Are you taking your first steps towards beginning your career in seafarer jobs? If you’re applying for entry level cargo ship jobs and are trying to land a position in the engineering department on a vessel, this blog post is for you - especially if you have an interview coming up and would like to know what some of the seaman interview questions and answers that you might be asked are.
Or perhaps you have recently left one shipping company who you’ve been working for for years and need to brush up your interview skills so that you can find a new position with a new employer.
No matter which of the seafarer ranks in the engineering department you are applying for, and no matter how much sea time you have under your belt, it’s always good to be prepared when it comes to a job interview.
So, Chief Engineers, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Engineers, Chief Electricians, Electricians, Junior Electricians, Oilers, and Wipers (and anyone else looking for seafarer jobs in engineering) - carry on reading!
Seaman interview questions and answers for engineering department jobs
Clearly there are a lot of different seafarer ranks and different types of maritime jobs in a ship’s engineering department. And that means that the seaman interview questions and answers you’ll face will be different depending on the job you’re applying for.
For example, an interviewer is going to ask a Chief Engineer very different questions to an Oiler or Wiper. However whether you’re applying for one of the top paying jobs at sea, or entry level cargo ship jobs, this post aims to help you prepare as much as possible.
And as one of the maritime recruitment agencies that helps match seafarers to different types of maritime jobs, at Martide, we like to think we have some helpful insight into what sorts of questions you will be expected to answer in an interview.
Background checks for seafarers
Before we get down to the types of questions you might be asked, you should know that an employer or manning agency will have checked out your seafarer background beforehand. Of course they will want to have looked at your seaman resume, they will also want to know that you’ve taken an CES (Crew Evaluation System) test, and what you scored.
A shipping company may require a reference check from the manning agent, and of course they will need to ensure that all of your documents and certificates are in order.
Questions asked at seafarer job interviews
During your interview, you will probably be asked some basic questions, regardless of which of the seafarer ranks you are applying for. For example, how many contracts have you had under your present rank? (Don’t panic if you’re applying for entry level ship jobs, as no one is going to expect you to have ten years of sea time!)
An interviewer will also want to test your knowledge of the English language - obviously you will need some level of proficiency to be able to work in jobs at sea, understand and take (or give) orders, and communicate with your fellow crew members who may not speak your mother tongue. In relation to this, they might also want to know what experience you have working with other nationalities.
Other things that may well be covered in seafarer job interviews is your previous knowledge of trading areas, the types of ships you are familiar working on, what kind of cargo you have experience of, and your dry dock experience.
And don’t be surprised if you are asked about any accidents or incidents you may have been involved in, or if you have/had any issues with alcohol abuse.
Seafarer conventions, codes and certificates
Now for the acronyms! Applicants for different types of maritime jobs, including engineering department candidates, will need to hold their PSC (Proficiency in Survival Craft) certificate.
An employer will also want to know how much you know about the ISM (International Safety Management) Code, the ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility) Code and the MLC (Maritime Labor Convention).
Your knowledge of international conventions such as SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea), MARPOL (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) and STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) will normally also be covered.
As with most job interviews, your prospective employer will likely want to know your reason for leaving your previous employer, what expectations you have of working for their company, and your future plans.
And they’ll also want to know when you’re available to start work so that they can meet the changeover date for the position.
Technical interview questions for the engineering department
And let’s not forget (as if you would!) that if you’re applying for jobs that fall under the engineering department on a vessel, you’re going to need to prove that you have some tech skills and knowledge on your seaman resume.
Depending on the position you’re applying for, you may be asked about certain operational aspects of the job - for example, cold corrosion, unit overhaul, and fuel/oil consumption.
An interviewer might also check your knowledge of emergency procedures and ask you what you’d do in various hypothetical worst case scenarios such as what steps you’d take if a fire broke out in the engine room.
Seaman interview questions and answers that display your knowledge of the vessel’s main engine and other key plants are also to be expected.
Is your personality suited to jobs at sea?
Anyone who conducts interviews is also looking at the personality of the person they are interviewing. Yes, your seaman resume, documents, experience and knowledge is important, but so too is making sure you are a right fit for the vessel.
An employer, manning agent or officer from one of the maritime recruitment agencies will want to see how nervous - or how confident - you are, and whether you’re genuinely interested in the vacancy or if you come across like you're bored and you just don’t care.
Your interview might be taking place in person in an office, but it just as likely could be happening over Skype or Zoom. Regardless, the trick is to be confident (but without coming across as a massive bighead!) and to always maintain an aura of professionalism - even if you’re sitting at home talking to someone on your laptop!
Doing some research into the company you’re applying for seafarer jobs with will also help give you the advantage over other candidates who have similar skills and experience listed on their seaman resume.
A little research will show that you’re serious about wanting the job, prepared to do your homework and go the extra mile, and that you’re prepared. All good traits for a seaman!
Read EVEN more! 4 More Mistakes Not to Make in Interviews for Seafarer Jobs
Looking for jobs at sea? Martide can help!
We hope that you’ve found our guide to seaman interview questions and answers for anyone applying for jobs in a ship’s engineering department useful.
Now, if you’re looking for your next seafarer job, we hope we can help you there too! Take a look at our seamen jobs online and see if there’s a vacancy that interests you.
Applying is easy. All you need do is register an account with Martide and upload your work experience, documents and certificates into your seafarer profile. It’s like having an online seaman resume - and best of all, you only need to do it once.
You can then apply for any of our jobs, and shipping companies and manning agents can also get in touch with you if they think you’re the right candidate for them.
You can create your account on our website, or if you’re on the move, you should download our app for seafarers. That way you can apply for jobs, check the status of your applications, and message employers and manning agents wherever you are in the world.
The app is available for both Apple and Android devices and is free to download from the App Store and Google Play.