When preparing for a yacht job interview you may practice your answers to the typical questions, such as: ‘What is your biggest strength?’, and, ‘What is your biggest weakness?’. You’re prepared to talk about your experience and your skills, but have you also prepared a list of questions for your prospective employer?
There are many things to consider before accepting a job onboard a yacht, and you need to ensure you’re asking the right questions in order to get the full scope of what your job onboard entails, what is expected of you, and probably most importantly, where in the world you will be. Whilst an interview is the Captain or Chief Stewardess’s chance to get to know you and suss you out, it is also an opportunity for you to do the same. Here are 7 questions you definitely need to be asking in your yacht job interview.
1 – Why is the position available?
By this I mean: why did the person before you leave the vessel? Its important to understand the reasons that the person whose position you will be taking over has left in the first place, is it simply that they have spent enough time onboard and learnt all that they can? Or is there a reason that might also affect you, such as bad management of the vessel or crew conflicts. This way you can gain a better understanding of the type of job you are stepping into.
2 – How do the crew interact with one another?
Try to get a grasp of the crew dynamic onboard, so you know how you might slot in. Are they tight-knit or more independent at work? It’s also worth asking how crew spend their free time outside of the boat. Is this the type of boat where the crew spend a lot of time outside of the boat together? Are the crew more into physical activities such as hiking or do they enjoy visiting restaurants and bars more? If you’ve been used to a more social boat and this crew are more low key or have their own busy lives outside of the boat, consider wether you’re happy being more independent.
3 – What is the crew turnover like?
This is another good way to gauge what kind of work environment you are stepping into. If there is a high number of crew members leaving regularly you might want to consider why that is. Whatever the reason for this you should investigate accordingly before accepting the position.
4 – What is the probation and notice period?
It is standard practice to have a probation period in SEA contracts, giving the employer a chance to determine wether a crew member is able to do job they were hired to do. The probation period is important for protecting both the yacht and the crew member, once your probation period is through you may be able to negotiate more solid terms of your position. Equally as important is knowing the notice period, this means how much notice both you and the boat need to give if you decide to leave or are dismissed. Note that usually before your probation period is through the notice period typically doesn’t apply.
5 – Is there a budget for training and courses?
If you’re looking to progress your career you may want to ask if there is a budget for crew training onboard your prospective vessel. If you’ve been planning on doing your W Set wine course or want to take that Advanced Fire Fighting course you’ve had your eye on for a while, run it past the boat and see if there is a budget for it. Many boats these days want to keep good crew and will often aid in crew gaining further qualifications to stay onboard, but also consider that you may feel tied to the boat if you accept.
6 – What is covered in your health insurance policy?
This is important to ask as you never know when you’ll experience health issues, and not everything is always covered by boat insurance. All health insurance policies are different with different levels of coverage, for female crew members you might want to ask about things such as Gynaecology visits being covered or what happens in case of pregnancy. In general you should think outside of the box and beyond general GP appointments and emergencies (that are bound to be covered).
7 – What is the budget for flights?
If you’re from the UK and your boat is based in the Med, this might not be such a huge consideration for you, but for crew members that are from further flung places such as Australia or South Africa, you should check what kind of budget is granted for crew to be flown home and back to the boat – especially if you are going to be on any kind of rotation. You don’t want to get caught out with extortionate flight prices from yachting destinations such as the Caribbean when you’re trying to get home to see family.
Overall, never feel afraid to ask as many questions as you need to in your yacht job interview in order to get a solid idea of what you are stepping into, after all you will be going to sea where you won’t be able to simply step off. Many Heads of Departments or owners are busy people and may forget to divulge all of the details of a position so its up to you to ask the right questions and take responsibility of your own career.
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