Nurses, Caregivers and CNAs: Boost Your Confidence for Your Interview

For any recent grads in nursing, CNA programs or like studies, you’ve accomplished something significant by completing your education and training. Now, it’s time to apply for positions and prepare for the interviews.

The great news is that you are—and will always be—in demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the growth of these fields is greater than the average for all occupations, and is expected to increase by another 11% between now and 2026.

Whether this is your first job or a career change, you’ll want to put your best foot forward to apply, interview, and secure the position you want. It’s understandable that you might feel nervous 

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about the job hunt, but if you prepare in advance, you’ll feel be confident and stand out as a good candidate. 

In this post we’ll share key tips to note for online job applications, how to prepare for your job interview, and how to follow up once you meet with a prospective employer. And don’t forget—Home Health Companions is hiring, too!

Prep for online application processes

Job seekers and employers are online these days with a number of portals used to communicate. Often, human resource departments use these services like Indeed and Glassdoor to help them quickly select the most qualified candidates for their needs.

You can check out a list of job services over at the The Balance Careers article featuring the top 10 and determine which platform you like best as a job hunter. Ideally, start with one or two and become familiar with how to craft and load your resume before applying for several positions in their system. 

No matter the platform, you’ll start by writing or loading your general resume. This should include dates and descriptions of prior jobs, as well as a list or description of the skills you used in that role. You can also include a separate list of general or specific skills you acquired in training and your education. Use this information to create specific resumes for each application you complete based on the description of a position provided by the employer (selecting or reworking your skills to reflect the skills asked for in the job description). 

Along with your resume, you might be asked to include a list of up to three references. Prepare your list in advance by asking permission from your sources and collecting their preferred email addresses and phone numbers. References can be your instructors, supervisors, managers and co-workers from your past jobs, and even people you know through volunteer activities.

Use your descriptive words! Human Resource staff use online job search tools to help them target applicants who are the best fit for a position. By using popular keywords (which you can glean from existing job posts), these online portals help HR departments discover you.

In addition to job search websites, you can also look for positions for specific business and facilities where you may want to work. Perhaps your training took place in a particular hospital or nursing home that has their own human resources department. Be sure to check out these locations for the jobs they post on their website.

Consider the type of care you would like to do, then search for opportunities in your area that match your interest. Perhaps you would like to work for an in-home service such as Home Health Companions, so check out the websites of employers for open positions as well. Word-of-mouth from your instructor and classmates can also alert you to job opportunities as well, so let others know you are seeking a job.

Stand out with a cover letter. Many applicants fail to write a cover letter to include with their resume submissions. This is your chance to, once again, use key words and your specific message as to why you believe you’re a good candidate for each job. Write a standard cover letter and then modify it for the specific application. Be sure to personalize it to the primary contact person for the position as advertised with details. 

The biggest hurdle for most job seekers is overcoming the reality that seeking a job is a process of marketing one’s self. Consider this activity a chance to explore and find your best opportunity, and be honest and strategic when describing the skills and training you’ve accumulated to this point. Don’t be shy, and don’t sell yourself short!

Prepare for the interview

Once you’ve got an interview scheduled, it’s time to do a bit of preparation homework. Be sure to ask your scheduler what you should expect for the interview. Take a look at the facility’s website, too, and familiarize yourself with their mission and who they serve.

If you know someone else who works for that employer, ask them about their experience. Many of the online job searches also provide feedback from employees as well.

It’s understandable that you might be nervous as you prepare for your interview, but remember: it’s an opportunity for both you and the employer to explore what’s possible. Employers seek people who will represent their mission in a positive manner, and you want to do work that is suited to your skills and interests so you can enjoy it and get paid!

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On the day of an interview, arrive a few minutes early so you feel comfortable in the space. Bring a copy of your resume and any other documentation that details your training. Dress in professional-but-comfortable clothing that helps you feel and look your best.

Each employer is looking to see what you know, what you’re willing to learn, and why you want to work for them. They will ask you questions to get to learn about you and your work ethic. They are trying to determine if you are reliable and can be trained for what you don’t know, so be candid about areas of weakness and demonstrate examples of your ability to be learn.

An internet search will bring up a number of articles and videos featuring the types of questions you might be asked during an interview. Over at CNA Classes Near You, they offer a concise look at some common questions you’ll want to consider as you prepare in advance. Take some time to practice your answers, but realize that the questions will vary and your comments should be specific and authentic to whatever is asked. Take a few moments during the interview to reflect on the questions, and make your answers specific to the position.

At the close of the interview, be sure to ask at least one question about their facility and the importance of the position in helping them serve their clients. You might also ask about their 

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management philosophy, the rate of turnover, or educational opportunities. Do ask about next steps in the interview process, too, such as a possible second interview or a skill demonstration, and get the interviewer’s email address.

A brief “thank you.” An overlooked finish to an interview is the follow-up of a thank you. Send a brief email thanking the interviewer for his or her time and take the chance to state your genuine interest in the position.

Your career is your ticket to bigger things

You’ve made it to the point that you’re working or ready to work in the field. Your skills and knowledge are in demand. Remember: your work is a reflection of your belief that you have values and skills that merit attention and income.

Whether being a nurse, caregiver or CNA is your stepping-off point to other roles in the healthcare field or the position you plan to do for some time, you want a work-life balance that suits you and makes you feel that your efforts matter. A confident beginning with an employer can set the stage to a satisfying experience in your work, and help you advance your career into the future.