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
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
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).
Relationship: Newbies and Seasoned Crew
Management Must-Dos for Captains
Made a Bad Hire!