10 Things You Need to Know Before Your Locum Tenens Interview
Looking forward to a locum tenens assignment? If you are working with a recruiter and have already begun the placement process, you will likely undergo a phone interview for a locum job with a clinical manager at the hiring facility.
What kinds of things should you expect from a locum tenens interview? And how might it compare to an interview for a permanent position?
Here are a few key insights from a locum tenens recruitment professional to help answer these questions—including what you should know ahead of time, what to expect during a locum interview, and other tips specific to locum tenens jobs.
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1. Why interview for a temporary locum assignment?
“We always try to implement an interview as part of the locum process,” said Andrea Randle, director of recruitment for advanced practice and CRNA at Locum Leaders.
Not only do employers want to compare candidates and feel comfortable with any clinicians who will be caring for their patients, but Randle explained that the locum tenens interview gives providers an opportunity to go over clinical details and clarify anything that is not understood.
“We stress to providers to use the phone interview as the opportunity to interview the client to make sure the potential locum assignment is going to be a good fit for both parties clinically and professionally,” she said. “So everything is in line with what we described.”
Always ask about expectations, roles, and what you would be responsible for on a daily basis. If you are a physician, ask if you will be responsible for overseeing advanced practitioners.
2. Are locum phone interviews the only option?
While most locum tenens interviews take place on the telephone, some hiring facilities will request a Skype interview. In those situations, Randle advises candidates to dress appropriately for the job, just as they would at an in-person job interview.
Additionally, some facilities looking for local candidates will request in-person interviews.
3.Can recruiters help prepare a candidate for a locum interview?
Randle tries to prepare providers for the interview process and recaps the job description, the interviewer’s title, and how the candidate should address that person. She will also offer some practical tips.
“Make sure you are in a quiet place,” she often advises. “Ensure you have your clinical questions lined up and ready to go.”
Recruiters can also prepare you for the types of questions you might be asked. Fundamentally, managers want to know that you can fulfill the requirements of the job, that they can trust you with their patients, and that you will work well with their existing staff. Hiring authorities often want to know about team skills, bedside manners, and adaptability, while some might ask what the candidate does for fun, Randle said.
4. Key points in any locum interview
A locum tenens interview is an opportunity to sell yourself to the hiring facility or practice. There are usually multiple candidates being interviewed, and successful candidates must make a good impression.
“You want to highlight your experience and training as it adheres to their current needs,” Randle said.
Many interviewers will ask why the candidate is working locums, so be prepared with a response. The candidate can also ask why the hospital is hiring a locum tenens. Is it to cover a temporary leave or has there been significant attrition?
5. How long will a locum tenens interview last?
Randle reports that most locum interviews will last from 20 minutes to an hour. Sometimes, interviews include a two-step process, with the specialty lead and the medical director. Your recruiter may be able to share some of these expectations with you ahead of time, but having some flexibility during the process will make it easier for all parties.
6. Some variables that can affect the interview
They say that timing is everything, and Randle aims to ensure the locum phone interview is at a good time for both parties. The candidate should speak up if the time does not work. For instance, trying to squeeze an interview in between patients is not a good idea—you could be running late or feel rushed and less focused than you should be.
Be prepared to address specifics on the assignment sheet. Some hospitals or practices might want someone with experience using a particular electronic health record system. Candidates can explain how they have used that system on previous locum assignments or permanent jobs.
7. What might differ from the original locum job description?
Patient census can fluctuate. When the hospital first requested locum tenens coverage, the census might have been lower than what it increases to as the assignment nears filling. If the candidate is still interested after learning about an increased patient load, Locum Leaders can negotiate further with the hiring client. Candidates should alert their recruiters if they learn about anything else during the interview that seems to have changed from the original job description.
8. Should money be part of the discussion?
Candidates should avoid discussing pay rates during an interview, as the locum tenens agency handles that, Randle explained. Locum pay rates are negotiated when the employer gives the job order. If there are extenuating circumstances when a job offer is made, such as a change in census or responsibilities, there may be room for additional negotiations at that time.
9. Confirming the details
Before a locum interview concludes, Randle recommends that candidates reconfirm the assignment start date, schedule, and responsibilities. Most interviews are with clinical professionals, not human resource people, so all parties need to be on the same page.
10. What if you are really interested in this locum assignment?
If the candidate likes what he or she hears, Randle suggests simply asking for the job.
“This is an interview; ask for the job and the next steps in the process,” she said.
However, an interview does not obligate the candidate to accept the assignment. The locum interview gives him or her an opportunity to determine if the assignment will be a good fit. The candidate will typically hear back within 24 to 48 hours.
“It’s locums, so it moves quicker,” Randle said