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Why this matters:

Certified nursing assistants, like all other healthcare professionals, are trained to respect patient privacy and dignity, starting with the very first interaction. The ideal candidate will be courteous upon entering a patient’s room for the first time and introducing themself, laying the foundation for a positive, trusting relationship from Day 1.

What to listen for:

  • Mention that the candidate knocks and awaits a response before entering a room
  • Indication that the candidate has empathy and respect for all patients
  • Signs of friendly, professional bedside manner 

Why this matters:

Transferring patients with limited mobility is a core responsibility of a certified nursing assistant’s job, but both the patient and nurse can be seriously hurt if the nurse doesn’t use proper technique. This question tests the candidate’s basic technical knowledge and whether they’re prepared to provide safe, quality care.

What to listen for:

  • Explanation of proper transferring technique, which includes keeping the patient’s head, torso, and feet in line
  • Acknowledgement of tools that can aid the process, such as walkers, lifts, and sliding boards
  • Mention of bending at the knees and hips to avoid back strain

Why this matters:

It’s important that certified nursing assistants know proper protocol for dealing with medical emergencies, especially during shifts with limited staff. The candidate should never attempt to perform any type of procedure or treatment beyond what they’re qualified and trained to do. Instead, they should immediately call for backup.

What to listen for:

  • Instinct to call for help as their first response
  • Acknowledgement of the limits to care and treatment they can provide
  • Mention of specific actions they can take depending on the emergency, like performing the Heimlich maneuver if someone is choking

Why this matters:

Most nurses will encounter this difficult scenario at some point in their career. Patients have the legal right to refuse treatment, leaving little for the nurse to do but counsel and advise them on why taking medications is important. The manner in which the candidate handles this situation can improve or worsen matters, so it’s important they react appropriately.

What to listen for:

  • Understanding of why the patient may be reluctant to take medication 
  • Indication that the candidate will validate the patient’s concerns while counseling them on the best course of action
  • Instinct to inform the patient’s doctor of what has occurred

Why this matters:

Certified nursing assistants often spend more time with patients than any other staff member. When they notice something is awry, they have the opportunity to bring attention to it and help the patient receive treatment faster. An ideal candidate will take initiative and notify their supervisor in these situations.

What to listen for:

  • Indication that the candidate is observant and proactive
  • Confidence in one’s own intuition and ability to notice when something is wrong
  • Recognition of both the limits and importance of their role

Why this matters:

While it can be scary to encounter an aggressive patient, it’s a reality many nurses face when trying to provide care for those who are sick or injured. An ideal candidate knows how to de-escalate the situation, keep both the patient and themself safe, and gauge when it’s time to leave the room or contact other staff members.

What to listen for:

  • Awareness that body language and verbal responses can diffuse or escalate a situation
  • Signs that the candidate listened to patient concerns and provided a safe space for airing them
  • Alertness for any indications of violence

Why this matters:

All healthcare professionals work in teams to provide excellent care to patients, but certified nursing assistants in particular have to work under direct supervision of another nurse. To minimize friction on the floor, it’s important to have a candidate who can follow orders and collaborate with others, even when personalities clash from time to time.

What to listen for:

  • Willingness to follow orders and complete the tasks they’re assigned  
  • Indication that the candidate is a team player and will pitch in beyond their typical duties when needed
  • Strong interpersonal and collaboration skills

Why this matters:

With long shifts and challenging patients, nursing can take a toll on the body and mind. It’s important for the candidate to have strategies for coping with difficult situations on the job and unwinding in healthy ways afterward, because long-term stress that’s not dealt with can lead to poor job performance and negative health consequences.

What to listen for:

  • Self-care strategies, like exercise or meditation, that can help the candidate relax
  • Signs that the candidate prioritizes their physical and mental health
  • Indication that the candidate can separate work and home life

Why this matters:

While many people take jobs simply for the income, nursing is a difficult career path for those who aren’t passionate about helping others. Certified nursing assistants have to complete many tasks that are less than glamorous, as well as work long hours and deal with challenging patients. On tough days, candidates who feel intrinsically drawn to this profession are more likely to persevere.

What to listen for:

  • Genuine desire to help people and provide quality care   
  • Empathy and compassion for patients
  • Interest in pursuing additional nursing certification, indicating the candidate is invested in this career path and wants to grow their knowledge
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