The X Factor

26 April 2011 By Rubi McGrory

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Like most in his position, Capt. Mike siftsthrough CVs and references, then whittles down possible job candidates over thephone. His next step, however, involves a unique interview technique: He takesthem 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 hisagenda, “We have to function as a team and work long hours in tight quarterswith more crew than should be squeezed in on a boat this size. Drinkingtogether allows me a chance to see the new person and how he or she interactswith 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 shouldersabove the others.

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

“I want someone with the desire to grow andlearn and develop with the job,” agrees Capt. Nick. When interviewingcandidates for his 50-meter sailboat, he pitches projects that may be a bitambitious, yet still attainable. If he gets a blank stare in return, the searchis still on.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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