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The Big Interview Tips Thread

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  • The Big Interview Tips Thread

    We get a lot of questions about interview "technique" and what to do to prepare for your interview.

    What I'd like to do is get everything in one big thread, which will be stickied and prominent to all our visitors.

    So, please share your interview tips here!

    Just a few guidelines:
    • Tips only - short posts like "yeah, good idea" and so on just clutter up the thread. Feel free to use the "Thanks!" button if you found a post useful.
    • If you have a question, create a thread for it as usual. Questions will clutter things up too.
    • Please don't post specific details of company interview processes. This includes posting non-generic, company specific questions, details of how group exercises are conducted (and what those exercises involve) and questions or answers for tests such as aptitude tests or maths tests. Sponsoring companies have been extremely supportive of our presence and we have a duty to ensure that nobody has an unfair advantage. Sharing company-specific information could land you in hot water with your company, so be careful.
    Thanks in advance for all your submissions - I'll be along with my own shortly!
    Last edited by CharlieDelta; 25 July 2011, 11:24 PM.
    Hello! I'm Chris. I'm away a lot so I'm sorry if it takes me a while to reply to messages, but I promise I'll get back to everyone. If it's urgent, please email me directly at [email protected].

    Need books, Flip Cards or chartwork instruments? Visit!

  • #2
    Read all the material they (the interviewers) sent you, know it, like ship sizes, how may crew a VLCC or a tanker would have. Know a few shipping companies,Zodiac, Vroon, carniva and ports, trade routes etc. l, southampton to new York is the main liner route..
    . Know what they do. Know what you think you want do and be able to talk about a company that is in that sector.
    Know what qualifications you will get and roughly what the course will entail... Length of phases, short courses etc, have reasons why you want to work at sea(best to say it's in the family and ur into sailing have always been near the sea etc)

    If you know all that you should be sweet
    "My Job"

    It's not my place to run the boat
    the fog horn I can't blow.

    It's not my place to say just where
    the boat's allowed to go

    It's not my right to dock the boat
    or even clang the bell

    But let the damn thing
    start to sink AND SEE WHO CATCHES HELL!


    • #3
      Show up early, not too early though (more than 5 minuets early but not more than 15)
      If they ask you to bring anything- cv, certificates etc- Don't just have them in your pocket. Prepare them before hand put them in an envelope with interviewers name on it. Use little post on tabs so they can easily find what they need.
      If there is a presentation, video or similar before the interview bring a note pad and take notes.
      Remember it is your chance to sell yourself, Don't be negative about yourself, current/previous employer etc. Remember at an interview you are selling your self stick to the positive stuff. Put a good spin on things but DO NOT LIE you will get caught.
      Most of all stop and think before you answer anything you are asked, Don't be afraid to say your not sure DO NOT TRY TO WING it you will get caught.


      • #4
        Show the interviewer that you know all the not so glamorous parts of the job, i.e. spending your first month or so chipping and painting.
        If you mention one of your reasons for wanting to go to sea as wanting to travel and see the world, make sure you show that you are aware that you have very little time in port.
        If they ask you for your biggest weakness, give them one but try and bend it round into a positive. For example I said time management, but bent that round into that I then work better under the pressure of little time in the end.
        Show that you understand why the companies are taking on cadets, i.e. tonnage tax requirements. If you don't know this, look it up.
        Find out the main areas that the company you are applying to operate.

        To sum that up, the interviewers seem to love it when you know exactly what you are letting yourselves in for, they just need to make sure that you will stick it out the whole cadetship. So the best thing you can do is research as much as possible about the job, most importantly the not so shiny stuff, as if they know that you are happy with that, then they can feel confident you will stick it out.


        • #5
          The clothes maketh the man......Suit, Shirt, Tie, shooes at least clean if not polished, this is a JOB interview not just another college course interview. Tidy hair, have a shave ro have proper stubble, clean teeth, fresh breath

          Bright eyed and bushy tailed

          Answer the questions you are asked NOT the ones you think they asked

          If you are unsure about anything ask them, this is your chance remember it's a 2 way street they want to offer you a place but you need to be sure what they are offering is what you are applying for.

          Be polite and courtious....dont sit there chewing gun at them

          As before...have a clue about the comapny you are talking too, google and wiki before to see what it is they do.

          AND come here and ask questions
          Trust me I'm a Chief.

          Views expressed by me are mine and mine alone.
          Yes I work for the big blue canoe company.
          No I do not report things from here to them as they are quite able to come and read this stuff for themselves.

          Twitter:- @DeeChief


          • #6
            Always have a couple of questions prepared for the end of the interview when you will be invariably asked, "Do you have any questions?"


            • #7
              I havn't had a chance to fully read the above but I will add in my bit,

              Make sure you show that you understand the job good and bad and along with that show you know its also a way of life and not just a job and that you are prepared to be away from home for anything up to 6 months.

              As it has been said above dress smartly I would suggest a suit and nothing less you are presenting yourself at the end of day remember.

              One question I will mention is they may ask (they may not ask it though it just depends) is why did you pick deck over engine or engine over deck basically why this one and not the other and if it catchs you off gaurd it can be a tricky one to answer think of the parts of the job that draw you towards it etc etc

              So yeah thats my 2p worth
              Be what you want to be not what other people tell you to be
              Adapt and over come
              Careers At Sea Ambassador


              • #8
                Don't get disheartened if one of your interviews go badly, it might not be your fault, or some people just need practice.

                My first interview didn't go well at all, but I think the personalities of the guy interviewing me showed me, that they weren't the right company for me at the time, and gave me a good chance to find out what some of the harder questions could be. I won't mention any names, but I still have a chip on the shoulder with them, they are a big company too and I know I'm not the only one, especailly as they had a massive cadet drop out rate, of very bright keen people.

                Went to 2nd interview, they liked me so much they persuaded me to not even attend the 3rd one i had arranged with another company.

                Relax and be honest.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dosedmonkey View Post
                  I won't mention any names, but I still have a chip on the shoulder with them, they are a big company too and I know I'm not the only one, especailly as they had a massive cadet drop out rate, of very bright keen people.
                  Come on name names lol! Seriously though I do think points like that about high drop outs etc from certain companies can be invaluable for those just starting to thing about which company. It's the stuff they won't tell you at interview anyway!


                  • #10
                    Some companies undertake interviews based on previous experience, So keep examples of things you have doen in the past handy, eg
                    'Tell me a time when you lead a task, and the task was not finished,'
                    IF your very nervous and feel like your going to forget what you want to say, interviewers don't really mind if candidates bring in few bullet points of what they want to say. I'd think it shows that the candidate is more prepared, some may disagree


                    • #11
                      Alot of the interviews tend to have the same 'standard' interview questions. Like as mentioned above 'What is your biggest weakness'. Have some sort of prepared reply to these questions is useful. By prepared reply I mean a general idea of what you are going to say and not a rehearsed script. As the question may be not in the exact form you have prepared for.

                      Some interviews follow the 'competency' format. Which is basically them saying give an example of when you have had to x y z.

                      Lots of interview guides about can have a look at some. If I had replied properly I would probably have found and linked a few but I have not. You could join a recruitment agency or 2 and pillage their interview techniques guides. Is a bit underhand but you can get some good information this way. So long as you can put up with the barrage and calls and messages you will get about jobs you have no interest of applying to.

                      Doing some research on the company helps. Shows you have put in some effort and have some interest.

                      The person doing the interview also probably has another 10 people left and has done 10 before you got there. Keep this in mind as you go along.

                      Humour can help but can be a bit risky.

                      Easy to type but hard to do. Do not panic and keep your stress to a minimum.
                      Wise man says.... " Enough with the stupid questions "


                      • #12
                        Here are my comments that may help.

                        First of all prepare a "good boy/girl " folder. Use a hardback 20 or 24 sleeve folder like this
                        1) Put all of your exam certificates in it at the front, and then documents in decreasing order of importance.
                        2) References from part time jobs, teachers, coaches etc
                        3) Don't forget D of E awards, club awards and anything else that shows "stickability". Cadets, Karate, Swimming. I know it may seem weak in later years, but you have very little else to offer at this time by way of experience. Just remember everyone else is in the same boat.
                        4) Your CV
                        5) A one page personal profile
                        6) You may also have photos of ships built out of lego when you were 5, taking a mower engine apart, steering a lifeboat, drawings you have done etc.
                        7) Passport, driving licence, ENG1 (if you already have it)
                        8) Don't forget to do copies of the important ones and tuck them behind the originals so you can leave them with them if they ask for a copy.
                        9) Remember to get your folder in front of them early so they can look through it. If they ask a question that leads into the folder, open it to the page and push it over to them.

                        Don't be frightened to ask them if you have answered their question if you feel you may have misunderstood it.

                        If they pause, and you have answered the question, don't panic and ramble on. Don't be frightened of short pauses. They may be using it to make notes or to un-nerve you!

                        Finally don't be frightened to ask for the job before you leave. I don't mean "Gizza Job!" I mean saying something along the lines of “I am really interested in the job. When will you be making a decision and are there any questions I have not answered?” or “After what I’ve learned about your company today, I am confident I’d be a good fit. I hope to hear from you soon.”

                        Finally NEVER blagg it. Years ago it used to be a favourite to put on your CV you liked playing chess. A friend of mine used to set up a chess board with the days problem from the newspaper and if someone had put on their CV "Chess" he would ask them when they came in "I see you like chess, so do I. Have a look at this board and tell me what you think white's move shoulds be next. Think about it now and we will discuss it at the end of the interview." Then he would sit back and either watch them dismiss it until the end of the interview because they could play, or sweat and worry the whole interview because they could be rumbled. By the way, he never did go back to the chess board!

                        If anyone is interested I have a list of questions and answers I used to coach 2 recent deckie applications.

                        "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
                        "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

                        "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.


                        • #13
                          I have an interview with Clyde Marine and found your information really fantastic - I am very interested in the list of Q&As that you used to coach deckie applications, would you mind sending me some examples? Again, thanks for the above - I'm putting together my folder right now!
                          A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor


                          • #14
                            Someone mentioned the question which can catch you out - "why deck over engineer?" - and it is a very tricky one if your on the spot. I would advise anyone to learn they're answer.

                            I was at an open day at the end of last year and there was representatives from companies who could answer any questions and gave you a mini interview. One of them asked me that question and I stumbled my brain for an answer and came out with "ehhh... It sounds better". He replied with "ahh well in an interview situation I wouldn't offer you the job" haha.

                            So just goes to show you. I would definitely learn it!


                            • #15
                              This is more a test on the career! Make sure you've written it in stone that you want to go to sea as the interviewers are intense at making sure you know that hard work is ahead of you! But take it one step at a time, do your best and if you are the person for the job they'll see that!