Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
August 31, 2020 - 3 min read

How To Prepare for a Travel Nursing Interview

A travel nursing interview with hospital administration can be nerve-wracking for travel nurses especially because it may be their only opportunity to talk to the facility and ask questions before accepting a position. It’s important that travel nurses make a good first impression as there are generally other applicants for the position.

Nailing the interview component is key in securing a coveted position. This is not a time to be timid or shy about your accomplishments. Brag about yourself and tell them why you deserve to be their frontrunner.

Interviewing does require some preparation besides knowing how to answer their questions. Make sure that you are:

  • Familiar with the healthcare facility/system
  • Familiar with the unit including specifics about the patient population

Looking for a travel nursing assignment? Talk to a recruiter today.

The Travel Nurse Interview Process

Generally, travel nurses will go through several rounds of interviews including with an HR representative for the healthcare facility, the nurse manager of the specific unit, and possibly the nursing director and another staff member. These interviews are utilized to find individuals that will fit the needs of the unit as well as be flexible, dynamic, and well versed in bedside care.

Common Travel Nursing Interview Questions

Most interview questions are fairly similar for travel nurses because the managers want to know how you will respond in a medical emergency, how you will handle a difficult patient, how you will mesh with your co-workers, and more importantly what makes you stand out amongst the others.

Travel nursing interviews usually occur while still on another assignment so they frequently occur over the phone which can be helpful. It allows a potential travel nurse to have a list of questions and possible answers ready in case they get nervous.

So what kind of questions could a manager ask? Here is a list of common questions seen during travel nurse interviews:

  • Why are you the best candidate for this position?
  • Tell me about a specific time you had an encounter with a hard to handle patient/family member/staff member.
  • What are your specific strengths as a nurse?
  • What are your specific weaknesses as a nurse?
  • How do you respond to high-stress situations?
  • What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
  • Why do you want this specific position?
  • What type of hospitals have you worked in before? Teaching? Trauma? Community?
  • What kind of patient ratios are you used to?
  • What unit(s) have you worked in?
  • How do you stay current with the nursing profession?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges facing nursing today?
  • What specific skills do you have that set you apart from other nurses?
  • Why did you leave your current position? (if a first-time travel nurse)
  • What are your future career goals?
  • What changes have you contributed to established practices to improve patient care?
  • Can you describe frustrations you have personally dealt with as an RN and how you resolved them?
  • What was a typical day in your previous job like?
  • Tell me an example of a time you disagreed with the plan of care for the patient.
  • Do you consider yourself a good team player? Why?
  • How do you prefer to learn? By doing, explanation, demonstration?

The interview is also a time to ask the hospital representative, nurse manager, or staff member questions about the position, unit, and patient population. Most managers are expecting questions so even if you think you know the answer from research or other hospital employees — it is always best to ask the manager directly.

Ready to start travel nursing? Start here.

Questions To Ask When Interviewing As A Travel Nurse

You might only have one chance to ask these questions so it’s important that you feel comfortable with all of the information so that if you are offered the position you have all of the answers.

Commonly asked questions by potential travel nurses include:

  • What is the typical patient to nurse ratio on the unit?
  • What are the major short/long term objectives for this facility?
  • Will I be floated to other units in the hospital? If so, what units?
  • How does the cancellation of travel nurses work in your unit?
  • What are the current challenges of nurses in the unit?
  • What is the typical patient population? Census? Bed number?
  • What is the orientation process like for travel nurses? How many days of orientation will I receive?
  • What other medical professionals do nurses collaborate with on a day-to-day basis?
  • Is overtime available? Is it ever mandated?
  • What are the strengths of your unit?
  • What is the policy for escalating a problem or concern?
  • How many travelers do you staff on the unit?
  • Why do you currently need travel nurses?
  • s there a uniform requirement?
  • Am I allowed to pick my own schedule or is it assigned to me? How does the switch process work?
  • Does this assignment carry the possibility for an extension?
  • What charting system is used? Will I be expected to act as a translator for other nurses? (Ask if bilingual)
  • What is the policy for breaks/lunch?

Interviews are an essential component of the hiring process for travel nurses. Becoming comfortable talking about yourself, your accomplishments, and your abilities is key in securing your next contract.

Looking for a travel nursing assignment? Talk to a recruiter today.

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