Travel Nursing 101: Preparing For Your Travel Nurse Interview

Is it just me, or does the thought of doing a travel nurse job interview make your body clench up into a giant ball of anxiety? Clammy hands, chapped lips, bouts of nausea, dizziness, constipation, dry mouth…?

Just me, huh? Cool, cool…

Even if your symptoms aren’t the laundry list of side effects typically mentioned on a prescription drug TV commercial, you probably still get a little nervous about doing a job interview. With travel nursing, it can be even more unnerving because this may be something totally new. You’re potentially accepting a job without ever having met your manager and doing so based on a 30 minute call, maybe from across the country. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. When will they call? What do I say? What do I ask?

Well, fret not, my friends – I’m here to help! Let’s navigate through these travel nurse interviews together and prepare you for your next adventure. Here are some tips on how to prepare yourself and what to expect as you’re going through the process.

Choose your next adventure! Check out our current job openings.

Okay, I’ve been submitted, now what?

You’re excited, I’m excited, first submission is off. So, you’re probably wondering, what now? Well, this will vary from client to client. Some clients or facilities will still have you interview with a manager or supervisor. Others have you complete a pre-screening interview prior to facility interview. Finally, believe it or not, some facilities don’t interview you at all – you will be offered a position based on how well they believe your profile matches what they’re looking for.

Why all the variability? You’d be surprised how many travelers are blindly submitted by agencies, meaning without their consent. Therefore, the pre-screen interview is a way to double check you know about the submission and that you’re clinically qualified for the unit. For the super busy and/or short-staffed hospitals and large health systems, not interviewing has become their norm. They trust your agency has done a good job qualifying you and ensuring that you’re a good fit for their needs.

If you’re not able to interview with the hospital, rest assured we’re going to do everything we can to go get you some info! We can still try to arrange for you to speak with someone either at the facility or a past traveler. If that’s not possible, we will send a list of your questions to be answered so that you can at least get some needed information.

Axis Pro Tip: Ask your Axis Rock Star Recruiter for a copy of recommended questions to ask during your interview!

How long do I have to wait before an interview happens?

Naturally, we want an interview to happen as quickly as possible. Once you’ve been submitted to an amazing travel position the waiting is the hardest part. (For the record: For. Me. Too.) Believe me, if we could get a travel nurse interview to happen within 5 minutes of a profile being submitted, it would make me a very happy, excitedly dancing recruiter. (Warning: My moves are definitely NOT like Jagger.) The reality is that the turnaround time from submission to interview will vary considerably. I’ve had some travelers who have received interviews hours after submission, and some have had to wait several days. It often depends on a variety of factors including (but not limited to):

  • How many other candidates were submitted to the position
  • Whether or not the hiring manager is extremely busy or out of the office
  • How motivated the client is fill the opening, in other words, how urgent the need is
  • Whether the client is still waiting on budget and/or upper management approvals

I’ll take “Things that are completely out of your control” for $500, Alex.

Barring any of the above being a factor, we could realistically expect a qualified candidate to get an interview within 2-3 business days. If it’s been closer to a week or more and you haven’t gotten a call, most likely, the position was filled by another candidate or closed. Or, the hiring manager was abducted by aliens. Hey, let’s not rule anything out here. It is 2020, after all.

Work with your recruiter on this – he or she may be able to tell you in advance if the client is generally slow with feedback or if they tend to move more quickly. I will always try to get feedback and updates while we wait, but my biggest tip is to keep submitting. Nothing is official until you have an offer in hand so don’t be alarmed if you’re being pitched contracts after a submission. Let’s try to have at least 2-3 other options in the works, just in case. It always helps to have a back-up plan.

Ready to meet other Axis Rock Star Travelers? Check out our Travelers of the Month!

How do I improve my chances for an interview?

Landing your ideal contract is all about speed. Pro tip from me – be one of the first submitted to a position. This means having a complete and updated profile ready to go. Those first few submitted candidates have the best chance of scoring an interview. For the most part, hiring managers are looking for 2 years of experience in your specialty, license in good standing, maybe some travel or trauma experience, and the ability and flexibility to start when they need you to. Often, a manager will hire the first person they speak with that meets these requirements.

Be sure to talk with your recruiter(s) about what you can do to help your chances of being one of those first profiles. Competition can be pretty fierce, especially for those high-demand locations or the higher-paying positions. The early bird gets the…best contract. I think that’s how the saying goes.

Turns out we have some big fans – check out our latest awards and recognition!

What can I do to ace my travel nurse interview?

The key to nailing your travel nurse interview is to not be afraid to sell yourself as a clinician. See if your recruiter can find out what type of unit you’re interviewing for. If you know, be sure to highlight your proficiency with that patient population. Be confident in your experience, show your willingness to learn, indicate your flexibility, and lastly, be enthusiastic! At the end of the day, a manager will want to hire someone who wants to work with them and is excited to.

The candidates who don’t fare so well are typically those who lack confidence or come across as demanding or inflexible. And of course, yes, sometimes, they simply aren’t a good fit for the position, for whatever reason.

Remember, the travel nurse interview is also the time to see if THEY are a good fit for YOU! The interviewer will have the most knowledge about the unit and facility you’re joining so this is a great opportunity for you to ask questions. Don’t be shy, do it! Surprises on the job can either be fun or can make the next 13 weeks drag on, so ask, ask, ask!

As your recruiter, one of my responsibilities is to help prepare you for your travel nurse job interviews. If you’re nervous or anxious at all, don’t be afraid to speak up, and we will help you feel more confident in your interviewing abilities. After all, our goal is mutual – we want you to land that sweet gig as much as you do!

Ready to take the next step toward your next great adventure? Apply below!

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Charity Crawford
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