How to Prepare for a Cath Lab Travel Interview

September 1, 2022 by Tom Harmon

So you’ve taken the plunge, submitted for a couple jobs and bingo!  You have an interview lined up.  And then two seconds later you realize…uh oh!  I have an interview coming up!  What do I ask?  What are they going to ask me?  What did I put on my resume?

It’s okay, you can take a deep breath.  Remember, whatever you put on your resume landed you an interview.  Now’s the chance to make the resume come alive with the interview.  Here’s a guide on what to expect and how to nail the offer.

First, what kind of Cath lab interview questions am I going to be asked?

We’ve spoken to thousands of Directors, Managers, Supervisors, Charge nurses, Staff …everyone who conducts interviews for Cath Lab travelers.  Here’s the Clif Notes:

The interviewer wants to know if you can handle the pressure and process of their lab, not your lab.  They want to know that you will not be overwhelmed and will be able to adapt and fit in quickly.  For example, a Cath Lab department with 3 rooms will be more inclined to offer the position to a nurse with less experience if that experience comes from a busy 5 room Cath Lab that does a variety of procedures.  That candidate is more attractive than a candidate with more experience in a smaller 1-2 lab unit because the first candidate is familiar with larger lab process flow and how to interact in a bigger unit.

Below are some questions the interviewer may have:

  1. How many rooms did the biggest cath lab you’ve ever worked in have?
  2. How long have you been taking call?
  3. Do you like taking call?

Nurse-specific questions

  1. Do you circulate and monitor (nurse)?  Or just circulate?
  2. Have you been the only nurse on a three person team?  
  3. Which charting systems are you familiar with?
    • Maclab, McKesson, Witt
  4. Have you ever scrubbed?  
    • Very rare, but some have been trained

Tech-specific questions

  1. Do you scrub?
  2. What types of cath lab cases (tech)?  
  3. Which X-Ray Equipment are you familiar with (tech)?
  4. Are you comfortable in a scrub-drive role on the team?
  5. Are you comfortable setting up and using an ACIST device?
  6. What types of procedures are you comfortable with?
    • Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterizations
    • Cardiac Surgery
    • Pacemaker Implantations
    • Cardiac Defibrillator Implant
    • STEMI
    • Elective Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (PCI)
    • PCI Acute Myocardial Infarction
    • Carotid Artery Stenting
    • Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA)
    • Congenital Heart Defect Intervention
    • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery
    • Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion
    • Transcatheter Valve Replacement
    • Electrophysiology Studies
    • Atrial Fibrillation Ablation
    • Peripheral Vascular Intervention
  7. Do you do EP?  Any roles beyond sedation or scrubbing?
    • Stimulating (“running the stim”)
    • Recording EGMs
    • 3D mapping of the heart?  (Pulling up templates, not creating custom maps)

If your resume didn’t reflect some of the information above, make sure to bring it up in the interview.  The interview is your chance to paint the fullest picture of yourself, so be sure to put your best foot forward!

Turning the Tables – What should I ask them?

Alright, alright… that part went smooth.  They’ve expressed interest in offering you the position, but don’t be too quick to accept.  Make sure that it’s a good fit for you as well.  There are plenty of reasons why that dream assignment could derail.  

Let’s get into the nitty gritty:

  1. What is the Cath / IR / EP case mix?
  2. What kind of equipment?
  3. What kind of charting system?
  4. What is the team setup?  
    • Who circulates, scrubs, monitors, etc.
  5. If the hospital does EP, is it a separate unit?
  6. Does the lab do EP Ablations?
  7. Who are the main Cath Lab or EP physicians?
  8. How much help do you need with call?
    • It can be better to phrase it this way instead of “How much call is required?”
  9. What is the Call Back ratio?
  10. Are there opportunities for Overtime?
  11. Where do the patients recover?  In the Cath Lab or in a separate unit?
  12. Are there any other travelers?
  13. Do a lot of travelers come back?

Don’t forget to ask about a few of the non-clinical details as well.  Finding out that parking is $15 a day or that only mansions surround the facility can quickly deplete a paycheck.  

  1. What is the parking situation?
  2. Does the lab socialize together?
  3. How is the housing around the hospital?

Humanize the Resume

Along with the clinical details, make sure to weave in some personal information about yourself so they know you’ll bring a personality as well.  It’ll help them remember you if they have multiple candidates to know some personal details.

  1. What cities have you lived in the past 7 years? 
    • What did you enjoy about them?
  2. What hospitals have been good work experiences for you?  
    • What made it good?
  3. Why did you start traveling?
  4. Do you keep in touch with people at labs that you’ve worked with?
    • Shows that you’re friendly and other labs liked you

Check the good, old world wide spider web!

Lastly, use the Google.  It’s quick, easy and free!

  • Check out industry trade publications (Cath Lab Digest, EP Lab Digest)
  • Check out internet resources (Hospital Safety Grades)
  • Check latest news articles

Talk to the Experts (Us!)

If you think the notes above are valuable, then give us a shot to impress even more.  Schedule a call with one of our Cath / IR / EP Lab Advisors.  It’s a no-pressure question and answer session with a recruiter and Senior Lab Advisor to show you how we place our candidates and the industry knowledge we bring.

Our team has over 70 years of staffing experience in the Cath Lab world.  We’ve built an incredible network of travelers and hospital contacts and as we all know, Cath Lab is a small world!

For more information on the Cath Lab process and filling out your Cath Lab Resume for success check out this article, Preparing a Cath Lab Travel Resume.