Interviewing - Delving beneath the surface

The Islander – April 2019

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hire for attitude and train for skill

Interviewing is an art and a skill and one which many of us have to train, develop and practice to become effective at. Crew agents, yacht managers and senior crew often find themselves in the position where they need to interview crew. But how do you get beneath the CV and better understand how they are likely to behave once on board. Below are some tips to help you get the crew that are right for you and the yacht, whether you are using crew agent or not.

Know what you are looking for - Sounds easier than it is!

  • What skills & experience are you looking for – that’s the obvious one, which the CV should provide you with evidence of.
  • What about their attitude and approach?
    • This can be more important that certain skills. Not only think about what you are looking for, but also the dynamic of the crew they are going to be spending most time with.
  • Which skills could you teach the ‘right’ person?
  • What about their motivation and approach to work?
    • It’s easier to develop a skill than it is to change someone’s attitude. Someone with the right attitude will be easy to teach, and motivated by the opportunity to develop. Richard Branson’s philosophy is to hire for attitude and train for skill.
  • Prepare a list of questions, which delve beneath the surface that will help you check how well each candidate matches your requirements. Such as ‘Describe a difficult issue that you have solved.’
  • Create a shortlist of between 3-5 potential candidates.


  • Read their CV
    • Prepare any additional questions
      • Is there anything you want to check or test during the interview?
      • Where do they fit with your criteria and what initial concerns might you have.


  • Set expectations
    • Put them at their ease. Small talk and let them know the format of the interview.
    • Explain more about the role and the style of yacht you run.
  • Ask open questions
    • In order to gather as much information from them as possible you need to do some great listening. You’ve prepared many of your questions, now sit back and listen!
    • Ask further probing questions to gain more insight.
  • Ask for examples
    • Rather than asking them how good they are at something, ask them how they have previously approached a certain task eg. Varnishing.
  • Two-way process
    • You are being interviewed too, so give them a chance to ask questions.
  • Follow-up
    • Let them know when you plan to make a decision and what the next steps will be.

After the interview

  • Make notes and an initial impartial assessment based on what you are looking for. Check against the criteria you originally came up with.
  • Only make your decision once you have interviewed your entire shortlist
  • Let the unsuccessful candidates know once you have confirmation of your new recruit. Tell the unsuccessful candidates and if possible give your reason why. Offer some guidance for their next interview, this will have a significant impact on you and your yacht’s reputation. You never know, one day you may wish to recruit them!

Impact Crew can deliver their two day advanced interview skills courses for senior crew, yacht managers and recruiters. The course provides you with additional tools to interview for attitudes and behaviour, it takes you through the various stages of the interview process and includes case studies and opportunities to practice. If you are interested drop us a line.

Here is a comment we received from a yacht manager who attended our last course.

“I would recommend Impact Crew’s advanced interview skills course to anyone for whom recruitment and interviewing form part of their work.”