Psychometric Testing and Crew

26 January 2010 By Louisa Beckett

The use of psychometric tests – standardized exams designed to evaluate a candidate’s personality and occupational aptitude – is certainly not new in the employment field. Anyone applying for a job in the British Royal Navy or Royal Marines, for example, must take the standard psychometric Recruitment Test.

“This selection process has been in use for many years and has proven successful in placing individuals with the ability to cope with Naval training and who will enjoy Service life,” wrote the Royal Navy in its Procedures and Practice Test Booklet, which is handed out to each candidate prior to taking the test.

While psychometric testing is far less common in the more informal (and less dangerous) yachting industry, as yachting has become more security-conscious, psychological evaluations of potential employees has started to make inroads. TopCrewDownUnder, a yacht crew recruitment agency in New Zealand, now offers psychometric assessment as part of its services, along with an in-depth interview and multiple reference checks of potential job candidates.

One of the requirements of psychometric testing is that it be carried out by trained and qualified practitioners. TopCrew DownUnder ( is able to provide this type of testing thanks to the degrees in Organizational Psychology held by its two directors, Stephanie D’Audney (a former Chief Stew) and Haddo.

“Psychometric assessment is a way of finding out very useful information about someone’s personality,” D’Audney said. “Some of these, for example, are: how they might act in a team; how they handle stress; how conscientious they are and if they are compliant, trustworthy, anxious or an extrovert.”

These traits are particularly useful to assess when considering hiring crew for work on superyachts. D’Audney said, “As we know, living and working with the same individuals in a relatively confined space is an unusual and unique experience. The more accurate information we can gather about a candidate, the better the placement that can be made, and therefore a more cohesive crew can be achieved. Psychometric assessments can provide information about a candidate that helps a captain hire a new crewmember who will fit into the already existing culture of the vessel.”

Many yacht owners also find it useful to have a psychometric assessment of a prospective captain available before offering him or her a position.

“Having used psychometric assessments in my previous roles and finding them extremely useful and accurate, I decided to use them in recruiting my candidates for superyachts,” D’Audney said. “As mentioned, having a cohesive team is crucial to the smooth running of a vessel and I feel this can make or break a successful charter.”

In general, she said, “More emphasis should be made on the recruitment of crew. It saves a large amount of time and money if captains get the right crew from the onset. It can be stressful having to find a new crew member right before a charter and in the middle of nowhere when you’ve had to remove a destructive member of the staff.”

Looking at both sides of the crew employment equation, TopCrew DownUnder will carry out psychometric assessments on an individual basis for anyone who would be interested in the results, including owners wanting to assess potential captains; captains wanting to assess potential crew, or other yacht service agencies.