Today, more and more of us live in multicultural societies – we’re surrounded by people from different cultures who have diverse faiths, traditions and are of different nationalities than our own. It’s a wonderful thing and it goes to show just how small the world has become.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of bigoted and small-minded people in the world. Their narrow-mindedness and negative attitude can cause them to say or do things that cause offence – in the worst instances, it can lead to racist, Islamophobic or homophobic, etc behaviour.
Airline recruiters most definitely don’t want this type of person becoming Cabin Crew. The very business of an airline is to serve an international audience – passengers represent many different nationalities, faiths and cultures. It’s imperative that Cabin Crew understand the individual needs of their passengers and treat them with the respect they deserve.
But behaving in a manner that could cause disrespect or embarrassment to a passenger isn’t the only problem – the potential to cause damage to the reputation of an airline is massive.
As you can see, it’s fairly simple to understand why a Cabin Crew recruiter would ask you this question in your Final Interview. The question may be asked in broad terms or the recruiter might ask you to elaborate on a time you said or did something that had the potential to cause upset.
In the first instance, you should try to focus on your knowledge of different cultures and groups within society. For example:
- Travelling overseas – meeting people from different cultures.
- Diversity training – mention any form of training you have already received.
- Work colleagues/friends – if you live or work in a multi-cultural area.
- Education – religious studies, self-development, etc.
Remember, this question isn’t just about different cultures – it can include (but is not limited to): faith, nationality, sexual orientation, disability.
You should explain your commitment to respecting the rights of others and your passion for learning about different cultures and traditions. If you already live in a very multi-cultural area then specifically mention this and explain how much this has developed your understanding of the world.
Don’t worry if you live in an area that is more mono-cultural – the recruiter understands that not every candidate is going to come from a big city. But you’ll still need to prove that you’re welcoming of cultures other than your own. Mention any foreign trips you have been on, language courses, foreign exchanges or education programmes you have been involved in.
Research the destinations that your airline of choice flies to. Find out about the mix of passengers that the airline carries and show the recruiter you have researched this. Talk about some of the specific needs of different cultures you might encounter onboard. Show the recruiter you have seriously considered these issues and will handle them with tact, confidence and aplomb.
The recruiter may ask you for a specific example of a time you said or did something that caused confusion or upset to a person from a different culture of your own. This is a really difficult position to be in as you might be forced to admit you didn’t understand someone else’s culture as well as you thought you did.
Focus on the positives of the situation. Explain how you learnt a great deal from the situation and further developed your knowledge to ensure another mistake like this could never occur in the future. Describe how you made the situation better for the customer and finish the example off with a positive result.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.