Now that you have completed (or are getting ready to complete) the scholastic training to be a Certified Nursing Assistant, you are ready to face your next challenge: finding steady and rewarding employment as a CNA. For some of you, this may be the most intimidating interview experience (or the only professional job interview, period) you’ve had to face up to this point. But don’t worry: if you remember to have confidence in your abilities and in the qualities that made you want to become a Certified Nursing Assistant in the first place, you will have no problem securing the next step in your career by giving a successful CNA job interview.
Conducting a great interview for any job involves a balancing act. You must present your relevant life experience along with important academic experience; you should be professional but also friendly and approachable. Below are several “do’s” and “don’ts” that will help you find the perfect balance in your CNA job interview.
Do: Talk about the personal, non-academic qualities that will make you a good CNA
While educational experience is necessary and high academic performance should certainly be mentioned in an interview, you are now entering the realm of professional life, and potential employers are just as interested in the qualities of your personality as they are in your book knowledge. When you decided to study to become a CNA, you knew that your work would involve helping people by dealing with their difficult medical situations. In your interview, you should talk about how you are uniquely suited to deal with the varied issues that arise when dealing with people. Has life experience as a single mother, an older sibling, or a parent’s caretaker given you experience in practicing patience and helping others? Then you should mention those life experiences as items that will translate into your on-the-job success.
Do: Tell relevant stories that will illustrate your skills and relax the interview environment
Part of the balancing act of giving a good interview is making the interviewers feel comfortable with you as a person while maintaining your professional tone. To that end, feel free to show your humanity and experience by telling stories from your life experience. As mentioned above, you may have familial caregiver skills that truly illustrate your readiness to practice compassionate care as a CNA. Sharing relevant details of these personal experiences will help to illustrate your people skills while putting the interviewers more at ease with you.
Do: Show a willingness to go outside the lines of the job description
In the professional world of nursing—as in the professional world in general—jobs will eventually require you to perform tasks and learn numerous skills that aren’t mentioned in the initial job description. Job descriptions are more of a bare-minimum snapshot of a position at the time employment is posted. Actual work will involve being flexible and being willing to do what it takes to get through the ever-changing demands of the profession. As a CNA, problems may arise with particularly difficult or agitated patients, or a patient’s family member may be hard to deal with. Navigating the challenges of these difficult people involves more than vital-sign measurements and going over self-care instructions. You might need to use humor or empathetic listening to help in the overall care environment of these people. During your interview, you should make sure to mention that you realize a day’s work might involve more than items listed in the job description, and you should make sure to relate your willingness to adapt accordingly.
Don’t: Show an impatience to move on to the next stage of your career
Although your ultimate professional goals might involve more than just being a Certified Nursing Assistant, during your interview you should never seem that you are already looking to the next stage of your career. You don’t want to appear as though you are looking past the current CNA job or taking it lightly. You might seek to be a Registered Nurse in several years, but at the moment, you have to prove that you are thinking about the job at hand. Some interviewers might ask “where do you see yourself in three to five years”? In response to this, it’s okay to be honest that about your ultimate goals, but make sure to mention that you see yourself as being a “more experienced health care provider” in three to five years because of the experience gained at the CNA job being discussed. Always bring conversation back to the position you are interviewing for.
Don’t: Discuss previous employment in negative terms
Even if you’ve left a previous employer because of circumstances that were less than fantastic, you should speak of such experiences in neutral-at-worst terms and use a professional tone. Don’t ever allow yourself to seem petty by discussing interpersonal details of problems you might have had with a coworker or supervisor. Instead, frame all such experiences as learning material that taught you how to handle “complex” situations, and tell your interviewer that you are looking forward to building many new, positive work experiences at the position being discussed.
You decided to become a Certified Nursing Assistant because you care about helping people. In your CNA job interview, make sure to emphasize all skills and experience—both personal and academic—that qualify you to care for people. Relax and don’t be afraid to share relevant stories that illustrate your great qualities. Stay positive and make sure the interviewer knows your current focus in on how you can do a great job at the position being discussed. Be yourself and you should have no problems landing the job.…