As a certified nurse’s aide, or CNA, you’ll be expected to build relationships with your patients and help them with a wide range of daily living activities. During the interview for a job, the recruiter will want to know how well you get along with the type of people you’ll be serving. Your skills are important too, so bring both your friendly, compassionate personality and supreme confidence in your technical abilities to ace the interview.
Most importantly, you’ve got to have your name on your state’s medical registry to work as a CNA. That will happen once you complete your training, pass the state exam and register. Allow the interviewer to verify your credentials by bringing a copy of your registration. You have to register every two years to keep your certification current, so make sure that’s done if you’ve been a CNA for a while and you're applying for new positions.
Many of the questions you’ll get in the CNA interview are similar to questions you’ve had in other job interviews. You’ll be asked questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” “How well do you perform under pressure?” and “What are your weaknesses?” Prepare ahead of time and gear your answers toward the job. Talk about how you’ve always been a caretaker and get great satisfaction out of helping people and how you work really well under pressure. Give examples that support your claims. For example, tell a story about how there were six customers pressuring you for service at once at your last gig and how you got them all under control by dealing calmly with their requests one by one.
You can expect to run into a wide range of stressful situations once you start working. A patient may go into respiratory distress while you’re giving her a bath or not respond when you try to wake her. While your nursing supervisor is giving you instructions for the day, three resident buzzers may be going off all at once. To that end, interviewers want to see how you respond under pressure and may put you through what’s called the “stress interview.” She might throw a bunch of questions at you in quick succession, interrupt you repeatedly or make jokes about your answers. This is done in an effort to watch how you react, so keep your cool. Take deep breaths and show her how you keep your composure no matter what’s thrown at you.
Prepare to ask questions at the end of the interview; when the interviewer asks if you have any questions, they aren't just being polite, but gauging your interest in the job and commitment to your career. Show off your interest and knowledge of the company by asking a specific question based on your research, such as what changes the new president of the hospital has instituted. Or tell the recruiter you noticed the nursing home recently upgraded its Alzheimer’s unit and you were wondering if other expansions were in the works. Ask the interviewer to give you a brief “day in the life” overview of the position or ask about growth opportunities with the company because you really want a job where you can grow with the organization. Don't ask about pay, time off or benefits, but focus on the reasons why you're right for the position.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."