ATC Interview Preparation

How to answer Interview Questions

The questions will usually start along the lines of “tell me about a time when you”. This will be followed by those competencies, so it is important to be familiar with these so that you can prepare.  Asking about soft skills such as teamwork, negotiation and communication is especially popular for graduate job interviews.

A lot of the questions will require you to think about past work experiences you’ve had. For those who are applying for internships, apprenticeships or have no previous work experience, you can still talk about extra-curricular activities, what you achieved while being a member of a university society, or school projects you have been involved in, as an example.

The answer to these questions will usually be between a minute and three minutes long.

S – tell them what the SITUATION was

T – Explain what the TASK was that you had to do

A – Tell the interview panel what ACTION you had to take and why it was effective

R – Finally, tell the interview panel what the RESULT was following your actions. Always try to ensure that the outcome or result was positive. By following the S.T.A.R structure for responding to interview questions you will be ensuring that your responses are both concise and relevant.

ATC Interview Questions

  • Describe a time in the tower when you saw a potential conflict or issue. How did you help to prevent the issue from becoming an actual problem?
  • Have you had to deal with an emergency situation in the tower before? How did you handle the situation?
  • If you were to witness a major injury or accident in your daily life, what would be your first action?
  • Describe a time when you had a conflict with a coworker. How did you handle the conflict?
  • Tell me about the most stressful situation you have had at work. What did you do in the situation? Is there anything you would have done differently?
  • Describe a time you worked with your coworkers to solve a problem.
  • How do you deal with stress in your daily life?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or with colleagues? Why?
  • Do you enjoy shift work? Are there certain hours of the day during which you would prefer not to work?
  • What kind of supervisor do you prefer to work with?


To apply for this position applicants have to meet our minimum entry criteria including having 5 GCSE’S at Grade C or above including English and Mathematics and be 18+ at the time of submitting their application.

We recommend candidates try and gain exposure to the Aviation industry and either gain work experience or participate in hobbies and activities that have transferrable skills to being an Air Traffic Controller.

If candidates successfully reach Assessment day-Stage 3, they will be required to draw upon these skills and experience during the competency based interview.

For further information on the role of an Air Traffic Controller please visit


Games to help you prepare

NATS have developed a series of mini-games to help you decide whether it’s the kind of career that might be right for you. They test a range of basic cognitive skills which are required by Controllers:

Shape Tracking

Gateway Game

Reactive Avoidance

ATC landing

Sequential Memory

NATS ATC Trainee Process Explained

Want to join the NATS ATC training college to become an ATCO?

The National Air Traffic Services (NATS) are the biggest UK employer for ATCOs, providing ATC services and consultancy solutions in and out of the UK. NATS train their own ATCOs at Fareham College and the various ATC units they operate. Trainees are paid for training and guaranteed employment after successfully completing the course, although they do not get to choose their specialty or the ATC unit they will work at. 

The selection process to become a NATS trainee consists of the following stages:

  • Online application
  • Stages 0 and 1: Online aptitude tests
  • Stage 2: Assessment centre
  • Stage 3: Interview

You must pass each stage in order to continue to the next one. Failure in any of the stages means you will have to wait two years before you can reapply, and you cannot have more than three attempts in total. Note that there might be a waiting period of several months between each stage.

Stages 0 and 1: Online Aptitude Tests

After your NATS application form has been submitted you will receive an email invitation to sit online tests. You have three months to complete these tests. 

Stage 0: numerical and verbal reasoning and error checking

The numerical test measures your ability to analyse numerical data. It provides tables and charts followed by questions requiring basic arithmetic operations. The verbal test consists of short text passages and different types of questions assessing your language and understanding of the main points in the text. In the error checking test you need to decide whether two columns or rows of numbers and letters contain errors or not.

Stage 1: diagrammatic and spatial reasoning

The diagrammatic reasoning test presents input-output diagrams. One component in the diagram, either input, operator or output, will be missing, and your task will be to figure out what it is. In the spatial reasoning test you will need to find the odd shape out of several rotated shapes in each question. These tests have time constraints as well.

Stage 2: Assessment Centre

Passing the NATS aptitude tests will be followed by an invitation to attend an assessment centre at Fareham. This will be a long day consisting of three different tests. Passing each test is essential to move on to the next one. If you don’t get a good enough score, you will be asked to leave and try again in two years’ time.

ATC knowledge

You will be sent papers to study in advance with all the relevant materials, which will include technical details of different aeroplanes, airports and other ATC related subjects. The test will consist of about 30 multiple-choice questions referring to these papers. 


The First European Air Traffic Controller Selection Test (FEAST) by Eurocontrol is a computerised test used by over 40 European civil and military organisations. It assesses the knowledge, skills and abilities of applicants for training that are relevant and necessary for the ATCO job.

There are three different sections in the FEAST: A cognitive abilities and English test, an ATC work sample test, and the FEAST Personality Questionnaire (FPQ), assessing personality characteristics relevant in the training of ATC students.


The Dynamic ATC Radar Test (DART) simulates actual ATC work. You are presented with a radar screen where you can see several aircrafts. Your task is to guide some of those aircrafts both safely and efficiently to specific checkpoints. You will have to make sure you avoid bringing aircrafts too close to one another and take into account different traffic and navigation constraints. The difficulty level will increase as the test progresses, so you will have to control more aircrafts simultaneously and more check points to get them through. Eventually you will even have to perform some mental arithmetic calculations as you are controlling the aircrafts.

Stage 3: Interview

In this last stage you will attend the assessment centre for an interview carried out by HR as well as ATC trained assessors. You will be required to provide evidence of your achievements in different areas in life and present a genuine interest to become an air traffic control officer. You may also be given realistic scenarios and asked to provide your insight and suggest possible responses. 

Facing a panel of people about to judge your behaviour is never a pleasant experience. See how our assessors can help with our interview preparation services. If your performance in this interview is satisfactory, you will be asked to stay for a scenario-based group exercise

The very last step of this process will be the medical and security check-ups. Non-native English speakers will also need to sit an additional English test.