52 Most Common Deck Cadet Interview Questions & Answer Tips

by | Last updated Feb 22, 2024 | Career Guide, Job Search | 0 comments

A company interview is one of the most important stages of a deck cadet’s journey for onboard employment.

But despite its significance, many find this part difficult, even when answering the most basic interview questions.

One reason is their unpreparedness; they might get it wrong and fail the job application. But knowing the possible questions and the correct answers gives you past that hurdle.

These 47 interview questions are your edge when applying as a deck cadet.

I categorized them into eight to make reviewing, focusing, memorizing, and understanding easier.

Interview Tips

  • Answers written in normal letters are explanations, while those in italics are sample answers.
  • Most questions crewing managers ask are related to safety.
  • Try asking the interviewer some questions along the way for a healthier conversation.

Contents Overview

Personal Questions and Career Motivation

1. Tell me about yourself

This is not about your personal life. The interviewer wants to know your educational background, work experience, goals, and ambition.

To start, talk about when and where you graduated, your school achievements, if any, why you chose this course, your skills and positive attitude, your ambitions, and how you can help the company.

2. Why did you choose this profession?

This question aims to uncover your motivation for choosing this career.

Tell the crewing manager what you love about this profession. If you have family members who are also seafarers, tell them how they inspire you, especially in pursuing the goal of becoming a Captain.

3. Why should we hire you?

Understand that you are not the only deck cadet the interviewer has on his list. For this question, he wants to know what sets you apart from the rest.

To answer this, tell the interviewer how hardworking, industrious, and diligent you are. 

Highlight specific instances where you’ve gone above and beyond your duties, such as solving challenging situations at school and demonstrating exceptional problem-solving skills.

4. Why do you want to be an officer onboard?

While the obvious answer is about the seafarer’s salary, especially when promoted, this is different from what the crewing manager wants to hear.

Here, you should share your drive to overcome challenges while having the opportunity to take on leadership responsibilities.

Tell them that being an officer allows you to contribute to the safe and efficient operation of the vessel while ensuring the crew’s well-being.

Once you reach the rank of captain, you can also share your experience with the younger generation.

5. What motivates you to become a seafarer?

The answer here may be similar to number 3, but you can always elaborate more.

In my experience, it was always about personal growth, career prospects, adventure, and the opportunity to work with different nationalities.

Strengths, Weaknesses, and Challenges:

6. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

While citing your strengths can be seen as a plus, be careful highlighting your weaknesses, as it may taint your application.

Ideally, your weakness should be your strength “in disguise”. You also should cite remedies on how you are fixing your weakness. What I mean is this example:

“My greatest strengths include my ability to adapt to new situations quickly, my strong work ethic, and my excellent problem-solving skills…(elaborate more and cite examples).

But this is also my weakness since I expect others to be as hardworking and adaptable as I am… (explain this part more).

However, I am actively working on adjusting my expectations and assisting other people instead of getting frustrated at them…”

7. How will you surpass the challenges and difficulties of being a seafarer?

Here’s an excellent answer to this:

“To surpass the challenges and difficulties of being a seafarer, I’m constantly learning about my work.

I am resilient and adaptable. I expect seafaring to be very challenging, so whatever comes my way, I won’t be surprised. And I have a support network that I can ask and turn to.”

Deck crew sitting on the aft station while waiting for the mooring operation to start.

8. What if we don’t select you?

While there’s only a slim chance that you may get hired, a positive attitude, when rejected, goes a long way.

So, instead of getting mad or frustrated, tell the crewing manager that if he does not select you, you will work hard to improve yourself and be better prepared next time.

Tell them that this rejection will fuel you to strive more and overcome your current self. Then, wish them well.

Maritime Education and Training:

9. What can you say about your course?

As a deck cadet, my course of study encompasses a comprehensive curriculum designed to provide me with the necessary knowledge and skills to become a successful seafarer.

I enjoyed studying at my university while gaining a solid foundation in navigation, seamanship, ship handling, maritime law, safety procedures, and maritime regulations.

10. What is your favorite subject?

This is very personal, and I’m sure you can answer this with flying colors. If you haven’t figured it out, now is the time.

11. Tell me about your maritime education and training background.

Mention what you learned in maritime school, including the practical classes you attended.

At this point, you may also have completed STCW training courses like Basic Training, Medical First Aid, and Advanced Firefighting.

Highlight what you learned there in a way that’s easy to understand.


12. What is safety?

Safety refers to the condition of being protected from harm, danger, or risk.

It involves adherence to strict protocols, regulations, and best practices aimed. These procedures prevent accidents as well as protect the marine environment.

13. What would you do if you encountered a fire on board?

If I encounter a fire on board, my very first thing to do is to inform the bridge. I will also tap the bulkheads to alert the nearby crew while shouting “fire”.

Pressing the fire alarm call points is also an option if this is very close to me.

If the fire is still small, I will try extinguishing it using the nearest firefighting equipment.

14. What is a fire triangle and its composition?

A fire triangle refers to the components or ingredients that make up the fire, which are heat, fuel, and oxygen.

15. What are the different fire extinguishers to be used in case of fire?

To answer this, please refer to this image:

A table about the classes of fire and types of fire extinguishers below it.

16. What are the Classes or Classification of Fire?

Refer to the image above and my article about the different fighting equipment on board.

17. How will you encourage your team to follow safety precautionary measures and best working practices onboard?

To encourage your team and fellow crew members to follow safety protocols and best working, gently remind them that their family is waiting for them to come home safe and sound.

18. How will you maintain safe working practices onboard?

Here is the best answer to that.

To maintain safe working practices onboard, it is important to follow company regulations, conduct a risk assessment, wear PPE, practice proper housekeeping, communicate effectively with fellow crewmembers, and pay attention to training videos on board.

19. What is the minimum amount of oxygen a human needs when entering an enclosed space?

While the minimum amount of oxygen when entering an enclosed space is at least 19.5% by volume, I would always aim for at least 20.9% to be on the safe side.

20. What is the meaning of PPE?

PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. These are the clothing, equipment, or gear we wear to protect ourselves from hazards in our work environment.

Examples of PPE are coveralls, safety helmets, gloves, goggles, safety harnesses, ear muffs, etc.

21. What is the use of a liferaft?

A liferaft is an essential piece of safety equipment onboard designed to provide a means of evacuation and survival in case of an abandon ship.

There are many equipment inside the liferaft that help increase seafarers’s survivability until rescue arrives.

22. If the ship is having an emergency, what would you do?

In case of an emergency on board, I would stay calm and decisive while proceeding to the muster station.

I will also perform my duties as per the muster list and follow my squad leader’s commands.

23. How do you prevent accidents onboard?

This question is similar to number 16. Please refer to number 16 to answer this part.

24. What allows the liferaft to be deployed when submerged in water?

Liferafts are equipped with a hydrostatic release unit or HRU.

An HRU is a quick-release mechanism that triggers automatically when the liferaft is submerged underwater.


25. What are the four pillars of IMO?

The four pillars of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are the following:

  • International Convention for the Safety of Life At Sea, 1974, basically known as SOLAS Convention.
  • The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)
  • Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW)
  • Maritime Labor Convention or MLC

26. What is MARPOL?

MARPOL, or the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, is the primary regulation that covers pollution prevention from ships caused by operational or accidental discharge.

Oil spill equipment inside the yellow SOPEP box containing rubber boots, oil dispersant chemicals, a sprayer, and goggles.
Oils spill equipment inside the yellow box.

27. What are the annexes of Marpol?

These are the annexes of MARPOL:

  • Annex I – Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil
  • Annex II – Regulations for the Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk
  • Annex III – Prevention of Pollution by Harmful Substances Carried by Sea in Packaged Form
  • Annex IV – Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships
  • Annex V – Regulation for Preventing Pollution by Garbage from Ships
  • Annex VI – Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships

28. How many miles can you throw garbage overboard?

We can discharge food waste not comminuted or ground outside special areas 12 nautical miles from the nearest land.

Other than that, we don’t throw any garbage overboard. We keep them on board during the voyage and discharge them to shore reception facilities.

29. What is ECA and SECA?

ECA and SECA are Marpol Annex VI regulations that control SOx and NOx emissions.

ECA stands for Emission Control Area. When sailing in ECA zones, ships must use fuel oil with a maximum sulfur content of 0.5% percentage of its mass, or mass by mass (m/m).

SECA stands for Sulfur Emission Control Area. This zone is also a part of ECA but with a more stringent requirement for fuel oil sulfur content of a maximum of 0.1% m/m.

30. What is ORB?

ORB stands for Oil Record Book. It is a booklet onboard where officers and engineers record all oil-related operations and discharges as per Annex I of MARPOL.

Oil Record Book Part I pertains to machinery space operations. The Chief Engineer is in charge of this. ORB Part 2 concerns cargo/ ballast operations. The Chief Officer is in charge of this.

31. What is the most important rule in COLREGS?

The most important rule in COLREGS is Rule 5- Lookout!

You must also memorize and recite the full content of Rule 5.

32. What is SOLAS?

SOLAS stands for the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. 

Its primary objective is to ensure minimum safety standards for the construction, equipment, and operation of ships engaged in international voyages.

33. What SOLAS Chapter is Safety of Navigation?

SOLAS Chapter 5 refers to the Safety of Navigation.

Navigation and Seamanship

34. What is Navigation?

Navigation is the process or way of directing the ship’s movement via the shortest, safest, and most convenient route.

35. What is celestial navigation?

Celestial Navigation is a method of determining a ship’s position at sea by observing celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, stars, and planets.

One of the most valuable tools in celestial navigation is the marine sextant.

36. What is the formula for estimating ETA?

The formula for estimating the estimated time of arrival of a vessel is

ETA = (Distance / Speed) + current date and time.

For example, if the next port is 1200 miles away and your voyage speed is 12 Nm per hour, it would take 100 hours or 4.17 days to reach it.

Add your current date and time, and you will have your ETA.

37. Difference between Raster Charts and Vector Charts.

A raster chart is simply an electronic image of a paper chart. It’s like scanning the paper chart to be used in the ECDIS.

A vector chart is created using mathematical formulas that result in a richer representation of chart data.

You can interact with the different features of the chart, such as buoys, and it will show its characteristics.

38. How many points are there in a compass? 

A compass consists of 32 points evenly spaced at intervals of 11.25 degrees. It starts from north and progresses clockwise around the compass rose.

39. Perform Boxing the compass.

For boxing the compass, refer to this image:

A Compass Rose with its 32 points labelled as part of boxing the compass.

40. What is IALA Buoyage?

IALA Buoyage, or the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities, refers to the system of maritime buoys and navigation marks used to assist mariners in safely navigating coastal waters, harbors, rivers, and other navigable channels. 

41. What are the six types of marks?

The six types of marks according to the IALA Buoyage System are the following:

  1. Lateral Marks
  2. Cardinal Marks
  3. Isolated Danger Marks
  4. Safe Water Marks
  5. Special Marks
  6. Emergency Wreck Marking Buoy

Aside from these six, note that there are 30 different types of buoys known in the maritime world.

42. What region is Europe in the IALA Buoyage System?

Europe is under Region A of the IALA Buoyage System.

43. What is the meaning of 3 short blasts?

In COLREGS, 3 short blasts of a vessel mean, “I am operating in astern propulsion.”

44. What is a ship’s draught?

A ship’s draught (or draft) refers to the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the ship’s hull.

45. What is buoyancy?

Buoyancy is an upward force that opposes an object’s weight (gravitational force) immersed in water, allowing the ship to float or remain afloat.

Leadership and Teamwork

46. What is leadership?

Leadership is the ability to inspire, influence, and guide others toward a common goal or vision.

47. Describe a situation where you demonstrated leadership skills.

Here, it would help if you have concrete examples where you showed your leadership skills.

Try to recall an event in school, with your friends, or even in your family where you lead them to complete a specific task.

48. How would you handle conflict with another crew member on board?

When I have a conflict with another person on board, I will talk to him privately and calmly address the issue.

I will try to understand and ask him for a common ground, especially in seeking solutions.

I will also respect his opinion and do my best to be on good terms with that crew.

BONUS: Company and Job Expectations

49. How many years do you think it would take you to become a Captain?

I’m not actually in a hurry to reach the pinnacle of my career, but I will also not slow down.

For now, I humbly set my goal of becoming a captain 12 years after starting my first contract.

I will study very hard to become a third officer. Then I will learn everything about my job until I become a second officer and chief officer.

If, for some reason, I feel I am not ready to command a ship after reaching the 12th year, I will allow myself to learn more and gain further experience until I become confident.

50. How long will you be working for our company?

I don’t have a set timeframe in mind, but I am looking for a long-term opportunity. If given the chance, I would be committed to growing my career with your esteemed company for many years.

I want to build a future here where I can inspire and help the younger generations be the best they can be in this company.

51. Why are you interested in working for our company specifically?

I’m interested in working for your company because of its strong reputation in the maritime industry.

After listening to some of your crew, I know that you are taking good care of them, and in return, they do their best performance on board.

The company’s mission and vision also resonate with my values, which is significant for me.

Lastly, I want to be a part of something big and global. This has always been a dream of mine since I was young.

52. Do you have any questions for me?

Here, you should have researched the company to ask targeted questions. This gives the interviewer the impression that you are interested in the company to begin with.

Here is a sample answer to the 52nd question:

“Thank you for asking, sir, because I do have a question. First is, what is the biggest challenge the company is experiencing right now?

I know I am still applying as a deck cadet and my job on board is not on the management side, but I want to align myself and help your company somehow.”

Then, you can ask more if you see an opportunity. After that, you can follow up with this:

I have one more question, sir, and this is regarding today’s interview. How did I do during this whole interview? May I know what I should improve to perform better next time?

That’s it! Some questions may not be listed here, but if you prepare and master these deck cadet interview questions, you will fare better whatever they ask you.

I wish you good luck and 

May the winds be in your favor.



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