For most people, interviewing can be nerve-wracking, from what to wear to engaging with the interviewer. However, for travel nurses, interviewing is an entirely different experience. Not only will they not be in person, but there’s really no set standard either. Whether you’ve done a dozen interviews or are prepping for your first travel nurse interview, here are our best tips on how to prepare, what to expect, and how to secure your next job.
Why Do Travel Nurses Need Interviews?
While hospitals and facilities are looking to fill staffing shortages, that doesn’t mean they’re not concerned with who will join their teams. Like any job, your interview will determine if you’re a good culture fit as well, ensuring your skills match your profile.
- Experience: The employer will be looking to ensure you have the expertise to provide top-notch patient care.
- Culture Fit: Does your personality mesh with their team? How does your work style — think how you organize your shifts — complement their unit?
- Accommodations: Typically, this is where you’d ask if the facility can make arrangements around any dates you want off. Given the current pandemic, consider offering up flexibility.
But, and this is a big deal, it’s also your opportunity to ensure the facility is a good fit for you. It’s your chance to gauge how the unit operates and discover details on how you can be an asset to their team; this is a crucial step in determining if you want to pursue an opportunity with them.
While each interview you do will be different, there are a few things you can count on to remain consistent. Namely, that it will be a phone interview. Before your interview, you and your recruiter will discuss the facility. They should never ‘blind submit’ your profile to a hospital. If they do, understand that this practice isn’t standard, and you can easily find an agency that will ensure you have final approval on all submits. Let’s get back to interviews and what you need to know.
Some facilities may conduct a pre-interview. Think of it as a resume check — this can be a big time-saver for facilities by double-checking your skillset before scheduling a formal interview. A pre-interview also opens up more time for your unit-specific questions when you speak to the hiring manager in your formal interview.
Can I expect a pre-interview screen? Not necessarily. Some facilities forego this process, and others may confirm your background with your agency first. Your recruiter will be your go-to resource during this time and should advise you on whether or not to expect a pre-interview.
Tips for Making a Strong Impression Over the Phone
The standard in-person interview offers the opportunity to communicate with facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact. Interviewing over the phone can feel awkward, so you’ll need to focus on sounding confident and competent. Consider these tips to help you make a strong impression.
- Speak slowly: Have you ever accidentally combined two words, like in that scene from Mean Girls? Take a breath, speak slowly, and utilize natural pauses to make it easier on the interviewer while also minimizing those weird blunders — gruel.
- Pay attention to inflection: Did you ever have a professor ask, “Are you sure?” Make sure your tone reflects confidence by avoiding up-speak — that’s when your voice goes up, like when you ask a question.
- Stand up & smile: This one sounds weird, but it makes a big difference! Smiling can change your speech patterns and people can pick up on that! Similarly, standing up improves your posture and projects confidence.
- Practice on the phone: Have your recruiter, a family member, or coworker ask you questions over the phone. Ask them for feedback on the clarity of your answers.
Travel Nurse Interview
Again, there’s no such thing as standard here. Your formal interview can be a brief 5-minute check of basic culture questions or it can be a lengthy interview filled with behavioral questions. It’s a good thing travel nurses are so adaptable, because there are a few different interview types too.
Travel Nurse Interview With Hospital Staff
For these interviews, you can expect to chat with unit managers, charge nurses, or hiring managers. These representatives will likely ask about your schedule and have scenario-specific questions for you. As the ‘boots-on-the-ground’ interviewers, they’re also your best source for you to investigate topics like:
- Scrub color
- Patient population
- Day-to-day workflow
- Traveler history
- Float expectations
You may have an interview with HR staff. While they might not have access to unit details, they still have useful insights for nurses. HR staff can arm you with an overview of the hospital itself like:
- Resources available to your unit
- Internal medicine doctors on a unit
- Pharmacy on the unit
- CNAs/PCTs and Environmental Services on the unit
In an ideal world, after submitting your profile, you’d hear back with potential interview times with a manager. Unfortunately, as you know, travel nursing is all about adjusting when things aren’t ideal. Enter the Voice Automated Interview (VA). Instead of speaking with a person, you will record your answers to a list of questions selected by the manager. The manager then listens to your answers and decides to hire you based on your responses and skills checklist. Here a few things to note:
- You should be notified before submission: If a hospital uses VA, you should know before you decide to submit.
- You won’t speak to anyone on the unit: Understand that you will forgo speaking with someone about unit-specifics like scheduling.
- You should be able to submit questions: Typically, if a hospital uses VA, you can submit questions in writing; however, you may not get a quick response or receive a response at all.
Look for Recruiter Who Takes Your Career Seriously
There’s so much to consider when it comes to interviewing. Particularly when thinking about what’s essential for you to ask; that’s why it’s crucial to find an experienced recruiter. A good recruiter will not only guide you through the process but coach you to make the most of each interview. Ask your recruiter if they have a list of questions for you. Olivia Carper, TNAA Recruitment Manager, coaches her nurses to ensure they’re prepared and confident. We asked her for her top tips for travel nurses interviewing for the first time:
- As soon as you get a call, ask for the manager’s name and contact number in case you get disconnected and need to call back. It also is good to have to help your recruiter secure the offer for you so that when you call back, you can focus on those additional questions.
- Keep a list with you of vital questions you need to know to accept an offer with confidence. Think about what you need to know to do your job safely.
- Close the deal! If you like the job, tell them and ask for it. Asking for the job is key, and that can feel uncomfortable. It helps to practice what to say, “This job sounds like a perfect fit for me, can I tell my recruiter you will be sending over an offer? I am ready to start in 2 weeks.”
We hope you found these travel nurse interview tips helpful. Do you have any tips for travel nurse interviews?