So you’ve gotten your CNA certification, checked out job listings, sent out your resume, gotten some responses, and a few interviews have been scheduled. How can you maximize your chances that you’ll make a good impression? These are tips you can keep in mind when going for a CNA job interview.
Dress appropriately. This seems like a no brainer, but it can’t be overstated. Your appearance is the first view the employer will have of you, and it will stay with them as they consider whether to invite you back for a second interview. A CNA job may be fairly entry level as far as the medical profession is concerned, but that’s not a reason to show up looking entry level. Jeans, T-shirts, sneakers and the like are all out. They’re just not appropriate for this type of interview.
The best bet is to dress “business casual.” For men this would be dress slacks, dress shoes, and a button down shirt and sweater on top. A tie is optional. For women, conservative skirts or slacks and a blouse is fine.
Above all your clothes need to be clean and well ironed. Even nice clothes can work against you if they are wrinkled or badly laundered. Make sure you look generally as sharp as if you were going to a fancy party or a wedding and you’ll do fine.
Get there early. Again, fairly obvious advice, but it’s important to stress because often the anxiety of an interview leads to forgetfulness. The best way to avoid any hassles is to leave well early, even an hour earlier than you think you need to, arrive early, and wait. You never know what might happen – difficulty finding the hospital or nursing facility, accidents, flat tires, difficulty finding the interview area once you have arrived, and so on. All of these can make you late and there goes your reputation of being punctual.
Be friendly. There is no better way to turn off a potential employer than to seem combative and defensive. Emphasize friendliness. This automatically gives the interviewers the sense that you will be easy to work with, and indeed a pleasure to be around.
Be Confident. Confidence is also important. You need to give the employer the sense that you believe in your abilities. Some people feel that since they are applying for a position like a CNA, they should be self deprecating and deferential to the more “highly skilled” medical professionals they are dealing with. This is almost always the wrong approach. Consider your part of the medical team as important as any other, because it is. Taking care of patients is a team effort, and doctors, nurses, and patients would have a really tough time without your expertise, so let your attitude reflect that.
You are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you. Indeed, this is true. Many times in job interviews people lose sight of this. Institutions seeking CNA’s vary just like anything else does, and you need to evaluate their qualities just as they need to evaluate yours. Do they seem to value their employees? Do they answer your questions with friendliness and straightforwardness? Do they seem reasonable and easy to work with? What is the reputation of the hospital or other interviewing institution like? You can ask the interviewer a number of questions about their facility, the querying doesn’t need to be only going in one direction. Sometimes it helps to come up with a list of questions before hand and either memorize them or have them written on a sheet of paper that you can glance at. You can ask questions about workplace values, organizational structure, the role of the CNA as the company sees it, CAN turnover rate at the institution, workplace harassment, opportunities for advancement and education, and so on. You can even ask them why they work for the facility and why you should accept the offer of a job from them.
It even pays to do a fairly thorough internet search and find out as much as you can about the institution before arriving. This all has the added advantage of making you seem more knowledgeable and discriminating rather than someone who will just be robotic and not take initiative.
Use good question response techniques. The main point here is to be truthful while always emphasizing your positive traits and experience. Make sure you understand the question and take a moment to consider your answer before replying. Then reply in a positive way that puts you in a good light. Avoid rambling – keep your answers on the topic. There is no need to offer more information than the interviewer asks for. Keep it brief, to the point, and positive.
You can expect to be asked questions such as reasons you’re seeking a job at the facility, your length of time at the last job and the reasons it ended, why they should hire you, whether you like to work independently, whether you think you’re qualified for the position, what hours, you prefer and so on. Don’t let these questions phase you. You can almost always answer a question in a way that somehow highlights your strengths, even while talking about a reason you were terminated or couldn’t find work. It’s mainly a question of attitude.
Use good body language, shake hands and look the interviewer in the eye on arrival and departure. Give the employer a good first impression by shaking hands, making eye contact, and smiling if possible when you first meet them and when you’re standing up to leave. During the interview also look at them directly and avoid fidgeting and glancing around the room or at your feet. This all falls into the body language category and plays a well known role in making impressions that color the job selection process.
Use these tips as well as common sense and you’ll increase your chances of success in the CNA job market. They aren’t rocket science, but they are nevertheless sometimes missed. Above all remember that a positive mind set doesn’t mean just saying anything that sounds good or that you think will please the prospective employer. A good interview mind set means honesty, confidence, and discrimination. It means being secure about your own abilities, emphasizing them, and making sure job situation would be right for both you and the employer.