experienced doctors interview nursing candidate

Becoming a part of the float pool is not for every nurse. Float nurses work throughout the hospital to cover short-term staffing needs on any unit or floor.

So, if you don't want to be stuck in one department and like the variety and flexible schedule float nurses follow, then becoming a float nurse may be good for you.

Here are examples of answering the most common interview questions when you want to be considered for this position.

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Hard Float Pool Nursing Interview Questions with Example Answers

1. What made you apply for the float pool nursing position?

The interviewer may ask this open-ended question at the beginning of the interview to learn about your work ethic and how much insight you have into being a float pool nurse.

It may feel intimidating having to explain your choices to others. But in an interview situation, this is expected.

The interviewer asks these personal questions so that they can learn about you and judge whether you will be a good fit for the hospital in the position they need to fill.

Example Answer

“I read an article a few months ago about how float nurses fulfill a vital role in a hospital setting. They prevent staff shortages from affecting patient care on days where regular staff cannot work due to illness or personal reasons.

Providing a vital service is a part of my values, and giving back to the hospital by filling in when regular staff cannot work would ensure I make a difference through my work here.”

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2. What are your biggest strengths?

Many people stumble over this question by giving unqualified answers like, “I am a natural leader.” Without an example of when you acted as a natural leader, the interviewer may be unsure what you mean by that statement.

It may feel like bragging, but a well-formulated answer highlighting your strengths is what may set you apart from other well-qualified candidates and convince the interviewer to hire you.

Here is a model answer you can adapt to fit your unique situation.

Example Answer

“My biggest strength is picking up new skills.

In the medical-surgical floor where I currently work, the patient load differs considerably from day today, and I have always asked to be assigned challenging patients to improve my skills.”

3. Tell me about a time you handled a difficult patient.

angry patient pressing nurse call button

As a float nurse, you will be the new nurse no matter which unit or floor you work that day, so being able to handle difficult patients on your own is an important skill.

Patients may be difficult because they are not used to you looking after them, or they may have difficult personalities.

Either way, showing the interviewer you have experience handling “difficult” patients with ease will make you stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Example Answer

“One patient in my care was very belligerent and would shout at everyone for no reason.

It was over a weekend, and there were some single rooms open, so I moved that patient into a single room. After chatting to him, even though he was rude at first and wanted me to leave, I stayed and prodded information out of him.

It turned out that the patient had just received a terminal diagnosis and was upset about that. He did not have any family or close friends, so he did not have anyone to talk to about what he had just learned.

I asked for a psych consult, and the counselor had a session with him. It seemed to have helped because his attitude towards everyone improved after the session with the therapist.”

4. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is an important question because you don't have a regular department as a float nurse.

Without a regular department, there's not much of a career ladder, so interviewers want to know your future plans to make sure it's worth their effort to accept you to a float pool.

Example Answer

“Being a float pool nurse lets me develop a more extensive foundation of knowledge than working in a single ward.

This is the opportunity to develop my clinical confidence and interprofessional communication skills that I will later use to provide better patient care.

I feel that the flexibility of the position and the ability to work in different nursing disciplines for the next five years will give me the grounding and experience I will be able to use in a permanent position at your hospital.”

5. What have you done to improve your nursing skills in the past year?

nurse carrying books

The best way to answer this question is to showcase an activity that has increased the skill required in the float nurse position. 

Example Answer

“Last month, I completed my Basic Life Support Certification and my ACLS certification to help me be better prepared to respond to codes.” 

Any certification you have completed or is in progress can be mentioned here. 

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6. What do you think is most rewarding about being a float pool nurse?

By asking this question, the interviewer wants to determine whether you know what the position entails and how you view it.

Float nursing can be a positive experience, but many find it difficult to be pushed from ward to ward and fill in the personnel gaps as needed.

Show them that you are serious and positively view the float nurse's position.

Example Answer

“At the moment, I love the flexibility being a float pool nurses gives me.

The position provides opportunities to work with many managers and doctors that I would otherwise never meet, expanding my career networking opportunity.

Also, I feel that I will be able to learn so much more and improve the clinical skills that I can use to help in any critical patient situation.” 

7. Do you have the ability to be available to fill in a unit at short notice?

Most float pool nurses work to a weekly schedule, but there are times when nurses are needed to fill in for people that have become ill, and the float nurse will have to be available to work at short notice.

Let the interviewer know at the start whether a short-notice call-up will be a problem for you.

Example Answer

“I have a stable family life and good support systems in place.

Currently, I have no children, and I am single, so a short notice assignment will not be a problem. I will be able to fill in whenever needed.”

8. What will you do if you start in a new unit and there is no one to orient you?

Float nurses are often faced with having to perform in unfamiliar surroundings.

Recruiters are looking for people who can display personality traits like independence, rule consciousness, and openness to change, as these traits indicate an employee suitable for working in a float pool.

The interviewer wants to know whether you are resilient and can continue to work independently despite circumstances. 

Example Answer

“If there is no one available to train me, I will find out where all the medication, equipment, and supplies are kept at the beginning of my shift, then find out which patients I am responsible for and attend to them according to the nursing process.

This way, I will be able to provide safe care for them.”

9. How much are you expecting to get paid?

Nurse with money in pocket

This is one of the standard questions you can expect in any nursing interview. Usually, the pay you can expect is about $15-$20 per hour higher than a permanent nurse's salary.

To answer this question, try not to mention any specific salary numbers, and instead try saying something like:

Example Answer

“I am not sure of the exact pay you will offer, but I expect it will match my experience and skills as reflected in my CV.”

10. Do you have any questions for us?

This is a typical way the interviewer ends the interviewing process.

You must ask relevant questions at this time to show that you have prepared for the interview and you are engaged in this process.

Below are examples of questions you may want to ask the interviewer. 

Example Answer

Other questions you may want to ask are:

  • “Can you tell me about your staffing ratios?”
  • “What kind of training do you offer?”
  • “What's your requirement for weekend rotation?”
  • “How do you measure nursing success?”
  • “What's your policy on overtime?”

Key Takeaways

So, now that the interview has ended, don't forget to thank the interviewer for his or her time and inquire when you can expect to hear whether you got the job.

Good luck with your interview.

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Use our nursing job board to start looking for and applying to great nursing jobs near you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

It means you're a nurse that doesn't work on a dedicated unit. Each shift, you're assigned to a different department based on your skillset and the hospital's needs.

For a nurse to float, it means instead of working in their regular department, the nurse is sent to another department usually to cover for call-ins.

Float positions are generally paid more because of the extra skillsets it needs to be able to work in so many different departments.

Some people will enjoy being a floater, while others, especially those who like consistency, will probably not like it because you don't have a dedicated unit, and each day is different.

Being a float nurse is harder than being a regular staff nurse because you don't have a set unit. Every shift, you could potentially be working in a new department with nurses you've never worked with before.