As a certified nursing assistant (CNA), you’re a caregiver who’s passionate about serving others. You can perform well in high-stress situations, and your critical thinking and skills can sometimes help patients narrowly avoid negative outcomes.
At times, your chosen career path asks you to do the impossible — but landing your next job shouldn’t be one of those impossible things. If you’re a CNA preparing to find a new job opportunity in the field, here are some of the most commonly asked questions to prepare for your future job interview. If you haven’t quite found the right job to apply for yet, check our current job openings here. You’ll definitely be ready for our interview!
1. Briefly Describe What You Understand the Duties of a CNA to Be
The first step before even going to the interview is to review the job description. It should give you a list of responsibilities and requirements for the particular role. Once you’re familiar with what the employer is asking, then you can draw parallels between what the employer wants and your talents and experiences.
In most CNA positions, you’ll find many of the same basic responsibilities. These will normally focus on providing patients with direct care and help with activities of daily living, such as dressing, changing, bathing, and eating. A CNA is typically the first line of defense and charged with keeping patients safe, clean, and comfortable.
How comfortable are you with these duties? What experiences have prepared you to provide the best care possible to your patients?
Each facility will be slightly different, so reviewing the job description will help you tailor your answer to the type of facility you’ll be working in. For example, an extended care facility will have slightly different duties and patient demographics than an intensive care floor.
2. Are You Interested in Pursuing Education to Become an LPN or RN?
Often a career as a CNA leads to the desire to pursue an advanced nursing degree. Working as a CNA gives many of us our first taste of working in the medical field. You might gain inspiration to continue that career path and get a more in-depth understanding of the medical world.
It’s okay to share this desire with your interviewer. It shows your dedication to the field and a willingness to learn. If you have solid plans on taking your career and education to the next level, you want to consider how it’ll impact the jobs you’re currently applying for and vice versa.
Employers want to know if it’s worth it to hire you and put in the effort to orient and train you for the job, or if you’re planning on leaving after only a few months. If possible, you can include a working timeline in your answer to this type of question to give the employer an idea for your future plans and reassure them that you’re a safe hire.
3. Tell Me About the Various Stages of a Pressure Sore
Many times, CNAs have more direct contact time with a patient than doctors or nurses. For this reason, you might be the first to notice the signs of various complications. Be prepared for a question that checks your knowledge of some of the most common issues you might encounter — it might not be pressure sores — and refresh your memory of the basics of bedside care.
If you don’t know the answer, be honest and don’t guess. Be genuine with your response and explain your desire to learn. Interviewers understand that experience levels vary — your honest response will go a long way.
4. Are You a Team Player?
A certified nursing assistant reports to the nurse who will often delegate tasks as needed. Additionally, you’ll be working alongside other nursing assistants, and depending on where you work, you’ll have to regularly coordinate care with other staff to provide the best patient care. You are a part of a health care team, and an effective team works together.
Employers want to know how well you can function in such a team-oriented environment. Are you able to easily and quickly follow orders? Do you take instructions eagerly? Can you follow a chain of command?
Teamwork is necessary between all parties. It includes nurses, patients, doctors, and other health care professionals involved in the patients’ care, so you’ll need to maintain effective communication to encourage positive patient outcomes. Your boss or supervisor may ask you to care for a patient that isn’t yours or complete tasks that are not necessarily in your usual realm of responsibility. The mindset of teamwork will benefit your career as a CNA more than anything else.
5. What Are Your Strengths?
Use this as a chance to let the employer know your best qualities. Don’t shy away from being honest; however, strive to remain humble. Do you excel at prioritizing tasks? Are you reliable when it comes to performing duties well and showing up on time to shifts?
If you’re relatively new to the field, then think about similar examples in previous jobs or school that illustrate a strength that can be applied to CNA work. Select at least one of those shared strengths and offer a brief narration of how it has specifically helped you.
When asked to list your strengths, your interviewer is seeking more information than a list of your skills. Consider mentioning your ability to collaborate, that you’re a natural leader, and that you’re organized. As you list these, explain how they help you complete your duties as a CNA.
6. What Coping Strategies Have You Used with Difficult Patients?
Dealing with difficult patients might be a daily occurrence for a CNA. As an employee, how does that impact your day? Will struggling with a challenging patient change your care for others?
Share a time when you’ve dealt with a difficult patient in the past — what did you do to help them cope?
7. Are There Any Duties You Are Not Willing to Perform?
With this type of question, the interviewer is merely vetting your willingness to complete tasks that are not always pleasant. As a CNA, you provide direct care to patients, and sometimes, those duties require you to perform tasks that aren’t always glamorous. The job can be emotionally and physically demanding.
Can you perform excellent care despite the simplicity or complexity of the request? Answer this question with energy and confirmation that you are down for the challenge.
8. What Unique Skills Can You Bring to this Position?
You can bet that there will be others interviewing for this position that have similar work experience and skills to yours. What can you share that will make you stand out?
Now would be an appropriate time to remind your interviewer of some of the skills you’ve learned recently or perhaps a unique training that would benefit your team. Note your desire to share your expertise with others.
If this happens to be an interview for your first job, be sure to mention your dedication to growth and eagerness to learn all that you can by doing and observing.
9. Why Do You Want to Work Here?
Hopefully, you’ve done your homework on the facility. If not, before you even go into the interview, do a bit of research on the organization’s website. What is their mission statement? If they have a blog or social media, what are the current happenings within the organization?
If you know current employees, reach out and ask a few general questions. What do they enjoy about their work culture? How can you benefit the mission of the organization?
10. How Would You Handle a Patient Who Refuses Care?
Sometimes, patients will refuse care. Their reasons vary. Try answering this question with a detailed example of a time when you’ve successfully cared for a patient who refused care. Did you show patience? Were you empathic to the needs of the patient? Did you take the time to learn and address any concerns that might have led them to refuse the care?
Strive to share specific ways that you handled the situation. For example, let’s say you noticed that an elderly patient was aggressively acting out due to her loneliness. At the end of your shift, you decided to leave her a card with an encouraging note and pictures your children drew to brighten her mood.
11. How Well Do You Manage Stress and Practice Self-Care?
Being a caregiver is a stressful job. It’s difficult on your mind, body, and emotions. If you’re always stressed, then that can affect your attention, your mood, and your work.
Employers ask this question to see what you do to prevent burnout, which can affect the quality and safety of patient care that you give as well as affect your ability to show up and do your job. What daily habits help you manage stress?
If you are in the situation to do so, mention the importance of staying healthy. Your daily activity level, water intake, healthy eating habits, etc. are all factors in your ability to manage high-stress, face-paced environments.
12. Why Did You Leave Your Last Place of Employment?
This type of question will usually appear in a couple different ways depending on your resume. If your resume shows you’re currently unemployed, then you can expect this question or something very similar. If you’re still employed somewhere else, the interviewer might instead ask why you’re looking for a new job.
Some people cringe when asked this question; however, you can prepare for this. While the topic might be uncomfortable or sensitive, it’s a question you should expect.
Keep your answer brief and focused on the future. What is something great about your previous place of employment? What lessons or skills did you gain?
Be honest, but don’t talk poorly of your previous place of employment, especially management. Perhaps you left because you were looking for a new position that would give you the option for better job growth, or maybe you left because scheduling recently changed and no longer works for you.
13. What Is the Most Rewarding Part of Being a CNA?
The interviewer is seeking to establish your connection and dedication to nursing with this question. Is it just a job to you? Do you thrive on the opportunity to provide care to others? Can you connect and show compassion to those in your care? Are you motivated by the chance to aid other health care professionals and patients as they navigate the healing process?
Take this opportunity to show that being a CNA is more than earning a paycheck. If you have an experience that illustrates the joy nursing brings to you, share it!
14. How Do You Prioritize Which Patient to Attend to First When Managing Several Patients?
The interviewer is seeking to get insight into several skills by asking this question. Are you organized? Can you manage a heavy workload? How much do you understand and know about patient health and your duties? Are you able to prioritize successfully?
To answer this question effectively, you’ll want to focus your answer on time management and safety as well as incorporate what you know and understand about patient health. Additionally, remember that your duties are not just a list of errands — you are working with real people who have real medical concerns.
15. Do You Have Any Questions for Us?
Honestly, you should always have questions to ask the interviewer. It shows that not only are you sincerely interested in the position and the company, but you’re a critical thinker and willing to learn.
Consider asking about the job orientation process or opportunities for professional growth. Keep money out of the equation. The interviewer might touch on this throughout the meeting, but if not, refrain from asking. You can always ask in a second interview or if offered the job.
Many interviewers will tell you the next steps in the hiring process, but if not, this is a perfect time to ask for a brief description of what might happen next. Most of the time, interviewers will be able to give you a rough idea of when you can expect to hear back on a decision.
Ready for Your Interview?
Be sure to show up to your interview early, dress professionally, and bring copies of your resume. If providing references, include individuals who can attest to both your work ethic and temperament. First impressions are nearly impossible to reverse, so you’ll want to make a good one.
Do your best to speak clearly and confidently. If you lack experience or work history, that’s okay. Strive to win the interviewers over with your enthusiasm, humility, and commitment to the career choice. Identify skills that you’ve used and developed in other areas of your life and use those experiences and examples to show how those talents and skills can benefit you in the new position.
While you search for that perfect CNA job opportunity, you can start picking up shifts in your area to get more experience to strengthen your resume and your interview skills. Sign up for the Clipboard Health app today and get started working as a healthcare professional at facilities in your area!