How proper is it for a CFI to interview students?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by sarangan, May 11, 2019.

  1. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    I've been a freelance CFI for two decades. However, I am busy with my own profession, so this endeavor is just to diversify my activities and keep me engaged in aviation. It is not for making money or to earn hours. I tend to be meticulous and technical, and I spend a lot of time preparing for lessons. I enjoy flying with students who challenge me intellectually, and ask me difficult questions. My biggest frustration has been students who show up unprepared - those who had not given the flight much thought since the last time we flew. My question is, how do I find these students before I start flying with them? I know it is not uncommon for students to interview a CFI, but how common is it for a CFI to interview a student? I don't want to come across as arrogant by making such a request. I sort of see it like a first date to see if there is any chemistry before making a commitment.
     
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  2. k9medic

    k9medic Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I always interview a student. I don't want to waste my time nor theirs. Sometimes you don't see eye to eye with a student and that's okay.

    I have also done an "intro flight" with a perspective student just to see where they are since I only due instrument and ATP instruction.
     
  3. GreatLakesFlying

    GreatLakesFlying Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When knowledge flows one way and money the other, it may be difficult to establish an equitable relationship and prospective students may be put off by your approach. Personally, I would have given it a try, but I am saying this only after the fact of having worked with a CFI who was not a good match and ultimately I had to switch, 3-4 weeks prior to my checkride.
     
  4. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    An interview can be beneficial to both parties.
     
  5. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    I think it's a good thing to think about although the question in your subject line is a different question than the one in the body of your post (should I vs. how should I).

    Recently I have been thinking about whether the conventional wisdom of having students study for the written simultaneously with flying is still wise. Making them pass the test or at least begin preparing for it earlier rather than later would certainly be one way of filtering people out.
     
  6. Vance Breese

    Vance Breese Line Up and Wait

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    I feel the key is to decide not to be frustrated.

    I enjoy all of my clients in different ways.

    I don’t expect their number one priority to be learning to fly.

    Most have busy lives.

    So far teaching people to fly safely has been a lot of fun no matter what their level of effort or their priorities.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
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  7. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    I tell them up front that I expect them to have the written done by about 25 hours, or before we start cross country training. If we get to the 25 hrs and they don't have it done then I will only fly with them once every other week until they complete it. It might also be difficult to get back on my schedule once they go to a limited flight training, since I will fill the open times with other students.

    Brian
     
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  8. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Unprepared students just mean we might spend the lesson doing the ground training they could have done at home and we may not fly or may have a short lesson. I actually find the students that have really prepared for the Lesson are pretty rare. But I tell them up front the only way they will do their rating in something near 40 hrs is if they really do there homework, otherwise it will more likely be 60-70 hours.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
  9. Jim_CAK

    Jim_CAK Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I don’t see anything wrong with it- I might not call it an interview - but tell prospective students you want to have a discussion- and pretty much tell them what you wrote here. You have limited time and want to help students get the most out of the hours you do have available. I see you are in Dayton. I wish you were in North East Ohio. Where are you teaching out of?
     
  10. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    It’s proper. Go for it.
     
  11. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Line Up and Wait

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    No issue at all.

    I still do a very small amount of flight instruction and I'm very picky about my students. For the most part I only do specialized instruction, under specific pre-arranged circumstances, and I turn down most requests simply due to lack of available time. If done above-board in a professional way, there's no reason for anyone to be upset about being interviewed and subsequently turned down.

    Also, these days CFIs are in high demand! Which is a great thing for our industry. So we all have to be realistic about the resources available within the industry.
     
  12. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It's very common for a CFI to not take up the training requested.

    Ex: My CFI will train me in my plane, and transition people whom I want to allow on my insurance in my plane. But he will not take on primary students. He does upset training with me in my plane but not aerobatic training.

    Synopsis: a CFI needs to "interview" his potential client to be certain that they are of like mind on training and outcomes to be achieved.
     
  13. Dean V

    Dean V Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You take pride in what you are doing, truly care about providing quality instruction and want a student equal to your effort. I thank you for your dedication to quality flight instruction.

    The problem with the student interview is determining who is accurately answering your questions and who isn’t. What you will likely find is most have good intentions, but under estimate the the effort required and under estimate the real life distractions in their life.

    You need to fully educate the student to the requirements, set timely goals and hold the student responsible. If they are not meeting those goals, your only weapon is your time and signature. When the student fails to meet a goal, simply tell them you are not continuing training until they do. Advising them to find another instructor is always your option.
     
  14. PlasticCigar

    PlasticCigar Pre-Flight

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    I’ve worked with several CFIs who don’t do primary training for “liability reasons.” Not sure if that’s really a thing or not.

    I’m working on my commercial right now. After my first lesson my CFI told me to take the written, then come back when I’m done. That worked out well. I’ve taught in non-aviation settings and it’s always difficulty to teach someone who acts like they don’t want to learn. Sometimes, it’s just not a good fit and it doesn’t mean it’s a bad instructor or a bad student, just a bad fit.

    I have a regular job that pays well, so when I get my CFI, I’m pretty sure I will interview all my students.
     
  15. Sazzy

    Sazzy Filing Flight Plan

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    As a student, I would not consider you arrogant at all for wanting to interview prospective students. In fact, I would respect you more for it. My instructor holds himself to certain standards, where he will expect his students to stay "in the game" whenever they're not in the air (as in, staying up to date on assigned reading and studying), and he will allot no less than two hours with each student. While he does understand that there may be monetary restrictions as far as when the airplane's engine is turned on, he does require that the student spend a reasonable amount of time both in discussion and in the air. If his requirements are not possible, then he would advise his students to find a different instructor. This allows him to keep himself current and productive as an instructor, and ensures that he is not wasting anybody else's time or money.

    All in all, I would say that it's much appreciated on my end that my CFI is upfront about what he expects from a student, and that gives me a good grasp on what I need to do to remain his student.
     
  16. wilkersk

    wilkersk Cleared for Takeoff

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    This reminds of the "Sorry you had to show up for nothing (circle the appropriate excuse)[I sold the airplane you're scheduled in yesterday][I flew out of town to go ferry a new airplane][I left yesterday on a 3 month vacation][No one bothered to tell you that I'm not checked out in the airplane you scheduled us in]." attitude of the FBOs/CFIs around here.
     
  17. Ventucky Red

    Ventucky Red Line Up and Wait

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    I wouldn't put much into an interview... call tell you how many times the person we interviewed and the person that showed up were not the same person..

    With your current "problem children" my tact would be to start the lesson off with; "what preparation did you do for today's lesson." The response to that question will be your benchmark as the your wanting to continue with them and pass them off to someone else.

    Also what are you doing to keep the student engaged in the process? Are you giving them an assignment to prepare for the lesson? For instance; "next week we're going to be doing slow flight, I am going to need for you to tell me why this is important and review the region of reverse command.." Let them know when they show up they should be ready to go... and don't wing it yourself, most good CFIs'..errr excuse me teachers have a syllabus and a lesson plan.. there is one attached. Do you have something like this to give to your students giving them the outline and mapping out your expectations? And please... don't expect them to be able to describe things as though they were an MIT Phi Betta Kappa graduate or at least your level on knowledge..

    How are you handling the post flight briefing? Are you asking the student what they liked about the flight, and what they thought they should improve on... making them articulate this will get them thinking and this can help you set up the next week's assignment.

    When I was getting my private, the place I was learning at made me buy this $150 Jepensen Private Pilot learning kit... $150 was a lot of money when Jimmy Carter was running for president the first time... My first instructor the one made me buy it... never once refereed to it.. After our sixth flight he become my ex-flight Instructor for the same reason you want to interview your prospected students..
     

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  18. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    I can't even imagine going "cold" into an instructor/student relationship. Sure, if you are working as a flight school employee and are assigned people, it can happen periodically but aside from that, how could you not take the time to at least check basic compatibility?
     
  19. Nub_Pilot

    Nub_Pilot Pre-Flight

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    Midlifeflyer, while I can understand that when a student is looking for an instructor\flight school it is recommended that they interview a couple different schools along with conducting multiple discovery flights to "get a feel for the instructor and school."

    The problem I'm running into is finding an instructor\school with an LSA for the sport pilot cert. I have found a couple schools that have listed on their website that they train for the sport pilot certificate, but upon contact they stated that they no longer have a qualified plane.

    I have found 1 instructor that trains out of a charter at an airport about na hour away. he has agreed to conduct the discovery flight, but only teaches part-time and has a full schedule already. so for my situation, I'm kind of stuck with waiting for his schedule to free up or travel out of state to do an accelerated program. I completely understand that part-time instructors have jobs and families.

    An alternative would be if I owned my own qualified plane, then I would be able to find and interview an independent instructor willing to teach out of my plane. This alternative quickly escalates the cost of the training.

    for me personally becoming a student, I want to get my ground school out of the way first (while I'm searching for training center) and am planning on at least 4 days of flight (dependent on the weather). I can arrange my schedule for more days, but not sure if that would be too overwhelming and difficult to retain all the knowledge.

    In the end, I think there should be dual interviews conducted just like a job interview. Is the student appear to be fulling vesting in training and does the instructor seem fully vetted in training to become a safe pilot?
     
  20. Crashnburn

    Crashnburn Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Actually, I’ve seen posts on other threads that claim owning the plane you train in will be about break even compared to renting and you don’t need to worry about scheduling conflicts. You just have to come up with the down payment and monthly payments.
     
  21. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I guess I'll be the dissenting opinion on this one, both as a student pilot and as an experienced private teacher in another profession.

    If you are teaching as your profession, meaning you are being paid to teach, the expectation that you should enjoy and cherish every moment with every student is unrealistic. You are being paid.. you are working. As a friend of mine was fond of saying to his son (who kept quitting jobs because they "weren't fun"), "That's why they call it WORK!! If it was fun, they wouldn't pay you to do it, and everyone would be doing it!" I've had thousands of students over my career, but admittedly only thirty or so privately. Speaking only of the private students, I was always clear with my expectations out front just so they wouldn't waste their money, but never turned anyone away if I had an opening or time available nor required an interview or application. The students that didn't prepare for lessons weren't near as enjoyable as the ones that did, but I still got paid and life went on. The students that showed up unprepared week after week after week couldn't really enjoy their lessons anyway, so they always eventually quit. That's fine, too, but I wasn't about to give up on anyone. It was always their decision.
    As a student, and this may very well say more about my personality and thoughts than it would a prospective teacher, if I had a CFI or teacher of another subject want to interview me first to see if I was worthy of their expertise, I'd be so turned off by that attitude that I'd feel that teacher wasn't worthy of me as a student. In my lifetime, I've had some remarkably unskilled, handicapped-by-everything-life-can-throw-a-person students who were nightmares to teach for a while that, for whatever reasons, had some switch flip and ended up being some of my favorite, most life-affirming influences in my time on this planet. The thought that I may have missed out because at one time I deemed them unworthy of my time is both humbling and sobering.
    Sooo.. as a teacher, I give every student willing to pay me for my help a chance, without question. Those who show true interest and effort over the long term, I tend to repay with extra effort myself. As a student, I expect the same from my teachers.
     
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  22. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    I don't think anyone suggested you should enjoy and cherish every moment. Nor recommending one pigeonhole a potential student as the wrong "type" (whatever that means) and refuse to teach them. Just that flight instruction is a one-on-one activity in which the human factors associated with personal interaction, including style, are an important part of the transference of skills, knowledge and attitudes. As students we learn better from certain types of people and no so well from others. As teaches, we hopefully understand our own limitations. Nice to know that early in the process.
     
  23. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Final Approach

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    One of the realities which interferes with the near-perfection we all want is availability. That can be a function of geography, population, and other things. The guy or gal in a largely rural area with a single small airport within 60 miles is not going to have the selection a student will find in a city with 4 airports, each with multiple flight schools.

    In your case, you've discovered that the LSA has not been able to maintain a long-term hold on the school training market, at least in areas I'm familiar with (I dint know if they are doing well in others). As an example, when I was living in Denver there was a flight school which focused on LSAs. Fleet of about a half dozen and grew to have two different airport locations. The principals eventually purchased a long-time commercial flying club and integrated their fleets. I just looked at their fleet list. About 40 airplanes; I didn't see one LSA.

    Don't discount buying your own and finding someone to teach you. @Crashnburn's comment has been the experience of a number of people. Especially if light sport is your goal, given the rental market even after you get the certificate, it can be a realistic choice.
     
  24. kath

    kath Line Up and Wait

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    I am like the OP, I have a "day job" and instruct on the side. Which means I can only take one or two students at a time, and my availability is limited, but I can also be as choosy as I want about students. I think it is *completely* appropriate to have a conversation beforehand about expectations, yours and theirs both, whether you call it an "interview" or not. And to have "sorry, but I don't think this'll be a good match" be a possible outcome from either side.
     
  25. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    When I started my IFR I had a sit down meeting with my CFI which I felt was totally appropriate. As he was only part time he wanted to see how serious I was before we started and I wanted to see how serious he was. Worked out well until he passed away. :(