How to Interview a CNA

Get interviewees to open up to you and you'll learn enough to make a wise decision.

Get interviewees to open up to you and you'll learn enough to make a wise decision.

When you have an opening for a CNA, you may or may not get a big response from your advertising. It’s one of those jobs in the health-care arena that’s in really big demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for nurses’ aides could grow by as much as 20 percent through 2020. So, while you may need a warm body to fill your slots, you still can use effective interview techniques to find the best candidates so you don’t have to settle for just anyone with a certification.

Prepare for the interview by making a list of the qualities and characteristics you most value at your facility. Of course, you need the CNA to be listed on your state registry, but maybe you also want someone who really enjoys working with the elderly or someone who is a great team player. Design questions to bring out those qualities.

Frame your questions in such a way that encourages the prospect to talk about herself. “Tell me about yourself” is an effective opening question that can give you a glimpse into the kind of person sitting in front of you. If she just repeats her resume in response to your question, probe a little more with questions like “What did you like most about your training?” and “What makes you think you’ll be good at this job?”

Ask candidates why they want to work at your place. You’ll soon learn if the candidate is just looking for anything she can get or if she is truly interested in your facility, programs and style of care. If she’s done research to learn about you and your facility, she may be a CNA truly looking for a career and not just another job.

Create open-ended questions that require the candidate to tell you a story. Ask for details about the last time she knew she was going to be late for work or how she handled a conflict with a coworker at her last job.

Items you will need

  • List of questions


  • Cultivate contacts in colleges and training centers that provide CNA instruction. With an effective referral system in place, you can cut the time it takes to do interviews and maybe even reduce your turnover if you hire CNAs that come to you with glowing recommendations.


  • Don’t ask illegal questions such as “Do you have any children?” “How old are you?” or “What religion do you practice?” The candidate may go ahead and answer the question, but you leave yourself open to a discrimination lawsuit, especially if you don’t hire the person and she files a complaint or lawsuit.

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About the Author

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."

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