I recently had the opportunity to Skype with an experienced recruiter from Next Medical Staffing, Brian Plunkett, that has helped countless travel nurses, as well as allied health professionals, land assignments throughout the past decade in the healthcare recruitment field. Although our conversation was brief, I learned a lot of useful information about what it takes to seriously stand out and make a great impression on travel nurse employers.
An Interview with A Seasoned Travel Nurse Job Recruiter
Travel Nurse Source: Good morning, Brian! Thanks for chatting with me about some of the industry insider tips on how to rock a travel nurse phone interview. First, tell me about your career and what you do.
Brian Plunkett: Good morning. I’ve actually been in the travel nurse industry for almost ten years and recently had the opportunity to come on board with Next Medical Staffing. I work directly with the facilities in providing travel nurses to the hospitals; not only outpatient but also in home health programs. I also work with a team of recruiters that are working on a daily basis trying to match them with the best opportunities that we currently have. So, its my job to make sure I have a lot of information from the hospitals about the positions so the recruiters are prepared to talk directly to the nurses.
Travel Nurse Source: Wow! Okay, I’m excited to learn some tricks of the trade from you. First off, how important is it to research whichever agency you are trying to get a job through?
Brian: Well, I think its very important. Whether you’re interviewing through the agency or the hospital that you do your homework first. Obviously in this day and age its very easy to go out on the web to their websites to get a good feel for the agency. And, when you’re talking to the recruiters you can ask them specific questions about their agency. The same goes for the hospital; if you have an opportunity to interview with a hospital you want to take a few moments to get information specifically if you haven’t already gotten from that recruiter that you can ask some of the questions to whoever you’re interviewing with.
Travel Nurse Source: So, what kind of questions should they ask the agency?
Brian: When it comes to the agency, you want to be sure as a traveler that you fully understand the whole process and how the agency is working directly with the hospital, or through vendor management system. You really want to make sure that you are familiar enough to know whether its going to take one day, two days, a week, whatever the time frame might be so that you, as a nurse, are not disappointed when you don’t get an interview in 24 hours. Or, you don’t get an interview in a time-frame. So ask those questions when working with the recruiters to make sure you are very familiar with your pay patch and whether you know what the hospital’s expectations are. Also, its important to understand the process from beginning to end including compliance requirements so then when you are talking to the hospital you don’t need to talk to the nurse manager about [the process.] When you’re talking to a hospital its important to know their expectations in the unit you are interviewing for. For example; the nurse to patient ratio, what your hours are on the floor, etc because sometime we [recruiters] will be very general in saying its a 12 hour shift but they want you to realize it includes a half hour for lunch, break. Ask those questions so you know. Also ask about any call-off for any situations that may come up over your thirteen week assignment.
Travel Nurse Source: Okay, so when you’re about to have a phone interview for a travel nurse assignment, what materials should you have ready right in front of you for during the call?
Brian: You should always have your resume, application (or whatever you want to call it) information. You want to make sure you do because that is what the nurse recruiter is working from and they’re going to be asking specific questions off of that. Now, each agency refers to the paperwork/the documents that are sent over to the hospital differently. Some of them call them resumes, some of them call them applications, some of them will call them profiles. Whatever it is, make sure you have a copy of that document in front of you. For example, here at Next Medical Staffing, we have a beautiful, what I call a “state-of-the-art” application form that is completed by the nurse as well as the recruiter that is sent to the hospital…that’s what the hospital is looking at so you want to be sure that you have it as well in front of you while you are on the phone. So when they’re going through your work history or going through your checklist, you’re going to see what they’re referring to when they ask you specific questions about your time-frame or checklist. Your profile or your resume may not be what exactly what the nursing staffer is looking at because a lot of times agencies send their specific profiles or applications to the hospitals. So be sure to ask your recruiter for a copy of that!
Travel Nurse Source: After the interview is over, how long does it usually take for a nurse to find out whether they secured the position or not?
Brian: Oh good question! Usually instantaneously, make sure when you’re in the interview, a travel nurse should always ask, just like in any other job interview situation, for the offer. You know, ask specifically, “do you think I’m a good candidate for this position?”, “do you have any idea when the next orientation is?”, something to lead up to the fact that that nurse manager is going to make you that offer. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have the offer, but at least you’ve gotten one step closer to possibly getting the offer.
Travel Nurse Source: So what if you don’t get an offer immediately? What’s the protocol for a follow-up? A day or two later…or?
Brian: Well, as soon as you get off the phone with the the nurse manager/director of nursing or whoever you were interviewing with at the hospital, you want to call your recruiter immediately. Let them know that you just have completed the interview and that’s when you can share with the recruiter that you either have been offered verbally or specifically what the nurse manager has said. They may have said “well we have other candidates to interview for the position” and if they say “we’ll get back to your agency in a few days.” Be sure you share whatever information it was and always, always make sure you get the person’s [who interviewed you] name while you’re on the interview so you can relay that information to your recruiter because then your recruiter is going to talk to the account manager who works directly with the facility or through a vendor management then they are going to get on the phone with a contact person and they are going to relay that information and try to push for an offer whether its an email offer or verbal offer from the facility. So the more information you can provide your recruiter as a travel nurse, the better chance that the account manager is going to be able to provide that information to the hospital or the vendor for that position.
Travel Nurse Source: Ah, gotcha. So finally, what do the best “interview-ees” do to make themselves shine above the rest?
Brian: The ones who are prepared, they’ve done their homework about the hospital, they ask specific questions about the hospital, they’re ready to talk about themselves, etc. Remember you’re selling yourself to the hospital and you have to sell yourself as the best candidate. But, be prepared. Be prepared with the documents in front of you, with specific questions about the hospital, and also remember you’re a traveler so you’re going to be there for, let’s say thirteen weeks. Go ahead and ask the nurse manager or whoever is on the phone with you for the interview about the community itself. Show them that you’re really interested in coming to Timbuktu or wherever it may be! And let them know you’re really excited about the opportunity like, “what are some of the highlights of the community that I’m going to be staying in for the next however many weeks so that I can know what to do on my off hours.” Really make sure that you express the interest that you have in that location, in that facility, and that you are the best candidate for that opportunity. And hopefully, your recruiter has helped you out as well giving you some insight beforehand of the hospital.
Travel Nurse Source: Well, this has been very helpful! Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expert advice with me!
Brian: Of course, I appreciated the opportunity. Thanks, take care!