A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and hiring the right individual is crucial to building happy, productive and successful teams.

Here are my top tips for making more intelligent hiring decisions:

1. Before you begin your search or engage any crew agencies, take some time to reflect on what kind of person you would need for the role your are trying to fulfil. Think in broader terms rather than just the hard skills required to carry out the role. Think about how you would envision this person’s communications style to look like, how would you like to see them interact and live with other crew members, how would you like to see them behave when under stress? What are their values and are they aligned with the overall culture of the yacht? One should adopt an holistic approach to the recruitment process. We so often focus on the hard skills of the potential candidate that we forget about the behaviours required to be a competent employee. The quality of your crew is largely going to be influenced by the quality of your interviews.

It is important to do your homework in preparation for your interviews.

Here are some thought provoking questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the overall culture of your yacht? Is it something you are proud of is it where you would like it to be. When I refer to culture, I am not referring to nationality and their specific subcultures. Rather, I am referring to the values and associated behaviours that would reflect those values.

  • Are there any language or cultural barriers you need to be mindful of, if so how do you intend on accommodating them?

  • Do you have a clear job description available? Where is the division of duties between this person and others on their team, and are there any specific key responsibilities that they will have?

  • What are the most important traits you are looking for in a candidate? ( you cant have them all!) 🙂

  • How will the candidate interact with subordinates, peers, HODs?

  • What is the main focus of the department they will be joining and what kind of attitude and outlook would be required to further bolster the function of that department.


2.  If you are able to answers these questions you will have a clearer guideline to draw upon when it comes to making the final decision. If you are using an agency be sure to hand them over your guidelines so that they are clear on what your needs are.

3. If it is a permanent position you are filling, ideally you want this new hire to stay with you for some time. Therefore, you would need to be clear on your employee incentives. Employee incentive package can include a host of benefits. Some of which include; salary, leave, study leave, professional development training and flights. You should know your crew well enough to understand what drives and motivates them. You may surprised but a positive work culture can be enough to encourage employment engagement, morale, productivity and longevity.

4. If you are using a crew agency, find one that you trust and feel you can develop a long term relationship with.

5. Give yourself as much time as possible to source the right candidate, I know sometimes this may not be in your control and you are under pressure to secure a placement to due to unforeseen events.

6. At the interview, make a checklist to review the candidate against and don’t fall into the common trap of trying to talk them into the job, or selling yourself and the yacht to them. Instead prepare a set of questions to ask which will establish whether they meet your criteria, listen carefully to their answers, and get a feel for their genuine character.

7. In making your selection, trust your instincts. We often register things about a person on a subconscious level that our conscious mind ignores in favour of reason and rationality – ‘on paper’ they look great, and we really need someone to start right away! Instinct is a powerful indicator and it is very rarely inaccurate. Don’t hire someone you are not sure about, even if you can’t put your finger on the reason – better to take a temporary candidate and keep looking for the right person.

8. After the interview make sure you check at least two of their references yourself, preferably by phone. You can tell an awful lot from what someone says (and what they don’t say) to a prospective employer of a past employee – and often people will talk about things on the phone that they would not be prepared to put on paper or tell the agency in the middle. Also call the agent to find out what the candidate said to them following the interview and get a feel for how keen they are about the job.

9. Move fast to secure the candidate you want. The pool of available, experienced, top quality crew is limited. Once they have accepted the position, arrange for them to sign a contract.

10. Lastly, each time you add a new person to your team you have the opportunity to either introduce a positive influence or run the risk of them becoming a negative influence. Hire carefully and you will reinforce all the desirable qualities you want in your team and increase your chances of successful operation. Make sure you take time to go through a proper induction and ensure they know you will check in with them while they’re settling in to make sure their integration is as smooth and positive as it can be.