Interviewing is an important part of any job hiring process. It is especially true of interviewing with a nurse recruitment agency, since it may be your only direct interaction. It is the interviewer’s opportunity, as well as the interviewee’s opportunity, to learn as much about one another and the position as possible. Being well-prepared for such interviews will significantly enhance your chances of knowing what to expect in advance, and set you up for success and a great first impression.
The objective of your interview with a recruitment agency is to make sure that you have the qualifications to be included in their program. It is also an opportunity for your recruiter or representative to learn more about your experience, as well as to learn more about you as an individual.
Through questionnaires and research, we have compiled the most frequently asked questions for an interview with a nurse recruiting agency, and the reason why those questions are important. By no means is this an all exclusive list of questions, but should certainly be used as a basis for your preparation:
- How long have you been a nurse?
Importance: Recruiters want to ensure you have at least 1 year of experience in one specific specialty or unit prior to being accepted into the program.
- Did you graduate with a diploma or with a BSN?
Importance: Although a 4 year BSN degree is preferred, most diplomas in nursing are widely accepted (for US immigration).
- What is your current specialty?
Importance: Most U.S. nurses are specialized. For instance, once a nurse graduates, she may choose to specialize in the ER, the ICU, pediatric, PICU, etc. It is unusual for nurses in the U.S. to rotate every 3-6 months to other units. While this may be a common practice elsewhere in the world, less experienced nurses have clinical challenges working in one particular unit once they arrive in the U.S.
- Describe your unit?
Importance: Nursing practices are slightly different in various countries. As an example, in the Middle East and some hospitals in Africa, male and female patients are segregated in different units. By describing your unit, your recruiter will be able to understand your current nursing experience, and may be able to offer information about the type of potential hospitals interested in your qualifications.
- Describe your hospital setting?
Importance: Tertiary level hospital experience is preferred and some times required (based on recruitment agency). If the recruitment agency works primarily with tertiary level hospitals in the U.S., the nurses they recruit must have similar level experience.
It can be noted that recruitment agencies may work with nursing homes, long term care facilities, as well as clinics, and may accept nurses with experience from provincial hospitals or clinics as well.
- Describe the types of patients you care for?
Importance: It is very important to describe the type of cases you work with, as units may see overflow of patients from other units or wards. Walk through some of your most recent cases as it will ensure you are conveying all of your skills and experience.
- Do you have NCLEX?
Importance: Some recruiters may make NCLEX compulsory prior to interviewing candidates. Others may have an NCLEX review program available.
What if you have failed NCLEX? It is important to convey this information in the beginning of your dialogue with potential agencies. Each agency has different policies whether they choose to work with nurses who have failed the NCLEX exam.
- Do you have CGFNS? Have you ever taken CGFNS?
Importance: It has been determined CGFNS is not compulsory for nurses who graduated in the Philippines. There are advantages to having CGFNS, however, depending on the agency, they may advise you NOT to take CGFNS and solely focus on the NCLEX exam.
If you have failed CGFNS, it is important to inform the agency because withholding this information will cause delays with your process at a later time.
- Do you have IELTS?
Importance: The magic number 6.5 overall band and 7 in speaking. If your score is less than that, the agency may advise you to retake the exam prior to accepting you to their program.
- Is your current nursing license valid?
Importance: Be cognizant of when your current license expires. Be proactive and renew your license (if applicable) prior to expiration. This simple step will save weeks and maybe months of delay in your visa process.
- How many hours do you work per week?
Importance: It is mandatory that a nurse work at least 32 hours per week in order to pass immigration requirements for a visa (U.S. only).
- Do you have family in the country you are interested in?
Importance: Recruiters understand that nurses will ultimately want placement in cities where there are ties to family and friends. However, be wary of any promises an agency makes about placing you in a specific city or area. Most often, due to the length of the immigration process, positions may or may not be available any longer in the particular location you want to work. As disappointing as it may be, you may not be placed in the original city or area that was discussed.
- Are you migrating alone or with family?
Importance: For immigration purpose, it is important to consider whether you will be taking your immediate family with you. Keep in mind for placement in the U.S., immediate family translates to wife or husband, and children.
- Have you worked or signed a contract with another agency?
Importance: It is perfectly all right to compare various agencies, even interview with 2-3; however, be absolutely sure to sign only when you are confident of your choice. Contracts are legally binding, and you must be sure you understand the legal and financial ramifications of the contract before you sign. (Check out the DIRECTORY of Nurse Recruiters, the reviews, and their ranking.)
Interviewing can be a stressful process, especially if done without any preparation. These questions above are a sampling of ones you should expect to address in your interview. Preparing your answers in advance will make the whole process much easier. Do not forget, however, an interview is not just an opportunity for the recruitment agency to learn about you, it is also your opportunity to learn as much about the recruitment agency and positions available. So take advantage of speaking with the recruiter to answer any questions you may have.