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Interview Tips for Captains and Heads of Department

Written for the website

Firstly let’s look at the point of interviewing. Presumably you’ve already read the CV and can see what qualifications they hold, and should have an idea of what they want to do next, and what they’ve already done. You want to know if they can do the job you require of them, and if they’ll fit in with the current team onboard. An interview should give you a good indication of both.

Depending on the position you’re interviewing for, you’ll have different questions to ask. You might find it helpful to highlight anything on the CV that has caught your interest. Make a few notes, write down a few questions. Winging it, although sometimes unavoidable, usually leaves you kicking yourself afterwards when you think of all the questions you forgot to ask…

We’ll start with the obvious stuff. What do you want to find out about this person? A good ice breaker is to start with the usual “So how did you get into yachting?” type questions. From there you can talk through their previous experience and ask questions as the opportunities pop up. What are their long term goals and aspirations? Where do they see themselves in the future?

Encourage them to ask questions about the role; an interview should be an interactive experience, not just a grilling from one side to see if they fit the job profile. Do they have any other skills from jobs pre-yachting you could use? Some people don’t even list their previous positions on their CVs so it’s good to ask. And hobbies and interests; you might discover you have someone with more skills than you realized.

Bear in mind when you start the interview that a lot of people get a bit nervous, if you’re feeling nervous about interviewing this will create for a stiff atmosphere and neither side will come away feeling particularly good. Relax and be yourself, this might encourage the candidate to relax too so you can get a glimpse of the “real” person.

A company director once told me he only hired people who are more qualified or have more knowledge about a particular field than he does. That way he can rely on his team to deliver more and keep improving.

If you’re a captain interviewing a deckhand, or a stewardess, then make sure the heads of departments get involved too. Ideally get them to vet them first so you only interview the select few.

A good question I enjoy asking, and usually it’s a good way to see if people can think on their feet, is to ask for their strengths and weaknesses. Strengths? Easy, everyone comes to an interview ready to sell themselves, but weaknesses? That’s a tricky one to answer!

Some captains, after formally interviewing, like to invite the potential new crew to a night out with the current team to see how they interact. And how they are after a few beers too.

There’s no interview technique set in stone for yachting, often the best way is to approach it in a flexible manner and see how it goes! Once you have the information you need, have a chat and see what sort of person you have in front of you.

If you’d like further advice or a few tips on interviewing specifics, feel free to drop me a line:

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