The practice of arranging informal visits is actually very common within the healthcare industry, with the majority of employers keen to accommodate.
It's a fantastic way to gain insight into a new workplace environment and assess whether you think that environment would be right for you. It's also another opportunity to make new contacts, ask questions, demonstrate enthusiasm and make a good impression.
How to arrange an informal visit
If you've seen a vacancy you're interested in, there will usually be contact details for the relevant manager(s) and instructions on how to get in touch. Alternatively you could contact the recruitment and development team.
If you feel stuck on what to say, have a look at the following for ideas:
- I wanted to enquire about whether I could arrange an informal visit...I've been really keen on applying to work for this organisation for some time, so it would be great to get to come in to learn more about what you do."
- "It would be great to come in and spend some time [on the X ward / with the X teams / within the X department] as I'm really passionate about progressing within this area."
- "I've seen a vacancy for [X position] on the [X unit] and I'm really keen on applying. I was wondering whether I'd be able to come in to have a look around and perhaps speak to some of the team before I actually submit an application?"
- I'm due to finish my [training/degree/masters] soon and have my heart set on applying to work in your organisation. I'm trying to decide what area I'd want to work in, so thought organising an informal visit beforehand could be a good idea. I'm particularly interested in [oncology, haematology and neurology]"
Be specific about which particular area or setting you'd want to visit and/or any people or particular teams you'd want to spend time with on the day. This will help the employer structure your visit and make sure you're making the most your time there.
Do your research
Before your visit, make sure you do your research. You'll want to be able to demonstrate that you are well prepared and have already taken the time to find out about the employer and/or the type of area you're interested in applying for.
If you're planning an informal visit in response to a particular job advert you're interested in, familiarise yourself with the Job Description and Person Specification.
What should you be looking for?
Essentially you should be trying to:
- find out as much information as you can
- assess whether the job and working environment would be right for you
- check that your expectations are realistic
- make a good impression
- break the ice
You may want to try and evaluate factors such as:
- the work culture
- the working environment
- how staff interact with you, each other, and/or patients
- learning or career opportunities
- objectives, goals or targets
You may want to ask about:
- opportunities for progression
- opportunities for learning and development
- what sort of support the employer offers
- induction, orientation or preceptorship programmes
- staff benefits and policies
Don't be too informal
Remember that even though it's an "informal" visit, the employer will very much be looking how you conduct yourself and interact with others. Be aware of your how your communication skills might come across and always act professionally.
Simple things such as thanking someone for showing you around, holding the door open for others, or smiling at patients can also make a big difference.
Making a disclosure
There may be instances where you need to make a disclosure to an employer during application or interview, e.g., if you've been investigated, sanctioned, or have NMC conditions of practice.
Based on your personal circumstances and your careful judgement, you may prefer to broach your disclosure during an informal visit, or put the feelers out.
For advice on how to make a disclosure, please see our page on applying for jobs following investigation or sanctions.
If it's right for you
If you have judged by the end of the visit that the job is right for you, don't be afraid to tell the employer that you feel this way. This is a nice and positive note to end the visit on. Remember, employers want to hire people who are genuinely interested in working for them.
Include it in your application
If you later apply for a job with the employer, make sure to write about your informal visit in your application.
Informal visits during the COVID-19 pandemic
If informal visits aren't possible due to the pandemic, you can still ask to arrange an informal chat over telephone or video call.