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AbbVie Oncology Research Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Darby Faubion
Darby Faubion has been a Nurse and Allied Health Educator for over twenty years. She has clinical experience in several specialty areas including pediatrics, medical-surgical, critical care, and hospice.

Question 1 of 30

Many people have voiced different opinions regarding embryonic stem cell research. What is your understanding of this branch of research and do you have thoughts about why some people are opposed to this?

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AbbVie Oncology Research Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Many people have voiced different opinions regarding embryonic stem cell research. What is your understanding of this branch of research and do you have thoughts about why some people are opposed to this?

      There are various reasons that people voice opposition to stem cell research. Even if you have never worked with stem cell research, you can share your thoughts about why some people may be opposed.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I believe that the majority of people who oppose embryonic stem cell research do so because they don't have a clear understanding of what type of cells are used and the benefits that the research can accomplish. Embryonic stem cells are derived from the inner cells of human blastocysts, which occur 5-10 days after fertilization, but before implantation into the uterus. I honestly believe if those in opposition were educated to understand that embryonic stem cells are not taken from a living fetus they would be more supportive."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I believe there are many reasons that people oppose stem cell research. When the word 'embryonic' is used, the majority of the population relates this to an unborn child. If people can understand that a pregnancy has not been achieved at the time these cells are harvested and can know that cloning for reproductive purposes in human beings is not legal, they would be more open to the idea of this type of research."

  2. 2.

    The medical research industry has a diverse workforce. Have you ever worked with a diverse group of pe

      Some people are intimidated when faced with learning new cultures and beliefs, but in the healthcare industry, it is crucial to provide effective care. The interviewer wants to know that you are open to meeting and learning about new people and becoming an integral part of the team. Be positive with your response.

      "I think diversity in the healthcare industry is essential. People from all over the world now call our country their home. I believe learning about and showing an appreciation for people from different walks of life only makes us stronger as we build upon the common bond of caring for others."

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I think diversity in the healthcare industry is essential. People from all over the world now call our country their home. I believe learning about and showing an appreciation for people from different walks of life only makes us stronger as we build upon the common bond of caring for others."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "For example: "The largest diverse group I worked with was probably when I did my clinical rotation at University Medical Center. I was afforded the opportunity to meet people from different cultures, religions, and professional backgrounds. It gave me an eye-opening experience of how many wonderful people there are!"

  3. 3.

    Any time there is a work environment with groups of people, it is important to have effective relationship-building skills. What makes you a strong relationship builder?

      Assure the interviewer that you would treat everyone at Texas Children's Hospital with great respect and a positive attitude. Discuss the ways that you would build strong and healthy relationships if hired.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I have often been complimented on my relationship building skills. I like to get to know people and ask them questions about themselves. Most people love to talk about themselves, and I find it's a great and simple way to start building rapport with others. I consider myself to be a strong relationship builder and take pride in my 'people skills'. "

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I think it is important for everyone within a team to understand the importance of a strong working relationship. Understand that, I believe I would be a great ambassador of positive relationships here at AbbVie Oncology Research."

  4. 4.

    What made you choose a career in cancer research?

      Medical research is essential in finding causes and possible cures of many diseases. With the many healthcare career options available, what made you choose research?

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I have always been intrigued by medicine and wellness. When I began to try and decide on a long-term career, I felt that becoming a researcher may give me an opportunity to find ways to care for others that would last a lifetime."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "From the time I was a teenager, I knew I wanted to be involved in some type of medical research. After my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer and died, I decided that cancer research was what I wanted to do. I think that participating in an effort to find a cure is one way that I have been able to honor her memory."

  5. 5.

    Are you familiar with what nitrites are and how they affect the human body?

      The goal of research is to recognize ways to prevent or develop ways to effectively treat and cure. Those who work in cancer research support that idea that a healthy diet is one thing we all can do in an effort to maintain wellness. Nitrites are chemical additives used to preserve and add flavoring to most lunch meats, including cold cuts and hot dogs. Once in the body, they react with body chemicals and turn into cancer-causing carcinogens. Having knowledge of things like nitrites will show the interviewer your level of interest in learning and educating others. Share any knowledge you have.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I have always found it interesting how the foods we consume affect us on a cellular level. The effect that nitrites have on a body is astounding, especially knowing the amount of processed foods that so many people consume. I have participated in some continuing education classes and have taught a few classes regarding cancer fighting foods."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I have recently spent some time researching optimal diets for cancer patients. One thing that all researchers agreed upon was that processed foods, especially lunch meats and hotdogs should be avoided because of the nitrites in those types of foods.."

  6. 6.

    Research has shown that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer seen in the United States. Have you ever studied skin cancer or the possible ways to decrease the risk of developing it?

      Although there are risk factors for all cancers, skin cancer preventive measures are simple, yet often neglected by others. Share your thoughts with the interviewer regarding ways to prevent this cancer and any knowledge you may have from your research.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "Being someone with fair skin, I have always had to take measures to protect my skin. One of the most difficult things, for me, is having to cover my skin when out in the sun because I love having a suntan and the feeling of the sun on my skin. I think many people, especially younger people, neglect to understand the seriousness of this type of cancer."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I did not have a great deal of knowledge about skin cancer until I began considering a career in cancer research. I actually thought it would be an easier topic for me to study as I began to transition into this career. It wasn't until I really started studying that I discovered how common skin cancer is and the many ways that people can help protect themselves and reduce the risk of developing it. Simple things like wearing sunscreen with a high SPF or clothing to cover the skin when out in the sun are a great way to help."

  7. 7.

    Some physicians and scientist argue that too much of the 'War on Cancer' is misdirected by focusing more on treatment rather than on prevention. Do you agree with this?

      We all have opinions about ways that medical research and treatment could be improved. With cancer research, especially, it is frustrating when researchers want to cure a disease and can't explain the true cause. Do you think that there is inequality when comparing treatment vs. prevention in cancer care?

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I have heard people voice this concern before. However, I do not know if I think there is as great a different between the efforts to prevent or cure. All healthcare research requires a bit of a 'balancing act,' so to speak. That is why I think it is important to have a diversity of people involved in research projects. If we can divide groups of people and have each group focus on something different and then come together with our ideas and implement them, perhaps we can find a way to prevent new occurrences and cure those who have already been diagnosed."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "While I can understand the frustration of wanting to prevent cancer occurrence, I disagree with the statement that the focus of research is more on treatment than a cure. Cancer prevention can be increased by individuals participating in a healthier lifestyle. These are things that no amount of research can enforce. We can only educate. When others choose to participate in activities that cause cancer, we then are expected to provide a cure."

  8. 8.

    In a recent poll, much of the general population stated that they were unaware that men can develop breast cancer. Have you ever researched anything regarding the occurrence of breast cancer in men?

      Because breast cancer occurs less frequently in men than women, many people are unaware of its occurrence at all. If you have any experience researching this subject, share that knowledge with the interviewer. Remember, your research does not have to be in a clinical lab. Any studies you have performed should be shared.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I did a case study previously comparing the effects of estrogen on both men and women and the percentage of those studied who developed breast cancer. I would like to see more of breast cancer research to be target specific to male patients."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I have assisted with breast cancer research before. The studies I had part in involved both male and female patients."

  9. 9.

    If you were asked to choose a research specialty other than cancer, what would you next choice be?

      Researchers have so much to choose from with regard to a specialty area. In fact, many research companies offer different areas opportunity. Sharing an alternative to cancer research would give the interviewer the chance to find a perfect fit for you in the event that the cancer division does not have an immediate opening.


      Darby's Answer #1

      "I love cancer research. I am also very interested in communicable disease research."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I am very interested in research regarding Alzheimer's and dementia. While cancer research is my favorite, I definitely would not turn down an opportunity to do Alzheimer's research."

  10. 10.

    Being a medical researcher is rewarding, but can also be very stressful at times. Can you share a situation that was difficult for you and how you worked through it?

      The interviewer recognizes that, while being involved in medical research is rewarding and has its benefits, it can often be trying at times. This question gives you the chance to show how your vulnerability meets your strengths. Having balance between the two is crucial. Being willing to open up to the interviewer about a situation that was emotional for you and how you were able to cope will show him what can be expected of you when you are faced with a difficult situation in the future.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I believe any job has its stressful situations. One case that I will never forget occurred when I was doing a pediatric rotation. We had a four year old child that was admitted due to having seizures. After further testing, it was discovered that the child had a brain tumor. The tumor was very advanced and she lost her life because of it. That time was very emotional for everyone on the care team. Fortunately, we had a good team leader who gave us an opportunity to talk with her and one another about the overwhelming grief that we felt. I have found that talking through emotions is a great way to work through any unresolved grief."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "One of the most stressful situations I can recall was when I was working with a group of individuals on a research project. We all had different responsibilities within the project. Just before the designated date that we were going to meet and combine all of our information so that we could prepare the report, one of the team members resigned without notice and without forwarding the work that he was responsible for. It was very stressful at the time, but we quickly learned the real definition of teamwork as we spent some extra hours and pulled together to make the project a success."

  11. 11.

    Have you ever had a disagreement with a co-worker, and, if so, how did you resolve it?

      Any time you work with someone else, there is a chance of having a disagreement about something at one time or another. The interviewer knows this. It's human nature for people to have their own opinions. What is important to the interviewer in this question is whether or not you are willing to compromise and work through difficult situations with your co-workers. Being unwilling to compromise or find alternative solutions to a dispute can affect everyone on the team, even if it is indirectly. Sharing a personal experience is OK, but do not embellish it to 'be the hero.'

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I believe if we think about it, each of us could remember at least one disagreement with a friend or co-worker. Although I consider myself to be pretty easy-going, I am also very passionate about my patients and the care that they receive. I have been aware of disagreements between other co-workers, but really like to think of myself as more of a peacekeeper. I feel like professional people should be able to discuss things logically and come to an agreement that is satisfactory for everyone involved."

      Darby's Answer #2


      "I think the most common disagreement between myself and others have involved our personal feelings about how healthcare should be carried out. However, I have learned, as have most of the people that I have worked with, that while our opinions are important, plans of care are designated by strict guidelines and with the input of everyone on the care team as well as the patient. Learning to respect those guidelines and patient wishes usually resolves issues that arise"

  12. 12.

    AbbVie Oncology Research would like to employ researchers who are interested in working on long-term projects. With that in mind, what changes do you anticipate to occur within the next 2-3 years?

      Knowing what goals you have and any changes you anticipate in your life will give the interviewer an opportunity to evaluate two things: 1. what positions are available that won't disrupt your plans and, 2. are you interested in having a long-term relationship within the company? Change is good and growth is encouraged. However, because employers invest time and money in training new employees, they prefer that they have a plan to stay for the long-term. Still, if you don't plan on being in the same geographical area five years from now, it's OK to say that now. With companies as large as Mercy Health Systems, there are often opportunities for transfers to other facilities within the same network. Either way, being upfront and honest is always appreciated.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I recently became engaged. Although we have not set a date yet, we have agreed to wait twelve months before the marriage. My fiance' just passed the Bar exam here and has been offered an opportunity to join an existing law firm. Presently, our plans are to stay where we are and build a career, not just work a job. Also, we do not plan on having children for at least two years after our marriage. We both feel that being able to become established in our careers and save for our future would be the responsible thing to do before starting a family."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I'm glad to know that AbbVie Oncology Research is hoping to place employees who are interested in long-term employment. I love research and feel like I could adjust anywhere if needed. However, I would really like to find a place where I can work on long-term projects. I like to see projects as they are started and then be able to follow them through completion. "

  13. 13.

    Have you ever been involved with any efforts to secure funding for cancer research?

      Most of the funding of cancer research by private voluntary health organizations comes from individuals, but some comes from grants to those organizations (and so might be counted as foundation or government funding as well as spending by the private voluntary health organization). If you have been involved in helping to write grant applications or soliciting private organizations to become a part of research funding, this could be considered an asset. Share any experience you may have.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I used to work for a company that operated mostly from money received from federal grants. When I worked there, I was an under-study to the head grant-writer. I have hoped to find placement with a company where I can do research but also offer my services in securing funding to further our research efforts."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "Yes, I have assisted with attempts to secure private funding for breast cancer research. I have found that the more specifically focused a research project is, the more easily private funding is secured."

  14. 14.

    While many new medicines are now available to treat certain cancers, many of them are only available for clinical trials. Have you ever worked with clinical studies?

      The availability of new medications is generally governed by results of clinical trials associated with those medications. If you have clinical trial experience, share it; if you don't, share your thoughts.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I have not yet had an opportunity to work with clinical trials. I have usually been on the other side of research, gathering information, offering comparisons, etc. until medications are ready to be presented. I am supportive of medication clinical trials and hope to have an opportunity in the future to be closely involved for the duration of a trial."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I worked with a previous company that had great focus on clinical trials for cancer treatment. It is astounding to see the way medicine is changing and developing. I look forward to the next trial I can be involved with."

  15. 15.

    What would your previous co-workers say were the best and worst qualities about you?

      No one wants to share anything negative about themselves. However, any honest person will admit that he has both good and bad characteristics. The important thing is recognizing the things that may need to be improved and being willing to address them. Share some things about your personal qualities with the interviewer and remember, when sharing any quality that could be improved, tell how you are working to make a change.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I would have to say that one of the things I'd like to improve about myself and that most people recognize about me is I always want to be the 'fixer.' While I know that this is not always a negative thing, for me, I have often let the fact that I couldn't fix a certain situation be something that troubled me. On a lighter note, I believe I have a positive, out-going personality. I enjoy getting to know others and like to make them feel comfortable."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "My best quality, I believe, is that I am willing to work on any project I am asked to take on. My worst quality is that I am willing to take on too many projects at once. I've had to learn to pace myself and prioritize things that need to be done so that am not overwhelmed and so that my quality of work does not suffer because I am too busy."

  16. 16.

    Statistics have shown that cancer patients who are married are more likely to survive than those who are single. Do you have thoughts that may support this statement?

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  17. 17.

    While doing research or cancer studies, what is something you have learned that others may not know? This can be a cancer fact or something related to cancer patients.

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  18. 18.

    AbbVie Oncology Research is supportive of employers who interested in continuing their education. Have you thought of furthering your degree, and if so, would you stay within the research industry?

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  19. 19.

    Since February 2009, over 40 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed globally. Have you studied this vaccine, and what are your thoughts on its use?

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  20. 20.

    An estimated 12,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the United States annually. Have you ever participated in any research that is focused on childhood cancer?

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  21. 21.

    Research has shown that postmenopausal women who are more physically active are less likely to die from breast cancer. What are your thoughts as to why this may be so?

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  22. 22.

    AbbVie Oncology Research likes to find areas of interest to our employees when assigning different research projects. Is there a particular cancer that you would be interested in conducting a research project on?

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  23. 23.

    AbbVie Oncology Research works with a variety of physicians, scientists, and special researchers. One specialty we consult with is nutritionists. What is your understanding of how nutrition may play a role in the development of certain cancers?

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  24. 24.

    One of the most frustrating things for anyone in the healthcare industry, especially medical research, is the fact that we have to treat cancer victims who were exposed to cancer-causing agents by others. Can you think of an example of this?

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  25. 25.

    AbbVie Oncology Research is passionate about finding ways to help prevent cancer. What makes you feel like you would be a good fit here?

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  26. 26.

    Although much research involves a team approach, AbbVie Oncology Research has many employees who work independently and then participate in groups to share information. Do you prefer a team or individual work environment?

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  27. 27.

    Have you ever done any volunteer work or public education related to cancer research?

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  28. 28.

    If you were the person responsible for hiring new employees, what qualities would you be looking for during the interview? Do you feel that you display those qualities yourself?

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  29. 29.

    If you are offered a position with AbbVie Oncology Research that required travel, would you accept it?

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  30. 30.

    Have you ever personally participated in a clinical trial?

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