As a locum tenens provider, you quickly grow accustomed to experiences and situations that are far less common in other career paths. Consider job interviews as an example. Every successful locum tenens engagement starts with a phone-based question-and-answer — a situation colleagues in permanent roles only see when they switch jobs.
Of course, nobody needs to tell you that better interview skills lead to more jobs landed. Beyond that, though, is the simple fact that an interview is your chance to get a feel for the company you’re talking to. If you’re new to the locum job-search process or you’re simply looking for more questions to add to your usual list, explore these angles as you feel out potential temporary roles:
1. What’s the reason for your current staffing gap?
You may not want to lead off with this question in a locum tenens interview, but it’s arguably the most important one you can ask all the same. Not only does it round out the information you receive from your recruiter prior to the call, it helps you better understand the organization you’re considering a role with. An facility undergoing a directed restructuring may differ from one that has a physician going on vacation or LoA, for two examples. There’s no qualitative “best” answer, but anything that enhances your understanding is still worth asking.
2. Have you used a locum tenens service before?
As above, this question represents an important line of inquiry. It should also be noted that a “no” is far from a red flag, however. First-timers can and do take great pains to meet their locums’ preferences and ensure a smooth transition, and the agency is there as a buffer in the rare event that misunderstandings or disagreements do arise. Making this a go-to question in your locum tenens interview is just another way to gauge the company on the other end of the line — something any curious professional would want to do before making a commitment.
3. What environmental factors make your facility unique?
One of the biggest advantages of locum tenens is the ability to experience different regions of the country, both in a clinical setting and in your free time. In terms of the former, asking about demographic factors such as age ranges, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ethnic heritages (where applicable, among others) helps you comprehend the workplace’s regional flavor.
More to the point, this locum tenens interview question gives you points to research should you and the client come to an agreement. Because geographic location can play a significant role in the environment, understanding the particulars helps you walk into the job with an extra edge of preparation.
4. What about clinical factors?
The other to the previous question, this inquiry affords you a chance to review your skills and how they apply to the role you’re exploring: Deploying your specialty in a hospital is different from using it in a small community clinic or county resource office, for instance. Taken in total, asking these two locum tenens interview questions (and keeping the answers front-of-mind as you work) can teach you new ways to approach standard and uncommon challenges — an invaluable skill to have as you continue to build your clinical capabilities.
5. What kind of work can someone with my specialty expect to do?
The person interviewing you should have a good grasp of the tasks you’ll be performing and (as above) the context in which you’ll be performing them. Explicitly pursuing this line of thought, then, is another form of doing your homework. Through your locum tenens interview, the client should be able to tell you in some detail about the job you’ll temporarily assume and the ways your specialty in particular fits their larger working scheme. Because this question is a little more conceptual, you may need to readdress it a few times to get a concrete answer, but the result will be added confidence walking into the role.
6. Are your current employees generally happy with your EMR/EHR solution?
At minimum, inquiring after the client’s electronic health/medical records solution will give you some idea of what to expect if you take the role. You should attempt to learn which system they use (and thus whether you’re familiar with it), how your temporary colleagues have taken to it, and what challenges you might expect. And in any event, multi-EHR fluency is a big plus on future CVs, so don’t let an unfamiliar system scare you off.
In many cases, the primary function of your locum tenens interview will be to convince a locum tenens client you’re the right pro for the job. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some basic fact finding of your own, however. The curiosity and observant nature that likely got you to your professional station can be excellent allies when feeling out a job posting. Ask the right questions and you’ll find just the right role.