Travel Nurse Interview Process
The first thing to remember about travel nurse interviews is that this is the time to interview the facility just as much as it is the time for them to interview you. You want your travel contract to be a good fit, and in order to get the best results, you must ask questions.
A travel nurse interview is unique because you will most generally be interviewed via phone. You can make time for your interview anywhere–from a coffee shop to your couch to the beach! Unsure about etiquette for a phone interview? This article on Indeed has some great basic tips!
It’s important to have a plan for how you will make time for your travel nursing interview between the time when you submit for a job and the manager calls. The majority of the time, the nurse manager will randomly call and interview you, so be sure to have a way to get to a quiet place with minimal distractions during that time frame.
Having earbuds nearby can be a great way to answer a call and sneak away if necessary. In addition, it’s a good idea to have any questions you want to ask typed up on a note in your phone so you can access them if the manager calls at a time when you are out and about.
Because there are usually multiple applicants for each travel nursing position, it is highly recommended to answer the phone if at all possible. If you don’t, there is a good chance the hiring manager will simply move on to the next candidate. Worst case scenario, answer the phone and quickly explain why you can’t talk, and don’t hang up until you have a set time to have a call later!
Who is Interviewing You?
Every nurse manager and hospital will have a slightly different process for a travel nurse interview. Ask about the interviewer’s job position and title. If the person interviewing you can’t answer all your questions, it is okay to ask for an email contact who can get you the answers you need.
What About Auto Offers?
As crazy as it sounds, some hospitals have started to skip travel nursing interviews altogether. Instead, they rely on their resume screening process to determine if a travel nurse is qualified. In these instances, you may receive what is known as an “auto offer.” This is an offer for a contract without any contact with the hospital.
It is perfectly okay to accept an auto offer if it feels right for you. However, if you have specific concerns or questions you want answered before accepting, be sure to ask if there is a way to connect with someone in the unit before signing your contract. Usually, a nurse manager is happy to answer questions to help make sure the unit is a good fit.
Travel Nurse Interview – Questions to Ask a Nurse Manager
The following is a list of potential questions to ask your nurse manager during your travel nursing interview. This is not an inclusive list, but it is a great place to get started.
- What is the staffing ratio?
- Is floating required? Will you always float first?
- Is On-Call required? How often?
- Does the unit have mandatory overtime? Are you able to take a different day off if mandated?
- Is overtime available to pick up on a volunteer basis?
- Verify the shift that you will be working. If rotating shifts, what is the schedule?
- Scheduling? Can you get your shifts back to back? How far in advance is the schedule available? How much notice is given for scheduling changes?
If you have specific dates that you need to be off, this is the time to ask. More importantly, make sure that this time off is noted in your final signed contract.
- What is the policy for breaks/lunch? Is there someone to relieve you?
- What assistive staff is available on the unit? IV team, Secretary, CNAs, etc.?
- What type of charting system is used? Will there be training?
Do not ask the nurse manager about pay in your travel nursing interview. They have very little direct influence over pay!
- What is the dress code?
- Will there be requirements to act as a charge nurse?
- What is the process for shift-to-shift report? Bedside? Recorded? Group?
- Has the hospital or unit used travelers before? Have any extended? How many travelers are in the facility currently?
- Is there a possibility for an extension?
- How often are unit meetings? Is attendance required at meetings?
- What is the orientation process for travelers? Classroom hours? Unit orientation hours? Will you receive orientation on each unit you will work?
- Unit-specific information: Patient mix? The average length of stay? Average census?
Most importantly, if any of your Deal Breakers are appropriate to address with the individual hospital, don’t forget to ask about them.
As you get more experience as a travel nurse, your list of questions for your travel nurse interviews may change. In addition, things that seem very important for your first assignment may seem less important down the road.
The general rule is that travel nurse interviews are more laid-back than formal interviews. Think of it as more of a conversation between you and the hiring manager, and remember, this is likely the most information you will receive about your new job before you get to orientation.
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