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Clinical Corner: Travel Nurse Interview Tips

Travel Nurse interview

Bring your A-game to your next Travel Nurse interview.

By Phil Niles, Clinical Nurse Manager, Medical Solutions

Hello, my traveling friends! I’m Phil, a Clinical Nurse Manager for Medical Solutions and I’ll be taking over Clinical Corner. I’m a RN BSN with 16-plus years of experience in ICU, acute dialysis, and management. My work at Medical Solutions has given me the opportunity to support all of you fine people in a variety of ways as you craft your career. But for this installment of Clinical Corner, I want to focus on one specific area where I provide support: Interviews!

I don’t have to tell you that as a Traveler you’re constantly interviewing and selling your skills and experience to hospitals — typically over the phone as opposed to in person. I conduct pre-screen interviews for our hospital partners and have experienced quite a few bad interviews in my time. They had the skills and the experience but were terrible in the interview. In the spirit of not being that guy or gal who fails to represent yourself to fullest in your interviews, here are a few tips that may help you land that next assignment:

Be on time!

Even though this is most likely a phone interview, it is very important to be ready a couple minutes before any scheduled call. Often the interviewer has multiple candidates to call and will not be able to accommodate you 10 minutes after the scheduled time. Be ready early.

Treat it like an in-person interview.

Most sane people would not swear, sigh, eat, or be confrontational during an interview, but these are things that I have personally witnessed. For example, you wouldn’t walk into an interview eating a sandwich, talking with your mouth full, and chatting up a buddy you brought with you, right? Be polite, engaged, and undistracted. Impress them with your professionalism.

Mature African American man talking on cell phone and working at laptop at kitchen table

Most Traveler interviews happen by phone. Be sure to call from a quiet location where you have good service!

Call when you have good service.

“I’m going through a tunnel … *static* … ” This is not the best first impression to give to a prospective employer. Make sure you’re somewhere you have uninterrupted service, even if this means pulling over on the side of road at the top of a hill. A cellphone cutting out constantly during an interview may lose you an opportunity with a great employer.

Call from a quiet location.

I’ve experienced being called from a mall, fast food drive-thru, at a train station with a train going through, and in what sounded like a day care with 50 screaming children. Now, many things are hard to predict and you cannot control everything around you, but make your best effort to find a spot that is quiet and as free from distraction as possible.

Be honest about your skillset.

“Oh yeah, I’ve done it all — open heart, brain surgery, face transplant, and delivered five babies at once.” It may be tempting to talk up skills that you are rusty on or have little experience in. However, the interviewer will take you at your word and expect you to be able to perform everything you spoke to. Be honest, be open, and highlight what you are good at. If you’re asked if you have experience that you do not possess, then be transparent. Often, managers do not expect you to be proficient in addressing every single patient experience they see on their unit. They just want to be sure you can cover the majority of what they see.

Be clear, informative, and succinct with your answers.

Beware the urge to tell a long story when a shorter, direct answer will work.

Manager: “Tell me about some of the patients you see in ICU?”

You: “Well, I was born in 1994 on a cold, crisp, winter eve … ” 

Personal examples are excellent when you’ve been asked “Give me an example of X” type questions.

Also, one word or “canned answers” should be avoided. An interviewer will likely see this as a red flag and try to catch you off guard by asking multiple follow-up questions. Think of compelling, unique answers for standard strengths and weaknesses type questions. Instead of saying the cliché “great team player” line, switch it up to something like “I’m a strong resource for my team and I never let anyone down.”  Make yourself memorable!

Interviews can be stressful, and nerves may get the better of you if you let them. Always remember you are just talking about you — and you are the expert on you! Therefore, this the absolute best topic you could ever talk about! There is no reason to worry about what they’re going to ask. You already know all the answers. So, take a deep breath, remember that you are a rock star, and knock ’em dead!

About the Author

Hi, I'm Sarah Wengert, a creative content writer for the amazing Medical Solutions based in Omaha, Nebraska. While I'm not a Travel Nurse, I love to travel and I truly appreciate the hard, important work that nurses do. I'm very happy to represent a company that cares so much about its people. Thanks for reading!

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