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Interview Advice from Matt Cornelius, Director of Recruitment, Spinnaker

As maritime recruitment specialists, we have been putting candidates forward for interviews with our ship owning and ship managing clients since 1997.

The interview process can be stressful. Often this may begin with a telephone or Teams interview before moving to either a one, two or even three stage face-to-face interview. The client will undoubtably have multiple candidates to interview, many of whom will possess similar skills and experience.  It’s important that you stand out from the competition and make a lasting impression on hiring managers.

Earlier this year we asked Spinnaker’s Recruitment Director Matt Cornelius for his top tips when it comes to interview techniques.  Here’s what he had to say:

Solve the problem

Identify the problem you are being brought in to fix, visualise how you will solve the problem the employer faces and walk them through exactly how you will solve this for them. If the hiring team can visualise you in the role and recognise the benefit you will bring them this will massively boost your chances of succeeding in the interview process.

Always be closing

This is a classic sales mantra, but it really applies to interviewing too. Try to leave the interview knowing you’ve addressed any point of concern they might have. I would recommend asking if they have any concerns about your suitability for the role. Unless you ask you might leave the interview without knowing they had a concern and therefore missing the opportunity to address this.

Research, Research, Research

This is a pretty obvious recommendation but surprisingly overlooked. You really need to research the company you are interviewing with, read any press releases you can find, find out who their key personnel are etc… Showing you know about the company demonstrates you are serious about the position and will also give you the basis from which you can answer their questions. Having not researched is a sure-fire way to put the hiring manager off. If you are applying for a position via a Recruiter I would always recommend asking them for any guidance on who you are meeting with and what format to expect if they haven’t already told you!

Stick to the Question asked

Try to listen as carefully as possible to what you are being asked. You don’t need to answer right away so taking a pause and properly thinking about how to address the specific question asked of you is important. Try not to go off on tangents and lose sight of what was originally asked.

Be Honest

Questions will often be asked where you perhaps lack experience of. If you try to fabricate an answer, 9 times out of 10 the interviewer will know that you don’t have the experience they have asked of. There is no harm in saying that something is a current blind spot in your experience, but you would be excited to learn. Companies will value integrity and enthusiasm over trying to cover up for something!

Ask Questions

Interviewing is a 2 way process. As much as a company is assessing your credentials for the role, you are also assessing whether the company is the right fit for you. An interview should be a conversation, not a Q and A session and asking questions yourself not only helps shape your view of the company/ the role for your own guidance but also demonstrates you are taking an interest in learning about what you are potentially going to be walking into. 


This is particularly relevant for those with less interview experience but applicable to even seasoned interviewees. There will be some standard questions that frequently come up in one guise or another so practicing how you would respond and having a good idea of what to say already is recommended i.e. what attracted you to this role? Involving family members and partners in helping to ask questions will get you in the mindset of thinking on your feet even if it’s difficult to recreate an interview environment.

Matt Cornelius is Director of Recruitment at Spinnaker, and you can read his full article on LinkedIn.

You can contact him via email [email protected] or call +44 (0)1702 480142

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