Dockwalk - The X Factor Untitled Page

The X Factor

Apr 26th 11
By Rubi McGrory

Like most in his position, Capt. Mike sifts through CVs and references, then whittles down possible job candidates over the phone. His next step, however, involves a unique interview technique: He takes them out drinking with the crew.


At first, it may seem like an odd choice, especially since Mike doesn’t encourage his crew to party. But he defends his agenda, “We have to function as a team and work long hours in tight quarters with more crew than should be squeezed in on a boat this size. Drinking together allows me a chance to see the new person and how he or she interacts with the crew.”


Mike stands by the efficacy of his system, but other captains keep their eyes open (and out of the bar) for the following “X factors,” the qualities that make one candidate stand head and shoulders above the others.


Enthusiasm – It’s okay to want the job! Steve, captain of a 150-foot motor yacht, is looking for an enthusiastic candidate. He wants a crewmember who is excited by the possibility of the job, by the boat’s program. “Even if they are not 100 percent up to the job,” he explains “I can bring them up to speed, where they should be.”  He cautions that someone who thinks they are better than their job, that the boat is too small or the schedule not exciting enough is most likely not going to do a very good job and will be a strain on the rest of the crew.


“I want someone with the desire to grow and learn and develop with the job,” agrees Capt. Nick. When interviewing candidates for his 50-meter sailboat, he pitches projects that may be a bit ambitious, yet still attainable. If he gets a blank stare in return, the search is still on.


Capt. Steve points out that the crewmember who looks him in the eye, and says “I really want this job,” and means it, is the most likely to be hired.


Tool Box – Steve asserts that enthusiasm isn’t enough. The candidate must have a little something in his or her tool box, something beyond the basic skill set required to do the job. “Even if s/he doesn’t have a lot of industry experience, I want to see s/he’s dayworked on different boats, enough to learn there are different ways of working and that s/he can bring other skills to the table.”

Steve explains that even family size is a good indicator. “Nothing against only children, but if you come from a large family, you automatically know how to live with so many people in a small space.”


Nick adds, “I look for people who have a varied background, who were camp counselors or raced lasers or organized fundraisers, something that tells me they do more than sit in the beach.”


Yachtie eyes – A good steward/ess can spot a candy wrapper or an unfluffed cushion at 10 meters, the same way a deckie should tidy a line without even thinking about it. Capt. Jonno employs a simple, cunning test of these viewing skills. He places a crumpled piece of paper in the path of the potential crewmember during the course of the interview. “How they respond tells me not only if they are picturing themselves on board, but stepping over rubbish means you see it and ignore it and that’s the work ethic I can expect.”


All of the captains have seen their share of near perfect resumes that didn’t match up with the actual candidate during the interview.  If you want the job, bring all your best bits to the interview (and stay away from the shots).


Related Topics:

Symbiotic Relationship: Newbies and Seasoned Crew 

Top 10 Management Must-Dos for Captains 

Help! I’ve Made a Bad Hire! 



Rating  Average 0 out of 5

  • I was briefly onboard a 28m MY for a chef's job and left a week later because the boat had money problems...but experience...

    It was my first job offer onboard and I was keen to do impress on the cooking side. It turned out that I was being examined by the captain continuously. I was the first onboard for the season, the crew quarters had been unused for 6 months and was in a poor state (which surprised me). The floor was dirty with laundry fluff and hair/dust bunnies behind the doors, there was a film of dust from the nearby worksyard covering the surfaces, screwed up reciepts on the floor, lots of hair in the plug-hole stopping the water from draining properly. It wasn't giving me a great impression but I thought I would make my bed up and settle in. The captain was chatting to me about the lay of the land during this time. I noticed my clean bedding had hairs and loose threads stuck to it so I naturally picked them off and dropped them to the floor. In my mind the floor was filthy and needed a clean anyway.

    Three days later I had a bit of a misunderstanding with the captain who decided to spell out, in detail, everything I had done 'wrong' since arriving. My picking off threads and hair of my bedding and putting them on the dirty crew quarters floor was one of them!!!

    What was the misunderstanding? At breakfast the captain used a spoon to put jam on his bread and then licked it and put it back into the jam pot. All I said was, "Jacques, for hygiene reasons, don't put a dirty spoon back into the pot." I had seen him do it several times in the days previously and thought it best to make my mark on my breakfast spread!

    It was a case of one wrong vs being reminded about a few things that I did 'wrong'.
    Posted by Yacht_Chef 22/05/2011 13:19:49

  • Thank you. It is not all about how long you have worked on a yacht. I am a chef and recently worked my first position on a yacht as chef/ stew. It kicked my ass and Guess what. I loved it. It is not all about the length of experience on a yacht, but the experience that has been aquired in life at your skill.
    What made it so special was a great captain and family that accepted me as a newbie. I not only prepared all the daily meals, but maintained the interior and helped on deck.
    What a wonderful experience.
    Posted by Therease 27/04/2011 07:57:44

Add Comment

Text Only 2000 character limit
Latest Features
13/06/2018 05:50:00 PM
M/Y Slipstream Receives Yachts du Coeur Trophy 
By Lauren Beck
04/06/2018 06:55:00 PM
2018 Pacific Typhoon & Hurricane Season 
By Daniele Gallo, Navimeteo Forecaster and climatologist
04/06/2018 06:50:00 PM
2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season Predictions 
By Daniele Gallo, Navimeteo Forecaster and Climatologist
31/05/2018 05:05:00 PM
Crew Created: A Mother/Daughter Clothing Line 
By Laura Dunn
View Archive

July’s edition is here! It’s exclusively available to members to view online or download. CLICK HERE TO READ