I had one client who had failed his initial Captain Upgrade. Prior to meeting with him I was not overly concerned about this one failure. He had done well in all the rest of his training, his driving record was clean, and his grades in college were above average. Although I knew that, as always, failed checkrides could be a topic of discussion. But, I wasn't concerned that it was a major problem.
Three minutes into the discussion I realized that this individual was going to make the checkride a very major problem! He blamed his flying schedule for not allowing him time to study. He blamed the check airman for the types of questions asked during the oral. He blamed everyone but himself.
After listening to his complaints for a few moments I asked him some basic questions:
Did someone tell you that certain areas wouldn't be covered? (His complaint was that he'd been asked "unfair" questions even though they were airplane specific.)
Did you think all emergency procedures wouldn't be covered? (His complaint was that he had been given multiple and "unfair" emergencies.)
Were you caught unaware as to when your checkride would be given? (His complaint was he was flying over 70 hours a month while commuting and didn't have enough time to study.)
Having a stranger bluntly ask him these questions, his demeanor changed. "I guess there was a more I COULD have done to prepare." After 30 minutes of wrestling with and talking about the things he could have done better to prepare, he finally realized that the failure was his and his alone.
Although thoroughly irritated at the beginning of our conversation this client was finally able to look in the mirror. He was able to take constructive criticism and effect some changes. Taking his new attitude into his interview he reported that the interviewer spent less than two minutes on the failure and then moved on. He was hired.
When we are brutality honest with ourselves we quickly recognize that our behavior almost always plays a part in contributing to our mistakes. It isn't just bad luck, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or being made a scapegoat. More often than not mistakes are a result of personal decisions, approach to problem solving, coping skills and attitude.
Angie Marshall and Cheryl Cage from Cage Marshall Consulting
Reporting Clear (A Pilot's Interview Guide to Background Checks & Presentation of Personal History)