"Applicants can [be recruited at any time] as resumes are kept on file at local branch offices. When we have vacancies, we will invite applicants to meet with the local recruitment team for a one-on-one interview, followed by a group interview," says Takao Chiba, Japanese flight attendant coordinator and spokesman for the airline, which is also launching a large-scale recruitment drive in Guangzhou.
Applicants need to be at least 22 years old and have a university degree. They must be fluent in English and their second language must be at least conversational since they have to be able to understand passengers' requests.
Garuda Indonesia undertakes a strict selection process for its flight attendants. A written examination is part of this process. Then there's a psychological test and a medical examination conducted by the airline's doctors. If all goes well, the applicants will meet with the chief flight attendant for an interview. "We do not employ individuals who stand less than 160cm tall because the overhead compartments would be out of their reach," says Chiba. "What's more, we do not accept those who wear contact lenses because the air in the plane is often dry." Applicants are tested on social skills as well, specifically how they interact with each other and with people of other nationalities. Successful applicants will undergo six months' training including safety and staged customer services interaction, at the airline's Flight Attendant Training Centre in Jakarta.
The carrier currently has around 10,000 personnel - 4,000 of whom are flight attendants based across 20 international destinations.
Barbara Xiao has been with Garuda for 16 months. While her training regiment was quite rigorous, she was also given the opportunity to have fun, make friendsand live through unforgettable experiences.
"I had my birthday during my training, and it was my turn to practice serving customers onboard. [My colleagues] staged a dramatic situation, to which I didn't know how to react. They all started laughing as I froze. Then they sang `Happy Birthday' to me. I felt really touched," Xiao says.
The most important part of the new-recruit programme is safety training. "All of us study very hard because we must know every detail for the safety of our passengers. We must also know how to deal with any aggressive passenger should the situation arise," Xiao adds. Once training is completed, the flight attendants will be on job rotation along with full-time staff members and serve with different teams on various flights. After six months of probation, they will be offered a contract.
Xiao, who joined the airline because she wanted to travel and meet interesting people, finds jetlag difficult to cope with. She misses home and sometimes struggles with finding time to see friends and family amid her dynamic schedule which is typical to the job. But she loves her career, especially the social aspect. Her advice to applicants is to be attentive and open to other people's views. "Sure, be a flight attendant. It is the best job in the world," she says.