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Applying for a Job as a CNA

Applying for any job, C.N.A. nurse aide or nurse assistant requires the same level of professionalism in your appearance and actions. We will cover the basics of how to land a job in this competitive market. Even though healthcare jobs such as nurse aides and C.N.A. jobs are more abundant there is still competition.


You need to look organized and have all necessary papers and documents you may need for the interview. You need to put your documents in a folder or case. You can go to a thrift store and usually find a bag that holds a laptop computer. This kind of bag is a nice size to hold your file of documents. This makes you look more organized and professional. Being a nurse aide requires organizational skills. Looking well organized in your interview will be a plus.

Fill out a generic application form and you will then have most of the necessary information you will need for each application you will be asked to fill out. You can print out an employment application on the internet. It does not have to be an application for a C.N.A. job. The application can be from anywhere, it is just a template for you to fill in all your pertinent information and make it easier to fill in future applications.

Have with you your SS card, driver’s license or ID card and your nurse aide state license. Before you leave to apply for a job double check to be sure you have ALL your paperwork, documents and IDs. If you don’t you will look unprepared and that leaves a bad impression.

Have copies of any certifications you may have obtained such as: continuing education classes you have completed, your C.N.A. license and/or a CPR or First Aid card. Never give anyone your original certifications. Most employers will want to see the originals and then take copies for their file on you.

Be sure to have a pen and pencil ready to use and a pad of paper to write down any important information you may be given. Some information you will want to remember in order to make your decision as to whether you want to work for this company. Also it gives the impression to the interviewer that you truly are interested in the job.


An employer often makes a decision about employing you in the first few seconds of the interview. Your overall appearance says a lot about who you are. As a nurse aide or C.N.A. your appearance and demeanor will be important because you are working with people.

How are you dressed, do you have piercings, and tattoos, are you wearing jewelry? It is important to dress on the conservative side when you go to an interview. For woman, a plain skirt and simple one color blouse will not send a negative message. Or a pant suit if you would rather wear pants instead of a dress or skirt. Just think plain and simple. No wild patterns or loud colors. For men, dress pants and a white shirt and tie. Wear a suit if you are going for a more advanced position. If you are applying for a nurse aide or C.N.A. position don’t wear scrubs. Wearing jeans and T-shirts says, “I don’t care about anything”. Take out any piercings that can be seen. If you wear jewelry make it simple and small. No huge hoop or dangle earrings, huge rings on every finger or masses of bracelets on your arms. All these things send a message that you are more about the “party” than work.

How are you groomed: hair, makeup, fingernails? For woman, tie long hair back. You hair should be clean with a simple style, nice and neat. Makeup should be light, not heavy eye colors or strong bright cheek colors. You want to look professional, not like you are on a date. If you are applying for a nurse aide job please cut your nails, or take off any long fake nails. Long nails give the impression that you never do any manual labor.

How are you talking, is there something in your mouth (gum, candy), how is your grammar? What comes out of your mouth is as important as how you look. Never have anything in your mouth when you speak to someone, (such as gum) it makes you appear sloppy. Don’t use double negatives such as: I don’t have no more time. If you tend to speak this way, work on changing it. Speaking this way makes you appear uneducated and it can keep you from obtaining higher paying jobs.

What is your handshake like, does it send the right message? Practice shaking people’s hands. Ask them what impression they get from your handshake such as: weak, aggressive, timid, or confident. Obviously you want to appear confident. Confident is not the same as aggressive.
A handshake should be your hand going straight into the other persons hand and grasping it firmly (not squeezing it so tight you hurt them and not squeezing it so lightly they hardly feel it). Your handshake is part of your first impression package. A weak, sloppy or over aggressive handshake causes the interviewer to put a one word label on you that will be hard to shake off.
As a nurse aide you need to show you have confidence in yourself.

Are you making good eye contact, introducing yourself and letting the interviewer know how much you appreciate them taking the time to speak to you? Practice your introduction. If you can, find someone, friend or family member, to pretend to be the interviewer. Knock on the door, enter the room and begin your practiced introduction such as: “How do you do Mr. Jones, I am Sue Smith, it is so nice to meet you.” Look them in the eye while you speak and shake their hand. Wait for them to direct you to a chair. Let them direct the conversation. Smile, pay attention to what they are saying and look “happy to be there”.

Body language. How you hold your body says many things about you. If you slouch and shuffle your feet when you walk the interviewer will think, lazy or slow or unmotivated, etc. You must enter the interviewers office standing straight and moving like you have some energy. Sit up straight, no slumping in the chair. Whether you are applying for a C.N.A. job or any job, body language speaks volumes about you.

Are you on time for your interview? Being late will quickly kill your chances of getting the job. That gives such a bad impression and that is very hard to overcome. Always leave extra early for any appointment. Sitting in your car waiting for your appointment time is better than being late. If you do get caught in an unforeseen situation, bad traffic jam, flat tire, etc. make every effort to call your interviewer to let them know the situation and how soon you think it will be before you can arrive. This phone call will make all the difference as to whether the interviewer will meet you with the impression that you are responsible and considerate of other people’s time or not. Remember, as a nurse aide, good time management is an asset your interviewer is looking for.


There are many questions that will be asked by the interviewer and you. You may want to rehearse or practice interviewing before you go on your C.N.A. interview.

Complement the company, find something positive to say about the other employees or location or building. If this is a nurse aide position you could say: “Your residents look very happy, I can’t wait to meet them.” This is such a beautiful facility, I would love to work here.”

Be prepared for questions about yourself such as: “What is one of your best qualities?” “What is one of your weaknesses?” “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Have answers ready to these questions and make the answers as positive as possible.

When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions DO NOT ASK; “When do I get my breaks?” or “Where can I smoke?” or “What kind of vacation time do I get?” or “What kind of benefits do I get?” Of course these are questions you will want to have answers to but if you start with these questions the interviewer will think you sure don’t have working as a nurse aide on your mind. If you are interested in a nurse aide position you could ask: “What floor (or wing) would I be working on?” “ I love helping out with activities, will I have that opportunity?” Ask positive questions and have some excitement in your voice as if you can’t wait to begin.

Be sure to get a business card from the interviewer so that you have their name, phone number and address


When the interview is over your work is just beginning

If there is any information or documentation that you need to provide the interviewer be sure to get it to them ASAP. The faster you respond to your interviewer’s request the better impression you make. What you are demonstrating is that you are motivated, organized and that you are a “doer” and not just a “talker” (in other words, you get things done). Again, the interviewer is looking for a C.N.A. that is organized and motivated.

Send a letter to your interviewer the same day as your interview and thank them for their time and let them know how much you would enjoy being a part of their company. You can usually find examples of post interview letters on line. Keep it simple, most people don’t have time to read a long letter from anyone while they are at work.

If you have not heard back from your interviewer after 2 or 3 days from the time you sent your letter it is time to give them a call.
If necessary, write out the statement you want to give to the interviewer such as: “ Hello, this is John Doe, I interviewed with you for the nurse aide position last Monday the 24th and I just wanted to touch base with you and see if there is any other paper work or information that you needed from me. I am very interested in working for your company. I appreciate your time and I hope to hear from you again.”

Getting a job is like a running a marathon. You don’t stop until you get a job. Every day you fill out applications, make a phone call or write a letter. If you don’t quit you will cross the finish line, guaranteed.

There are places in every community that have programs or classes to help you prepare yourself for a job, a C.N.A. job or any other kind of job. Get the phone book and look for any community outreach facility and CALL THEM. If they are not the right people to help they may know who is. CALL, CALL, and CALL, ask questions, or for advice or direction. Sooner or latter you will find that one person that is a gold mine of information to get you started in the right direction.

CNA State Agencies