Travel Nursing

Some No-Brainer Interview Tips

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Travel Nursing, Travel Nursing

Some No-Brainer Interview Tips

Whether you are interviewing by phone for a travel nursing assignment, or in person at a local health care facility for a nursing job, there are a few do’s and don’ts for your interview. These may seem like no-brainers to many, but there are a frightening number who must be told and/or reminded of basic social skills.

First of all, turn off your cell phone! If there is the possibility of an emergency during your interview, either postpone the interview or notify anyone who might need you that you will be unavailable for about an hour. Otherwise shut it off. Any calls can be returned when your interview has concluded.

In any social setting it’s just plain rude to interrupt your conversation to take a phone call or respond to a message. Yet, sit and people-watch in any public place for just a few minutes and you will see a multitude of people suddenly ignoring their present company and answering their phones. Sometimes they even wander away and talk for a really rude amount of time. This is simply not acceptable in the workplace. Turn it off and give your interview your undivided attention.

Second dress appropriately. If you’re on the phone this may not matter, but in person it says a lot about you and your professionalism. Even on the phone, however, if you’re uncomfortable, this may come through in your voice or intonations.

In person, the way you dress will tell a lot about who you are, your habits and values. If you look like a slob, this reflects that your work style may be very casual and sloppy as well. If you are well groomed and well dressed you tell the interviewer you take pride in yourself and in your work.

If you will be going to an interview straight from work, make sure that your scrubs or uniform is neat and clean. If you work on a unit where this is not possible, take a change of clothes with you. At the very least warn the interviewer that you will be coming straight from work and won’t have time to change first.

Third check your teeth in the mirror. Take a last look at yourself before you go in to any interview. Do you have food stuck in your teeth from lunch? Were you literally pulling your hair out all day? Do you need a little makeup? Don’t overdo any perfume or scents! Are your hands and fingernails clean? And what about your shoes?

Body language is another important issue to be aware of. Even when speaking on the phone, sit up straight and pay close attention to the conversation. Offer a firm handshake, make eye contact often and smile.

Be prepared for the questions. If you don’t understand any question or don’t know how to answer it, be honest. Ask for some clarification. If you don’t have an answer, make a note and tell them you’ll find out and get back to them. Don’t try to bluff your way through. Take a deep breath and think about your answers before blurting them out.

Have at least a couple of questions prepared to ask the interviewer. Do your homework and know something about the facility. If all of your questions were already answered in the interview, it’s Ok to say something like, “I was going to ask you about your staffing ratios and how you determine acuity, but you’ve already covered that.” It still shows you are interested in this position and this facility. You might also just go back to an issue you want to be very clear on such as whether travel nurses are expected to float.

Never bad mouth any previous or present employer. If you are leaving because you can’t stand the place, that’s your issue. As far as anyone else is concerned you’re looking for new challenges, different opportunities, a change, r other positive note.

Always say thank you for the interview, offer a firm hand shake and again make eye contact. Ask when they will make a decision. Tell them to please let you know either way.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and is the owner/author of

©2008 by Ultimate All Rights Reserved

Questions to Ask in Your Job Interview

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Travel Nursing

Questions to Ask in Your Job Interview

When preparing for your job interview, here are some of the questions you should consider. Be sure to adapt them to your own needs and goals. Add or subtract from this list as appropriate for your unique situation. Make your own list and take it with you to the interview.

Understand the orientation and continuing education process offered

  • How long will my orientation last?
  • Will I be offered additional time if I feel I need it?
  • Will my orientation be provided on the shift I will be working?
  • Will I have a preceptor or mentor?
  • Is there an internship program for new grads?
  • How often do you offer in-services and other education opportunities?
  • What are your expectations for new hires during the first six months?
  • Are nurse educators available on all shifts?

Ask about the working conditions.

  • What is the typical nurse-to-patient ratio on this unit? Is there a maximum?
  • What are the days/hours available? How long are the shifts?
  • What is the policy for weekend and holiday rotation?
  • Is there flexibility to the schedule? Can nurses trade days off with each other?
  • Who does the scheduling?
  • Is there mandatory overtime? How often?
  • Is there an on-call responsibility? If so, explain the requirements and conditions.
  • How many nurses work on this unit? On each shift?
  • How long have most of the nurses worked on this unit? (Turn over rate?)
  • How long has this position been vacant? Why did the previous person leave?

Then ask about the management and administration.

  • How do you motivate your employees?
  • What do you do to boost morale?
  • What is your management style?
  • How much autonomy do your nurses feel they have?
  • How do you demonstrate that you value your nursing staff?
  • How often are performance evaluations done and what is the process?
  • How much input does the staff have about patient care and other issues on the unit?
  • How do you handle conflict between staff members?
  • Are there any challenges that this unit or facility is facing or anticipates in the next year?
  • Would you support a nurse looking to transfer for career growth or hold him/her back due to your own staffing issues?
  • How do you ensure safe working conditions for your staff?
  • What are the career growth opportunities?
  • Why would I want to work here?

Salary and Benefits
Typically the interviewer will bring up this subject first so wait and follow their lead, but be sure you understand thoroughly and make your negotiations up front.

  • What is the salary? Is there a shift differential involved?
  • What is the salary policy regarding weekends, holidays and overtime?
  • What is included in the benefits package? Is there a salary adjustment allowed if some benefits are waived such as health insurance that your spouse provides?
  • How much vacation, sick leave and other time off and how is the time accrued?
  • How are raises handled? Are there merit increases, cost-of-living adjustments, etc.? How often are they given? What is the typical amount?
  • Are there any tuition reimbursement plans?
  • Are there any incentives such as sign-on bonuses, concierge services, mortgage or housing assistance plans, etc.? What are the specifics of these options?

Have a clear understanding of the position and assess how it measures up to your needs and goals before accepting any offer of employment.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN
Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and the owner/author of

©2008 by All Rights Reserved.

How to Use the Interview Process

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Travel Nursing

How to Use the Interview Process

The interview process is a time for the employer as well as the applicant to exchange information. It is not just about the employer learning more about you. This is your chance to find out more about the employer and the job at hand.

You might be an excellent choice from their perspective, but how does this position and employer fit your needs and goals? To assess this, you need to first understand what your own needs and goals are. These will be unique to you.

If you are currently employed and looking for a change, consider the factors that have driven you to this point. Make a list of the pros and cons of your present situation and prioritize these points. What do you need in a new position to make it a more satisfying and rewarding situation?

You might need a change of venue. Perhaps you need a slower paced environment or maybe even crave something more challenging and faster paced. Maybe you need a more positive experience such as a change away from hospice or oncology. Or perhaps you’re looking for a career path opportunity.

If this is your first nursing job, you will need to consider a few other issues such as the orientation and learning opportunities for new grads.

If you are a travel nurse, you will reevaluate your needs and goals much more frequently and will have perhaps perfected the interview process with recruiters as well as with facilities.

Being prepared for your interview will help you to demonstrate the fact that you are organized, able to prioritize, and have a strong understanding of your personal goals and needs.

Once you have completed the list of priorities for your new job, consider some of the questions you may need to ask in your interview and how to fine tune them to your individual needs and goals. These questions will also help you to demonstrate your knowledge base and interest in the opportunity.

Arrive for your interview early and be professional. Be neat, clean and well-groomed. That includes your hair, nails and any facial hair. Your clothing should be clean and professional.

Be sure you have all of your documentation with you such a licenses, social security card, and names and contact information for references. Have a black pen that writes which you are comfortable using. Be neat and legible with all of your paperwork.

Prepare your answers about any gaps or other issues in your resume. Be ready to discuss your skills and talents as well as your expectations and goals. If you need a second to consider an answer, say so instead of stumbling, stammering or giving the deadly “deer in the headlights” look.

Use direct eye contact and be aware of your body language. Thank the person for their time and this opportunity. Send a follow up thank you note or email. Remember that anything that sounds too good to be true, probably is too good to be true. Take some time to consider any offer that is made.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN
Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and is owner/author of

©2008 by All Rights Reserved.