The waiting is over and now you are ready to be interviewed for your traveling physical therapy job. Right away you will realize that the biggest difference in this interview versus others you have done in the past is that this one will be over the phone. Initially this may seem like a relief and you may be thinking how you can just stay in your pajamas and slippers and relax, but a phone interview presents its own kind of challenges and requires just as much planning as a traditional in-person interview.
Challenges of phone interviews for Travel PTs
- Much of communication is done through body language, which is obviously something missing from a phone interview. This means your message needs to be very clear and remember, sarcasm doesn’t come across on the phone very well, especially with someone you don’t know
- Without facial expressions being visible, the tone and enthusiasm of your voice will be extra important.
- Remember to smile when you talk, it can make a difference in how the interviewer hears you.
- If you have an accent it may be difficult for an interviewer to understand you over the phone, so be sure to speak slower and enunciate
- Because they can’t see you, your personality may not be as easily conveyed to an interviewer
- You have the same disadvantages of not seeing the interviewer and their body language and non-verbal cues so listen closely and make sure you fully understand all the interview questions
- You may be distracted by what is going on around you, but this can be avoided by blocking out your schedule so that you are able to do the interview in privacy with no one else around
- You have less time to make a good impression, so you will need to make sure to take advantage of every opportunity you have
Phone interview tips for Travel PTs
Before the interview
- Create your Physical Therapist sales pitch – a 60 second version and a longer 5 point version of why you would be great for the job
- Make sure to schedule the interview for a time when you are able to talk and make sure you are in a quiet place with no distractions when you take the call
- If for someone reason you have to miss the call, make sure that your voicemail sounds professional, if you love your clever one with the theme song from Full House you can always change it back later
- Have a copy of your resume close by to help you talk about your experience, just make it sure it is easy to scan so you don’t get lost in it
- Dress up for the interview even though you are on the phone, it will make you feel more prepared and confident
- Practice ahead of time by recording yourself answering typical interview questions
- Have researched the position beforehand so you can easily explain how your skills match the job
- Prepare a few questions that you can ask about the position ahead of time. Asking questions shows you are truly interested in the position.
- Have examples of: times you succeeded at work, times you faced challenges and overcame them and examples of times when communication and teamwork helped you in your work
- Have a brief introduction about yourself and your experience memorized
During the interview
- Remember that your tone is one of the main things the interviewer is going to have to go on, so it is equally as important as what you actually say
- Speak with enthusiasm and confidence to keep the interviewer interested in you
- Stand up during the interview it will help you project your voice and it also helps with your confidence
- Be sure to listen closely so you fully understand each question – if you have to, ask them to repeat it
- Make certain that you actually fully answer each question
- Stay away from yes/no answers since they can be conversation flow stoppers. Always try to have a reason and/or examples to expand on your answers
- Don’t forget to mention that you are interested in the position and ask for the job
- Thank them for the chance to interview
After the interview
- Let your recruiter know that you just interviewed so they can follow-up on your behalf
- Write down any questions you forgot to ask so your recruiter can follow up for you
- Ask your recruiter for any feedback from the interviewer that could help you in future interviews
Phone interviews can make some people nervous, but they are nothing to be afraid of. Just make sure to take them seriously and prepare yourself and you should have no trouble getting a traveling PT job and moving onto step 18 of the Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide, which is “Accepting the Travel PT Job”.
Time to hurry up and wait. Now that you are to the point in the travel physical therapy process where you are being submitted to a job there is not much for you to do, at this stage it is all in your recruiter’s hands (for the moment).
Depending on the travel physical therapy company you are working with you may be submitted a little differently to a job, but the basics should stay pretty much the same.
For you as a candidate there is not much left for you to do right now. This stage of the process is kind out of your control at this point, which makes the preparation leading up to it so important. If you have taken the time to complete the suggestions laid out in the first 14 steps of the Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide, then you will have already told your recruiter:
- Desired location
- Company housing or housing stipend
- Desired pay
- Desired clinical area
- Types of Patient you want to work with
- Setting you want to work in
This also means that at this point your recruiter should have a great understanding of what you are looking for and a good grasp on your experience and skills and what assignment settings are going to be a good fit for you.
[pullquote]This also means that at this point your recruiter should have a great understanding of what you are looking for and a good grasp on your experience and skills and what assignment settings are going to be a good fit for you.[/pullquote]
Exactly how a company submits you to a job depends on how they are structured internally. At some companies the recruiters also contact the hospitals on your behalf, while in other companies the responsibilities of recruiting and selling candidates to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are split between different departments or positions.
There are pros and cons of both systems, so if you think or discover as you go through the process of finding a travel physical therapy job that this difference in these two approaches is affecting your ability to work with your company then you may want to look into another company. Or at least be aware of it after you finish your first assignment so you can find a company with a different approach for your next assignment.
Another difference you may find in the travel physical therapy companies you are working with is how they communicate with you when they submit you to a job. Some will be more selective in where they submit you and only submit you to jobs you have directly expressed an interest in working or pre-determined set of possibilities with your recruiter.
Meanwhile other companies may want to move faster and submit you to jobs you have not previously discussed so that they get your name in the running before the job closes. I have heard and read stories from travelers who have been upset by being contacted by hospitals they did not know they were submitted to in locations or clinical areas they are not comfortable with. Again there are pros and cons to both, so make sure you find out up front how your company works, that way you won’t be surprised.
At this point what you need to focus on is preparing for the next step in the travel physical therapy process; the interview. So stay tuned to see the next post in the Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide.
During this stage of the travel physical therapy process you will start to work with your recruiter to find your position. How this process is handled can change based on the company you work with. Some companies are structured so that your recruiter also contacts the hospital, skilled nursing facility or home health agency directly, while in other travel physical therapy companies those duties are split allowing for more focus and better customer service.
No matter which way your company is structured you will most likely be asked to complete a skills checklist so your recruiter can determine your skill set and comfort with different clinical environments. Which will enable them to find you the travel physical therapy job that matches your abilities and focus. Although some of these can be long, they are no reason to stress. The key is to be honest so that you are matched in the job that is going to be the best fit for you, because nothing is going to give you a bad experience as a traveler more than a job that you don’t feel comfortable in.
Here are some tips to remember when you are completing a skills checklist:
- Slow Down – Set aside a time when you can slow down and take your time. If you hurry through it you could miss something and have to to go back to complete it later or more annoying, you could have to do it again.
- Relax – These are not a test. Just be honest with yourself (and your company) with your experience and skill level and you will be fine. A skills checklist that is an honest assessment (even with some areas not as strong as you would like) is better for all involved than one that may be a bit over zealous and provides the wrong information to a facility.
- Keep Improving – Just because you fill out a skills checklist once doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always be expanding your skills and clinical areas you can work in. It will make you a better and more marketable travel physical therapist so try to branch out a little at each assignment and when you have new skills to add be sure to complete another checklist so your recruiter has it on hand for your next assignment.
Earlier in the Travel Therapy Career Guide we talked about what traits you should look for in a travel physical therapy recruiter. In this section we will go over some ways to make sure you find the right one for you. A recruiter is many time the face of the company to travelers, which means that a bad experience with a recruiter could easily sour you to an entire company. This makes doing your research to find a good one that you trust so important.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to be referred to a good one. Nothing speaks better about what kind of service you can expect than what another traveling PT tells you about their recruiter. So ask around. Having the name of a recruiter at a travel physical therapy company also helps ensures that you will be to work with that recruiter when you call in, otherwise you will be assigned a recruiter that you may or may not hit it off with.
There are a couple of sites that you could visit to try and get information on specific recruiters like forums like Delphi or UltimateNurse.com, but that is probably going to be pretty hit or miss. One site that does offer it as a feature of their site is Healthcare Travelbook.com, but you need an account to see them.
Whether you have a referral or are just talking to a recruiter who has been assigned to you it is important that when you first talk to them that you take the time to interview them too.
When you first call in the recruiter should be not only gathering career information and goals from you, but they should also be trying to build a relationship with you. You will be trusting this person with your most valuable asset, your career, so it is vital that you trust them.
So now at this point it is time for you to ask them some questions:
- How long have you been working in the travel therapy industry?
- How many years have you been a recruiter?
- Will you be my recruiter the whole time I work with your company?
- How many travel PTs or PTAs do you work with currently?
- What is the maximum number of physical therapists you are allowed to work with? Or what is your company’s max desk level?
- What is the standard traveler to recruiter ratio at your company?
- Tell me something about yourself and your background? Where did you go to college? Do you have pets? Etc.
- How often will I talk to you?
- How will you to contact me? Email? Phone? Text? Facebook? Etc.
- What makes you better than the other recruiters I am talking to?
- What do you to help your travel PTs succeed?
- Why do you work for this travel physical therapy company? What do you like about it? Dislike? Anything you would change?
- What’s your favorite song? Movie? Book?
A final point to remember when talking to a recruiter is to find out if he or she will be your recruiter the whole time you work with that company. Different companies are structured differently so with some companies you will have the same recruiter the whole time you work with that company while others are split up by region so depending on where you work you may end up with a different recruiter.
This may be the most vital element of your success and experience as a traveling physical therapist so be sure to put the time in to make sure you do your due diligence when choosing your recruiter.
Now that you have your paperwork in order and have done your research online to see what companies interest you, compared them to each other and matched that up with your goals, wants and needs for your travel physical therapy career, it is time to start applying with the top companies on your list.
Applying to travel therapy companies is usually done online, but you can also call in directly. In this step though, we will just look at applying online. We will cover calling in later in this Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide.
When you are applying online you basically have two choices.
- Apply to companies one at a time
- Use a company gateway site to apply to several companies at once
Both of these have their pros and cons, which we will cover next.
Applying to One Travel Physical Therapy Company at a Time
- This method keeps you in more control of how many companies are contacting you and have your information.
- This method also lets you be more selective in the companies you talk to.
- When you apply to one company at a time it will be a lengthier process for the simple fact that you have to visit multiple sites and put the same information on each company’s website.
- Another negative is that if none of the companies you talk to have a position you want or just don’t seem like a good fit, then you will have to broaden your search and start the process over again.
Using a Gateway Site to Apply to Several Travel Physical Therapy Companies at a Time
- Using a gateway site can save you time since you can complete a lot of information in one sitting and depending on the site you use, submit it to the companies of your choice.
- This option will save you the time of searching the Internet for companies to work with since they are all aggregated in these sites.
- Applying to a gateway site all but ensures that you will be contacted by all the companies paying for the site’s services if they do not have a company select option
- Gateway sites can also take longer to complete the required information than a travel physical therapy company’s website because their goal is to provide only the top matched candidates to the companies paying for the service.
- You will receive a lot of calls from recruiters and marketing efforts from companies once your information is passed on
Some Travel Therapy Gateway Sites are:
Regardless of the option you choose, be prepared to be contacted almost immediately and regularly once your info is submitted.
One final bit of advice to make whatever option you choose easier is to be sure to set up and utilize your “AutoFill” Google toolbar. It will make completing a lot of the basic info requested in on online apps less repetitive to fill out since you can do it with the click of a button.
The next step in your traveling physical therapy career, even before you start applying online is to have all your ducks in a row and make sure your paper work is in order. Having this all organized and easily accessible is going to make the application process at travel physical therapy companies much easier.
The most common paperwork you will need includes copies of (although some companies may ask for more):
- A current resume
- Your PT License (if you don’t have one for the state you want to work in your company should help you get it and pay for it)
- Any other special certifications needed for your clinical area (front and back)
- Your BLS
- Your Driver’s License
- Your Social Security card (front and back) or passport
- Two references from your supervisors at your most recent jobs
- And all your immunization records, include the following:
Health Statement (completed annually by a MD, PA, or NP)
TB Skin Test Results OR Chest X-Ray (TB <1 year; Chest X-ray < 1 year)
Hepatitis B (Vaccine Series (3), Titre, Booster (after titre) or Declination Form)
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (2 Childhood Vaccines, or Titres)
Varicella (Titre or 2 Vaccines)
(if you don’t have your immunizations or can’t find the documentation most companies will set it up for you)
- A voided check to accompany your Direct Deposit information
It will be best if you have both paper copies and digital scans of all of these. If you don’t own a scanner you can go to the library or a FedEX/Kinkos, CopyMax or something similar to get them scanned.
After this initial organizing of your paperwork, take time once a year to update and keep it current with your experience.