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Developing an Interview Process: Part 1

Tim Clarke
April 8, 2019

I thought I would write this blog as I think many yachts don’t have a great interview process in place and hopefully this will help remedy that! Many yachts […]

I thought I would write this blog as I think many yachts don’t have a great interview process in place and hopefully this will help remedy that! Many yachts have an interview formula that is completely unplanned and unstructured. This blog is designed to give you a basic plan to follow when interviewing prospective crew members. Once you have decided on a plan I would follow it religiously every interview.

The most obvious structure is to do an introduction which covers the yacht, the culture on board, the job role and finally what is expected of the crew member (habits, attitude etc) joining before you start asking questions. However, doing things in that order means the interviewee has been given some strong hints about what you want to hear in the answers. So, I would interview the candidate first and then cover the yacht, culture on board etc afterwards. Have a word document with prompts on it printed out for each candidate so that you can make notes (e.g. when available, salary expectations) on as you interview them – Also in that document, have some in depth questions that you ask every candidate every time. I would suggest these cover both work & experience, but most importantly attitude.

Also, I would also suggest that the HOD does the initial interview and the Captain does a 2nd. Some yachts also make prospective candidates fill in a questionnaire which is a great idea, I think. One phone or face to face interview isn’t always enough. This whole process from initially receiving the CV to making an offer should only take a few days.

To keep this blog relatively brief I have only included a couple of example questions for each area of the interview to show you what I mean. I believe it is essential every interview should have some questions from each section for it to be a well rounded, thorough interview.

Chances are you won’t like one or two of the questions below. However there are dozens more you could ask ranging from the obvious to the not so obvious. Email me at tim@quaycrew.com and I will send you a document which contains all these questions plus what you are looking for with the answer. Without blowing my own trumpet a lot of work has gone into this document and it should contain something useful for everyone.


This section is to get some background information on the candidate in question. So I would use some general questions here. I have provided examples of some questions you could ask.

  • Tell me about yourself, whatever you feel is appropriate.
  • Talk me through your career to date.
  • Tell me about you pre yachting career
Personality Questions

Personality is absolutely key on a yacht. One moaning, negative crew member can easily drag everyone else down so I would go into this from a couple of different angles to try and unearth the truth.

  • How would your work colleagues describe you?
  • What personality trait would you change about yourself?
  • What is your worst personality trait?
  • What have you done that has irritated your work colleagues in the past?
Motivation / Attitude questions

This is a slightly different variant on the personality questions, but again absolutely vital to investigate. These can be both positively or negatively framed questions. All answers will be insightful. I think the negative questions are potentially more insightful as most people know what is expected of them for the positive questions. Always ask for real life examples not hypothetical ones. That way you will get some honesty.

  • What aspect of being a deckhand do you enjoy least?
  • What has demotivated you in the past?
  • What work culture / environment have you been most productive in?
  • What achievement are you most proud of in your life, professional or personal?
Job Competency Questions

Here you are targeting a specific skill set which you feel is integral to the job at hand. Here you dig into a skill set and really find out if the candidate has a proper understanding of it. Essential to explore in interview.

  • How would you varnish a capping rail from start to finish?
  • Tell me about when you have improved a process / SOP?
  • Talk me through parking a twin screw limo in windy conditions
  • How would you get grease out of a delicate fabric?
Scenario questions

These are designed to test a crew members moral compass. Some of them are very tricky ethical questions too and put the interviewee right on the spot. Some of them don’t necessarily have a right answer but all the answers are insightful.


  • What would you do if you suspected one of your colleagues had a substance problem?
  • What would you do if you knew one of your colleagues was still intoxicated from the previous night and was unfit for duty (which have safety implications eg a deckhand going up the mast, CO on navigational watch etc)
  • What would you do if if you felt my order was placing the safety of the yacht in jeopardy?
  • What would you do if one of your colleagues confided in you that they were suffering from mental health issues but swore you to secrecy?
Career / The Future Questions

This section is fairly obvious but the questions still need to be asked.

  • How do you plan to develop your skillset over the next two years?
  • What are your current priorities in life?
  • Where do you see yourself in 1 years time / 3 years / 5 years?
  • What will you do when you leave yachting?
Social / Hobbies questions

I like questions about this sort of thing. I believe a history of success in in a sport or hobby generally means a candidate has some good traits to build upon.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • Tell me about the most dedicated you have ever been in pursuit of success, personally, professionally or sporting
  • what sacrifices have you made to achieve something?
Challenging Questions

Not all of the challenging questions will be applicable to all candidates but some will be.

  • Why have you never held a job for longer than 6 months?
  • Tell me about the last time you fell out with someone on board / at work? What happened after?
  • You’ve taken a lot of time off previously so you can surf / dive / travel. Why are you going to commit to us long term?
Logistical questions

These are to ensure the logistics work. Obvious again but easily forgotten.

  • Current location?
  • What is your available date to start?
  • Salary expectations?


Part two of this blog will cover the 2ndhalf of the interview which is when you tell the candidate about the yacht, culture on board etc. Whilst this probably seems like it will be a fairly short blog it is extremely important to get right to ensure you get the right candidates. Any queries or thoughts please don’t hesitate to email me on tim@quaycrew.com. Thanks.





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