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Common Interview Questions for CNA Positions and How to Answer Them

A CNA (certified nursing assistant) is a person who has received certification to help patients under the close supervision of a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse. After completing an approved training course and passing the competency exam, you will want to begin preparations for the job interview.

You can expect standard as well as industry-specific questions from the interviewer; the interviewer judges whether you have the right knowledge and nursing skills by asking questions about your program, weaknesses, strengths, experience with previous employers, and future goals. Listed below are a few questions which you may come across in an interview.

1. Why have you chosen nursing assistant as a career?

The interviewer wants to know how determined you are to work in this field and whether you have a clear picture of all the challenges that are associated with the job. Tell them about the qualities and skills you have that will help you perform well in the job.

2. Tell us more about yourself.

Many interviewees make the mistake of giving a chronological history of their studies and work when the interviewer asks them to discuss their biographical information. Instead of this, you should focus more on your strengths and how they will affect your role as a nursing assistant. Your aim, at this point, is to paint a positive picture of yourself by highlighting a few flattering qualities.

3. What challenges have you faced as a CNA and how did you overcome them?

The interviewer wants to determine how you deal with various challenges associated with the job. Tell them about any obstacles you have successfully handled as a CNA.

4. What would you do if a patient fell?

Patients (especially the elderly) do fall down, and as a nursing assistant, it is your responsibility to help them and assess the situation to determine whether to call for help.

5. What would you do if a patient was agitated and refused care?

The interviewer is trying to determine how you handle stressful situations. Asking for help from a stranger can be very difficult for many people, and so patients may sometimes resist help and become uncooperative. In such a case, the nursing assistant has to be persuasive and remain calm. Tell the interviewer about a similar past experience, and how you used cajoling methods to help your patient.

6. What motivates you?

When discussing what motivates you, choose answers that allow you to draw attention to your positive qualities, but ensure that they are genuine. If you are sincere, this will often come across to the interviewer.

7. What would you do if your superior asks you to do a task that is uncomfortable for you to perform?

Being a nursing assistant, you have to follow the orders of your superiors as quickly as possible in emergency situations, and there isn’t time to second-guess them. The interviewer wants to know that you always put the wellbeing of the patient first, but that you also have a strong moral compass.

8. What would you do if you notice a superior or a colleague is not doing his/her job properly?

The day-to-day duties of a CNA are often demanding and emotionally draining. This may sometimes lead people to shirk their duties or even become abusive toward their charges. As a nursing assistant, your first priority is the patient. Therefore, if you notice anything wrong, you first have to find out if any harm was done to the patient and then act accordingly. The interviewer needs to know whether you have the patient’s interests at heart.

9. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The “strengths and weaknesses” question is a tricky question, as you need to go beyond the information they already have from your resume. You also need to take great care when presenting negative qualities. Your aim, when answering this question, is to put a positive twist on a negative point, but your answer must not be banal.

Answer by giving the interviewer an example of a past experience where you learned how to overcome your weaknesses. This question, in particular, is important to consider before entering an interview.

10. Where do you see yourself five years down the line?

The interviewer will try to determine how serious you are about working for their organization, but you should not answer by saying something like ‘at your position/designation.’ Your aim is to show them how motivated you are, so show them how enthusiastic you are about your prospective duties, and explain why you think that their company is the perfect place to hone your skills.

11. Why do you want to leave your current job/Why did you leave your last job?

Do not badmouth your previous employer. Instead, say something like, “I have learned a lot from my previous job, and am now looking for a more challenging job that will enable me to use my knowledge and experience to help patients.”

12. What are your salary expectations?

This is a very tricky question to navigate, and unfortunately, it’s usually best to avoid directly answering this question for as long as possible.

Therefore, instead of saying, “I was paid $40,000 in my previous job and so I expect something close to $45,000,” say something like, “Your business seems highly competitive in its industry, and therefore I feel confident that we can come to an agreement on a salary that reflects my skills and experience.” Compliment their business practices while demonstrating that you expect to be paid fairly without sounding backhanded.

13. What would you do if a dementia patient told you that he or she can see something in their room, which is actually not there?

The best answer to this would be, “I would go along with what the patient is saying. If the patient is disturbed I would calm them down and then I would speak to my supervisor.”

14. Did you undertake any program in a specialized field?

If you received any specialized training in your previous job, this would be the right time to mention it, as CNAs can specialize in different areas, such as palliative care, in-patient services, or accident and emergency response.

15. Why should I recruit you for this position?

The best way to answer this question is to recapitulate your qualifications and experience. Do not forget to mention what makes you different from the competition.

16. How will you keep yourself emotionally stable while dealing with patients?

When you spend time with people, you tend to get emotionally attached to them, which is fine until you part ways. A good answer would be: “During my training program and/or previous jobs I learned to use my professionalism as an emotional barrier, while still maintaining a high standard of care.”

17. What would you do if you are done with all your tasks, but have a few minutes to spare before completing your shift?

Demonstrate that you are self-motivated and know how to stay busy. The following is an example of a good answer: “I’ll review the files of the patients so as to refresh their treatment plans in my mind. This will also help me explain the things to the nurse aide who is going to resume the duty for the next shift.”

18. Tell me about the moment when you were most satisfied with your job.

While answering this question you must keep in mind that you are here to prove that you are the right person for this job. Therefore, grab this opportunity and share with them your interests and enthusiasm about your work.

19. What are the two things that you like and dislike about being a CNA?

While answering this question, pay more attention to the positive aspects of the job and even when you mention the negative ones, do it in a positive manner. For example, you could say that the negative aspects of the work are still valuable learning experiences for you.

20. Why do you want to work with our organization?

Research the company before the interview. Many candidates would answer by saying something like, “It’s always been my dream to work for your organization.” Although there is nothing wrong with the answer, it sounds cliché and frankly untrue. You should say something more like, “Your organization has a good reputation and I would feel proud to be part of a team that aims to help others.” It may also be helpful to mention what you think sets the company apart from other businesses in the industry.

These are just a few samples of questions you may encounter during an interview. Remain truthful and use common sense to answer all the questions put forward. Remember you must demonstrate that you have a passion and desire to help others. You must also always present yourself in a professional manner. You need to dress properly, arrive on time, and answer the questions confidently.