Preparing for a Captain's Interview

on Wednesday, 25 February 2015.

Preparing for a Captain's Interview

Interviewing for a position as Captain is not easy and there is no ‘one size fits all’ winning strategy that can be applied in every case. However, being aware of the different factors affecting the hiring decisions will go a long way towards helping you be more successful in securing more job offers as a result of your interviews.

The first thing to consider is who will be interviewing you. Is it the Owner alone, or with their partner? Is it their Personal Assistant, or is it another type of representative such as a lawyer, estate manager or broker?

Depending on who is interviewing you, you’ll need to focus on different selling points about yourself. Keep in mind that anyone other than the Owner is going to be looking to minimise the risk of recommending or hiring the wrong person. Their focus is purely on making sure the Owner will be happy with their decision, therefore they could be likely to be far more critical and looking for any potential red flags about you.

This means when interviewing with these people you need to be prepared to answer any difficult questions such as reasons for leaving previous positions or lack of longevity, as well as detailed explanations of your qualifications and experience. Remember they may not be fully au fait with the yachting industry so they may not understand abbreviations of certificate names, cruising areas or other yachting ‘lingo’ and may need some aspects of your knowledge spelt out in layman’s terms – but be careful to assess their knowledge before doing this or you may come across as condescending.

If you are interviewing directly with the Owner and or their partner, the focus is more likely to be far more focussed on their assessment of whether or not there is a personality match between you – or in other words, whether or not they feel comfortable with you as the manager of their very valuable asset. They also want to know whether or not you are going to be able to provide them with the type of experiences they want to have onboard. They may not realise it consciously, but what this really means is assessing whether or not you share similar values with respect to the way they want their yacht to be operated.

Rather than trying to guess what they are looking for and blindly putting forward potentially the wrong characteristics, the best strategy is to find an opportunity early on to ask what they are looking for in a Captain, and how they will know when they have found the right person for the position. This allows you to identify what’s important to them in the way they want to use the yacht (ie their values and priorities with respect to their yacht) and enables you to then present your corresponding strengths and experience.

For example one owner might value family time and safety, while another might view variety and adventure as more important, and another might hardly want to use the yacht but be looking for a strong charter Captain who can help generate revenue, with rave reviews and repeat bookings. Make sure you channel and focus your answers to questions with examples that illustrate precisely how you have what they are looking for.

Be genuine, humble and gracious and make sure you find out enough about the position to know whether you will be a great fit for the job, as taking a job you’re not suited for is likely to end badly and possibly result in something awkward to explain on your CV. Interviews are a two-way process so be sure you come away with a clear understanding of what would be expected of you and how they plan to measure your success as a Captain.

Regardless of who you are interviewing with, the key thing to remember is that people do business with people they like. Go into the interview with a clear intention to befriend the person you are speaking to, as if you do get the job you will be building a relationship with them that will have a solid foundation in this first meeting.

And last but not least, if you are self-conscious and uncomfortable you’ll make them feel that too - so don’t forget to smile and enjoy yourself! Go into the interview focussing on all your strengths and what you bring to the job that makes you such a great Captain. Good luck and all the very best!

The Crew Coach provides interview coaching, job hunting strategy and CV optimisation for successful yacht crew worldwide. If you want to gain the edge over your competition see for more information.

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