3 Questions to Ask Candidates in Maritime Recruitment

Nov 18, 2019 · 11 mins read ·

Maritime Recruitment
ask more on iPhone case

You may have been interviewing candidates for your shipping company’s vacant seafarer jobs for as long as you can remember. Or you may be a complete newbie at the hiring and maritime recruitment game. Or perhaps you’re somewhere between the two.

But whether you’re an old hand at interviews or not, sometimes we could all do with a refresher.

One thing that’s being spoken about a lot in recruitment at the moment is the candidate experience. The theory is that by improving this and engaging better with potential employees from the get-go, you’ll be more likely to acquire top talent - and retain them for longer.

3 questions to ask candidates in maritime recruitment

And one way of improving your candidate engagement and therefore your candidates’ experience with your company is to ask better questions at the interview stage.

Better interview questions; better candidate engagement

Asking better questions during your interviews is a no brainer really. And it’s not rocket science either.

The great thing is, it’s also a win-win situation: by asking better questions you’ll be able to pinpoint potentially great recruits and also weed out the poor ones - all while creating a better candidate experience for your interviewees.

Related: 4 Tips To Help You Interview Millennials for Seafarer Jobs

The trick to asking good interview questions is not just about the question itself. It’s also about the way that you ask the questions, how you word them, and how easy it is for the listener to understand them.

This is especially important in the maritime industry as you will often be dealing with seamen whose mother tongue is different from yours. If you’re both speaking in English and one or both of you are not native speakers, you may need to simplify what you’re asking.

person shouting into a tin can 'telephone'

We’re not suggesting you “dumb down” your language but be aware that confusing or overly wordy questions might overwhelm your candidate. Keep the number of words you use to the minimum that still allows you to get your question across.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Candidate Database

You can see the effect your questions are having on an interviewee too: a question that has been understood properly allows the candidate to think about their answer before replying. Ideally, they will consider the question, think, and then answer.

That means you’ll be given a more thoughtful and, hopefully, honest and accurate reply.

Questions that confuse the listener will likely result in them looking at you blankly or garbling an answer that isn’t 100% correct, therefore being useless to you.

The most effective questions to ask candidates

The most effective questions to ask candidates applying for your seafarer jobs are open ended questions. That is, questions that can’t be answered by replying “Yes” or “No”.

An open ended question is posed more like a statement and it means that the person you’re interviewing has to give a longer response. Meaning, you’ll find out much more about them and their suitability for your position than you would if they gave a one word answer.

To further ensure the effectiveness of your open ended questions they should also be short. This has the dual benefit of making it easy for the seafarer to understand you, and also letting them, rather than you, do the talking.

a neon open sign

Read more: How to Read Candidate Body Language in Maritime Recruitment

Short, open ended interview questions work both in face to face interviews and are also great for interviews over the phone or Skype - something you may do a lot of when interviewing candidates who could be located anywhere in the world for your seafarer jobs.

The benefits of open ended questions in interviews

Once you’ve nailed the art of asking great open ended questions in interviews you’ll also benefit from being able to gauge a candidate’s listening skills and see how effective they are at understanding and responding.

You’ll also see much more of a seafarer’s personality through questions which let them talk more which will enable you to learn more about them and see if they’ll be a good fit for your open position and vessel.

And going back to candidate engagement and experience - both of these will be improved because, let’s face it, who doesn’t like talking about themselves?!

Read more: Candidate Evaluation in Maritime Recruitment

Better still, upping your interview game by asking more insightful questions is a completely free and easy way to improve a candidate’s experience with your company.

3 open ended questions to ask candidates

1. "What do you know about our company?”

This is a quick and easy way of finding out how prepared for the interview a candidate is. It will give you a deeper insight into how they approach tasks, their level of commitment, and their attention to detail. In the maritime industry dedication counts for a lot and you want to hire someone who shows a certain level of that by showing up properly prepared for an interview.

2. “Why do you want to work for our company?”

The answer given to this question should uncover your candidate’s motives for applying for the job. If you’re in the lucky position of having more than one candidate to interview for the role, you’ll be able to select the best seafarer based on their answer.

wording on a floor saying 'passion led us here'

If one responds with something along the lines of “I just need a job…” and the other tells you that they’ve heard your shipping company is a great place to work and they’d like to line up their future contracts with you, it’s fairly obvious which one you should choose.

3. “How do you deal with conflict?”

This can be an interesting question to ask to find out more about a potential recruit’s ability to handle the stresses of life onboard a container ship. Conflict on board can and does happen among crew members of varying backgrounds and personalities.

And you’ll want to make sure that you’re signing contracts with seafarers who give you a measured response about trying to diffuse conflict - not fan the flames or go in with all guns blazing!

Martide helps you find candidates to interview!

Of course, you can’t put these interview tips into practice if you don’t have anyone to interview! Luckily, Martide is here to help. If you have empty seafarer jobs that you need to fill, let us take care of them for you.

We’ll advertise your job vacancies for you, give you access to our global database of qualified seafarers, and help you manage every step of your maritime recruitment pipeline with our online Applicant Tracking System, and interview management and hiring tools.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with us now to schedule your no-strings attached demo!

Meanwhile, why not follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter / X too?

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.


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