Lee Nelson
Lee Nelson
March 9, 2018 - 5 min read

Interview Tips When Applying For A Travel Nurse Position

When you decide it’s time to start being a travel nurse, you will need to go through some formalities with the medical and travel companies you hope to get in contract with. Just like with any career move, you will need to go through an interview or two.

A majority of the time, recruiters will do interviews over the phone – of course, unless you actually live in the area they are located. Long time recruiters at RTG Medical, headquartered in Fremont, Neb., have answered the most frequent and useful questions you might have to show your best self during those interviews – even if it is over the phone.

“Some of the biggest mistakes people make during phone interviews are not being ready or able to answer interview questions about the traveler’s abilities, employment or overall questions of themselves,” says Lisa Vanek, a recruiter with RTG for more than 13 years. “Other mistakes are when the candidates mumble or use the word ‘Um’ in hesitation, not asking the tough questions, mentioning excessive time off, listening more than speaking and asking improper questions.”

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So, recruiters at RTG Medical along with Vanek, who led the discussion, give their best tips below on making the best impression during an interview:

What are some of the characteristics recruiters and hospitals are looking for over the phone when a nurse is interviewing for a travel nurse position? Professionalism, the ability to communicate, and listen well — these are three strong characteristics recruiters will look for in a traveler. There is something extra special about a traveler that exudes high, positive energy, too. The ability to portray warmth and confidence can also help as the traveler will need to be able to be comfortable with their own skills.

What should applicants portray when talking on the phone to a recruiter? “Flexibility is key so that our medical facilities know that our travelers are willing to meet their scheduling needs and that they are willing to adopt hospital protocols,” says Vanek. “In addition, explaining that this applicant is reliable will help in the interview as this will show they will actually show up for the job and the hospital can count on them.”

What should a nurse do before an interview? Researching the hospital and the area it’s located in is very important and shows a level of motivation to learn more about the facility, unit, and mission of the job. This could all be beneficial in the traveler scoring the job opportunity. Making sure candidates know where they have been presented to and the name of the facility that will be calling is imperative. Preparing a list of questions in advance is something RTG highly recommends. Lastly, any time off requirements can be verbally confirmed with the person interviewing at the end of the interview call.

What phone etiquette are recruiters and hospital human resource people looking for? From our experience at RTG, those interviewing travelers are looking for professionalism, clear and concise sentences, and proper grammar, as well as being informed about the position and the requirements of the job. Timely return of calls is beneficial. But we often caution travelers on taking calls at a time where they can be more attentive during the call.

If your recruiter asked you to call the hospital, could the job be gone if you delay the call, and why? The role of a medical recruiter is to be the liaison between the traveler and hospital during the interview process. Therefore, if and only if a traveler missed an interview call should they be calling into the facility. Otherwise, the facility will contact the traveler for the interview. Timing is everything and the job could be filled before the candidate makes contact with the hospital with any delay.  Often times, clients move on to the next profile if the candidate does not answer immediately. If hospitals are calling the candidates for interviews, the recruiter will encourage the candidate to not miss the interview calls and to be ready for the interview.

What kind of questions should you plan in advance to ask during your phone interview with the hospital? It’s important for travelers to ask what the patient ratios are, weekend schedule expectations, what the possibilities are of overtime and what the call-off policy is. RTG provides a list of interview questions to each candidate.

15 Questions Every Travel Nurse Needs To Ask In A Phone Interview

How important is flexibility with dates, shifts and schedules to get the job? Flexibility is extremely important – it’s one of the most important things. When a traveler shows the ability to work a variable of shifts based on the client’s actual needs, this is appealing to employers. Medical facilities are spending top dollar to supplement scheduling with travelers and can often give relief to permanent staff who are likely overworked. A tip to new travelers from veteran travelers would be, if at all possible, plan your entire year out with the vacation days you’ll need, this way you can plan your assignments accordingly.

What things should you have near you when doing the phone interview? “Important items to have near you during a phone interview would be your resume, a calendar to reference time off requests and date availabilities,” Vanek adds. “Other items include a list of questions to ask during the interview, a phone charger just in case the phone battery dies, and a pen and paper to write down any notes.”

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How can you be prepared to answer specific questions about your qualifications? A traveler can be prepared to answer questions by using the resume for referencing the resume work experience, as well as dates of employment in order to stay on track and to avoid getting flustered or to appear to be unprepared. A pen and a piece of paper to write down the question asked may also be helpful to stay on track and to focus on getting the gist across.

Why should you verify important job details your recruiter had mentioned when talking with the hospital human resource person or whoever you talk to at the hospital? It’s important to verify job details with the facility to ensure all parties are on the same page and that each knows the expectations. It is great to come off as informed, interested and unafraid to get direct answers from HR or the interviewer. Also, there are instances when the details of the job have changed since first being told about the job. So, concise communication is key.

How can smiling during a phone interview actually help you get the job? “Smiling during a phone interview may make the traveler appear to be interested in the job, happy, friendly and inviting, and these would be qualities that would appeal to employers. Also, it’s often said by human resources professionals that you hear a smile over the phone as it portrays positive energy and confidence.

“Communication is key to all aspects of a successful relationship,” Vanek says.

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