Are you naturally caring and compassionate? Do you want to help people who can’t help themselves and make a real difference in someone’s life?
As a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), your job will be to provide basic care to patients and assist with daily living activities, dress wounds, administer medications, and collect information from patients. You’ll work with registered nurses and other medical staff to improve the quality of life for people with short- and long-term medical conditions.
Throughout your interview, the interviewer will be looking for examples of your strengths, how you deal with and overcome challenges, and what makes you the best candidate for the position of CNA.
Read on to learn what interviewers are looking for and get some useful interview tips on how to emphasize your strengths during a CNA interview.
Table of Contents:
- Tell us about yourself.
- Why do you want to be a CNA?
- Tell us about a time when you had to do something difficult. How did you handle that, and how can that help you as a CNA?
- What are your strengths and how will they help as a CNA?
- What are your weaknesses?
- As a CNA, what do you bring to the company that sets you apart from others?
- How would you handle it if a patient refused care?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What do you do when entering a patient’s room?
- Do you have any questions about the position or company?
Share something unique about yourself that will make the interviewer want to know more about you. Portray a positive picture of yourself by providing information about accomplishments, how you’ve helped other people, how you’ve succeeded in life, and any challenges you’ve overcome:
“I come from a family of attorneys. When I was younger, I volunteered at the local shelter. People had a lot of issues, and I’d help them with almost anything they’d need. I’ve been hooked on helping people since. It’s extremely rewarding to help someone. I enjoy running and have done some 5K’s, and I volunteer with the Special Olympics.”
Read more about answering the “Tell me about yourself” interview question here.
This question allows you to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge of what the position entails and what will be expected of you. It’s important to show that you’re up for challenges and willing and able to perform the tasks proficiently with care. This is an opportunity to show the interviewer what knowledge you have about being a CNA and how your strengths will help you tackle the challenges of the role.
Here’s an example:
“When I was 18, my dad was in an accident and broke his leg. He couldn’t walk, and while my mom was at work, I took care of him. I realized that while helping the homeless was great, it was so much more satisfying to nurse people back to health. I started volunteering at a retirement home and had a lot of different experiences. I know being a CNA will be challenging, but I really believe the rewards outweigh any negatives.”
3. Tell us about a time when you had to do something difficult. How did you handle that, and how can that help you as a CNA?
Your answer will allow you to explain how you overcame a challenge and how you deal with problems. Use the STAR method to think of any challenges you faced during your time as a college student. Did you have concerns about paying for college? Was there a certain class that challenged you? An interviewer isn’t always looking for a common answer, so improvise when needed.
Try to craft something along these lines:
“I’ve always wanted to learn a second language. I started taking Spanish classes when I was in high school and wanted to continue that in college. Turns out in college, things were a lot more difficult than high school. I was struggling with the language, so the summer of my sophomore year I went to Mexico and worked at a restaurant. I learned that if you want something badly enough, you can always find a way to make it happen. I bring the same attitude to my work.”
It’s important to highlight your strengths and especially how they can help the employer. Don’t make comments about “tooting your own horn” or “not to brag” because those make the interviewer think that’s exactly what you’re doing. Tell them your strengths, but be humble about them. Focus on good organization skills, reliability, attention to detail, quick thinking skills, communication skills, a strong work ethic, and how well you get along with others:
“My main strength is my ability to communicate with people from all walks of life. By being able to communicate effectively, I am able to more clearly understand not only what patients are needing, but how I can effectively assist them. This ensures I do the right thing the first time and there are no miscommunication problems.”
This is one question that you should always have an answer ready to provide prior to the interview. It may be difficult to think of a weakness when you’re trying to focus so much on the positives. It’s important to show that you’re aware of any weaknesses you possess and that you’re actively working to improve yourself and turn those weaknesses into successes.
Try focusing on a real weakness that you can turn into a positive like this:
“I have a hard time watching people struggle with things, so I tend to help others when I see them struggling. I have to always remind myself to ask people if they need help and that gives them the opportunity to decide if they actually want my help. Taking a step back has taught me to be more patient and understanding of people.
This question allows you the chance to share more about why you believe this job is right for you and what will separate you from the other candidates. If your education allowed you to specialize in a specific type of care, share the details. Let the employer know you offer expertise that someone else may not possess like this:
“As a new graduate, my skills are the most current that you’ll find. I’ve done a lot of training on-site. I’ve trained in hospitals, residential centers, and in homes. I’ve studied a lot of psychology and have learned how to not only physically help people, but how to react to people’s mental state and read them.”
This question will allow the interviewer to see how you handle conflict. It’s important to show that you can not only handle conflict but can turn it into something positive to help both yourself and the patient. Be sure to have an answer to a possible follow-up question along the lines of, “What if that doesn’t work?”
Explain that communication is key and that you would ensure the patient understands what they’re refusing and what the consequences are for refusing. Make it clear you would use this event as a learning opportunity to help the patient understand more about what your job is and that you’re there to help them. This sample answer incorporates these themes:
“If a patient refused care, I’d find out why. I’d take the time to talk to them, to make sure they realize I’m there to help them, and that I only want what’s best for them. I’ve found that treating people with respect and dignity goes a long way in earning trust. Once they trust you, they will listen to you.”
If you comment about wanting to move up and away from the company, they will likely hesitate to hire you because they want to know that you will stay with them. Even if you stay and move up, the key is staying. It’s not usually wise to say you want the interviewer’s job as that could put them on the defensive and question whether they want to hire someone who is after their job.
If your goal is to continue your education, say so. Especially if you can mention your plan is to continue working and go to school at the same time. This will show you have aspirations and are motivated to achieve them.
Give something like this a try:
“I love working in the medical field and have no intention of leaving. I’ve considered going to nursing school, so I’m glad to hear you have a tuition reimbursement program. But, I’m really looking to be the best CNA I can be and someday move up in a company like yours.”
Read more about answering the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” interview question here.
This is a good question for the interviewer to determine if you humanize your patients and see them as more than a task. This is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you’re friendly, thoughtful, and capable. Don’t forget to tell the interviewer you’ll be smiling the whole time. A friendly face can make a huge difference:
“First, I knock to let the patient know I’m at the door. Initially, I’d introduce myself and try to find something in common with the patient so we can get to know each other. I always greet the patient and ask if they need anything, even if they aren’t capable of responding.”
If you don’t ask a question, you’ll appear uninterested in the position. This is an excellent opportunity to get more in-depth knowledge about the position. Do not ask about benefits, vacations, days off, etc. Save these discussions for once an offer is made. Instead, try a question like one of these:
“What is it you like about working for this company?”
“What do you dislike?”
“Is there a lot of turnover, and if so, why do you think that is?”
Remember, it’s important to be friendly, show you are capable, and that you’re interested in the position. Prepare yourself in advance, and your interview will prove you’re a shining star who is ready to succeed as a CNA.