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Novella Clinical 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

CROs work with multiple clients nationally and internationally, which means employees are often expected to juggle time zones and adhere to the sponsor's tight deadlines. What are some things you do to help manage your time efficiently?

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Novella Clinical Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    CROs work with multiple clients nationally and internationally, which means employees are often expected to juggle time zones and adhere to the sponsor's tight deadlines. What are some things you do to help manage your time efficiently?

      Because CROs are contracted to work for other companies, details such as time zone differences can often play a big role in scheduling. The interviewer wants to know that you are able to juggle multiple tasks within an allotted time frame. Share some ways you keep yourself organized during a work day.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I have worked with clients internationally and understand the important of accurate scheduling. Before beginning any new project, I always like to verify the differences in time zones, what specific duties I will be expected to carry out and the deadline for each. I then create a schedule on computer with daily reminders that I check each morning and make sure I am on schedule."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I like to stay on track with projects. I am a visual learner and because of that, I make a schedule on paper and keep it in a place that is visible (desktop/bulletin board, etc). As I complete a task, I mark it off and move to the next."

  2. 2.

    Do you have an understanding of what a 'control' or 'control group' is?

      A control is the standard by which experimental observations are evaluated. In many clinical trials, one group of patients will be given an experimental drug or treatment, while the control group is given either a standard treatment for the illness or a placebo. If you have worked with clinical trials/observations, you will have a clear understanding of what the 'control' or 'control group' is. If you have not, say what you do know. In most cases, an interviewer will know if you already have clinical trial experience and will know where to guide you with a question like this.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "Yes, I do understand the importance of a 'control/control group' in trials. I assisted with documentation for a clinical trial when I worked at XYZ. Part of my responsibilities included monitoring the differences in vital signs of the patients who were given a placebo as compared to those who were taking the trial drug."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I am familiar with a control/control group. It is my understanding that when a clinical trials is being conducted, some participants are given the trial drug while the 'control group' is given either the standard treatment or a placebo, but that only the person administering the drug knows who is receiving which."

  3. 3.

    While Novella Clinical likes to employ people who have plans to work for us long-term, it is understandable that sometimes plans change. Do you anticipate any significant changes in your life within the next 3-5 years?

      One of the good things about working for a CRO like Novella Clinical is that there are usually several different projects for different sponsors being conducted at the same time. 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? With a CRO, if you anticipate a move or other significant change, you may still be offered employment but within a project that fits your time frame. Either way, be honest with the interviewer. This will be beneficial to both you and Novella Clinical.

      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

      "My spouse is in the military and, although I would like to say with certainty that I will be living in the same place three years from now, there is no guarantee. I am glad you asked this question because I wanted to discuss any opportunities within Novella Clinical where I could be useful but may not be obligated for several years until we know if he is going to be able to stay in one place."

  4. 4.

    What is something that causes you stress at work and how do you try to overcome it?

      Stress is inevitable no matter what profession one chooses. It's how we deal with it that makes a difference. The interviewer, therefore, is not looking for you to answer saying that nothing stresses you, but rather to show that you are able to control stress and work through it.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I think we all experience stress in different ways. One of the most experienced work-related stress, for me, is not being able to give everyone the results that they want in a clinical trial. Although it is frustrating, I am also mature enough to know that if we don't succeed at something today, tomorrow we can try again."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I think I cause myself more stress than any external event or situation. I say that because I put a great deal of pressure on myself to be successful and see things through to the end. As researchers we don't always get the results we are hoping for. I have to remind myself that that is why we do research. We search, and then we re-search."

  5. 5.

    What would you tell a patient who is asking some of the things he/she should expect while participating in a clinical trial?

      It is important for patients to be well informed before beginning any treatment whether it is routine care by a physician or participation in a clinical trial. The interviewer wants to know that you have an understanding of what the patient's expectations of care should be and that you are comfortable with sharing that with the patient.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I believe in making sure that patients are educated regarding any time of care they are going to receive. For patients participating in trials, it is important to assure them that participants work with a research or clinical trial team, including doctors, nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals. Prior to the trial, the research team will check the health of the participant and review any special instructions for trial participation. As the trial begins and throughout its duration, the research team will administer treatment and monitor the participant on a regular basis to determine effectiveness and side-effects of the treatment."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "The most important thing is to make sure that patients are aware of the objective of the trial. For example, if a new drug is being tested, the objective would be that the drug is effective in treating the disease it was designed for with little to no ill-effects. Also, assuring the participant that the research team will work closely with them throughout the duration of the trial. Many patients are also relieved to know that the research team will work closely with their primary physician throughout the trial."

  6. 6.

    If a patient wants to participate in a clinical trial but wants the physician conducting the experiment to provide all of his care during the time the trial is being conducted, what would be the most appropriate advice?

      Most clinical trials provide short-term treatments related to a designated illness or condition, but do not provide extended or complete primary health care. In addition, by having the health care provider work with the research team, the participant can ensure that other medications or treatments will not conflict with the protocol. The interviewer is not asking for 'facts,' but rather how you would relate directly with a patient who is making this request.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I understand that many patients prefer to not see multiple physicians. However, it is important for patients participating in clinical trials to be educated about the role of the staff conducting the trial. For example, the medication or therapy that is used for a clinical trial is usually focused on a specific illness/disease. It is important for patients to follow-up and have continued care with their primary physician. Additionally, providers who are conducting clinical trials find it beneficial to have communication with the primary physician so that we can work together for the best outcome for the patient."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I have always been taught that patients are advised to continue regular follow-ups and care for non-trial related medical issues with their primary care provider. Also, the research teams I have been a part of have always made it a priority to collaborate with the primary physician. First of all, it is a professional courtesy. Further, the open line of communication allows the healthcare team and patient to work together more effectively."

  7. 7.

    At the end of the day, what makes you feel like you have done a good job or have been successful?

      Everyone wants to have a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment. The interviewer wants to know what makes you have that feeling. Knowing what makes you feel accomplished tells the interviewer a lot about you and the kind of work ethic you have. Be open about the things that make you feel like you have done a job well.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "At the end of the day, I am happy knowing I have participated in a job/study that made a difference for someone. For instance, monitoring a clinical trial for a new medication that had great results for the participants. That makes me feel fulfilled."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I feel like any day that I can go to work and give my best to my co-workers, patients, and anyone I meet is a day that I have been successful. Clinical trials happen every day. Life happens one day at a time. I try to live my life to the best of my ability each day."

  8. 8.

    Are you familiar with what 'expanded access' means?

      Expanded access is the term used to describe the means by which manufacturers make new drugs that are being investigated available, under certain circumstances, to treat a patient(s) with a serious disease or condition who cannot participate in a controlled clinical trial. If you have experience working with patients who have been given expanded access, share some details, as appropriate. If you don't have personal experience, share your knowledge.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "It is my understanding that 'expanded access' is granted, under certain circumstances, to patients who do not qualify to participate in a clinical trial of a regulatory drug. The drug used in expanded access cannot expose patients to unreasonable risks given the severity of the disease to be treated and the patient must not have any other satisfactory therapeutic options."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I do have some knowledge about 'expanded access' although I have not worked directly with patients who have been giveThe manufacturer must be willing to make the drug available for expanded access use. The primary intent of expanded access is to provide treatment for a patient's disease or condition, rather than to collect data about the study drug."

  9. 9.

    Are you familiar with the difference between diagnostic trials and screening trials?

      Knowing the differences of various types of trials is important for those working in research. Because there is such a variety of different trials, there is often opportunity to work on more than one. Many researchers have stated that they like this option as it gives them the chance to learn more and not experience 'burn out' as easily. If you know the difference in the trials in this question, elaborate on them briefly. If you are not sure, it's ok to say so and ask the interviewer to differentiate for you.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "Diagnostic trials are conducted to find better tests or procedures for diagnosing a particular disease or condition. Screening trials, on the test the best way to detect certain diseases or health conditions."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "Although I am rather new to the research industry, based on the names of the two trials you mentioned, I would think that diagnostic trials look for better ways to diagnose illness while screening trials are aimed at ways to diagnose disease."

  10. 10.

    Can you think of a time you had a disagreement with a boss or co-worker, and if so, how was it resolved?

      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."

  11. 11.

    Do you know what pharmacokinetic studies are?

      Being able to identify different areas of study within clinical research is essential for researchers. When an interviewer asks a question like, 'do you know....,' or 'are you familiar...,' share the knowledge you have, but be careful not to try to embellish your knowledge with facts that are not sure of.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "Yes, I am familiar with pharmakokinetic studies. We always called them 'clinical pharmacology studies.' These trials are used to test the methods of administration for a drug/treatment, it's frequency and safety."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I do know about pharmakokinetic studies. They are sometimes referred to as or clinical pharmacology studies. They usually involve between 20-80 healthy participants and are designed to test methods of administering the treatment (e.g. by mouth, injection, etc.) and how often, as well as the safety of the treatment."

  12. 12.

    If you had your choice of a research project to work with, what would you choose?

      The world of research is very broad which gives those wanting to experience different areas of specialty great opportunities. CROs work with several different sponsors/companies on various projects. Knowing what interests you will help the interviewer try to find placement for you that best your skills or interest.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "Research is such an exciting industry. If I had a choice, I would love to work on any project that has to do with cancer research. Cancer is a dreadful diagnosis and I would love to have some part in helping to find better ways to treat and hopefully cure it."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I have always wanted to work in research, but I really don't know if I have a favorite or preferred area. Things change so quickly within our industry that I feel like any area I work in would be exciting."

  13. 13.

    Are you familiar with what a protocol is with regard to clinical research?

      Understanding common terminology used in research is important. It may seem like an interviewer is asking simple questions, but basic knowledge and understanding is crucial. Give your definition of 'protocol' to the interviewer.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "A protocol is the plan that the clinical trial is based upon. It describes the details regarding what people may participate in the trial as well as tests, medications, and length of the study."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "Yes, I am familiar with the term 'protocol.' With regard to clinical trials, it is the guide or plan that describes how a trial is to be carried out. It lists what types of patients may participate, what tests or procedures need to be done, the medications, dosages, etc. that need to be monitored."

  14. 14.

    Novella Clinical likes to encourage a healthy work/life balance. What are some things you like to do make sure you have a healthy balance between work and your personal life?

      No matter what profession a person chooses, everyone needs some time to unwind and relax. Psychologists today say that a healthy balance in life allows a person to recharge and refocus which can result in better productivity at work. The interviewer simply wants to know what you do for you. Maybe you have a favorite pass-time or hobby. This is yet another way for the interviewer to get to know you as a person.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "One of my favorite pass-times is writing. After a busy day at work, I like to journal or write articles for a blog that I author. Both of these forms of writing allow me to release any feelings of frustration I may experience, especially after a stressful day or a difficult situation at work. The writings in my journal are private and my way of 'letting it all out.' The blog articles, on the other hand, are my way of using creative writing to share stories with my followers."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I really enjoy working out at the gym and, I also take a kickboxing class twice weekly. After a good workout or class, I always feel like I can rest better and wake up energized and ready for the next day."

  15. 15.

    Novella Clinical is supportive of our employee's continuing education efforts. Have you ever thought of going back to school? Novella Clinical is supportive of employees who want to continue their education. Have you ever thought of going back to school?

      While Novella Clinical may be supportive of an employee who chooses to continue his/her education, that is not to say that you are required to say you want to return to school. This is simply one of those 'get to know you' questions. Share your thoughts with the interviewer.

      Darby's Answer #1

      "I am very supportive of people who want to continue their education. For me, I feel like I have come to a place in career where I am happy with where I am. Notwithstanding, if Novella Clinical has courses or certifications that are encouraged for employees to take, I would definitely be willing. I just don't see myself going back to school for 3 or 4 years."

      Darby's Answer #2

      "I have entertained the idea of continuing my education. However, circumstances have not ended with me in school. I love research and am very happy with my career at this point."

  16. 16.

    What made you choose a career in research?

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  17. 17.

    What are some reasons that you feel participation in a clinical trial are a positive decision?

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  18. 18.

    Knowing that both CROs and pharmaceutical companies conduct research and trials, what do you think may be an of advantage working with a CRO rather than seeking employment with a large pharmaceutical company?

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  19. 19.

    What are some of the risks associated with being a participant in a clinical trial?

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  20. 20.

    Novella Clinical tries to accommodate employees with regard to scheduling preferences as much as possible. Is there a particular schedule that would a better fit with your personal/family responsibilities?

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  21. 21.

    With regard to salary, Novella Clinical tries to be fair to all employees. However, salary is often commensurate with experience. What are your thoughts regarding someone working the same job as you being paid a higher rate due to experience level?

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  22. 22.

    If you were the person responsible for hiring at Novella Clinical, what characteristics would you look for in a candidate, and do you feel that you possess those traits?

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  23. 23.

    If a trial participant asks you to explain what a placebo is and why it may be used, what would your answer be?

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  24. 24.

    What is a 'controlled' clinical trial?

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  25. 25.

    Contract Research Organizations such as Novella Clinical employ people from many different backgrounds with a variety of skills. Have you ever worked with a very diverse group of people?

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  26. 26.

    Do you understand what a 'double-blind' trial is?

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  27. 27.

    Have you ever participated in efforts to secure funding for clinical research?

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  28. 28.

    What are some things that you would like for others to notice about your personality?

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  29. 29.

    What are your thoughts regarding people who become participants in a clinical trial but leave before the trial ends?

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  30. 30.

    What do you think your best and worst qualities are?

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