Last updated on June 3rd, 2020 at 04:14 pm

The number of nursing homes is growing, and the population is getting older. We live longer, true, but we are obese and sick, and many people can’t take care of themselves once they reach 70 years of age.

This sad demographic trend results in a higher demand for nursing assistants, and I can’t see the things changing in the next twenty years or so.

Luckily it takes only a few months to get a certification of a CNA, and you can start doing this job within a month, finding a meaningful purpose in your work.

But before it can happen, you need to succeed in a job interview, and make a good impression on the hiring managers.

What questions will they ask you? How should you answer them? And how to win them over?

We will try to answer on the following lines.


Show enthusiasm and the right attitude

Since it is so easy to get a certification nowadays (in some countries the course can be completed within a month, and even done distantly), being certified does not guarantee anything in an interview.

It is your enthusiasm for the job, your attitude to various work-related situations (which you will have a chance to demonstrate with your answers to behavioral questions), your personality, and your willingness to accept the conditions (think night sifts, working on weekends, 24 hours on, 24 off, etc) that decide whether they hire you, or send you home.

Do you really want this job? Or do you apply just because you could not find anything better? Interviewers will always have the question on their mind…


Doctor helping the patientBehavioral and situational questions

We can certainly consider some duties of a CNA difficult. Helping seniors with their personal hygiene, changing diapers, dealing with angry patients and the unlucky people who suffer from dementia or other mental problems is not easy, even for seasoned professionals.

The interviewers will ask you a couple of questions, trying to understand your attitude to these, and to other situations. This helps them to assess your readiness for the job (and for everything that belongs to it). Some questions they may ask you:

  • How do you feel about seeing someone dying in front of your eyes? (Death is an integral part of life. It can’t be avoided. Though you should always stay compassionate, you should not let the experience of seeing someone dying to affect you negatively in job.)
  • Are there any duties you are not willing to perform? (Of course you may refuse something, but if it is on the list of duties on the job description, and you refuse to do it–e.g. bathing the male patients, they may not hire you.)
  • How do you feel about working late in the night? Do you have any experience with night shifts? (Try to ensure them that you do not struggle with working in the night, that you are accustomed to it, and understand that night shifts belong to the job.)
  • Do you have any experience with Alzheimer disease? How does it feel to work with people suffering from the disease? (Show some compassion for the people. Try to ensure the interviewers that you understand the medical condition, and know how to work with patients who suffer from it.)
  • Tell me about a time you had an argument with a patient. (Do not blame the patient for the argument. Explain clearly what happened, how you addressed the conflict, and why you addressed it in that way.)
  • How do you want to cope with a routine of this job? (Turn their question upside down. Tell them that you are actually looking forward to the job, that you understand the importance it holds. Ensure them that your motivation will carry you through the difficult moments.)


Special Tip: Download a full list of questions in a one page long .PDF, and practice your answers before the start of your interview:

Your answers should show them that you are ready to take care for all your duties, that you understand that they belong to the job of a CNA, and that we can not avoid them.


Other questions – testing your personality and availability

They will ask you some other questions  while trying to understand your motivation, why you applied for the job with them, when can you start working, etc.

  • Why do you want to work here, and not somewhere else? (Do your homework. Research about their facility, and find something you can compliment–the rooms, the garden, the activities they organize for their clients, the facilities on board, etc.)
  • What are your salary expectations? (Check the average salary for certified nursing assistants in your country. The numbers are typically public, and available online. Stress that the salary is not the deciding factor for you.
  • How would you describe a great colleague? (Team player, responsible, friendly, qualified to do their job. But you can also say that you focus mostly on yourself–on being the best possible worker and colleague, since that is what you can control. We can not change our colleagues, but we can certainly change ourselves…)
  • What are your expectations on the administrators of this place? (Similarly to the previous questions, you should show that you focus mostly on your own job, and duties. But you can say that you expect an open communication, feedback on your work, and fair approach to all employees.)
  • Why should we hire you and not one of the other job candidates?
  • Do you have any questions? (You should ask at least something. A good question shows that you want to learn more, that you are interested in their facility and things they do. Job interview should be a dialogue. Anytime you consider it appropriate, ask them a question.)



Job interview for a CNA position does not belong to the most difficult interviews. On the top of that, you won’t compete with many other job seekers, unless you apply for a position in a private institution with great reputation (and one that pays better than average).

Nonetheless, you still have to make a good impression on your interviewers, and convince them of your readiness for the job. If you are not sure how to do that, or if you experience anxiety, have a look at our Interview Success Package.

Brilliant answers to thirty most common interview questions (many questions for the CNA job applicants) and an easy-to-follow guide on how to win the hearts of your interviewers will surely help you to relax, and to deliver your very best on the big day. Thank you!

Matthew Chulaw
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