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    Facing the assignment interview

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    Before a travel assignment begins, healthcare travelers face a significant hurdle: the interview.


    David Morrison
    First, you should realize that every hospital is different in the way they approach the screening process. The individual with whom you may be speaking may be a human resources representative or one of the hospital's nurse recruiters. However, many times, you will speak directly with the nurse manager of the unit where you will be assigned.

    Consider these recommendations and no matter what you encounter in the interview process, you'll likely come out of the other side with a job offer.

    Until Skype becomes a common communications tool, a face-to-face interview is not feasible when pursuing a job thousands of miles from where you reside.

    This translates to telephone interviews, but removes the need to "dress to impress." For some individuals, removing the awkwardness of a face-to-face interview can be a big relief.

    Your interview will probably begin with the interviewer explaining the workings of the unit and type of patients you can encounter. This is usually followed by a few questions regarding your professional experience. Remember, your travel company has faxed over all of your information and more than likely, they have your file open on their desk as they converse with you on the phone.

    It's important to be honest when explaining your experience and comfort level when dealing with specific patient cases.

    Be prepared for tough questions. If this is your first travel assignment, be prepared to answer questions about being a new traveler. You shouldn't exaggerate your experience, but a little self-promotion never hurts.

    Remind them that despite this being your first travel assignment, you're confident that your skills will enable you to meet their expectations.

    After you have a feel for the hospital's working environment, most interviewers will often ask if you have any questions for them. If you're comfortable with the interview process to that point, you can either wing it, or pull from a list of prepared questions that you may have thought up ahead of time.

    Since you probably aren't interviewing on site, you won't have the chance to tour the hospital unit. Asking pertinent questions is perhaps the only way to get a feel for where you will be working. Inquiries can cover anything from patient care issues to everyday aspects of the job, such as scheduling and hospital policies.

    If you are unsure of the questions that you should be asking, consider using a few of the following inquiries to obtain additional workplace information:

    • How many beds are in the unit?
    • Do you use technicians or certified nursing assistants?
    • What types of medical problems comprise your patient population (patients with cardiac issues or renal issues for example)?
    • What is the nurse-to-patient ratio?
    • Do you allow travelers to sign up for overtime?
    • What is your orientation process like?
    • How long will my orientation on the unit be?
    • What is your policy on floating to different units?
    • Do you use self-scheduling?
    • How many weekend shifts am I required to work per month?
    • What is your requirement for travelers in regard to working holidays?

    Once all the questions have been asked and the interview near's its end, it's always wise to reiterate your interest in the position and thank them for the opportunity. At this time, you should also give serious thought to whether you want the position or not.

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    David Morrison
    David Morrison, RN, is a Phoenix-based travel nurse, and the author of the book The Travel Nurse's Bible: A Guide to Everything on ...