Interviewing can be one of the most fear-inducing parts of job transitions. Since this happens frequently with travel nursing, you want to be skilled at travel nursing job interviews. Let's discuss why you need a travel nursing job interview, what to expect, and what to avoid. We'll also review some tips for travel nursing interviews to help you land your first or next assignment.
Why Do You Need to Interview for Travel Nursing?
There are travel nursing companies offering thousands of travel nursing assignments throughout the country. Like any job, It's important for travel nurses to interview with the healthcare facility. This is to ensure the healthcare facility's needs and requirements match the travel nurse's background and skill set. For example, intensive care unit specialties and typical patient conditions seen on the unit can vary. Some critical care units can have a mixture of patients with respiratory and medical conditions. While other units care for patients with cardiac conditions only.
Remember, as a travel nurse, you're also deciding during the interview if you would like the assignment. The travel nurse assignment may seem ideal initially, but when you interview you may find different expectations. For instance, they aren't flexible with days or you'll be expected to float to other units frequently. It's important to find these out before starting any job and is especially important for travel nurses.
What to Expect in a Travel Nursing Interview
Before interviewing with any healthcare facility for a travel nursing job, you will be initially screened by the travel nursing agency. A recruiter will discuss with you your nursing experience, licensing, and any other travel nursing documentation they may need to get started. Sometimes they will also discuss the travel nursing pay for the assignment upfront. Once you have discussed your background and completed the skills checklists, your travel nurse recruiter will start sending you available travel nursing assignments that fit your needs.
If a healthcare facility is interested in your application, they will schedule a travel nursing job interview with you. Usually, you will talk to the nurse manager or the unit director. Typically, during your travel nurse phone interview, they will ask you common travel nurse interview questions, such as availability and background. A good travel nurse recruiter will prep you with the nursing interview questions they typically ask. This will depend on the unit and healthcare facility. For example, nursing interview questions on a traumatic brain injury unit versus a level IV surgical unit or a level III surgical unit will be vastly different.
Once you've completed your interview and the healthcare facility has decided they would like to hire you, a travel nursing contract is drawn up. The travel nursing contract details information such as travel nursing pay, travel nursing housing, stipends, reimbursements, etc. After you've thoroughly read and discussed the travel nursing contract with your recruiter, you will sign and submit it. Typically, after this the agency starts to gather any additional travel nursing documentation they will need from you to start your assignment.
Travel Nursing Job Tips
Being prepared for and acing your travel nurse job interview is key. Healthcare facilities and travel nursing agencies won't offer you a travel assignment if you flunk your interview. So, whether you're starting a travel nurse job for the first time or trying to improve your nursing interview skills, incorporate the below tips for travel nursing interviews.
#1: BE SPECIFIC
Behavioral interviewing constitutes a significant portion of travel nurse interview questions and many nurses struggle to succeed during this portion of the interview. Hiring managers want specific instances that showcase a particular skill. They are less concerned about how you feel or think about a characteristic and more concerned about what you did in the past that highlighted the characteristic. Usually, past behaviors are a key indicator of future performance. For example, a hiring manager will want to know how you have exemplified critical thinking in the past because how you exemplified it in the past will be the best indicator as to how you will exemplify it in the future. Or they will want to know of a past experience where you made a mistake and what you learned from the experience.
Luckily, as a travel nurse, you will have a diverse background of experiences to pull from and should be able to prepare numerous specific instances where you shined. You shouldn’t be thinking of these situations during the interview; they should have been developed prior to the interview. Before your interview, search for common travel nurse interview questions and practice your responses. Many travel nursing companies have also created lists of the most common travel nurse interview questions. Also, come prepared for the interview with questions that you would like answered. As mentioned before, you're also interviewing the healthcare facility to make sure it's a good fit for you.
#2: SPEAK TO RESOURCE UTILIZATION
As a travel nurse, you don’t have the luxury of longevity like permanent healthcare career opportunities. Others will be around for the indefinite future, but you are here for a relatively short period of time. This means that you will have to know and utilize the resources provided by the organization. The most notable resource is your co-workers. Make sure that you don’t come across as hyper-independent as you will struggle without the help of those around you. If you can let them know you are not afraid to ask for help and will utilize the resources you provided, it will put them at ease and make hiring managers comfortable extending an offer.
#3: EXEMPLIFY FLEXIBILITY
It is hard to find a better characteristic for a nurse to succeed than flexibility. All the more so for a travel nurse who changes travel nurse jobs on a consistent basis. If you come across as rigid and resistant to change you won’t be helping your chances of acing the interview. Share instances where you adapted to change. Let them know that you like variety and can thrive in a variety of settings. Any manager appreciates staff members who are flexible. Some examples of where you showed flexibility can be schedule changes, floating to a different unit, or changing patient assignments mid-shift.
#4: DEMONSTRATE PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION
Nurses interact with numerous other professions depending on their specialty. Strong professional communication skills will help give the hiring manager confidence in you during the interview as well as help you to gain the confidence of your colleagues in the future. A great way to express this is through proper utilization of the SHARE (situation, hindrance, action, results, evaluation) model (or a similar model) during behavioral interviewing. For example, tell them about an experience where you had to escalate patient care or transfer a patient to a higher level of care and how you communicated with the healthcare provider. Showcasing professional communication during an interview will set you apart from other candidates.
#5: THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
A positive attitude goes a long way in an interview, similar to other characteristics such as integrity and respect. Often healthcare organizations hiring traveling nurses are short-staffed and staff can be stressed out. Hiring managers don’t want to risk bringing in a negative candidate who complains and brings down morale. They want someone who is going to infuse energy and life into the unit. Bringing a positive attitude to the interview is a key piece to acing your nursing interview.
Questions to Avoid
Like with permanent healthcare career opportunities, there are several questions you should avoid during your interview. First, don't be shy during your interview and have at least one question about the healthcare facility or unit planned. This shows that you're interested in the position and did your research beforehand.
If you have any questions about your travel nurse contract, save these for your recruiter. This includes questions about travel nursing pay, travel nurse housing, or bonuses. The nurse manager will not know the specifics of your contract and this may come off as inappropriate.
Instead, ask questions about the unit, such as patient volume and patient acuity or types of patients. For instance, does the level III surgical unit care for traumatic brain injury patients? Also, ask about nurse-to-patient ratios. Keep in mind that nursing ratios will vary by facility. For example, a unit caring for traumatic brain injury patients versus a level IV surgical unit or level III surgical unit will have different ratios.
Acing a nursing interview doesn’t require extensive knowledge but some tact and preparation. Add these travel nursing job tips to your skillset. Search for travel nurse interview questions and practice your responses beforehand and you’ll ace your next travel nursing interview.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I prepare for a travel nurse interview?
Most travel nursing recruiters will help you prepare for your travel nurse interview. Remember, they want you to get the assignment too! Ask your recruiter for any tips or search Google for common interview questions they may ask. Many travel nursing blogs also offer common interview questions and interview tips. Once you've aced your interview, your recruiter will be able to better detail the contract specifics, such as travel nursing pay, stipends, or travel nurse housing.
What should I say in a travel nurse interview?
During your travel nurse interview, try to lead your answers back to communication, flexibility, and keeping a positive attitude. Research the healthcare facility ahead of time and have questions prepared. Ask questions about the unit, such as patient acuity and nurse-to-patient ratios. Remember, you're interviewing the healthcare facility as well to see if you think it would be a good fit.
How do I ace a travel nurse phone interview?
Preparation is key! Research interview questions and rehearse your responses. Although the questions might not be the exact same, many of the behavioral interview questions are similar. Meaning you can use your background and personal experiences to tie into your responses. The more specific the examples, the better.
What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers for nurses?
One of the most common interview questions for a travel nurse is asking about past experience and what skills you possess. Also, the hiring manager may ask you why you're interested in their unit or what you know about their organization. Also, be prepared for behavioral-based interview questions. Some common behavioral interview questions are related to flexibility and communication.
Learn More about Health Carousel
Want to learn more about interview tips or search for other travel nurse-related resources? View our travel nursing blog. Health Carousel has many travel nurse assignments available throughout the country! Search our job board or use our On Demand app to easily apply.
Besides our many available travel nursing opportunities and market-leading compensation, Health Carousel offers great benefits. We offer benefits such as health insurance, retirement savings accounts, and referral bonuses. Are sure how to use your benefits or want to learn more? Visit our Full Circle of Support to help answer your questions and guide you through our benefits.