Picture of speedometer with Resume, Interview, and Get the Job text on the speedometer.


–And Flight Nurse and EMS Pilot Interviews

246 Applicants,

14 interviews,

1 Flight Medic job.

–Real world numbers. Staggering odds.

The International Association of Flight and Critical Care Paramedics (IAFCCP) estimates for each flight paramedic opening, approximately 250 applications are received. The result is a fiercely competitive job market.

Similar competition exists for flight nurse and EMS pilot jobs.

So how do you compete with 250 other applicants? How do you stand out in an enormous crowd of highly qualified nurses, paramedics, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) pilots?

What is the tipping point that gets you a job offer?

The Secret to Flight Interviews

Most prospective flight nurses, flight paramedics, and EMS pilots believe flight interview success is qualification based. They believe another instructor qualification, or trauma case, or instrument flight hour will tip the odds in their favor. Wannabes think qualifications are keys to success.

The “more qualifications the better” thought process makes perfect sense if you remember what most prospective flight nurses, flight paramedics, and EMS pilots have been doing for the last four to seven years of their lives.

Most applicants spent a ton of time, effort and money getting qualified. So it’s natural for these candidates to believe qualifications are what matter the most.

I understand the thought process, and I respect anyone who puts in the sweat effort required to earn an air medical flying job. But I don’t support the idea that qualifications are what matter in a flight interview, simply because it’s wrong. 

Thinking flight interview success is based on your qualifications is completely wrong. And I’ll prove it to you in a minute, but first the secret to flight interview success:

The secret to flight interview success is you. Your uniqueness is what gets you hired.

When Your Qualifications Matter, When They Don’t

The moment your flight interview begins, your qualifications no longer matter. That probably stings a bit, but it’s true. I’ll prove it to you:

No health system or helicopter company wastes time interviewing anyone who isn’t already qualified to do the job. They don’t need to practice interviews, they have it down pat. They already know the exact qualifications that led to past new hires’ success. They simply look for the same qualifications in their next batch of new hires.

The good news is that if you got called for a flight interview, you’re qualified to fly. A short training course and company indoctrination is all that stands between you and getting off the ground (literally).

Or is it?

The flip side is competition. Everyone who interviews with you is also already qualified to fly. This is the reason your qualifications no longer matter to an interviewer.

Now it’s all about you. Your uniqueness in the interview is what gets you a job offer.

How To Stand Out in a Crowd

If you got called for flight interview, I guarantee there’s something unique in your background to showcase.

Your uniqueness is what matters in a flight interview.

The key is to find it, highlight it, and make it unforgettable.

Your unforgettable uniqueness, and how you showcase it during your flight interview, is what gets you a job offer.

Your unforgettable uniqueness gets you top of mind and gets you the job.

What if I’m Just ‘Plain Jane?’

I hear “there’s nothing unique about me” from an amazing amount of incredibly qualified candidates. Sometimes their humility is their uniqueness. Another testament to the great group of people who comprise air medical.

The point is not to worry.

Once you understand the flight interview format and process; and how to use both to your advantage, finding your uniqueness is pretty simple –even for people who call themselves “plain jane.”

Here is a quick example:

A recent coaching student struggled to find her uniqueness. She did everything right in the traditional sense – BLS instructor, ACLS, PALS, street medic time, ER tech time, studying for her FP-C (Flight Paramedic Certification) exam, blah, blah blah. But she didn’t feel there was anything unique in her background to showcase in a flight interview.

So we setup a coaching session and did what we call a flight audit, basically a review of her resume, background and qualifications. Long story shortened, her uniqueness came out in conversation. She casually mentioned her volunteer work teaching CPR to her church group. She also mentioned having to attend a banquet where she received a national award for her volunteer work.

When I asked her why I didn’t see any of this mentioned on her resume or cover letter, she said she thought it unimportant. After all, it was “just CPR training,” not a critical trauma case.

Uniqueness found.

When to Get Started

Working EMS you’ve probably heard the popular quote,

“Poor planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on my part.”

The lesson is to start planning as soon as possible. Waiting until the last minute rarely gets the results you want.

Realize getting hired into an air medical flight crew position is a process. The more you understand the process and use it to your advantage, the better your chances of a job offer.

246 applicants, 14 interviews, 1 flight job. But your chances go way up when you know what to expect and how to prepare for success.

Clear Skies & Tailwinds



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Troy Shaffer
Troy Shaffer

About the Author: Troy is an Air Medical Career Expert passionate about a team approach to improving air medical safety from the ground up. Troy is a former Army medic, Army pilot, Coast Guard pilot and EMS pilot. Troy has taught hundreds of wannabe flight medics, flight nurses and EMS pilots the exact steps needed to launch air medical careers.

    21 replies to "Give Me Five Minutes and I’ll Give You the Secret to Flight Paramedic Interviews"

    • Marv Placino

      How about flight support ground crews?

      • Troy Shaffer


        The same techniques work for ground support flight interviews too!

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • Mike Starr

      Anthony Murillo check out this article! It will help you.

    • Troy Shaffer


      Thanks for sharing.

      Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • Jen Sylvester Mann

      Morgan Murray check out this article!

      • Troy Shaffer


        Thanks for recommending my article to a friend. I hope it helps Morgan reach her goals quicker!

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • Allan Gillies

      Nick Volkel III check out this article!

      • Troy Shaffer


        Thanks for sharing my article with a friend. I hope it helps Nick reach his air medical goals quickly and safely.

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • Justin Misuraca

      Don’t be lazy for your interview. Dress up, know what the company is about, their history and their mission. There are not many times in life that you get to brag. Brag about your accomplishments all while being humble. Someone helped get you where you are. Don’t give up after the first time you get passed up. I have seen multiple people get hired after 3 or 4 interviews.

      • Troy Shaffer


        You hit the nail on the head!

        Preparation is one of the keys to flight interview success. The ability to “sell yourself” by telling your own story is an interesting and compelling way is a second key. And you absolutley need to stay the course and not give up. It’s very competitive and sometimes takes several interviews to get a job offer.

        Thanks for taking time to share your perspective and comment.

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • David Nahkala

      Mike Colony you should read this article and follow this guy! He writes all kinds of awesome stuff about how to become a flight medic!

      • Troy Shaffer


        Thanks for the kind words and for sharing my article with a friend. I hope it helps Mike reach his goals. Air medical needs good folks!

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • Scott Futer

      Dominique Kunz this is a great pic you’re in!

      • Dominique Kunz

        Nice.. Blue Angels! That was a great week

        • Troy Shaffer

          Scott and Dominique,

          I’m not sure how your comments landed on this thread. I think you’re talking about the “Fly Like a Girl” photo and gear Dominique was wearing when snapping a photo with the Blue Angels.

          It’s a great photo and one of our favorites. Thanks again for sharing it.

          Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • William Valentine

      Here is what you really need to know. yes if you were called for interview you are qualified. 1. Do you know someone that works there? do they know you and your capabilities? 2. Do you have baggage that will come out? Calling off work/generally disagreeable/argumentative/always right attitude. Calling off work in the air medical business is not tolerated. Intel is conducted officially and unofficially, it always comes out. 3. The crew must like you, their opinion matters and effects the go/no go decision. Crew at a base is a family, they don’t want you messing up the family.

      • Troy Shaffer


        You make some good points. Our website has a membership program and teaches whole courses on how to get a flight job. Many of the points you mention are covered in the training.

        Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience.

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • Mason Jenkins

      Sarah check this out. These shirts are awesome!

      • Troy Shaffer


        Thanks for the feedback on EMS Flight Safety Network gear. We appreciate it!

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

    • Kevin


      As a V-22 pilot, my hours are classified under powered lift which doesn’t get me in the door as FW or RW and the FAA is at least 3-5 years out from possibly changing the regulations. Have you seen anyone from my community finding their way into the EMS community?


      • Troy Shaffer


        Thanks for commenting. I didn’t realize V-22 flight hours fell under powered lift until reading your post. So unfortunately, I don’t know the answer or have good advice for you.

        But what I’ll do is email some of the fixed wing folks in EMS Flight Safety Network and get their input. Send an email with “V22 Question” as the subject line to ask @ flightsafetynet dot com and I’ll let you know whatver we find out.

        Thanks again for commenting.

        Clear Skies & Tailwinds

        In the

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