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CNA interviewing for a full time job

NextStep Guide: Preparing for Your Interview

September 13, 2021

Let’s face it, job interviews can feel intimidating. But, with some simple preparation and planning you can make a great first impression and set yourself up for interview success! 

Do your homework

Know what job you’re interviewing for. You should know ahead of time the position’s hourly wage and shift. If you find either of these unacceptable, let us know beforehand and we’ll try to negotiate better terms or provide you with an alternative employer. Otherwise, the interview can end up being a waste of time for everyone involved.

Have questions ready. Employers will typically ask if you have any questions before the end of the interview. You’ll always want to ask something, since having questions shows you are interested in the position — which is essential to a potential employer. Here are a few examples (but feel free to make up your own):

  • How would you describe the work culture here?
  • What do CNAs like best about working here?
  • What do you think CNAs find most challenging about working here?
  • What would you consider your ideal candidate?

Tell your story. Be prepared to share why you want to work as a CNA (for example, you love helping people, you have family or friends in health care, you had a formative experience with an ailing loved one, etc.). This is a great opportunity to show what motivates you and why you’re uniquely qualified to fill this position.

Before you leave the house

Review your transportation and route options, preferably the night before.

Dress appropriately. You want to present yourself as a professional, so avoid wearing anything too casual, such as T-shirts, shorts or overly revealing clothing.

Be available for contact. Make sure your phone is charged, the ringer is on, and voicemail is ready to receive messages. This is in case the employer needs to contact you last-minute.

If you have an emergency (e.g., car won’t start, bus is late, sickness), call the employer as soon as possible (don’t wait!) and let them know you may need to reschedule.


When you get there

Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early. This helps you avoid any last-minute surprises, get the lay of the land, visit the restroom, and make any final grooming or clothing adjustments. If you have an online interview, test your technology beforehand

Avoid distractions. Turn off your phone’s ringer and put it where it won’t be visible. Discard any gum, candy or other food before the meeting begins. Don’t wear any strong cologne or perfume.


At the interview

Show enthusiasm for the company and the job. For an employer, there’s nothing like meeting someone who has a positive attitude and seems genuinely interested in this potential new workplace.

Let it be known how much you want to work there. Before you leave, be sure to let the employer know how eager you are to be chosen. It may make the difference between you and a less eager candidate.

Behave professionally. Make regular eye contact, smile when appropriate, try not to fidget or squirm, use a firm handshake.


Questions you may be asked

  • Why do you want to be a CNA?
  • How do you handle difficult patients?
  • What should you do when entering a patient’s room for the first time?
  • What is a CNA responsible for?
  • Are there any duties you are not willing to perform?
  • If you were managing several patients and things got busy, how would you decide who to attend to first?
  • Are you thinking about pursuing education to become an LPN or RN?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

Think about these questions (and others) in advance and, if you’re not sure how to answer them, consult with your mentor and ask if you can practice answering them.


Things you’ll want to avoid saying

  • "I'm only going to stay in this job for 90 days." Employers want someone who can make a commitment that lasts more than a few months. Not only does it make sense for them to hire an employee they can depend on, but hiring someone new is both time-consuming and costly.
  • "Sorry I'm so late!" Don’t be late — it’s that simple!
  • "My last employer was a jerk." No prospective employer wants to hear you badmouth your former boss. Not only does it show a lack of restraint, it will leave them wondering how you’ll one day talk about them.
  • "When will we be finished with this interview?" Any kind of impatience or displeasure with the interview process will mark you as someone unable to handle the pressure that might come with doing your job.
  • "I can't work full time." All of our employer partners require full-time positions (32+ hours/week). 
  • "I can’t work those shifts." As in the previous item, the last thing you want to do is tell a potential employer that you can’t do the work they’re asking.
  • "I don't have any questions." See above, under “Do your homework.” Bringing your own questions — even if it’s only one or two — demonstrates your interest in the company and a desire to learn more. After all, if you’re not interested in them, why should they be interested in you?

If all that seems a lot to keep in mind, just remember: as long as you’re friendly, courteous and professional, you’re already off to a great start! 

Afterwards, you may want to send a thank-you note (or email) to show your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and interest. Then check in with your mentor to let us know how everything went.

Good luck — your future as a working CNA is almost here!


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