Just got your CNA license and an interview – next steps?
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide essential patient care. You’ve completed your education and passed your CNA exam. It’s time to find your dream job! But before that, you need to ace the interview.
This CNA interview guide will answer all your questions about how to succeed in your next interview, including:
- What are some common interview questions?
- What are some unusual questions?
- What are questions to ask your interviewer?
- What are some other steps for interview prep?
We have the expert insight you need to prepare for your CNA interview with confidence. This guide will discuss the most common interview questions, the best ways to answer them, and how to impress your interviewer.
What are some common interview questions?
Most interviews cover the same ground. Knowing this gives you an advantage because you can practice and prepare beforehand.
These are some of the most common questions asked during CNA interviews:
Can you tell me about yourself? (How can you sell yourself?)
Most interviews begin with a variation on this question. Keep your answer focused on who you are, your background, and why you are interested in this particular job.
I used to work in hospitality. One day, I volunteered for our company’s blood drive, and a patient passed out after giving blood. I helped the nurses care for her. Afterward, I couldn’t stop thinking about how wonderful it felt to help someone on a personal level. I decided to become a CNA so I could spend my career directly helping patients every day.
This answer covers your previous experience, volunteer work, and motivation to become a CNA. It also demonstrates that you have a genuine desire to help people, which is a core component of working as a CNA.
Why did you decide to become a CNA?
Most healthcare organizations are looking for CNAs who genuinely care about their patients. Use this opportunity to show how you will provide compassionate, patient-focused care.
I volunteered in the special education classroom during high school, and I fell in love with the kids. These children had very complex health needs, and I was surprised to realize that I was very comfortable working with kids who had feeding tubes, ostomies, or mobility issues. I loved supporting the kids and working with the rest of the rehabilitation teams, like physical therapy and occupational therapy. I decided to become a CNA because I think providing compassionate care is the foundation for patient recovery.
This is an outstanding answer for so many reasons. First, it provides an example of your previous volunteer work and demonstrates that you have experience working with patients who have complex needs. Second, it shows your personal values and dedication to patient care. Finally, this answer mentions working with other members of the healthcare team, which is an essential element of good CNA care.
Do you have any certifications or specialties?
If you’re early in your career, it’s okay if you don’t have any specific certifications to share. Use this question as an opportunity to talk about the kinds of patients you love to work with or to discuss your long-term career goals.
I am certified in Basic Life Support. In the future, I plan to become a Registered Nurse, and I hope to work for an organization where I can learn and grow as my career advances.
This answer gives the hiring manager a transparent view of your long-term career goals. It also highlights that you’re looking to grow your career within one organization. This is valuable because it makes you look like an excellent long-term investment.
How do you handle stressful situations?
CNAs have a lot of responsibility and often handle large patient assignments. Use this question to demonstrate that you understand how to prioritize your tasks and when to ask for help. Share an example from your clinical experience to give a concrete example when possible.
I was a CNA in a busy emergency room in my previous job. I made sure I collected and documented patient vitals every hour, so my nurse always had up-to-date information. If a patient needed help going to the bathroom or changing clothes, I used that as an opportunity to make sure they had everything else they needed so they would be settled for a little while. That allowed me to focus on my other patients with fewer interruptions.
This answer demonstrates that you understand how to cluster care to maximize efficiency. It also shows that you had a good working relationship with the nurses on the floor, which is an essential CNA skill.
How do you like working with a team?
CNAs work closely with many members of the healthcare team. It’s important to show the interviewer that you work well with others and communicate effectively.
It’s really important to me that I have a strong relationship with the nurses on my unit. For example, once I was helping a nurse assess a new patient on the floor, and something seemed off with their vital signs. I took a manual heart rate reading instead of relying on the monitor, and I noticed their pulse seemed irregular. I alerted the nurse right away, and we worked together to double-check his vitals, take an ECG, and alert the doctor to a possible arrhythmia. She was a new grad nurse, and later she told me how much she appreciated my help.
This answer does double-duty. First, it shows that you know how to work as part of a team. Second, it demonstrates your critical thinking skills and ability to respond effectively in a stressful situation.
How do you handle problematic patients?
As a CNA, you help patients during vulnerable moments. Show the interviewer that you can handle challenging situations with compassion and sensitivity.
I helped take care of my grandmother after she had a stroke. It was challenging at times, especially when she became disoriented. When I work with patients now, I just try to remember my grandmother. Every patient is important to someone, and I try to treat each patient the same way I’d treat my own family member: with patience, understanding, and respect.
This is a fantastic answer because it demonstrates that you genuinely care for your patients. Other important elements include setting firm but respectful boundaries and asking for help when you need it.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
CNAs are often the start of someone’s nursing career. Your interviewer wants to know your goals and where you want to take your career. Show him or her your ambitions and dreams. Don’t be afraid to stretch it longer and reveal your long-term plans too.
In five years, I want to graduate with my BSN, pass the NCLEX, and get placed in a Labor and Delivery unit. I’ve read how special those moments are when a baby first enters this world. I’ve seen it in my family with when my younger siblings came home from the hospital. I want to observe firsthand and take part it in that process.
What are some unusual questions?
Hiring managers may ask you a few surprise questions. The key to answering them with confidence is to highlight the positive side of a tricky situation.
What did you learn? What positive qualities did you demonstrate? Good keywords to consider for these types of questions include:
- Patient safety
How do you deal with cultural differences?
CNAs work with patients from many cultural and religious backgrounds. It’s important to show hiring managers that you will treat all patients with respect and sensitivity.
My family speaks Portuguese as their first language, and I often went to doctor appointments to translate for my parents, so I have personal experience navigating cultural differences in healthcare. As a CNA, I always check the patient’s chart for their language and religious preferences before my shift starts. And I make sure to ask all my patients for permission before I help them bathe or dress since it’s such a personal situation.
This answer shows you respect all of your patients, regardless of their background. It also helps the interviewer appreciate your personal experience with healthcare and how that makes you an even better CNA.
How do you handle your emotions at work?
CNAs work with patients under difficult circumstances. Hiring managers want to ensure you have the coping skills to handle challenging situations.
I tend to get really attached to my patients who are in long-term care, so it’s hard when we lose someone. Even if I’m feeling sad, I know I have to be professional in order to take care of my other patients. If I’ve had a hard day, I like to go to the gym after work to get some endorphins going, and sometimes I’ll reach out to my mom to talk things over. She was a nurse for 20 years, so she really understands.
This is a fantastic answer. It demonstrates you genuinely care about your patients and know how to stay professional during difficult circumstances. It also shows your coping skills, which are important to avoid burnout.
How do you deal with a supervisor that asks you to do something you’re not comfortable with?
Patient safety is the #1 priority for any CNA. Hiring managers want to know you will be confident enough to ask for help when you need it.
I would never perform a task that I’m not qualified to do. If a supervisor asks me to do something I’m uncomfortable with, I would ask for clarification or resources to better understand the task. If I’m still unsure, I would talk to my nurse or another experienced CNA on the floor for guidance, and if necessary, I would speak to the charge nurse or nursing supervisor.
This answer shows that you prioritize patient safety and know how to access resources in the appropriate hierarchy when necessary.
What are questions to ask your interviewer?
It’s a great idea to ask a few questions of your own at the end of the interview.
The interview is your chance to see if the position is a good fit for your needs. Use this opportunity to make sure you would enjoy working within this organization.
Here are some great questions to ask your interviewer:
- What is your leadership style?
- What is the unit culture like?
- Are there opportunities for educational and professional growth?
- Where can I find more information about the policies and procedures for the unit?
- Are there any unit-based organizations that I can join?
- How do you support unit morale?
- How do you and your leadership help incentivize the staff to do their best work during these challenging times?
- What expectations do you and other leadership have for the staff here?
Expert advice from nurses like you
What are some other steps for interview prep?
It’s important to make a good first impression during your interview. These tips will help you put your best foot forward.
Dress for success
Show the interviewer that you are serious about the position by wearing neat, clean, and professional clothing. Avoid heavy make-up. Be sure to brush your teeth before the interview so there’s no risk of bad breath. And go easy on any perfume or cologne.
Know exactly how to get to the interview
It can be helpful to do a “dry run” before the actual interview date. Make sure you know exactly how to get to the office, where to park, and how to find the hiring manager’s office. Arrive with their contact information so you can call if you get lost.
Get there early
Aim to arrive 20-30 minutes early in case of traffic or problems with parking. That way, you won’t arrive feeling flustered. Use the extra time to review your notes, get a drink of water, or use the bathroom.
Research the hiring manager
It’s important to understand the hiring manager’s role and job title. Are you meeting with the nursing supervisor for the unit or someone from HR?
Study the job description
Read the description carefully and, when possible, incorporate keywords from the job description into your answers. Are they looking for a team player with excellent time management skills? Or perhaps they prioritize a dedicated and compassionate CNA who wants to help patients thrive? Tailor your responses to include these phrases.
Bring a copy of your resume
Show the interviewer how prepared you are by bringing several copies of your resume. This can also help you remember previous experiences that you want to discuss in more detail during the interview.
Research the mission and vision of the company
It’s a good idea to research the company’s mission statement and corporate vision. These are usually easy to find on the company website. Review these statements to make sure they align with your own values and be sure to talk about them in your interview.
Job interviews don’t have to be scary. With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to ace your next CNA interview.
All you have to do is create a profile, and one of our experts will reach out to find out more about how we can help you find a great position that meets your professional goals.