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Working as a Nurse in the UK

We know it can be extremely daunting for Nurses moving from their home country to come and work in the UK. Our expert team are on hand to guide and support you through each stage of your journey.

Following your interview and subsequent job offer you will need to work towards completing screening documentation to enable you to meet  the 5 key milestones you as part of your application to work as a Nurse in the UK. Our team will help you with this process which includes:

1.IELTs/OET The first step is completing your IELTs/OET exam, which you would have already completed in order to be eligible for interview/offer letter. *Please note that the IELTS /OET certificate is only valid for 2 years.

2. Registering with the NMC You should have, hopefully, by now registered with the NMC and created an online portal. You will need to upload certain documentation, along with an evaluation fee of £140 for the NMC to complete an ELIGIBILITY CHECK. For this you will need; Passport, Qualification certificates and details, Education Institute details, Registration details and certificates. Once this is completed the NMC will send you a “Test of Competence Invitation” email which allows you to continue to the next stage of your process.

3. CBT Exam The CBT Exam is the 1st part of the “Test of Competence ” the 2nd part is the OSCE. The CBT is made up of 115 questions split into 2 sections. Numeracy, which includes, 15 questions with 30 minutes to answer and Clinical, which includes, 100 questions with 2hrs 30 minutes to answer. Once passed your result will show on your NMC account and you can now move on.

4. NMC Docs You will now need to submit the rest of your documentation which is displayed on your NMC Portal. When you are ready to submit your application you will need to pay £153. Your application will be assessed within 35 days and you will be contacted by the NMC with your next steps.

5. COS & VISA Your Search Recruitment agent will request certain documentation from you that they will submit to the hospital on your behalf to receive your COS. Once you have your COS in hand you will now need to continue and complete your VISA Application. Your agent from Search Recruitment will help you along with this if needed, but the questions are very straight forward.

Tips for Temps

* One benefit of temping is that an agency finds you jobs. But to be a successful Temp, your role must go far beyond taking calls from recruiters and showing up for assignments prepared. Adopt a professional attitude, and you'll get the temp jobs you really want. Remember that you need to fit in and often will be asked to do jobs that others don’t want to do. Maintain a positive and friendly willing attitude at all times. Even if you are not having a good day don’t let that show and remember to act professional and approachable at all times.

* Be clear on what you want to do and why. "Have a detailed conversation with your recruiter so they know your ‘best assignment' criteria," however to maintain regular work you should remain flexible and willing as those ‘ideal’ roles are sometimes thin on the ground.

* You may feel like refusing an assignment, but you don't want to be on your agency's blacklist, either. "It's OK to say no to an assignment, as long as you reaffirms your commitment to work with that recruiter on anything else and to keep the relationship strong," .

* If you mess up on the job, take immediate action. Start with calling your Agency to take ownership of any problems or issues, only to often we hear “but I am only a temp”, this line implies your non committal attitude to the role. Remember! The client is paying you to undertake the role to the BEST of your ability. If it is simply that you need more training then you must not suffer in silence and ask for help, everyone needs training when they start a new role.

* As much as you might like to run screaming from the building, the best way to responsibly handle a difficult situation is to talk to your Recruiter. Let your recruiter know first before going straight to the client and complaining. Recruiters act as a great buffer and will, in most cases be able to rephrase the request in a way that will diffuse any difficult situation between the client and the temporary worker.

I moved into the area just over a year ago now and was keen to get some temporary work. I signed up with numerous agencies at the time but Laura at Search really took the time in my registration to get to know me as a person and listen to my working requirements. I didn’t feel rushed and which automatically made me feel at ease. You can’t help but feel welcome when you visit the office as all of the staff at Search are so friendly and helpful. I really didn’t feel just like “another candidate on the books”. I am happy to say that Laura has placed me in various temporary bookings over the last year or so and it’s very reassuring to work for an Agency that care just as much about their candidates as they do about their clients.

Kerry Stacey

CALL NOW - 01252372525
Speak to one of our experienced Consultants about Temp work

Interview Tips

01252 372525

Prepare yourself, interviews are two way meetings.
They are an opportunity for the interviewer to find out about and for you to find out about the organisation and if the position will provide you with the challenge and job satisfaction you are looking for.

Do First impressions count? You bet they do!

Your first few seconds are fairly vital when you walk into that interview. We all give out different signals and these can be influenced by the way you dress to your body language. In our opinion it all starts with a firm handshake (that’s firm, don’t shake their hand off!) and being smartly dressed.

Interview Preparation

Identify 80% of questions you may be asked
Employers want to know whether or not you are suitable for the job for which you are applying and so will ask you questions to find out. They have identified a range of skills and qualities that the position requires. You simply need to identify a range of examples that illustrate these skills.
You can identify the skills that your employer is looking for by:
* Visiting their web site
* Looking carefully at the job advert, job description and/or person specification
Before the interview
* Research the organisation, using recruitment brochure, annual report, web site etc.
* Check what you need to take with you, eg. CV, dissertation, portfolio
* List potential questions you might be asked and practice your answers

Your questions

Most interviews allow time for you to ask questions. If your questions have all been answered, say so. However, it's a good idea to have a few questions prepared. You might even want to write questions down and take them with you:
*Who could I be working with? Report to?
*How do you see the job role / function developing in the future?
*What opportunities are there for staff development and further training?
*What are the arrangements for inducting new staff?

Dress Code - What Clothes Should You Wear For Your Job Interview?

It’s always a tough call when trying to decide what to wear for a job interview. As a pointer it’s always a good idea to “Dress above the rest” at an interview – remember you are out to make an impression. So a pretty simple rule - if the company's dress code is casual then you need to be dressed casually but a little smarter, if the dress code is a suit and tie then you need to wear your best suit and tie –it’s pretty easy for you to judge for yourself.

Likely questions

Employers will ask a range of questions, but not all will apply to you. Think about some of the questions below and prepare as much as you can broadly categorised as follows:

Warm ups ...

Questions designed to relax you, although some employers like to put you on the spot straight away;
“Tell us about yourself” - prepare for the worst - a classic opener that can really throw you. Plan ahead by having presentation statement to cover this.
“Paint me a picture of yourself? What kind of person are you?” - Rather than say "I'm an ideas person", talk about a time when you changed things with a good idea.
“What are your main achievements to date?”
“Why do you want to work for us? “

Questions to find out how well prepared you are, how keen you are to fill this job and / or to work for this particular employer.

“Why do you want to work for us? Why do you want this job?” - Have a clear answer to this (even if, privately, you're not sure - you only have to decide when the job offer is in your hand).
“What do you think are the main skills and qualities required for this job? “

After your interview

Most people improve at interview with practice. Make sure you learn from each interview in order to improve and prepare for the next one:

Reflect on the interview and how it went, what could you have done better? Write down the ques-tions you found difficult - consider how you might answer these again now that you have had more time to think about them.

Consider how you came across - were you confident, did you present well?
Ask for feedback once you are aware of the result of the interview.

Case Study - Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 2022

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
working in partnership

Case Study International Nurses

Though ongoing consultation we helped Bedfordshire Hospitals recruit International Nurses from India & The Philippines


Initially Bedford Hospital & Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, were separate Trusts. They merged to become Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in April 2020, caring for a population of around 620,000 people in and around Bedfordshire.

Search Recruitment began supplying nurses to the separate Trusts, focusing on India, the Philippines and Europe, around 10 years ago and the relationship has continued post-merger.


With the announcement of the UK’s intention to leave the EU in June 2016, many NHS Trusts experienced an immediate and significant drop in applications from European-trained Nurses to work in the UK. In addition the NMC changed their language requirements, which in turn saw a further significant drop in applications from EU Nurses. The situation was made worse as many who had already settled here expressed an intention to return home.


With demand rising and workforce shortages steadily increasing, alternative recruitment solutions were required. Search Recruitment focused their efforts on international locations such as India and the Philippines to plug the gap.


With the help of our network of experienced local agents, we identified candidates in India and The Philippines with the required IELTS/OET scores.

As part of our quality control processes, these candidates were interviewed initially by our local representatives, then the successful candidates were presented to our clients for a remote interview, coordinated, facilitated and supported by Search Recruitment, to re-create the in-country interviewing experience at the client hospital sites.


Performance was measured through our success in delivering on all key stages of the project within the expected timescales which has lead us to achieving 90% success interview to offer ratio and 98% offer to arrival ratios which we are immensely proud of.


Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic Search Recruitment ensured the Trust was kept informed of project progress.

Search Recruitment risk assessed and drew up contingency plans for Nurse arrival during the pandemic.

Regular meetings covered Nurse progress through the NMC stages and their planned arrival.

Inevitably some Nurse arrivals were lost but Search Recruitment arranged more interviews etc, and recruitment/arrival targets were still met.

"We are just so impressed with Michelle. She has been magnificent in supporting our recruitment and it has been so busy for the last 6 months. She’s always answered our questions and was always so professional. This girl truly goes an extra mile. With all changes introduced to the international recruitment process, she has always managed to stay on top of everything and always been very supportive to our nurses."

Iwona Magda - Recruitment & Retention Manager
Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS FOundation Trust

"Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been working with Search Recruitment for many years now. Prior to our merger both our sites at Luton and Bedford worked individually with Search to recruit overseas nurses. With the assistance of the team at Search we have been able to recruit a large number of overseas nurses both for our generic acute wards and more recently they have helped us to undertake more focussed campaigns recruiting to specialist areas. Jane at Search does an amazing job sourcing suitable applicants and then spends many days facilitating our Skype interviews ensuring they go ahead without any issues. We have always had a designated person at Search who deals with all the nurses whilst they are cleared for employment. Over the years we have built had a great relationship with Michelle at Search who has always been extremely helpful and knowledgeable but they all very much have a ‘can do’ attitude towards overseas recruitment. We have always been kept up to date with progress of candidates, changes in processes and any potential issues they are facing. Our overseas nurses always confirm that they have had a great recruitment experience with Search and they often recommend their friends to this agency. The nurses are looked after right through their pre-employment checks, NMC registration and onboarding/arrival to the Trust.

I would certainly recommend using Search Recruitment for the recruitment of overseas nurses."

Julie Taylor - Head of Recruitment
Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS FOundation Trust

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