If you’re brand new to travel nursing or an experienced professional, we have some great interviewing tips that may help you get that next great assignment. Interviews for travel assignments can sometimes be challenging because they are typically “held” over the phone without a meeting in person. Your first impression must be made solely by your vocal presentation and that can make it much harder to differentiate yourself from other candidates. See below for some of our favorite tips for having a great interview!
1. Make sure you are well rested before your interview begins.
If at all possible, try to schedule the interview for a time when you’re not just getting off work after a long, 12+ hour shift. You want to make sure that you are alert and able to communicate your skills and experience effectively to the hiring manager. Trying to think on your feet during an interview when you’re exhausted, hungry, and/or tired is never a good strategy. Another tip? Dress for your phone interview the way you would for a face-to-face interview. Whether that is a suit, scrubs, or your favorite shirt – whatever makes you feel more confident is key!
2. Find a quiet area to conduct the phone interview.
Whether this is a room in your home where you can close the door and be alone or even your vehicle, you want to minimize the distractions so that you are able to concentrate and the hiring manager is able to hear you. As much as I love going to Panera Bread for business lunches and even face-to-face interviews, this is not a good environment for a phone interview.
3. Understand the details of the facility you are interviewing for.
Before being interviewed, your recruiter should release details on the hospital you are working for. At the very least, get on the computer and Google search the location, staff, and maybe even recent accomplishments they’ve had or new technologies they’ve implemented. Why do you want to work for this facility and what makes you different from every other candidate they’ve spoken to? Travel nursing jobs serve a very important purpose and you should prepare for the interview as you would any other permanent position.
4. Maintain effective communication and be professional.
Sure, every hiring manager might break into the small talk with you a bit and that can typically be seen as a good sign. However, don’t be the one to initiate the small talk. This is a serious job you are interviewing for and the hiring manager will not be impressed by the funny story your brother told you last week. Make sure your answers convey what the hiring manager is asking and remember to stay on topic.
5. Your resume and skills checklist will be verified. Be able to explain it.
The hiring manager has two key pieces of information in their hand while they are on the phone with you – your resume and skills checklist. It’s not that they want to quiz you, but when they ask you about a position you did from 2011-2013, you should know exactly what they are asking about and your details should match what you stated on your resume. Feel free to expand on additional details but make sure at the very least what you’re communicating to the hiring manager matches with what your resume conveys.
6. ALWAYS have questions to ask the hiring manager.
Contrary to popular belief, asking smart questions doesn’t make you seem inexperienced or uninformed – it makes you seem engaged in the process. As your benefit, you learn more details of the position before deciding if it’s the right one for you. Ask about the shifts you’d need to work, whether you’d float to another unit, nurse:patient ratios, and the type of schedule they would require you to work. In addition, specific clinical questions need to be asked during this interview as your recruiter will not have those answers for you.
7. Sell yourself based on how flexible you are.
As any experienced nurse knows, the more flexible you are with your schedule and shifts, the more the hospital may want to work with you. This is not for everyone so if you know that you are unable to commit to it, don’t say it. However, I have run across several nurses that didn’t mind going between day and night shifts (within reason of course), had open availability both weekdays and weekends, and/or willingness to float to other units. These three things are items you want to tell the hiring manager even if you’re certain your recruiter already did. Remind them of your ability to help them in dire situations and if chosen for the position, they can count on you.
8. Take notes!
As much as we’d like to be, your recruiter is not able to hear how your interview goes or what is said. The hiring manager will likely detail the position, responsibilities, and other details that you will want to refer back to. Don’t try to rely only on your memory.
9. Verify all job details with the hiring manager to ensure understanding.
As your interview comes to a close, ask the hiring manager to verify the start date, shift, unit, and assignment length. This is to ensure that everyone knows what they are signing up for and also to make sure no details have changed since the position was initially presented. Also identify any next steps and above all, CALL YOUR RECRUITER!!
10. Be certain that you are available to interview when you say you are.
I probably should’ve mentioned this first but I can’t stress it enough. Make sure if you say you are available for a phone interview on a certain date and time, you are actually available. Things do come up and that is understandable but unless it is an absolute emergency, be courteous in letting your recruiter know ahead of time that you need the interview date and/or time changed so they can get it rescheduled or at the very least, let the hiring manager know.
As your recruiter, we want you to feel prepared to speak with the hiring managers you interview for so that you can get the position you really want. With these tips in hand, you should be able to knock your next interview for a travel assignment out of the park!
Looking for a travel assignment or even something more permanent? Send me a message and I can see what we have available that meets what you’re looking for. Even if you just want some more information, I’d be happy to help!
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