As a Certified Nursing Assistant, you should be prepared for some industry-specific questions

Now that you've finished your certification program and can officially call yourself a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), it's time to get a job. Of course, one of the main steps in securing a position in your chosen field is to successfully complete an interview. 

Obviously, you now know how to attend to the needs of patients and you are passionate about improving the lives of others. How do you relay that to a hiring manager who has just waded through hundreds of resumes to choose you for an interview?

In this article, we'll dive into 14 CNA interview questions and show you how to answer them, so that you can fully prepare for your CNA interview.

Regular everyday interview questions

The main goal of any interview is for the hiring manager to get to know you, learn about your background, and find out what you retained from any high-level education. Interviewers also want to know if you're a good fit for both the team and the patients that the company services. 

Here are some common interview questions that you can expect to hear:

Tell me about yourself. Talk about when your CNA life began, how long you've been a CNA, and one major thing you've discovered since you began your career. Move on to discuss the ways in which your knowledge of the career will help you to move forward to new successes within the new company.

Why should we hire you? Compare your strengths, skills, and knowledge with what you read in the job description. Toss in some soft skills, things like being a quick learner and how well you work with others, including patients, managers, and colleagues.

Why do you want to be a CNA? Was there an event that caused you to choose taking care of others as your profession? If so, then talk about it here. Let them know that your passion stemmed from some personal experience and that motivates you to learn everything you can to be the best CNA possible. 

What is your greatest strength? This is your time to shine. Discuss something you know how to do with both eyes closed. Mention how that will benefit the new company, because it's one less thing they'll have to train you on. 

What is your greatest weakness? Choose a real weakness, something that you've overcome in the past. Talk about how you discovered the weakness, what you did to correct it, and how the changes have positively affected your career. 

How do you handle stress or pressure? Everyone handles pressure differently. The interviewer wants to know if you're the kind of person who freezes up or the kind that compartmentalizes. Be honest here. Discuss how you don't let the emotional response to stress cause you to be less productive. Talk about how you'd set goals and work your way through any problem that would arise to cause stress or pressure.

Tell me about a time when you tried to complete something but failed. This isn't a trick question. The hiring manager wants to know if you let failure beat you down or if you recognize it as a learning opportunity. Use the STAR method to answer these types of behavioral interview questions.

CNA interview questions to prepare for

Now that the recruiter or hiring manager has a better understanding of you, it'll be time to enter the main part of the interview. You'll start to hear nursing assistant interview questions that are specifically related to how you handle patients and whether you understand the duties which will be assigned. 

To determine if you're qualified for a CNA position, these are some of the background, knowledge, and skills questions you might hear:

  1. How much experience do you have as a CNA?

  2. Is there one area of being a nursing assistant that you consider your specialty?

  3. What do you enjoy most about being a CNA?

  4. How do you handle difficult patients?

  5. Do you work well with the patient's family?

  6. How do you resolve miscommunication errors?

  7. What tasks, if any, are you unwilling to perform?

  8. Do you have any aspirations towards furthering your nursing career, perhaps to become a registered nurse?

CNA interview questions and answers

Don't forget to relay your passion for the role while you talk about the everyday things that you know how to do. You may be able to walk a patient through the activities of daily living, but the hiring manager will want to know that you enjoy doing so. Some of the CNA questions they ask provide you with an opportunity to acknowledge how tough a profession it is, while at the same time giving details on how you overcome problems. 

How much experience do you have as a CNA?

“I have almost 5 years of experience as a CNA. Before I finished my degree, I also volunteered at the local nursing home to help elderly patients through things like taking showers and brushing their teeth. I look forward to expanding my knowledge and demonstrating my passion for patient care as a member of your team.”

You can probably get away with saying something simple like, “I have 5 years of experience.” However, expanding on your response gives the interviewer a greater insight into your experience and allows you to bring it back around to working with their team.

Is there one area of being a nursing assistant that you consider your specialty?

“I'm really good at keeping up with regulations and legislative changes that impact patient care. It allows me to be on the cutting edge of delivering the best care available. On top of that, I stay abreast of industry changes. For example, if there's a new device on the market that makes something easier for one of my patients, I know about it quickly. So, my specialty is not with a specific duty, it's an overall understanding of patient care. Whatever it takes to make my patients' lives better.”

This is a real think-outside-the-box response and will not be what the interviewer is expecting. It shows that you go above and beyond to really provide the best for your patients. 

What do you enjoy most about being a CNA?

“No two clients are alike, everyone has different needs. I couldn't see myself sitting behind a desk all day. That would get boring. I love that I'm able to help people in their time of need and I really enjoy the diversity.”

Diversity and inclusion have become hot topics in today's society and workplace. Not only do employers want to know that you'll fit in with their team, but it's also great to be able to show them that you can handle diverse patients and changing job requirements. 

How do you handle difficult patients?

“There is only one way to handle a difficult patient - that is with calmness, understanding, and resolve. In taking the time to find out why the patient is being difficult, I've found that the problem doesn't always lie in the fact that they don't want to do a particular thing. Sometimes, it's simply the method. Once I learn what's truly making them feel like they have to be difficult, we can work together to find a compromise. This allows me to build trust and the patients become less and less difficult over time because of that trusting relationship.”

This is a great response because it describes how you not only take the time to listen to the patients, but you prioritize building a trusting relationship. It demonstrates your ability to de-escalate a situation. 

Do you work well with the patient's family?

“The patient's family is often well-intended, but they lack an understanding of the exact care required for the patient. I put myself in their shoes “What if that was my dad who needed help?” In doing this, I'm able to answer their questions from a place of empathy and compassion.”

When the CNA is out of the room or home, it's often the family that steps in to assume patient care. Being able to relay information about patient wellness and safety is crucial to ensuring proper care. By indicating to the recruiter that you know how to answer their questions, you set yourself apart as someone who puts patients in a place to experience better outcomes. 

How do you resolve miscommunication errors?

“That's a great question, because miscommunication can come from anywhere - care providers, family members, managers, or even the patient. I have a knack for building genuine connections with people that allow me to not only understand what I'm being told but to read body language, too. A lot of times, reading body language has allowed me to catch a potential miscommunication before it even happens because the nonverbal cues don't match what is being said.”

Obviously, you can't always stop miscommunication in its tracks, but this response tells the hiring manager that you know what it looks like. This answer extolls your advanced communication skills by focusing on verbal and nonverbal cues. 

What tasks, if any, are you unwilling to perform?

“I haven't hit any tasks that I was unable to complete. It is true that some of what we do as CNAs isn't always the most desirable thing in the world, but our patients need help. I'm sure there is something out there that will need doing that I won't like; however, I believe in my ability to push through those difficult moments for the benefit of my patient.”

If you can't stand cleaning out bedpans, now is not the time to mention it. Remember, you're trying to show what you bring to the table that will help the new company and its patients. Maintain your stance on providing excellent care no matter the task, and they will see that you can overcome anything put in front of you.

Do you have any aspirations towards furthering your nursing career, perhaps to become a Registered Nurse?

“Because I love taking care of people so much, I have considered moving along the nursing career path to becoming a Licensed Nurse Practitioner. It seems like the next logical step in caring for patients. At this moment, it plays out as more of a what-if scenario than an actual plan, but I'm not closing the door on the idea.”

This is similar to the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question. Your response to this question lets the hiring manager know that you aren't living day to day. That you have goals, aspirations, and dreams. If you're planning a move to further your nursing career, perhaps they have a place for you or can expand their own operations. 

CNA interview questions to ask the employer

When you get to the end of your interview, you will undoubtedly be asked whether you have questions. The correct response to this is never, “No.” You should always have a list of questions prepared to ask the hiring manager. Asking the interviewer questions turns a session of 20 questions into an actual conversation. 

By preparing to respond to these interview questions before you step into the hiring manager's office, you'll be much more confident and come across as someone who really knows their stuff. While preparation is key, researching possible questions for your CNA interview is only one step to being fully ready. 

Now you know how to answer those CNA interview questions, but if you feel like you need more support and direction, why not reach out to TopInterview's Career Coaches to get more help with interview prep. 

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