The very nature of the shipping industry means that many of Martide’s clients who are looking for crew for seafarer jobs operate globally. And the seafarers who apply for our careers in shipping are located anywhere from Montenegro to the Philippines to Ukraine to China. This means that conducting a traditional interview face-to-face can be a real challenge! And that’s where Skype and video interviews can save the day.
Skype is an excellent way for shipowners and managers and candidates to ‘meet’ one another. If you're a seafarer looking for careers at sea, they let you as an applicant, explain why your seafaring skills and personality make you the right candidate for their hot vacancies for seamen, while also allowing you to get an idea of who you’ll be working for.
How to prepare for a Skype interview to win seafarer jobs
As a seafarer working in the shipping industry, it’s likely that you’re already an old hand when it comes to Skype interviews. But if you’ve never interviewed for vacant seafarer jobs over the internet, or if you’d like to brush up on your etiquette and ensure your Skype interview techniques are on point and that you give good answers to interview questions, read on as we take a look at the dos and don’ts of video interviews.
How to nail a Skype interview in the maritime industry
The key point to remember is that even though you might not be in the same room as the person interviewing you, they can still see and hear you and you need to maintain the same level of professionalism as you would if you were meeting your potential employer face to face.
You want to be making a great first impression if you’re to be in with a chance of getting one of your ideal seafarer jobs. And it really doesn’t matter whether you’re applying for chief engineer jobs, one of the other top paying seafarer jobs, or if this is your first position as a new recruit straight out of maritime academy.
Before the interview
This being the maritime industry, chances are you and your interviewer are in completely different countries, possibly even in different continents, and therefore likely to be in different time zones.
Check, check and check again that you have the date and the time of your interview right - the last thing you want is to miss your interview because you haven’t worked out the difference between the shipping company’s time zone and yours. Not a good start!
Research is key and to impress potential employers in the shipping industry, you’ll want to show some understanding of their company. It says so much about you as to what type of employee or contractor you’ll be: prepared, conscientious, willing to put the work in, and dedicated, to name just a few positive traits.
Best of all, it's so easy to do: check the shipping company’s website - their About Us or Our Story page is a great place to start. See if the company you’re interviewing for has a social media presence: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are three of the most likely platforms.
If you need to, jot down some notes to prompt you when it comes to knowing the right questions to ask them and some good answers to interview questions they might ask you.
Dress for the occasion
Prepare what you’re going to wear in advance and dress as if you were going to an interview in person. Just because you’re sitting behind your computer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the effort. And whatever you do, don't fall into that trap of thinking you’ll be able to get away with wearing sweatpants or your pyjama bottoms with a shirt or blouse!
However unlikely it might seem, you may find you need to stand up at some point to plug in your laptop or fetch a seafaring document. Do you really want a potential employer to think that you cut corners and only ever do half a job because that’s what it will look like.
Create a suitable environment
Before your Skype interview you need to make sure your surroundings are tidy. It’s possible the person on the other side of the screen can see more of your room than you think so make sure there are no embarrassing or unprofessional items in the background!
It’s also important to ensure the room you’re in has good lighting. Plus if at all possible, don’t sit with your back to a window as this will create glare and make it tricky for the interviewer to see you
Peace and quiet are also crucial. If you’re taking the call at home and you have children who will be around, ask someone to look after them during the interview. The same goes for pets! Shut cats and dogs out of the room and if your dog is a barker make sure they can’t be heard - or ask someone to take them for a walk.
Live with your partner, family or roommates? Make sure they know when you’re interviewing and don’t interrupt you. It’s also a good idea to use headphones which will help you hear the interviewer more clearly and also block out any distractions.
Let’s talk about tech
Now you don’t have to be the most technical person on the face of the planet, but here are a couple of things to do that will make all the difference to the interview experience - and don’t require a degree in computer science to understand.
Make sure you’re set up and ready to go around 10 minutes before the interview’s actual start time. You might also want to run a sound test beforehand to make sure your Skype and internet are in good working order.
Check that your webcam is positioned so the interviewer can see you properly and bear in mind that it's much better if you use a desktop PC or a laptop for the interview - a handheld device such as an iPad or your smartphone does not look professional.
You should also close down any unnecessary websites and background applications, especially if they’re liable to make any noise. And it might go without saying, but make sure your computer is either fully charged or plugged in - the last thing you want is your laptop battery dying on you halfway through the interview!
During the interview
Phew - that was a lot to take in, but it’s all really important stuff if you want to be in with the best shot of getting one of the jobs in the maritime industry that you’ve been chasing.
So now let’s take a look at what you should (and shouldn’t) do during a Skype interview.
Do: Make eye contact
Body language is just as important when you’re interviewing over Skype for maritime jobs in the shipping industry as it is if you're sitting in an office with the interviewer. Sit up straight, listen, smile and look interested! If you were being interviewed in person, you wouldn’t think of gazing around the room and not looking the interviewer in the eye.
But talking to someone through a screen can make that a little awkward. Not sure where to look? Don’t look at the screen itself, but look at the actual camera to make sure you’re maintaining eye contact with the other person.
On a similar note, the sound won’t be as clear as if you were talking to someone in the same room and the internet connection may cause delays, so speak clearly. This is especially important if one or both of you aren’t native speakers of the language the interview is being conducted in.
Do: Be prepared to talk about your work experience
The main topic of conversation while you’re interviewing for contracts or careers at sea is likely to be your work experience, so be prepared to answer any questions the interviewer might have. Keep a printed copy of your seafarer resume next to you so you can quickly refer to dates, timelines and jobs. Want to know how to write a great CV for the maritime industry? We have you covered here. On a similar note, keep your logbook with you too for the same purpose.
Do: Give good answers to interview questions
Once the interviewer has satisfied themselves that your experience in the shipping industry is potentially a match for one of their hot vacancies for seamen, it’s likely they’ll ask you some questions about your current role or contract.
You need to be prepared with some good answers to interview questions. Standard questions that often get asked in interviews for jobs in the maritime industry include why do you want to work for our shipping company and why do you want to leave your current company?
They’ll probably also ask you if you have any questions. This is where the research you did beforehand will come in handy. Showing interest by asking something relevant about the position you’re applying for is always good, as is asking questions about the company itself.
One thing to avoid talking about though is salary - this will make you look like you’re more interested in the money than the actual job. Of course, we all want to be paid for our time - and paid fairly - but now is not the time or the place to discuss that. Wait until you’ve actually got a job offer in the bag.
Do: Finish on a high note
The end of the interview is where you should be leaving the interviewer with nothing but positive vibes! As it’s drawing to a close, thank them for taking the time to talk to you and let them know, once again, that you are definitely interested in the role. Also tell them when you’ll be available to start as this will help them plan around change-over dates and it shows that you’re fully committed to joining their shipping company.
Find your next contract and hot vacancies for seamen now
Interested in applying for jobs in the maritime industry as a fitter, second engineer or chief officer? Maybe you’re looking for vacant bosun jobs or for work as a junior electrician on a container ship?
At Martide we have open seafarer jobs across all ranks. Take a look at our maritime jobs board now and find your next jobs at sea. Then if you haven't already, register an account (it's free!) and apply for the jobs you're interested in.
And don’t forget, seafarers who are looking for hot vacancies for seamen can download our mobile app too. Android users can download the app from Google Play here and iPhone users can find it in the Apple Store here. Your next job in shipping is just a couple of clicks away.