The Six Best Soft Skills in the Aviation Industry

15th February 2024

When you think about the necessary skills for a role in the aviation industry, technical abilities, industry-specific knowledge and practical experience will likely be the first things that come to mind. However, an often overlooked aspect of a candidate’s suitability for a career in aviation is soft skills, which are psychosocial skills that can be used in a wide range of different roles and settings.

Whilst the term ‘soft skills’ implies abilities that don’t have much impact, they’re actually integral to success in the majority of roles. Without being able to manage your time, work in a team, communicate effectively or adapt to challenging situations, you’ll find it difficult to navigate a wide range of workplace situations.

Certain soft skills are particularly important in the aviation industry because they ensure that safety standards are upheld, teams can work together effectively, and unexpected or stressful situations are managed without major fallout. In this article, we highlight some of the best soft skills in aviation, explain why they’re important, how they can be developed and how you can assess them in recruitment.

Why are Soft Skills Important in Aviation?

Before we describe some of the most valuable soft skills needed in the aviation industry, it's first important to understand the benefits that employees with these skills bring to organisations that recruit them. Technical and role-specific skills are obviously essential for aviation jobs, but often the addition of these soft skills is what makes a candidate exceptional.


The first reason why soft skills for aviation are important is that they are essential for ensuring that key safety measures are followed. For example, employees must be good communicators if they have to share accurate information that ensures the safety of a project they’re working on. Similarly, things like leadership and teamwork both help employees to work together more effectively during emergencies and scenarios where a safety-critical error needs to be resolved quickly.


Organisational efficiency is a really important part of creating a work environment that leads to productivity, which in turn is better for overall company profits and growth. All kinds of soft skills lead to increased efficiency, including time management, adaptability, teamwork and communication. When you hire employees who are proficient in these skills, it’s much easier to create teams that work together efficiently.


Innovation is the product of creativity, lateral thinking and a workplace environment where new ideas and approaches are welcomed and facilitated. Soft skills play a key part in this, especially adaptability and resilience, and your company is likely to experience more innovation when you’re hiring employees who are equipped to deal with the ever-changing aviation industry and the new challenges and requirements it presents.


Finally, whether you’re a customer or client-facing company in the aviation industry, hiring employees with key soft skills will make a positive difference to the experiences that people have whilst they’re interacting with your company. From interacting with customers to handling client requests and feedback, employees who have good emotional intelligence and are confident communicators will ensure positive interactions that reflect well on your business reputation.

The 6 Best Soft Skills in Aviation

There are a huge number of different soft skills. Plenty of these are relevant and useful in the aviation industry, but below we have highlighted six of the most valuable soft skills that candidates should possess and recruiters should be looking out for.


Communication is an incredibly valuable skill, and this is just as relevant in the aviation industry as it is in others. In fact, communication is critically important in this sector because poor communication skills could lead to safety errors that put people at serious risk, whether that’s passengers, customers or fellow employees.

Having good communication skills in an aviation role means being able to clearly and accurately communicate information, whether that’s verbally or written down. There shouldn’t be any room left for interpretation, so part of this soft skill also involves being able to confirm that the other person has properly understood what you’ve said.

Being a good communicator not only involves being clear and confident when you speak, but also being able to adapt your approach depending on your audience so that the message is still conveyed and understood. Being a good listener, and also practising active listening, is another part of effective communication.


There are very few roles in the aviation industry that don’t involve teamwork, and plenty that rely on it for jobs to be completed successfully. Whether you’re part of a cabin crew, helping to keep an airport running or are a member of a product design and development team, teamwork is another of the most important skills needed in the aviation industry.

Teamwork overlaps with several other key skills, but its defining feature is being an enthusiastic and considerate team player. This involves knowing how to work well with other people, being able to utilise your strengths when the situation needs it, and also being happy to let others step in and lead when they are more equipped to do so.

Collaboration is integral to teamwork, so you need to be comfortable working with others, completing work on time and developing ideas as a team. In some cases in aviation, a cohesive team is what ensures everyone’s safety, so this is a really important skill to have.


Adaptability is required in aviation roles on two levels. The first is that you need to be able to respond to changes or requests quickly in plenty of roles in this industry, reacting to a situation and adapting what you’re doing to fix a problem or manage an unexpected event. Being adaptable will help you to continue working productively even if your plans change or new priorities come up, ensuring that urgent tasks and issues always get dealt with.

The second kind of adaptability needed in aviation is the ability to stay on top of changing trends, developments and ideas that impact your role and what is expected of you. Aviation is an industry that experiences rapid development and change, and adaptability as a soft skill will benefit you a lot when it comes to keeping on top of this.


Certain roles in the aviation industry will require leadership as an essential part of the job and its responsibilities. But leadership is a valuable soft skill for all candidates to possess regardless of their responsibilities, giving you the ability to take charge, be decisive and motivate others when it’s required.

Aviation leaders and managers need to have strong leadership skills in order to lead teams that are efficient, effective, and that uphold the necessary safety and quality standards. In some cases, team leaders may be required to make emergency decisions and guide their team through challenges and problems, and being confident, motivated and a great communicator will benefit you massively in these scenarios.

Time Management

Time management is a skill that everyone will benefit from in the aviation industry, regardless of their specific role. Being able to work to deadlines, self-manage effectively and plan your time accurately will not only make you a better colleague but also make it easier for you to do your job, creating more opportunities for development and innovation as well as just improving your overall experience. Developing this soft skill doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but whether you’re helping to get an engineering project over the line or ensuring that a flight schedule runs on time, it’s a very valuable talent.


The final soft skill that is incredibly valuable in aviation is resilience. There will undoubtedly be times in your career when you’re faced with a challenge that can’t easily be overcome, or have to deal with a stressful or draining situation. Being resilient involves keeping a positive outlook, feeling confident in yourself and persevering until you find a solution, and the more resilient you are, the better you’ll be able to cope with some of the demands of working in aviation.

How to Develop Soft Skills in Aviation

If you work in or are currently looking for a job in the aviation industry, being competent in a range of soft skills will be incredibly advantageous. Not only will they help you to work better in your role, but they’ll also give you a competitive advantage in job interviews that will help to increase your chances of success.

The thing about these kinds of skills is that developing them requires a different approach than if you were learning to use a new piece of equipment or getting to grips with an unfamiliar type of software. Developing soft skills for aviation often happens through experience and a conscious mindset change, which is why some people consider these kinds of skills harder to gain.

For example, improving your aviation communication skills requires taking the time to understand what makes a good communicator, but then also putting what you have learnt into practice by communicating with others in a range of scenarios. You’ll grow your communication skills with varying degrees of success at the start, and it’s this range of experiences that will help you identify what you need to do to communicate most effectively.

In the majority of cases, aviation skills training for soft skills will follow the same kind of process. You’ll start by identifying what you want to improve, doing necessary research and training to cement your understanding of what this skill requires, and then applying this to your behaviour until it comes naturally.

There are plenty of ways that you can support your development of soft skills, from undertaking training courses to asking colleagues and supervisors for feedback and advice. Not all soft skills come easily to everyone, but putting the work in to develop them will make a really positive difference to your experience at work.

How to Assess Soft Skills in Aviation Recruitment

If you’re looking to hire the best candidates for roles in the aviation industry, soft skills should be considered and assessed with the same level of importance as technical ability and job experience. But how exactly do you measure soft skills for aviation during the recruitment process?

The first thing to remember is that you should make a list of the soft skills that you need candidates to have. We’ve listed six of the most important in this article, but there are plenty of others that apply to aviation jobs and some companies may place more emphasis on certain skills than others for particular roles. For example, if you’re hiring a manager then leadership is an essential skill, whilst a client-facing role will need someone with brilliant communication and interpersonal skills.

You can screen candidates for certain soft skills from their initial application based on what they include in their CV and cover letter. But the best way to assess the most important soft skills in aviation is by asking scenario-based questions during a job interview.

Scenario-based questions are much broader than technical questions and are used to gain an understanding of how a candidate is likely to act and react when they’re at work. They usually involve presenting a potential employee with a hypothetical problem or situation at work and asking them how they would respond, which provides insight into their professional personality. You can tailor these questions to target certain skills; ask how a candidate would approach a group task to understand their teamwork skills, or ask them about how they stay organised to gauge their time management abilities.

Alongside scenario-based questions, asking about a candidate’s prior experience can also give you a good insight into which soft aviation skills they possess. Getting them to talk about previous challenges they have overcome, work they are proud of, projects they have led and colleagues they have supported can all help to demonstrate different soft skills in action.

Soft skills are harder to judge in the same way as technical ability because they’re a lot more nuanced. But you must make sure that your interview process contains questions which are going to help identify the key soft skills you’re looking for in an aviation role if you want to hire the best-suited candidates.


If you’re a candidate searching for a job in the aviation industry, be sure to highlight your relevant soft skills in your job applications and be ready to talk about situations where you’ve put these into practice. If you’re hiring for an aviation company, remember to list essential soft skills as well as technical abilities when you’re outlining what you need from a candidate and ensure that your interview is set up to assess these skills.

Looking for recruitment support in the aviation industry? Oaklands Global is a specialist recruitment agency that can help. Find out more about our aviation and aerospace recruitment services or get in touch to speak directly to the team about how we can help.

by William Finden

About the Author: William Finden is the Founder and MD of Oaklands Global. He is a seasoned executive search and recruitment specialist with over 16 years of experience, dedicated to the international aviation & aerospace markets. William leads Oaklands Global’s C-Suite practice and has had a successful career delivering at the executive level for a diverse portfolio of clientele including Business Jet Operators, OEM’s, MRO’s, FBO’s Airlines and Rotary businesses. To learn more about how William can assist with your next career move or to discuss your next director level hire please contact him by email: