV drop off
At the CV drop off they will ask for your CV and also look at your hands: front and back. They want to check your nails are neat, there are no scars, cuts or tattoos. Keep your nails short. Girls if you plan to wear acrylic nails make sure they haven’t grown out and aren’t pointy. Personally I think it is best to have a French manicure.
You’ll be given a sticker with a number on to place on your blazer. They’ll write the same number on your CV so the assessors can identify you easily when it comes to eliminating people.
They’ll write a number on your CV and then give you a sticker to place on your breast pocket with the same number, so you are easily identifiable to them.
Why do you need to pass a height and reach test to become a flight attendant?
The reason is because lots of the safety equipment is located in the overhead stowage compartments, so flight attendants need to comfortably be able to reach the safety equipment in case of an emergency. Also the galley (kitchen area) has lots of containers overhead and as flight attendants you’ll be required to lift and move them.
ALWAYS check the airline’s height requirements: Emirates require a minimum height of 160cm where Etihad doesn’t specify a minimum height. They do both require applicants to be able to reach 212cm when barefoot (you can stand on tiptoes). I knew a couple of girls who got jobs with Etihad as they were too small to apply for Emirates. They made a mark on the wall at home at 212cm and practiced reaching that line every day until they could touch it. So if you’re short, don’t worry: there are ways you can get around it.
The recruiter(s) will do a presentation about Dubai/Abu Dhabi and show a short video. They’ll then ask some questions afterwards just to see who was paying attention. They’ll also talk about living in the UAE and cabin crew life. Of course they want to sell the job to you, but they aren’t going to sugarcoat it. They’ll tell you how cabin crew life can be challenging being away from home, missing important family events, suffering from jet lag, sleepless nights, long flights. They are telling you this not to put you off the job, but to really prepare you for it so nothing will come as a surprise.
You will have a couple of minutes with the recruiter and they will ask you a completely random question. Most likely nothing to do with flying. It will be something out of the blue just so they can see how you can react and respond to someone and formulate an answer.
Usually they will put you in a group of about 8 people. The chairs will be organised in a circle. They will give you some kind of scenario and ask you to all solve it together and then share your results at the end with the other groups. There will be several groups, with different scenarios and the assessors will go round observing the conversations and dynamics between each group. They’ll write things down on their clipboard.
Airlines like applicants that aren’t too loud and bossy, but equally they don’t want someone who is too quiet and can’t assert their authority. They look for people who are in the middle. Never interrupt
If you know English well, the English test should not be too much of a problem. Most of it is multiple choice.
Cabin Crew Final Interview
Whilst you will never know which exact questions they will ask you in the interview, you can ALWAYS prepare yourself.
Airlines will always ask you to tell them a bit about yourself, why you want to be cabin crew, why you want to work specifically for that airline, why they should pick you etc. Therefore prepare these answers before! Write bullet points down and then memorise them and expand on them so your answers don’t seem scripted. But equally, you need to get your point across that you possess all the qualities they are looking for.
Think of scenarios they could ask you and how you can answer them. You need to give SPECIFIC EXAMPLES! For example they might ask you to tell them about a difficult person you had to deal with. Give an ACTUAL EXAMPLE of when you have dealt with someone difficult! Don’t just say how you would deal with that person.
The final interview will only last about 20 minutes, so use this time to shine. The recruiters will probably be writing things down – don’t let this put you off. I actually prefer when they are writing as it means they aren’t staring at me, and it makes me feel more comfortable.
Who did they pick?
They selected 12 of us. Out of the 12 of us, only 3 had previous flying experience (and 2 of them were for low-cost airlines). All of us were over 21 and had all had jobs before – nobody was fresh out of studying (but I have met crew onboard where flying was their first job). I was 27.
Most of us got separated into different batches – usually they don’t like to have too many of one nationality in a batch so everybody speaks English all the time.
Keep in touch with the other candidates who made it through to the final interview!
All of us who went for the final interview exchanged WhatsApp numbers and we started a WhatsApp group after the final interviews were over. It was such a huge support as I felt like I already had friends before I even started my training! We would message whenever we got any emails, we would ask each other for advice, and we are still friends to this day, even though half of us don’t fly any more! These guys were there for me since day 1, and you’ll always have a special relationship with these people as you all went through it together.
What happens if you don’t get picked?
If you don’t get selected at an Etihad/Emirates open day/assessment day, don’t feel bad. It happens. Hundreds of thousands of people apply to be crew every single year, and only about 5% of them will ever go on to work as cabin crew. Reflect on how far you came, and what you could do better. Remember you can always apply 6 months later.
I know some absolutely fantastic crew who are incredible at their job and it took them 3 or 4 times to get the job! I also know some miserable crew who act like this is the worse job in the world – who got the job on their first go! Don’t let setbacks hold you back. Just keep trying.
What is the timeline between applying and starting the job?
It varies a LOT, not only between airlines, but also in the same airline. For example, I applied at the time when crew were really in demand (as new routes were being opened, new aircraft were being delivered) so they had many assessment days and needed to hire lots of crew.
My cabin crew application timeline:
- Applied on 1st November
- Assessment date on 23rd November
- Final Interview on 24th November
- Job offer received by email on 26th November
- Contract received by email on 27th December
- Start date of 26th January received on 3rd January
- Visa and flight details received by email on 23rd January
- Flew out on 25th January
- Started training on 26th January
So it was 2 months from my assessment date until I started my cabin crew training. However, this is very quick and often it takes much longer than this. As I stated earlier, the airline was in need of crew and so speeded along the process for our wave of new starters very quickly. I have known friends where the whole process took 6-8 months. So don’t worry if it is taking longer for you to hear back. Just be patient (I know it is hard as you are so eager to start!).
Which is better, Etihad or Emirates?
Both have their good qualities. As a general rule, the process for Etihad is quicker and they get back to applicants much sooner (within days) to tell them if they have got the job or not, whereas Emirates can often take a few months to get back to you (and imagine after several months of waiting anxiously and getting a no, it must be awful). This can often determine which one you will pick to work for, especially if you’re desperate to start flying!
Emirates is stricter on the application day (for example you need to submit several photos beforehand) and with it’s crew when you start flying, but it does fly to more destinations, and you’re based in Dubai. There is a lot more to do in Dubai than there is to do in Abu Dhabi, where Etihad is based.
I know crew at both airlines who are incredibly happy, so I wouldn’t necessarily say one was better than the other. If you go to assessment days for both the airlines, perhaps you get a much better vibe for one of the airlines. Just go with your gut feeling.
One final thought:
Flying is probably the best job in the world. It can be very challenging and tiring but immensely fun and exciting! To really understand the pros and cons of being a flight attendant click here. You can also read the interview I did with Cabin Crew HQ, where I give a deeper insight into my cabin crew life and tips for applying, click here!
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