We’ve all been there. Seated dead in the middle of an interview and patting ourselves all over our own backs because we are seriously killing it! (Not literally of course, this is healthcare).
But then that heart dropping moment happens – we get asked a question we didn’t prepare for. So, we fumble our way through it as best we can and hope we come out on top – or – we just get it all wrong and lose the job prospect.
Before we get to the Top 10 Toughest Travel Nurse Interview questions let’s quickly go through a couple key things to keep in mind when interviewing:
You’re interviewing with a real-life human being – not a robot.
That sounds like common sense but remember that the person interviewing you is a human being so do your best to establish a rapport with them and not just shoot off a bunch of answers to each of their questions.
Consider these facts:
40% of interviewers thought that a lack of a smile was a good enough reason to not make a job offer (via Fast Company)
90% of interviewers said they would eliminate an interviewee simply for touching their phone. (via Inc.)
Take the time to research your hiring manager’s background.
In today’s digital age – that’s as simple as hopping on over to LinkedIn.com or simply asking your recruiter for some background information on this person. But don’t just research and forget about it – make sure to bring up some of this information in the interview – but not in a creepy stalker way:
Bring up something you have in common and use it as an ice breaker or insert it into the conversation during those awkward silences.
For example: I heard you used to work in public healthcare. So did I! Do you miss it?
Don’t let a little research get in your way.
Always, always, always research the medical facility you’re going to interview for. Every healthcare organization has its own culture and quirks – so it’s good to get ahead of the game with some good old-fashioned knowledge that might just come in handy later.
This can be as easy as checking out the “About Us” section of their website, talking to your recruiter about the facility or reaching out to folks you know in your professional and/or personal network who may have worked for the same facility in the past.
Just as important as it is to research the medical facility, it’s also just as important to learn about the travel position in as much detail as you can, including what the hiring manager is looking for. Of course, your best “source” on this scoop is your recruiter as s/he can give you all the nitty gritty details on what “must-have” qualities the hiring manager is looking for.
Also make sure to ask why the position is open. It can be because a busy season is coming up, or the regular nurse went on leave, or the previous nurse just didn’t work out for whatever reason. Knowing exactly why the position is open will provide you with valuable information on how to show the hiring manager why YOU are the perfect person for the job.
The hiring manager is holding this interview because they want to make sure you possess all the technical and soft skills for the open position and that you’ll be a good fit for the organization, culturally speaking. It’s also a generally good idea (and by “generally” we mean “totally”) to prepare some questions on your own to show that you’re organized, and truly interested in the organization.
Now, let’s begin: here, in no particular order, are the top 10 toughest travel nurse job interview questions, and of course, answers.
Top 10 toughest travel nursing job interview questions and of course, answers.
Question: How do your qualifications and work experience make you a good candidate for this job?
What they’re looking for: In asking this question, the hiring manager is looking for your most recent and relevant work experience as it pertains to the new position. For example: if you’re applying for position in a senior care facility make sure your answer centers around your 2-years of hospice care experience and not the small amount of time you spent working in a pediatric ward.
Question: What would you say are your biggest strengths, as a nurse?
What they’re looking for: Keep these words in mind during your interview: they’re always looking for recent and relevant experience. If the open position means that you’re going to be working with seniors, you could talk about the patience and optimism you exhibited while working in hospice. Also, think outside the box a little – continuing on with the senior care example you could speak about your ability to form bonds with seniors because of a shared interest in older songs and movies.
Question: How would you approach this specific situation?
What they’re looking for: Oh, aren’t these the most fun! Not. Here’s what’s most likely happening. The hiring manager is telling you about something that actually recently happened, and s/he wasn’t pleased with the way in which it was handled. The good news is – you’re not the other person – you’re YOU! So take a deep breath and think through the question and decided what outcome would be best for both the facility and its patients.
Question: How do you stay up to date on the latest medical developments within your field?
What they’re looking for: This should be obvious. They’re making sure you’re keeping up with your professional development courses. But don’t just list them off and call it a day – also mention all those trade publications you’re reading, and conventions you’ve recently attended. This will show the hiring manager that you go above and beyond when it comes to your nursing career and that you have a real interest and passion in being the nurse “in the know.”
Question: What makes you the best person for the job?
What they’re looking for: They want to know how much you know about the actual position itself (see above notes about research) and what you’re hoping to learn from the job. So you remember that conversation you had with your recruiter about the hiring manager’s “must-haves”? This is the time to mention those. For example, you could mention your technical skills, your experience with older patients, your ability to connect with patients, your desire to learn more about caring for people with specific illnesses, your passion for your profession, and you willingness to be flexible and go the extra mile.
Question: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment, and why?
What they’re looking for: They’re looking for something that makes you stand out from all the other candidates. Your answer doesn’t have to be a strictly professional accomplishment, but perhaps one that does tie to the profession of healthcare.
A good answer to this question would be: “My greatest accomplishment was taking care of my 85 year old grandmother for the last few years of her life, and making her feel as comfortable, happy and loved as possible.”
Question: How do you handle high-stress situations?
What they’re looking for: Ok, you knew this was coming, right? Everyone and their mother knows nursing is one of the most highly stressful jobs out there. It’s no wonder! We’re all responsible for human lives! Who wouldn’t be stressed? The best answer will highlight the fact that you’re a team player but also someone who can step into a leadership role when needed. “I make sure to always prioritize the work that needs to be done and ensure that my team and I have all the support that we need.”
Question: Are you willing to learn?
What they’re looking for: They’re looking for you to show them that you’re adaptable, and interested and passionate about the field of nursing. They want you to tell them of a time you quickly adapted to a new situation and how you were able to quickly learn and absorb new information.
Question: Do you consider yourself a good team player? Why?
What they’re looking for: Nobody joined the field of nursing to work in a silo, and if they did, they’re in for a rude awakening. Your hiring manager is looking for you to show that you are not only a team player in the context of working with your fellow colleagues, but also in the context of caring for your patients. Give an example of a time you placed the care of your colleagues and your patients ahead of your own.
Question: Why do you want to work with us?
What they’re looking for: We’re pretty sure this question has come up in every single job interview for all of time. So it should definitely be no surprise that it’s on our list. But what may surprise you as how often folks don’t prepare for this simple question.
This is your opportunity to show of all your research skills (see above) and exemplify that you not only know what the organization’s mission, vision and values are but that you exude them in your everyday work. A great answer would include some factual information about the organization, along with your beliefs about quality care, what you hope to learn, and where you can add value.
Practice Makes Perfect
As a travel nurse, you’ll be interviewing a lot more often than a regular nurse – and with time and practice you will, absolutely, get naturally better. But for the first few interviews – it’s always good to grab a friend, heck, even your recruiter, and run through a couple practice questions before that big interview.
We wish you the best of luck! But after reading this and doing your background work – we doubt you’ll need it!
Interested in what jobs we have available? Check out our Nursing Job Board here.