The Travel Nursing Interview Process

Taking break, nurse talks on smart phone

The travel nursing interview process is a topic I get asked about a lot, and rightfully so because a lot of weight falls on this topic. Interviews can feel nerve-wracking and intimidating, to say the least. However, preparing for what to expect in your travel nurse interview will boost your confidence tremendously. 

Interview Preparation

Time is of the essence with travel nursing interviews, which is why most of them occur on the phone. 

Be Ready For a Phone Call

After you apply for an assignment, be prepared for a phone interview with the facility at any time. If you miss the call, the nurse manager will likely move on to the next candidate. 

Make a Good First Impression

A challenge with interviewing over the phone is the interviewer cannot see your non-verbal gestures as they could in person. For that reason, you’ll want to make a solid first impression. The unit manager will likely verify your background, experience, and comfort level. They may ask you some standard, situational-type questions so they can make sure that your personality and working style meshes well with their unit. When responding, keep in mind- that the manager is looking for examples of you being a safe, knowledgeable, confident nurse while having a positive, flexible, and helpful attitude. 

Have Confidence

When you have your travel nurse interview, take a deep breath, smile, and know that the unit manager has already seen your profile that your agency submitted. They likely already have a good inclination that you have the experience and clinical skill set to be a great asset to their unit. You’ve got this!

The Travel Nurse Interview

Keep in mind that you are interviewing the facility as much as they are you. You get the inside scoop about the unit from a current employee, and you want to make sure it is a good fit for you, too!  Showing interest and asking specific questions validates your genuine enthusiasm for the unit. Below are some questions you might want to ask during your travel nurse interview.

The first thing is first, make sure you get your interviewer’s name and contact info so you can send a follow-up email. This is a great way to stand out from your competition – trust me! 

Questions to Ask the Unit Manager 

  1. Confirm your state date, shift, and unit you will be working on

2. What is the orientation process for travelers? How many days of orientation do I receive?  

3. Is floating required? Will travelers always float first? 

Mentor tip: Make sure to discuss where you are comfortable floating within your scope of practice. But remember, you can float as “helping hands” – like a Med Surg RN floating to ED to start IVs, do vital signs, or stock.

4. Is there any mandatory testing on the first day? If so, is there a study guide?

5. How many beds are on the unit? What is the nurse-to-patient ratio?

6. What is the patient population and census like on the unit?

7. What charting system do they use?

8. What other medical professionals and assistive staff, such as doctors, NPs, CNAs, lab and IV team, etc., are available on the unit to have as a resource?

9. What is the unit’s policy for breaks and lunches? Will someone relieve you?

10. What are some of the biggest struggles and challenges in the unit?

11. What is your scheduling method?

Mentor tip: This is a great time to discuss any time off you need during your assignment and get it approved by the manager.

12. Are call shifts required?

13. Is overtime available to pick up on a volunteer basis?

14. What happens to travelers during low census?

15. What color scrubs are required?

16. Is there a parking lot for travelers, and what is the cost? 

Mentor tip: The biggest mentor tip I can give you is not to discuss pay. Why? The facility has no control over your compensation package.

What Happens Next?

Sometimes, you will receive an offer for the position during your interview, and other times, you have to play the waiting game. Either way, be sure to send the nurse manager a follow-up email expressing your excitement about the assignment and reiterating what was discussed. Having this information documented and readily available can be beneficial if management changes at any point.

If the manager gives you an offer on the spot, don’t let that pressure you into providing an immediate answer. You need to take the time to assess all the details of the offer. Thank the unit manager for their time and let them know you will be making a decision and communicating that to your recruiter soon. 

If you have to wait to hear back about the assignment, an offer or declination for the position typically comes in a few days to a week after the interview. In the meantime, let your recruiter know ASAP if you are interested in the position. They will be able to move your application along for you. On the flip side of this, don’t let a recruiter make you feel guilty for not taking an assignment if it isn’t the best fit for you. Ultimately, the decision is yours. 

I am a firm believer that what is meant to be will be. If you aren’t the candidate for a particular assignment, don’t look at it as rejection. Think of it as redirection! Trust the process and know that if this wasn’t the assignment for you, the right one will come your way!

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