17 Psychiatric Nursing Assistant Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a psychiatric nursing assistant, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Psychiatric nursing assistants work with patients who have mental illness or developmental disabilities. They provide support and assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Psychiatric nursing assistants also help patients with therapy and recreation activities.

If you’re interested in becoming a psychiatric nursing assistant, you’ll need to go through an interview process. This guide will help you prepare for your interview by providing you with sample questions and answers.

Are you comfortable working with patients who have mental health issues?

Psychiatric nursing assistants often work with patients who have mental health issues. Employers ask this question to make sure you are comfortable working in this environment and that you can handle the emotional challenges of the job. In your answer, explain why you feel qualified for this role despite any personal reservations about working with mentally ill patients.

Example: “I am very comfortable working with patients who have mental health issues. I worked as a psychiatric nurse’s aide while attending school, so I’ve had plenty of experience dealing with these types of patients. I find that many of them just need someone to listen to them or help them get through their day. I’m always willing to lend an ear or provide support when needed.”

What are some of the most important skills for a psychiatric nursing assistant to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills necessary to succeed in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your strongest skills and how they relate to working as a psychiatric nursing assistant.

Example: “The most important skill for me is my ability to remain calm under pressure. Working with patients who are experiencing mental health issues can sometimes lead to challenging situations, so I feel that having a calm demeanor can help deescalate some of these situations. Another important skill is my communication skills. Psychiatric patients may not always understand what’s happening to them or why, so being able to communicate effectively with them can help them feel more comfortable.”

How would you handle a situation where a patient becomes agitated or aggressive?

Psychiatric patients can sometimes become agitated or aggressive, and the interviewer wants to know how you would respond. Your answer should show that you have experience with this situation and are able to handle it effectively.

Example: “I’ve worked in psychiatric units for several years now, so I’m used to handling situations where a patient becomes agitated or aggressive. In my last position, I had a patient who became upset when he didn’t get his medication on time. He started yelling at me and other staff members, but I remained calm and explained why we were waiting. Eventually, he calmed down and apologized.”

What is your experience with administering psychiatric medications?

Psychiatric medications are often a key component of psychiatric nursing. The interviewer may ask this question to learn about your experience with administering these types of medications and how you feel about them. If you have previous experience, describe the type of medication you administered and what it was used for. If you do not have any experience, consider describing the types of medications that you would be comfortable administering if hired.

Example: “I’ve had some experience administering psychiatric medications in my current role as a psychiatric nurse assistant. I am comfortable working with patients who take antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers and other common psychiatric medications. I understand the importance of following protocols when administering medications to ensure patient safety.”

Provide an example of how you helped a patient with their daily activities.

Psychiatric nursing assistants often help patients with their daily activities, such as bathing and dressing. Employers ask this question to learn more about your experience working in a psychiatric setting. In your answer, describe how you helped the patient complete their task and what skills or techniques you used.

Example: “At my last job, I worked with a patient who had schizophrenia. One of my responsibilities was helping him get dressed each morning. He would sometimes become anxious when I tried to dress him, so I learned some calming techniques that helped me work through his anxiety. For example, I would tell him exactly what I was doing while I did it. This helped him feel more comfortable and relaxed. It also made our time together more productive.”

If a patient refuses to eat, how would you handle the situation?

Psychiatric patients may refuse to eat for a variety of reasons. The interviewer wants to know how you would handle this situation and ensure the patient’s health remains intact. In your answer, explain that you would first try to understand why the patient is refusing food. You would then use different methods to encourage them to eat.

Example: “I would ask the patient what their reasoning was for not eating. If they are in pain or feeling nauseous, I would offer them an alternative meal. If they still refused, I would continue to check on them regularly to make sure they were okay. I would also speak with the doctor about any concerns.”

What would you do if you noticed another psychiatric nursing assistant was not following protocol?

This question can help interviewers determine how you would handle a colleague who is not following the rules or procedures of the facility. In your answer, try to show that you value teamwork and are willing to speak up when necessary.

Example: “If I noticed another psychiatric nursing assistant was not following protocol, I would first approach them in private to discuss my concerns. If they were still not following procedure after our conversation, I would report it to my supervisor so they could address the issue. I believe that everyone should be held accountable for their actions, so I would want to make sure the other psychiatric nursing assistant understood why what they were doing was wrong.”

How well do you follow directions?

Psychiatric nursing assistants must be able to follow the directions of their supervisors. Employers ask this question to make sure you can do so effectively. In your answer, explain that you are a highly organized person who is capable of keeping track of many tasks at once. Explain that you will always make sure you understand any instructions before beginning work.

Example: “I am very organized and detail-oriented when it comes to my work. I have always been able to keep up with multiple tasks at once. When I start working on something, I always make sure I fully understand what I’m supposed to do. If there’s ever anything I don’t understand, I would definitely speak up about it.”

Do you have experience working with patients who have physical disabilities?

Psychiatric nursing assistants often work with patients who have physical disabilities. Employers ask this question to make sure you are comfortable working with people of all abilities. In your answer, explain how you would adapt to a patient’s needs and ensure they receive the best care possible.

Example: “I worked in a hospital setting for three years before moving into psychiatric nursing. During that time, I assisted many patients with physical disabilities. Some were paraplegic while others had amputated limbs. I learned how to assist these patients without causing them any further pain or discomfort. I also developed techniques to help them communicate their needs more effectively. These skills helped me become an excellent psychiatric nurse assistant.”

When is it appropriate to seek outside help for a patient?

Psychiatric nursing assistants often work with patients who are experiencing a variety of mental health issues. Employers ask this question to make sure you know when it’s appropriate to seek help from your supervisor or other medical professionals. In your answer, explain that you would only refer a patient for additional care if they’re exhibiting dangerous behavior or if their condition is worsening.

Example: “I have worked with many patients who were struggling with depression and anxiety. I’ve learned that these conditions can be managed with the right treatment plan. However, if a patient starts showing signs of self-harm or suicidal ideation, I would immediately call my supervisor so they could assess the situation. If a patient’s symptoms continue to worsen despite our best efforts, I would also contact my supervisor.”

We want to ensure our patients feel comfortable talking about their feelings. How would you encourage a patient to open up to you?

Psychiatric nursing assistants often need to encourage patients to open up about their feelings and experiences. This question helps employers understand how you can help patients feel comfortable in the workplace. Use your answer to highlight your interpersonal skills and ability to connect with others.

Example: “I find that a patient is more likely to open up when they feel safe. I try to create an environment where patients know they can talk openly without judgment. I also make sure to listen carefully to what they have to say, rather than just waiting for my turn to speak. When someone feels like you’re actively listening to them, it makes them more willing to share.”

Describe your process for documenting each patient interaction.

This question is an opportunity to show your interviewer that you are organized and detail-oriented. When answering this question, describe the steps you take when documenting patient interactions in a clear and concise way.

Example: “I start by writing down my observations of the patient’s mood, behavior and overall condition. I then document any instructions or information from doctors or other medical professionals. Finally, I write down what I did for each patient interaction, including administering medications, conducting physical assessments and communicating with family members.”

What makes you stand out from other psychiatric nursing assistants?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your personality and how you can contribute to their team. When answering, think of a skill or quality that makes you unique from other candidates. You could also talk about any certifications you have.

Example: “I am passionate about helping others, which is why I became a psychiatric nursing assistant in the first place. In my last role, I was able to help patients feel more comfortable by talking with them and making sure they had everything they needed. I also have experience working as a psychiatric nurse aide for two years, which helped me develop skills like communication and organization.”

Which psychiatric disorders do you have the most experience working with?

This question can help the interviewer determine your level of experience and how much you know about psychiatric nursing. When answering this question, it can be beneficial to list a few disorders that you have worked with in the past and explain why they are important to you or what you learned from them.

Example: “I’ve had the most experience working with depression and anxiety disorders. I find these two disorders to be very interesting because there are so many different ways to treat them. In my last position, I was able to work with patients who were experiencing both depression and anxiety at the same time. This helped me learn more about treating each disorder individually as well as together.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of psychiatric nursing?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to assess your knowledge of psychiatric nursing and how you prioritize tasks. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention specific skills or qualities that are important in psychiatric nursing assistants.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of psychiatric nursing is compassion. Psychiatric patients often have unique needs and require compassionate care from their nurses. I also believe empathy is an important skill for psychiatric nursing because it allows me to better understand my patients’ feelings and respond appropriately.”

How often do you perform physical exercises with patients?

Psychiatric nursing assistants often need to perform physical exercises with patients. This question helps employers understand how much you might be able to lift and move during the workday. In your answer, explain what types of exercises you have performed in previous roles.

Example: “I’ve never worked as a psychiatric nursing assistant before, but I did work as a personal trainer for two years. During that time, I helped clients develop exercise routines and taught them proper techniques for performing various exercises. I also assisted my clients when they needed help lifting weights or moving around.”

There is a shortage of psychiatric nursing assistants in the area. Would you be willing to work extra hours or on weekends to fill open positions?

This question is a great way for employers to learn about your availability and willingness to work overtime. When answering this question, it can be beneficial to mention that you are available on weekends or evenings if needed.

Example: “I am currently open to working extra hours or on the weekend as needed. I understand that there may be times when an employer needs more staff members than usual, so I would be happy to fill in any open positions.”


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