While “want to be yachties” are walking the docks and putting their best smile forward in interviews, you as the Chief stewardess/interior manager, also bear some responsibility for the success of the process…
I mean at the end of the day this new crew member is going to be living with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it is important to get it right.
The Interview Process: Selecting the “Right” Stewardess
So let’s start at the beginning… Depending on how your yacht operates, more than likely the Captain has had a role in the process and with your assistance, have managed to narrow the harrowing list of potential stewardesses down to the top 4 candidates.
Get your facts straight:
Before you even put the word out there about the position available, you need to establish the facts:
- What position are you looking to fill?
- What is the salary, insurance, vacation package, etc.?
- What are the details of the yacht, i.e., size, age?
- What is the cruising program?
- An overview of the owners and crew. Do not go into great detail here is this is a sensitive area due to privacy issues etc.
- What they will be wearing
- What times they are expected to work
- What is expected of the candidate as a team member on board XXX
How to select the short list:
When selecting the short list of candidates, you will need to look at the stewardesses/stewards who possess the critical criteria for the job. You don’t need to worry so much about the non-critical criteria, because you as a “super stewardess” can instruct the candidate and your team at a later date.
Critical criteria is quite a simple concept… can they do the job? Make sure they reach at least 60 to 80% of the skills, traits and abilities that you are looking for.
For example, you may be interviewing for a strong second stewardess, the critical criteria will be:
- 3 years’ experience on a vessel 50m and over
- Good communication skills
- Excellent leadership skills
- A good understanding of superyacht operational procedures.
- Excellent personal presentation
What to look for in potential candidates:
Now that you have the short list ready and you are about to spend your precious time and their time on an interview, make sure that you prepare for the interview in advance… “Don’t just wing it”.
- Will they fit in with the crew and with the organisational structure?
- Do they have a pleasant personality
- Do you have a good feeling about them? (Trust your intuition here… it will not fail you).
- Are they suitable for the position?
This is where you get to find out who they are. This is a little more difficult to gauge as you will need to find out as much about the person as possible in a very short time. Further, the candidate may unintentionally lie about who they really are. They may be nervous, therefore, not show their true colours.
To find out as much as you can about the candidate, adopt the 80%, the 20 % rule. You listen for 20% and let them do most of the talking.
- Listen carefully
- Watch their body language
- Take notes
Remember that skills can be taught, but a person that is not a right fit for the team can be professionally and emotionally costly.
Look for transferable skills:
This is something that I think gets grossly overlooked in the superyacht industry. Obvious industries that are relevant to the superyacht interior department are:
- Customer service
- Hospitality, hotels, airlines, cruise ships etc.
- Health care industry such as nursing, aged care worker, home help
- Beauty industry
During the interview process the candidate will have a chance to effectively demonstrate their skills, for example:
- You may be interviewing a junior stewardess, but you need to know if they can do it. Test their hospitality knowledge by asking some simple customer service questions, wine knowledge, types of service and cocktail knowledge.
Facilitate open communications:
Excellent communication skill is a must in the superyacht industry. Break the ice, by asking about their morning (something completely off topic). Keep the questions on track by asking open questions, which will provide valuable insight into their personal characteristics.
If you need to ask personal questions (which you will need to), try to keep it as respectful as possible. For example, do you have tattoos, are you in a relationship etc.
Next step is to try to gauge their communication patterns. In my opinion, it is hard to teach someone tone, speed, and sense. This takes a lot of time and patience on your behalf.
- The candidate consistently uses inappropriate language. You really don’t want a stewardess who just does not shut up and is clearly annoying the guests, but she doesn’t see or can’t read their non-verbal signals.
Look and Act professionally in the interview:
Obviously, it is just as important that you look your best for the interview, remember that you are representing the yacht. Other tips to remember here are:
- Be on time,
- Conduct the interview away from noise and distractions
- Do not patronise the candidate, I think everyone can learn something from the other person.
- Do not get involved in any drama. If the candidate is wrong for whatever reason, concluded the interview in a timely manner, thank them for their time and move on.
The interview questions:
This obviously is a topic that can vary enormously, so I will write down just a few of my favourite interview questions.
- Did you have a good morning? (Icebreaker question)
- Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? (Standard “getting to know you” question)
- Tell me about your greatest achievement? (This looks for what the candidate values)
- Have you ever felt overwhelmed in a job? (This looks at what the individual finds hard, and how they potentially solve the problem)
- What prompted you to apply for this job (This looks at motivation, money, travel, career progression)
- What are your greatest strengths, list 3 (This examines what they can bring to the yacht, it doesn’t have to be professional skills it can be anything).
- What motivate you professionally? (What do they actually want from the job)
- What do you look for in a leader? (Can they be truthful with you their boss)
- When you work with a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play on the team. (Are they a leader or a follower)
The above article was a combination of over 15 years in a management role. The questions changed over time as did my interviewing style. The important thing here is to remain flexible and honour your current position responsibility.
Finally, my biggest tip here is to follow your gut feeling, your intuition. I say this because the yachting industry is not a regular industry. This new candidate will also become your housemate and it is just really important to like the person as well as the person being able to do their job properly.