17 CNA Job Interview Questions & Answers to Land Your Dream Job
Getting a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) takes more than just the requisite experience or education. An important hump every CNA will have to get over is the interview. For you to ‘conquer’ an interview, you need to understand the mechanics behind it.
An interview is a perfect opportunity to convince a potential employer that what they read on your resume is true. Below is a comprehensive list of CNA job interview questions and answers grouped in sections; together with some insight on why the questions are asked and what you need to be cautious of.
These sort of questions are meant to break the ice in an interview. An interviewer is typically looking for a confident candidate who can express themselves well. As such, you want to avoid speaking in a low voice and fidgeting.
Q1: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Insight: This sort of question does not need you to rattle all your educational qualifications. If anything, they are already on your resume and you will most likely have certified copies of your result slips or a degree declaration. The idea is to say things about yourself that can connect who you are to the job at hand. It is important to remember that no question in an interview is for the sake of it. Connecting what you say about yourself with the job you are interviewing for is a bonus.
A1: I am a people’s person. I get along well with everybody. This has helped me tremendously in my previous jobs and also empowered me to be good at working with teams. The prospect of being able to apply my people skills at this CNA job is an exciting prospect for me.
Q2: Why did you leave your last job?
Insight: Whatever you do, do not bad mouth your former employer. No employer wants to take on bad eggs. Think in of something that explains why you left your previous job without throwing shade.
A2: My previous job taught me a lot about myself. It confirmed my hunch that I was passionate about people. In fact, it informed my decision to seek the job you are interviewing me for. I decided to focus on a job that allows me to get my hands dirty and interact directly with people dirty.
Q3: What traits helped you in your previous job?
Insight: There is always a temptation to give generic answers such as I am a good timekeeper or I am attentive to detail. Giving such an answer is tantamount to blowing one’s trumpet and will not help your application in any way. Instead, personalize the traits you choose to highlight. Create a connection between the trait and the job.
A3: Going the extra mile is something that has always been ingrained in me since childhood. I played basketball and it taught me that hitting the gym and dribbling during my free time made me a better player. I have adopted the same attitude at work and it has helped me a lot. Doing some extra reading and asking questions widened my knowledge and helped me become more effective at my previous job.
Q4: Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses.
Insight: It is always best to deliver the bad news first then end with the good news. The bad news, in this case, your weaknesses, should be explained in such a manner that makes it a good to know rather than a possible employee challenge. You should be careful about what you call your strength or weakness as this will be an indication of the kind of person you are. Avoid sharing more than two strengths or weaknesses unless the interviewer specifically asks for others.
a) Weaknesses: I have a particular attention to detail which makes me want things done perfectly. I like keeping schedules for example and thus if a client is meant to be fed at noon, my default setting is to do everything in my power to ensure the feeding happens at noon. I do not always get my way as patients can be stubborn at times. To counter this, I try as much as possible to put myself in the patient’s shoes and look at a situation exactly how they would look at it. Thus far I have noticed improvements in this area though I must say, it is still work in progress.
b) Strengths: I am good with people. I find it easy to initiate and engage even new people in conversations. This makes it easy for me to connect with clients under my care. I am also empathetic. I try to always put myself in the shoes of my clients to understand what they are going through. Understanding empowers me to make decisions centered around making my clients’ lives better.
The employer needs an affirmation that everything you put down on your resume as regards your educational qualifications are worth more than the paper it is printed on. There are many people who have the exact qualifications you may have but what makes you different? Were you an outstanding student? Did you grasp your content better? Are you more job ready?
Q5: Do you think you are qualified for this position?
Insight: Do not simply give a yes/no answer and stop at that. That will be a missed opportunity. Of course, the answer is yes. You should proceed to explain why you think you are qualified for the position.
A5: Yes. I recently finished my CNA certification course and passed the state exam early last year. I am was taken in for an internship at a local children’s home for children with special needs where I got to apply the knowledge I had acquired during my course. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and I am looking forward to getting another opportunity to practice my teeth in nursing. So far I have proven I can do the job and the three referees on my resume are a testament to the same. Most of all, I give you my word. I do not think there is anyone more qualified in the whole world for this job than me.
Q6: What do you think is the appropriate salary for this position?
Insight: You must have done your research. There are is always a market rate for the salary of each position. This should not ideally be far off from the salary scale that was taught to you during your training. The interviewer is trying to find out whether you know the value of your training in terms of what you will offer on the shop floor.
Also, they are trying to establish whether money makes you tick. You must not state a figure that is too high. Stating one that is too low would indicate you do low quality work and as such are fine with taking a pay cut. All the same, you need to state that you are flexible enough to accept a reasonable pay if that is what firs the salary scales of the institution.
A6: The going rate for this position in the industry is $30,000 per annum. The value brought by every CNA who shares their love with clients is worth more than this. However, we do not do this job because we are after the money. Ours is but to make the lives of our clients as comfortable and as a fulfilling as possible. In other terms, I would be Ok with any reasonable salary you offer me if it fits within your existing salary scales.
Q7: What do you do if a dementia patient tells you they are seeing something in the room which you cannot see?
Insight: The default setting for any human being is to call out a hoax or speak the honest truth. If you cannot see what the dementia patient is seeing, telling them that you cannot see it will be counterproductive. It will make them anxious and agitate them, both of which will not help the situation. Here the interviewer is trying to find out if you can apply the knowledge you acquired during your course in a practical situation.
A7: Telling the patient I do not see what they are seeing will not help the situation. For anyone with dementia, telling them they are wrong about something will just frustrate and agitate them more. I will pretend to see whatever they are seeing and try to find out more about it using smart probing questions. Everything I learn I will note down and pass the information on to a psychotherapist if the patient is seeing one.
Q8: Where have you worked before?
Insight: Your resume will for sure highlight where you have worked before. There must be consistency between what you say and what your resume reads. Further on, you should state something outstanding about where you used to work before otherwise, this will be a missed opportunity.
A8: Previously, I worked at St Mary’s Hospital as a nursing assistant. I learned many things during my time there. Something that stood out for me was the fact that if you serve a client with all your heart and do your very best, you would be Ok regardless of whether they recovered from an illness or passed on.
Q9: Which skills have you acquired in your previous jobs that make you best suited for this job?
Insight: The panel is not looking forward to employing an employee who is green when it comes to matters employment skills. If you have the slightest experience, there are some standout skills that you are expected to have picked up. If you do not know of any such skill, you should not bother applying for any CNA job.
A9: My previous job taught me the value of flexibility. We always had a schedule that indicated who was on duty and there was always a standby nursing assistant who was called in in case they were needed. More often than not, I was called to fill in for various reasons, something that really bothered me at the beginning as it really affected my social life. However, with time I understood why I had to be called in and I, in turn, helped set up measures to avoid calling in nursing assistants who were off duty. It was as simple as having two or three standby nursing assistants!
Q10: Would you employ someone with as little experience as you have?
Insight: The employer knows you do not have as much experience as they would like. They are trying to make you explain to them why they should take you despite your little experience. Try to play it safe by stating that you understand the value of experience but that what you do not have in terms of experience you will make up for in some other way.
A10: From where you sit, I understand the value you place on experience. Someone with experience will easily fit in and will not require as much hand-holding as someone without enough experience as I. Having said that, we all start off from the same base. After training, we are all inexperienced. Someone has to take a chance on us for us to gain the experience. I am asking you to take a chance on me. Yes, I may not have all the experience you deem fit for an ideal candidate for this position. But for what I lack for in terms of experience, I make up for in industry. I am a committed young man, who is flexible. I am good at keeping time and I always ensure my tasks are completed in time. Most of all, I keep my word.
Q11: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Insight: No company wants to take on an employee who will quickly jump ship at the slightest whiff. The idea is to reassure the employer that your future plans involve them. Also, you need to show some ambition. Every employer likes the sound of an employee who is willing to grow and better their skills.
A11: I intend to learn a lot from your professional medical team. Five years from now I will be pursuing a nursing degree with a wealth of experience on my back. Some time down the road, I would like to work at this very facility as a licensed practical nurse.
Applying for the Job
Q12: Why do you want to work as a CNA?
Insight: No one wants to employ a CNA who is not passionate about people. Nursing demands loads of empathy and passion is almost always the go-to source. As much as you express how passionate you are about people, do not forget to add a personal touch otherwise it feels like a blanket answer you fetched off the internet. Stories always help.
A12: When I got to university, my mother fell ill. I had to take care of her as all my other siblings were out of the country and though it was tough I really enjoyed the experience and the journey. She is back on her feet now. The mere fact that being a CNA allows me to help more people in the same way I was able to help my mother is simply amazing.
Q13: What motivates you?
Insight: The key here is to draw as much attention to your positive attributes as possible. You want the employer to know why you wanted to become a CNA, to begin with, and further, what makes you different from any other CNA around. Personalize your response as much as possible to give it sufficient traction and make it memorable.
A13: I am passionate about helping people. I am a good listener and quite empathetic and these two marry together with my passion for people. I am motivated by my innate desire to help people.
Q14: What challenges did you face in your previous CNA job and how did you overcome it?
Insight: Every job has challenges and the employer is aware of this. The key here is to be as honest as possible and smart about what you choose to say. Go with a challenge that you actually experienced and one which you were able to successfully deal with.
A14: Once I was taking care of a client who was stubborn. He did not want help moving around or eating though he was not able to move or eat on his own. It was really frustrating as I knew I was there to help him yet he did not want me to do my work. Over time I figured he was somewhat rejecting me because I did not wear colors he liked. My uniform back then was sky blue and the old man hated blue. When I switched to white he happily let me help him with his daily activities. In essence, learning as much as possible about a patient under my care puts me in the best position to be successful in my work.
Q15: What will you do if a patient under your care falls?
Insight: The temptation is to go on the defensive and say that the patient will not fall as you are always careful. Much as you may be right, accidents happen all the time. What the interviewer is looking out for here are your crisis management skills. Explain to the panel how you would manage the crisis as you were taught during your course and you will be good to go.
A15: In the unfortunate event that a patient under my care falls, I will quickly rush to their aid and assess the situation. If it is critical, the first step is to call for an ambulance then give first aid before the paramedics arrive. If the situation is not as critical, I would still try and assess to confirm there are no wounds, bruises or cuts. Afterward, I would give painkillers to help with the pain and massage or ice any swollen areas to stop them from getting worse.
Q16: What will you do if your patient gets so agitated that they refuse your care?
Insight: In truth, there are moments when patients will refuse to be helped. So the first step here is to acknowledge that it can happen then proceed to explain steps you would take to counter the same.
A16: In truth, it does happen. Patients or clients under our care do not always have good days. I will be patient and try to discern the reason why the patient is refusing my care. Everyone does something for a reason and though the temptation for some would be to give up on the patient or request a transfer, I will be as persistent as possible in my quest to establish the reason for the rejection. Once I find out why let’s say the patient prefers a lady nursing assistant or the patient is shy because I am new to them, I will take steps to address the matter.
Q17: What will you do if your supervisor asks you to do something you are uncomfortable with?
Insight: People from different backgrounds have different triggers and who knows, maybe someday in your new job your supervisor might just step on your toes by asking you to do something you think is absurd. Acknowledge that it is possible and further on mention that much as you are competent and may have opinions, you also respect authority.
A17: It is possible that this can happen. I would openly express my reservations with my supervisor in a respectful manner. I would explain to them the reason for my discomfort. That does not mean I would not do whatever I was asked to do as I respect authority and fully understand how the chain of command works.
Questions for the Panel
Often in an interview, the interviewer(s) will ask you if you have a question for them. While there is no cut and dry answer to this question, the following are good questions to ask should you decide to:
- What goals do you have for the department the position I am interviewing for is under?
- Do you have any prospects for personal development?
- What is your training policy for staff at your facility?
- Is this a new position or how did it become vacant?
- What is the most interesting thing about working at this facility?
So How to Succeed in CNA Job Interview?
But truth be told there really is no reason to be nervous. If you stop and think about it, the employer needs you just as much as you need them. With the right answers and a good attitude, you can convince just about any employer that you are the right candidate. Here are some tips to help you answer questions during a job interview.
Be Confident – If you’ve made it as far as the interview that means you’ve already completed your training and passed the licensing exam. You have the knowledge and demonstrated skill to perform your job well, so there’s no reason to doubt yourself. If you display confidence when answering questions asked of you that will go a long way toward landing you the job. Remember, you’re trying to convince them you are the best candidate.
Be Articulate – Proper diction and articulation are vital in convincing the interviewer that you are a person suitable for a CNA position. If you have trouble communicating in the interview you’ve already planted the suspicion in the interviewer’s mind that you won’t be able to successfully communicate on the job. This is serious because an inability to communicate could cause serious harm to a patient. Before your interview take a few weeks to practice speaking clearly and articulately. Ask friends and family members to critique your speech and give you helpful suggestions.
Stay Away from Slang – Slang words may be acceptable in normal day-to-day conversation, but they have no place in a job interview. When you use too much slang you give the impression that you lack intelligence, motivation, and self-respect. Whether or not it’s true, that’s impression others will have of you. Make sure you use all the proper terminology you learned in your training coupled with correct grammar and pronunciation.
Ask Yourself Questions – In the days leading up to your interview start asking yourself questions you think you might hear. In other words, if you were the interviewer what would you want to know about the applicant? If you can think of some of these questions ahead of time, you’ll be better prepared to give appropriate answers. We’ve listed below some of the more common questions you’re likely to hear during your interview. Keep in mind that this is not an all-inclusive list; there are probably some we’ve not included here that you will be asked.
Common Interview Mistakes
The interview part is probably the most critical step when trying to obtain employment in any field including working as a CNA. This is what you have worked for after taking and completing a CNA training class, passing the certified nursing assistant (CNA) certification exam, and creating a resume and cover letter. Once you get the interview from all your efforts, here are some interview mistakes to avoid so that you are a step closer to working in this field.
The interview is usually stressful for many people when searching for a job. Anything could go wrong. A CNA training class may also provide a great medium to prepare for the interview which should be helpful to you. While even acing an interview is not a guarantee that you will get the job, it is still important to perform at your best and avoid simple but common mistakes many people make in an interview that take their chances of getting the job down to zero.
1. Selling yourself short
Know what you bring to the table and what separates you from other job applicants. You need to list both your professional and personal abilities that will make you more appealing to the interviewer. This is not a time to be shy or “humble” about your abilities. You don’t need to wait for anyone to toot your horn. You need to be confident about what you bring to the table and why the company would be a fool not to hire you.
If you have great interpersonal relationship skills, highlight this. This skill is especially important for CNAs as you may have found out in a CNA training class because nursing assistants spend a lot of time working with other people whether they are patients, residents, family members or other staff members. Are you dependable, always punctual, dedicated, loyal, do you take initiative? These and more are all things you need to mention and provide examples for.
2. Failing research your employer
Most companies have an online presence so you can perform quick research on the company. What they do, who they compete with, how long they have been in business, etc.
3. Preparing thoughtful questions
The interview is not just an opportunity for the interviewer to get to know you. This is also a chance for you to get more information on whether this company would be a great fit for you so prepare some thoughtful questions before the interview. Have three or four great questions to ask the interviewer. He or she will appreciate it. Being given the chance to ask questions of the interviewer and saying you have no questions will definitely show your lack of enthusiasm and curiosity which are not qualities you want to have.
4. Failing to research the job
Get an understanding of the job description, responsibilities, and requirements and then try to draw parallels between what is required with the job and your talents, experiences, strengths and abilities. Doing this will help you to present how you match the job to the interviewer.
5. Not dressing the part
How you look is a very important part of a successful interview. As the saying goes, it is better to over dress than to under dress. Professional attire is necessary for an interview. Pay attention to details such as ensuring that your outfit is clean and properly pressed, shoes are polished, etc.
If you do not have the clothing you need, borrow from friends and family or get an interview outfit from organizations that specialize in this such as Dress for Success. Being professional also means ensuring that you conduct yourself professionally.
After going through the challenge of completing a CNA training class, preparing for and passing the certification exam, do not let yourself make simple interview mistakes that will reduce your chances of getting the job you want with the company you want to work for.
6. Failing to do a mock interview
The chances of failure are greater when you simply try to win the interview. Practice makes perfect. Practice will certainly help you overcome some of the nervousness and stress associated with an interview.
Have a friend or family member be the interviewer and compile a list of questions you think may be asked during the interview and practice your responses to the questions until you feel comfortable and natural in your delivery.
You can also use a tape recorder, mirror, etc., to help you rehearse for the interview. A CNA training class will also be a great way to prepare for the interview by getting together with one or two other students and helping each other brush up on your interviewing skills.
7. Failing to be yourself
While the interview process may be somewhat nerve racking and stressful, do not do yourself a disservice by not being yourself. Be honest and don’t pretend to understand questions when you do not. This is why a mock interview with your friends and family or fellow students in a CNA training class are so important to get you to feel more comfortable.
Remember that an interview is not just about you being in the hot seat. The company will also be in the hot seat in terms of using this opportunity to find out whether they are a good fit for you. You will be using this interview to find out more about the company, so try to relax. The interview is an exchange and a true exchange occurs when you are not trying to portray yourself as something that you are not.
8. Not being a good listener
Try to focus on the question being asked and not trying to anticipate the next question or your response to that question. Relax and let the Q and A flow naturally. Don’t get lost in your own thoughts especially when technical aspects of the job are being discussed or other work related subjects especially those not covered in a CNA training class are brought up by the interviewer.
Employers will most certainly be looking for your ability to retain the information given and use this information throughout the interview. If you bring up something they may have said earlier in the interview, the interviewer will be impressed.
9. Failing to provide enough details
When responding to technical questions, case questions or solving other technical problems, try to take the time to “talk through” you’re thinking. Interviewers will be very interested to see how your mind works as you try to solve a problem much more so than in the actual answer that you give.
10. Not being enthusiastic
Enthusiasm is catching and most people like being around such a person because they always seem to have such energy. Use a firm handshake that is neither too strong nor too weak. Maintain comfortable eye contact (no staring!). Greet the interviewer with a smile. Do not be afraid to display your confidence and your passion for the job and the company.
The mistakes covered in part 1 and part 2 will certainly help you be more prepared for the interview. Also, do not forget to use a CNA training class and the other students in the class to better prepare for the interview so that you are less stressed and nervous. Preparation is the best way to ace an interview and get the job.