Interview Preparation for Chief Stews! Part 2


Today is the final interview related blog post, so I made sure to include 5 inspiring ladies! For Part 1 of Interview Preparation, click HERE.

I’ve asked the below Chief Stews to share what questions they ask EVERY candidate & their top 3 tips for creating an efficient & productive interview environment. I always try to make it as comfortable as possible for the other candidate, adding some more humour at the beginning to help ease the Stew’s nerves. I also have an interview question document  that I go through with every candidate! Preparation is KEY to a successful interview!

Carrie ~ Chief Stewardess of 1 Year
Questions to ask every candidate:

This may be a funny one, but I always ask if they consider themselves creative. It tells me a lot about what they enjoy doing and the confidence they have in themselves or how I would need to encourage them in that respect.

Top 3 tips to ensure the Interview goes smoothly:

1) Know who you’re interviewing. You have looked through quite a few CVs in the last few days, refresh yourself on who you’re about to interview so you don’t get confused between candidates.

2) Offer them something to drink, make a joke or two, just try to relax them a bit. They will open up and be more honest if they feel connected to you and aren’t as tightly wound with nerves.

3) If you’re interviewing on the vessel, pick an interview spot where you are least likely to get interrupted. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but it can throw off the flow of the interview and distract both of you. The candidate can always meet the rest of the crew after the interview if it goes well!

Cantleigh ~ Chief Stewardess of 2 Years
Questions to ask every candidate:

What are you hoping to get out of yachting?

Is this a long term career where you are aspiring to chief stew, purser or manager etc?

This will normally show me the mind set of how serious the candidate is about yachting.

Top 3 tips to ensure the Interview goes smoothly:
  1. Dress accordingly
  2. Be on time! ( 5 min early is on time for me)
  3. Be confident and respectful

Harriet ~ Chief Stewardess of 3 Years
Questions to ask every candidate:

What is a pet peeve of yours? (for example, when cabin mates put the toilet roll in the bathroom on backwards or not at all! its gets me every time!) 

Top 3 tips to ensure the Interview goes smoothly:
  1. Be prepared with all your material, and the facts about the job you are offering
  2. Be friendly and relax, your candidate is going to be must more honest and open with you if they feel comfortable.
  3. Ask questions about there life and find out their interest and try and relate to them if you can. Remember you have to live with this person too!

Alex ~ Chief Stewardess of 3 Years
Questions to ask every candidate:
  1. Tell me about yourself…I know its such cliche, but we all have life story to tell and its important to get to know the person a bit.
  2. Why do you want to work in yachting?
  3. Where do you see yourself in a few years…People do have dreams and plans and its good to know where they are in that time of their lives…Especially if you are looking for someone to stay longer in the team
  4. Might be strange question , but I ask if they grew up with siblings or not…It tells a lot about the person and in 90% of cases I was right.
  5. What do you like to do in free time…what excites you and relaxes you, what keeps you sane and happy in life, how do you deal with stress
Top 3 tips to ensure the Interview goes smoothly:
  1. Relaxed atmosphere is important
  2. Be nice and friendly
  3. Create a good vibe

Meg ~ Chief Stewardess of 2 Years

Questions to ask every candidate:

My number one question is to dive into their background in terms of living situation. The reason for this is that I feel previous experience with living away from home or living in shared accommodation is vital for junior/green crew. As much as I love taking on green stews, I have had some bad experiences with taking on girls who have never lived away from home. They have finished school/university/their job and come straight onto the boat. While I am sure this could work, my experience is that the change is quite significant and often too shocking for some. In my experience, this became more of a mothering situation, rather than a mentoring role. While I believe a chief stew should largely take on that ¨motherly¨ position for the crew, often chief stews are also out to have some fun and not worry about everyone all the time. 

Other questions I like to ask:

– Talk me through the next 5 years. 

For me, a response to this question says 1000 words! I used to hope that everyone would say something along the lines of ¨working towards a senior positions¨ etc but I have come to realise that not everyone is in yachting for a life long career….and that´s ok! If the industry was filled with crew all wanting to progress and make it to the higher ranked positions, it would be even more saturated and competitive than it already is.

So long as you are willing to give the position your all, and grow within yourself and the position during your time onboard, I have no problem with someone admitting that they have no intention of spending too long in yachting, or that their main focus is monetary gain. I think too many candidates immediately answer the question with ¨hopefully on my way to Chief Stew in 5 years time¨ without thinking about what they´re saying. 

Before you´ve tried the new flavour of the month ice cream at the local cafe down the road, you don´t commit to eating this, and only this, for the next 5 years. You wait until you try it and then base a decision on this.

For me, a junior or green stew should approach yachting with the same mindset. Before trying the interior department, how do you know that you want to work towards chief stew. Do you really know what a chief stew does? Do you really enjoy guest interaction at this guest standard? Don´t be afraid to admit that you´re open to yachting as a career (if thats the truth) and that after experiencing yachting and interior duties specifically, as well as being exposed to some good training, this will guide your development plans. 

– How did you hear about yachting?

Now this one makes me laugh sometimes, as the usual response these days is ¨my friend started yachting and said I would enjoy it¨.

While this is perfectly fine, and shows some spontaneity in your personality, I find that it often hints at a candidate´s reasons for joining yachting. Too often young yacht crew join the industry with the idea that you get paid to travel… forgetting the hard work, grit and determination it takes to survive in the industry. 

-If the candidate is older than me, I always ask them the question, ¨would you feel uncomfortable or intimidated at any point being managed and lead by someone younger than you¨.

Most often than not, people say they will not be affected by this, however I do find that their response, or hesitation in response, can tell you a lot about future problems.  

Top 3 tips to ensure the Interview goes smoothly.

1. Do not schedule back to back interviews, as you would never want to rush one interview, just to make another. 

2. Break the ice from the beginning. Try to relax the candidate by introducing yourself and telling them a bit about you. I always like to tell a candidate a little about my introduction to yachting or where I´m from. Also, I make it very clear from the beginning, that I would prefer candidates to ask questions throughout the interview, rather than at the end. This way it makes it less formal, and also gives me a chance to interact with them more. 

3. Always ensure the candidate is clear as to how you will notify them if they are or are not successful in obtaining the position onboard. On the very rare occasion, I have had so many applicants and interviews for a junior stew position that I simply could not get back to each of them. Instead I explained to them at the end of the interview, that should they not have heard back from me via email or phone within 48 hours, they should consider themselves unsuccessful in their application. 

However, more often than not, I prefer to give a deadline as to when I will get back to a candidate (usually with a few days). I ensure them that they will hear from me, via phone or email, regardless of whether or not they were offered the position. It does´t take very long to send out an email to all unsuccessful candidates, but I think it shows professionalism and can encourage green crew to keep going. 


I really hope the past two weeks of Interview Blog Posts have been helpful! The amount of encouragement & wisdom within The Yacht Stew Community is just AMAZING. So thank you to the above ladies for being apart of this project.


Big Hugs,

Gem xo

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