How to Prepare for a Cruise Ship Job Interview

female crew member on the top deck of a cruise ship

The cruise industry is growing quickly, and there are more opportunities than ever to work on cruise ships. But, most job openings are competitive, giving cruise recruiters the choice of multiple candidates for each position.

Performing well during your job interview is the single most important factor in getting hired. Making an effort to plan interview answers, clothing, documents and questions to ask ahead of time is one of the best ways to drastically improve your chances of getting hired.

The most important quality cruise recruiters want

Working on a cruise ship is an amazing way to travel the world while getting paid. But it’s not a job that’s suitable for everyone.

One way to distinguish yourself from other candidates is to understand how working on cruise ships is different from working in the same position on land.

Getting invited to an interview is a positive sign that the recruiter thinks that you have the skills and experience required for the position. But the interview is about much more than being to perform the duties of the job. That’s just the minimum requirement.

The most important task of a recruiter is evaluating whether you’re suited for the unique cruise ship work environment. Working on a cruise ship has its pros and cons and the company wants to be sure you’ll be happy and productive onboard.

Cruise lines know that attitude and personality are crucial to being successful. The recruiter must feel confident that you’ll be just as happy and energetic at nine in the evening as you were at nine in the morning.

Remember that you’ll be living aboard the ship. The little time off you have will be spent socialising with your colleagues. For most positions, you’ll be sharing a cabin with at least one other crewmember, as well.

To demonstrate that you’re suited for life at sea, be ready to prove that you’re energetic, reliable and a team player. In fact, many of the questions you will be asked during the interview are designed to reveal exactly this to the recruiter.

Prior to your interview, take the time to come up with specific examples of when you successfully dealt with challenges such as:

  • Living in shared accommodation
  • Working long hours for weeks or months at a time
  • Travelling away for from friends or family for an extended period
  • Working or interacting with people from different cultures and nationalities
  • Going beyond the call of duty to solve a problem for a customer

Dress and appearance for your job interview

Recruiters are trained to notice your appearance and evaluate the first impression that you make when they meet you in person. After all, cruise lines want their crew and staff to give a positive impression to passengers.

Most companies have strict dress codes, as well as regulations that apply to hair and makeup. For your interview, you should plan to dress conservatively and in a manner similar to the companies uniform.

Women: Your hair should be neat, attractive and conservatively styled. Avoid excessive makeup and jewellery. If you wear nail polish, choose a neutral shade.

Men: Your sideburns must be neatly trimmed. Cruise lines don't permit moustaches, beards and long sideburns for most positions. Your hair should be cut no longer than to the top of your collar.

There’s more to appearance than what you wear and how you style your hair. The single most important aspect of your appearance is your demeanour.

Passengers and recruiters want to see happy, smiling employees who radiate positive energy. Be sure to smile, make eye contact and maintain good posture. You’ll look and feel more confident and make a fantastic impression with your interviewer.

What to bring to your job interview

The recruiter will require certain documents if the company decides to hire you to work on a ship. By taking just a few moments to print or copy some crucial documents and bring them to the interview, you'll give yourself an advantage.

If the recruiter has your documents but needs to wait for other candidates to send theirs after the interview, your application could go straight to the front of the line for the job. The recruiter won't make a job offer without validating your documents, so it’s best not to leave him or her waiting.

Print two copies of your CV and cover letter to bring with you. Also, make sure to bring two blue or black pens - one for backup - to complete any required paperwork.

It’s possible that you’ll be asked to start your new job on short notice. You should have a valid passport with at least one year left before it expires. Bring the passport with you, along with two copies of the page with your photo and vital statistics.

Depending on the job you apply for, you should also bring a headshot photo of yourself, DVD or portfolio samples and two to three letters of reference.

Carry your paperwork in a portfolio case or a folder. Make sure all your documents appear tidy and organised. Attention to small details will impress the recruiter. 

Job interview questions to expect

Cruise lines want to hire candidates who’ll thrive despite long working hours and no days off for four to seven months (and sometimes even longer).

Even though you may have excellent land-based experience and an impressive CV and cover letter, your interview answers must convince the interviewer that you will also be successful living and working at sea. 

You should be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What do you know about the cruise industry?
  • How do you feel about being away at sea for four to seven months?
  • Are you willing to share a cabin with a co-worker?
  • Will you be able to work seven days a week with no time off for four to seven months?

Questions to ask the interviewer 

Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask them a few questions. Asking questions indicates that you're interested and enthusiastic about the job opportunity. You should always be prepared with three to five questions to ask the recruiter.

The questions that you ask should demonstrate that you’re hard-working and passionate about the job. Attitude is everything in a cruise ship job interview and the more you can demonstrate interest and energy, the better your chances of getting a job offer.

Some examples of good questions to ask are:

  • How soon does the position start?
  • What type of training is provided?
  • Are there possibilities for promotion?
  • What are the duties of the position?
  • Who will I be reporting to?
  • What type of uniform is required?
  • How would you suggest preparing for the job if I am hired?

Boost your confidence with interview practice

You may feel nervous or stressed out before the interview. It's a natural reaction shared by most people during job interviews.

One of the best ways to overcome nervousness and build your confidence is to practice interviewing. You can ask a friend or family member to help you with one or two practice interviews. They may even provide helpful feedback on how to improve your performance.

It's useful to video your practice interviews so you can see how you come across to the interviewer and make adjustments. You may be surprised at how quickly your interview skills improve and how much your confidence grows after just one or two practice sessions.

A cruise ship job is a fantastic way to see the world. By taking the time to prepare thoroughly for your job interview, you will feel more confident and impress the interviewer.

Have you ever wanted to work on a cruise ship? Hopefully, this will improve your chances of getting the job.