They say interviewing is a skill that can be developed and gets better with time and practice. However, it can seem that no matter how many interviews you go through, it never feels any easier. It may calm your nerves to know you won’t be the first, or last person, to say the wrong thing during an interview. Hear from several crew agents on what you should and shouldn’t say, along with advice to help you through the process.
Come in dressed for the part, or you’ll have to explain why you aren’t dressed like a professional, says Sue Price, Viking Crew director of operations in Fort Lauderdale. Make sure you’re well-groomed when speaking with a crew agent. You should act as if it were an interview with the vessel.
This one goes without saying but be prepared. Don’t get caught off guard by the usual interview questions — “tell me something about yourself/personality” and “what attributes and skills do you have that will benefit you for the position you applied for.” Price suggests if you’re new to yachting, be ready to say why you’re choosing yachting, and if you’re not, “What are you looking for in your next job, and why did you leave your last job?” Some of the better answers she’s heard mention “I like to make people happy” and emphasize their love of service, travel, and the water. For seasoned crew, let the crew agent know generally what you want (position, size range, itinerary, crew dynamics, etc.) and explain why you left (boat sold, captain changed, been there two years and needed to advance career or take classes).
Don’t exaggerate your capabilities and skills, or be too self-confident and arrogant, Esther Delamare, senior crew specialist at Hill Robinson, cautions. Be natural and don’t talk too much or too fast. Your responses should be short and precise with facts when possible.
Interviewers tend to hear some of the same answers again and again. Some of the cliché responses that Price advises against include “I want a charter boat to make more money,” “My friend has the dream job,” and “We never got time off.” Also, don’t ask the agent what they’re going to do for you. Sharryn Matte, Hill Robinson crew specialist, adds to not ask if the position could turn into a rotation, if you have to share a cabin, or if the boat is open to couples because you have a partner.
While you want to be yourself and honest during the interview, there’s still a line. Avoid asking about your salary or leave off the boat, or saying you’re going to take this position until you find the next better option. Everyone wants to know about who they’ll be working for, but Delamare points out to not ask indiscreet questions about the owner.
When it comes time to ask questions, Matte suggests asking about the crew dynamic on board, the boat’s itinerary, and if there’s any room for growth in your career path. Be upfront about needing to take time off if you know you have an upcoming family event, and don’t be afraid to ask why the position is open and why the person before left, Delamare says.
Price generally likes crew who can say anything and show their true colors. “They need a safe place to ask questions as well. I am more of a counselor at times than an agent,” she says. “They do need to be ready for my answers in return though! I call a spade a spade.”
She acknowledges that it’s a job just getting a job and most crew are registered in many places. So you’re receiving lots of advice, but make sure to listen to the advice even if you won’t take all of it.
When working on your CV, remember who is reading it, whether it’s a captain, head of department, or owner. “No one is reading paragraphs of information when they first look at it. A scannable CV is best,” Price says. “You need it to say enough to get into the yes pile then they will read it all.”
Don’t get discouraged when you don’t get the job after an interview. Keep networking because often it’s who you know and not what you know. Price says, “Timing is everything and the positive attitude will get you a long way!” Matte agrees that the more enthusiastic you are, the more likely you will be the one employed for the position, sometimes regardless of experience.
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