How to succeed in a yacht job interview
Last updated: 10/08/2016
As with many professions, it can be difficult to get a ‘foot in the door’ to a career in the yachting industry, with many first-time yachties finding the yachting interview process a little different to navigate than that of the corporate world that they are used to.
With the marine recruitment industry currently being deemed by many to be a candidate-short market, there has never been a better time to take the risk. Yachting Pages spoke to Laurence Lewis, director of YPI Crew for her top tips for succeeding in yacht job interviews, and common mistakes that many crew may make when trying to secure that elusive yacht job.
Securing a yacht job interview
As in the corporate world, skilled candidates are always at a premium in the yachting industry with there often being serious competition for newcomers to face. However, there will also always be entry-level yacht jobs available - find out about the different types of crew positions, responsibilities and contracts here.
Whether you’re a newbie or experienced yachtie, it will be helpful for you to find and hold on to a good yacht crew agent to secure that perfect yacht job. With the right contacts, a crew or marine recruitment agent will be able to get your CV into the hands of the right people at the right time, and to advise on the ways in which to succeed at your yacht job interview.
It’s important to understand that, even once you have secured the opportunity for interview, you are not fooled by the invitation for a ‘chat’ with the interviewer: Yacht job interviews may often be a lot less formal than those in the corporate world, but they are still interviews nonetheless.
Laurence explained, “An interview is never really a ‘chat’. If you are invited to go for a chat, you may set yourself up for failure. An interview is really a screening process, whereby a yacht owner, captain or head of department will evaluate a potential crew member: They have already decided that your CV is interesting, and now they want to know more about you and decide whether you are the best person for the job.”
But, it’s not all doom and gloom; whether formal or informal, interviews are a chance for potential crew to get a feel for the job, as much as it is a chance for the owner, captain or department manager to get to know the candidate.
Laurence continued, “In an interview, both sides are screening each other. In most cases, there is a clear power imbalance inherent in the interview, but it’s not as one-sided as you might think: The crew or captain needs a job, and the owner or captain needs someone to do the job. So, whilst the interview is not a chat, it will become a conversation between two people who each have something that the other wants. The key is therefore for the candidate to come across as competent, confident and friendly.”
Interviewing for your first yacht job
An interview will typically set out to distinguish a candidate’s strengths, motivation and cultural fit on-board. Questions (and therefore answers) should therefore be indirectly formulated to prove the following points:
- Can the candidate do the job?
- Will they enjoy doing the job?
- Will they be easy to work and live with?
So, how do you prove that you have potential as a candidate? Laurence said, “By definition, as a junior stewardess or junior deckhand, you will have little or no experience in the yachting industry. But don’t see this as a weak point – we all have to start somewhere.
“As you cannot back up your application with a lot of experience, and even if you have worked in hospitality before, it is unlikely that you would have knowledge of such a luxurious environment. You need to capitalise on other strengths and attributes: How you present yourself, how you communicate and relate to other people, and how you show flexibility and willingness to learn.”
You should usually:
- Wear a clean, crisp white polo shirt or t-shirt with beige or navy trousers or skirt
- Wear your hair up and neat and tidy
- Look natural, leaving heavy make up at home
- Have clean, shaped nails and be well groomed
- Convey resilience, commitment and team spirit
- Demonstrate commitment to the job, so it is clear that you will not quit halfway through the season
Common interview questions for a yacht job
Tell me about yourself
Laurence explained, “This is a common interview question, and is not just an ice-breaker, but your chance to really shine. If answered well, it will unquestionably increase your chances of obtaining a job offer.
“A lot is at stake here, and like most things in life it is about preparation. You will need to provide a coherent answer that has been prepared well in advance of the interview. Practice at home or with a friend and keep your answer straight and to-the-point. Two to three minutes is a good starting point.”
- Don’t simply ask what they would like to know, make sure to have an answer prepared
- Don’t talk about your first job in yachting, 20 years ago
- Don’t speak negatively of your last yacht’s captain, crew or responsibilities
- Do focus on past accomplishments and provide facts and figures to back this up
The interviewer (likely to be the captain of the yacht) is really looking to find out what is in it for him/her should they hire you; what you will bring to the job and that you will be a good fit to the current yacht and its crew/activities.
Why do you want to work on a yacht?
Do not say that you want to work on a yacht because you want to travel, or to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Either of these answers focus on you and your needs rather than that of the yacht. Remember, you are there to highlight what it is that you can help the captain with.
Instead, talk about what you can offer to the yacht, how your previous experience in a hotel, restaurant or resort has contributed to you wanting to take a new job in hospitality, and how this experience will help you to complete the role.
Why should we hire you?
Laurence said, “Often asked at the end of the interview, this question is critical. It is often make or break time. Here, the interviewer is giving you the opportunity to sell yourself one last time, so that you can convince him that you are right for the job.
“This is particularly great if the interviewer has already mentally dismissed you as a viable candidate, giving him chance to consider you one last time. If you answer the question well, it can put you back in the running for the job.”
Make sure to:
- Convey that you are a solution to a recruitment problem
- That your skills set, set you apart from the crowd
- That you meet the employer’s needs
Your crew agent may be able to help you with information as to what the interviewer is really looking for.
Do you have any questions?
Think about appropriate questions for the yacht job in hand. Laurence advised that you do not ask about the salary as soon as you arrive at the interview. Instead ask about the yacht, the crew, your duties and the itinerary.
Moving into your next yacht job
Of course, once you make it into the industry, it’s great if you can quickly progress up the hierarchy on board, moving into new and exciting roles with a little more reward and responsibility.
As an experienced yachtie, you may find that you’re skills are in great demand in the industry, but nevertheless, the same rules apply to you as to first-time candidates - and a crew agent with industry experience is a helpful aid in any yacht job search.
Five key tips to succeed in a yacht job interview
- Turn your mobile phone off before the interview
- Show that you are eager to learn
- Remember to thank the captain for his or her time
- If you are keen to take the job, say so and communicate that you will represent the yacht well
- Be ready to move quickly, yacht jobs are usually short-notice or sometimes same-day recruitment requests