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These two classic interview questions will never go out of fashion

Everyone has their own style of interviewing, their favourite questions to ask and what they are hoping to achieve out of the interview. Some people are excellent interviewers, others are less talented. Periodically I’m going to be offering up a couple of examples of great interview questions which will hopefully be added to your arsenal. I will also look at why you are asking it and the sort of answer to look for.

Q: What are your weaknesses?

This is the flip side of the ‘what are your strengths?’ question. It is an old classic, maybe even a bit clichéd, but I love it. The vast majority of people don’t handle it well and it brings them out in a cold sweat. Regardless of their answer just the way they handle the question provides some insight into the potential crew member.

People often aren’t sure how they should answer this and many crew end up being far too honest by default which is perfect really. Keep quiet and they will end up volunteering more and more information and potentially shooting themselves in the foot.

For the crew member who has a well-rehearsed answer, I would push back on it. If it sounds smooth it’s probably because they have been practising it. So ask for another weakness. Ask when they last made a mistake at work and dig into the answer. How did that happen, why did it happen, who was at fault? People don’t expect this and in the pressure of the situation of an interview will end up being honest.

A good answer is an honest one. Ideally, the candidate will admit to a genuine weakness and their answer will also cover the steps they have taken to rectify it. Someone who is self aware and knows what needs improving and is actively trying to improve these areas is what I would be looking for.

Q: When was the last time you fell out with a work colleague and what happened?

This is a fairly unique interview question. Not many people ask it and it catches crew unawares. It needs to be an assumptive question as if you ask crew ‘have you ever fallen out…’ or a variant of this you will get a ‘No, I’m fairly laid back, chilled out character’ answer.

The assumption avoids all of this generally and people will come out with an actual example of the last disagreement they had on board. If they have worked on a yacht for any period of time, then they will have had a disagreement with someone at some point. That is just inevitable, so say that if they claim to be squeaky clean. If they still say they didn’t fall out with anyone they may be that rare breed of crew who gets on with everyone all the time.

The benefit of this question is it gives you some insight into how they work with others, potential personality flaws and most importantly how they dealt with an issue previously.

A good additional question is ‘And then what happened?’ and repeat variations of this multiple times until you feel you have been the whole picture. Again a good answer is an honest one which has a happy ending with the issue being resolved amicably through an open conversation.

These two classic interview questions will never go out of fashion

About the author

Tim Clarke

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