The way in which you answer this will be an indicator of your engagement level when it comes to this industry and your career. This is where it is beneficial to research the organization before your interview. Tie your answer into the current activities of this organization. You can elaborate from there. Asking a question in return is a great way to start an engaging conversation with your interviewer about current events in your industry.
"I am so happy you asked me that! I was recently reading an article on how some hospital academic departments are starting to employ clinical research associates in clinical trial units and I would love to know what your thoughts were on this?"
"I have been very interested in and closely following the medical advancements happening in regards to malaria in Africa. As a student, I did a study abroad semester in this region of the world and worked in a clinic that taught malaria prevention strategies. It was such an eye-opening experience for me, and I have been researching this topic ever since."
"I read up on current events in clinical research on a daily basis. It's incredibly important to stay in touch. My favorite resource is Medical News Today. I recently read a fascinating article surrounding researchers from the Queen Mary University of London. They have successfully modified a flu virus and used it to target pancreatic cancer cells. Fascinating!"
How do you react when put in an uncomfortable situation or faced with a moral conundrum? This question is best answered by using an example. Be careful to not disclose any confidential information or say anything damaging about another person in the industry or another organization.
"Last year I discovered a colleague breaching confidentiality with a client. This particular case had multiple clients and the lines were sometimes difficult to draw. I approached my colleague and offered another solution, while suggesting they manage this client in a more professional manner. In the end, my colleague appreciated the feedback, and the concern was put to rest."
"I have never faced an ethical dilemma in a clinical setting; however, I know that if my ethics were to be tested, I would stand my ground. I am a person of integrity, and my moral values are important to me."
"My clinical supervisor once asked us to lead our teams in a direction that was not in alignment with the overall department's mission and values. As a results-oriented person, I typically switch into high gear to accomplish the work. When I gave it thought, I realized it was against our best interests and brought my concerns to the leadership team. Together, we formulated a plan to meet the objective and still behave by our vision and values."
Have you ever written a grant proposal? If you have, you can discuss the positive outcome of any grant proposals with which you have been involved. If you have not written a grant proposal, perhaps you have assisted in raising funds. You can also draw on any training you may have received on grant writing while attending post-secondary education. Whatever your exposure may be, the interviewer wants to be assured that you have strong persuasive writing skills.
"I am experienced in grant writing and would be more than happy to take on grant proposal tasks in this role. In 2015 I wrote a grant proposal for 'Project A,' and it was a tremendous learning opportunity for me. The grant was awarded, and it was a major highlight in my career."
"I do not yet have direct experience in grant writing; however, I know that every clinical research team is unique so I will follow the process and procedures laid out by the clinical research team. I would love the opportunity to participate, and learn."
"I am proud to say that I have been involved in eight different grant proposals through my career. The majority of my experience has been geared towards government-related grants. Also, through university, I worked as a grant writing assistant which proved to be a very valuable experience."
This question may seem basic, but there are many layers to it. The interviewer is testing your actual knowledge of clinical research, and they are also checking to see how easily you can explain a complicated concept.
"Clinical research encompasses a large range of human health studies that test medical treatments, vaccines, prescription drugs, and medical devices for example. Clinical research ensures that these methods and medications are safe and effective before they are introduced to the public.It is a highly evidence-based science."
"To me, I have found that clinical research is best described as a branch of healthcare dedicated to safety standards of medication and other medical products meant for human consumption."
"From a technical perspective, clinical research relates to medical research, particularly clinical trials. For me, it is an important part of the healthcare industry that allows us to determine new forms of treatment and ultimately, save lives with future discoveries."
TThis answer is best to be given in a more factual manner. You can certainly refer to previous projects while answering this question.
"The method of control I would use in order to ensure patient safety may depend on the phase of the trial we are in. For example, if we are in Phase I of the clinical trial I would keep a very close eye on the participants and watch for any serious side effects. Documentation is incredibly important as well. Also, if there are any instructions for the research patients, I always ensure that they understand those instructions explicitly. I check in regularly."
"I have learned while completing my Bachelor in Life Sciences, that participant safety must come before all other factors. This includes taking proper documentation, ensuring participants understand their instructions and the risk of participation. Also, a keen eye for all patients is imperative."
"There are many guidelines for the research that I participate in and therefore, I am always reviewing and following protocol. In my years of experience, I have also gained confidence to raise any concerns with my supervisor if something comes up that feels like it needs further safety consideration."
The interviewer is asking this question in a friendly way to figure out what type of research is closest to your heart. The answer to this question could be a bit personal. If you are comfortable with that, this is a great time to show the interviewer a little bit about yourself.
"I have a firm interest in studying childhood depression. I have a younger sibling who suffered from severe childhood depression, and the topic has always been close to me. If I could offer something to that area of study, that would be very fulfilling work for me."
"A dream study would be (X past study you saw on the company's website or social media pages), because (X reasons why this study interests you, such as ability to work on the study abroad for a given period of time)."
"As a high-school student, a friend of mine was impacted by a rare, genetic form of heart disease. I have always been interested in learning more about the disease and seeking alternative forms of treatment. I have been reading about the medical advancements for years, but I think there is more work to be done. That would be a dream project for me."
"My grandmother was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer's in her 80's and I have always been passionate about research related to that disease. My dream research project would be in early detection and prevention of Alzheimer's."
The interviewer would like to know how closely you follow Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and the extent of your knowledge on the subject. Good Clinical Practice (GCP) is a uniform standard enforced by the FDA. It must be followed by all clinical trials involving human participants. Because every clinic will have their internal procedures, in addition to the GCP standards, the interviewer would like to know more about the extent of your knowledge when it comes to good clinical practice.
"The company I currently work for has an incredibly high standard when it comes to good clinical practice. Fortunately, I have never worked for an employer that has been in non-compliance with FDA standards. In my current position, I train new researchers on our GCP standards so I would rate my knowledge as expert level."
"My experience with GCP / ICH standards has been in following guidelines on the ethical aspects of my clinical studies and comprehensive documentation for the clinical protocol. I learned a great deal about GCP while completing my Bachelor's degree in Life Science."
"Fortunately, I was never involved in such a clinical investigation as I, and the professionals I have worked with are highly knowledgeable regarding GCP standards and practices. I pride myself on being highly ethical and would not hesitate to reach out to a superior should I have doubts about the required standards and practices."
The interviewer would like to know your methods of coping with stress. The best way to display to the interviewer that you are cool under pressure is to give an example of a time when you did just that. You can also offer a reliable reference who will speak to your ability to manage stress productively.
"I understood going into this type of work that I would be under immense pressure from time to time. Managing stress is not a problem for me. While working for my previous lab, I had a major deadline coming up that everyone thought I would miss. Because of my strong ability to prioritize, I was able to finish the project on time without skipping a beat! I would be happy to provide you with the name of my previous supervisor. He can speak to my stress management skills as well."
"Yes, I am ready for the work, and I do agree that this line of work can be stressful. As a grad student, I was able to juggle my schooling, a part-time researcher position as well as my family and social life. I learned how to balance everything in a way that worked for me. I think clinical research can have a big impact on the world's health, so that certainly helps keep me motivated, even on the most stressful days."
"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful, and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."
The interviewer is looking for your range of experience and understanding of Standard Operating Procedures. The answer to this question will quickly reveal your exact seniority level to the interviewer. If you have experience creating and writing new SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures) you can bring examples of your work - so long as you are not breaking any current non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements.
"I have approximately three years experience writing SOP for two different clinics. I would describe my level of experience in intermediate. I am taking a course this January related to SOP writing which I hope will elevate my knowledge."
"If you do not have experience in writing SOP's you can certainly still answer productively by displaying your knowledge of the guidelines for writing an SOP. For example: "I understand that writing an SOP requires a strong understanding of procedural tasks and activities. Although I do not have specific experience to show, I am confident that I could write new Standard Operating Procedures once I have a complete understanding of the clinical trial or program."
"I am very experienced in creating SOPs. I have created four sets of SOPs in response to compliance issues as well as assisted researchers with creating SOPs in the past. I could teach this skill and would say that my level would land in the expert range."
The interviewer wants to be assured that you can handle the workload required of you in this position and that you will not become overwhelmed if/when workloads unexpectedly increase. When workloads increase, stress levels do too. How do you react?
"When I have a large workload on my plate, I do not stress over the tasks that are in front of me. Rather, I make a simple plan of which tasks are a high priority and which tasks are a lower priority. The higher priority tasks, I complete first. Through this system, I can focus on my tasks individually, rather than stress out by the multitude of tasks ahead of me."
"Here are some suggestions on how to handle a large workload: - List your tasks and prioritize them - Think of which functions add to the company's bottom line, and start there (Closest to the money!) - Exhale. Relax for a minute and collect yourself - Organize your tasks by which ones you can complete independently and which ones you need help with - Take sufficient breaks, so you do not exhaust yourself - Communicate your struggles with your leadership or team"
"I first take a step back and make a list of all the deliverable work that I have. Then, I prioritize the list by deadline and ease of completion. I always try to hit the easy tasks first and get them off my to-do list. Feeling like I am making progress keeps me motivated."
The interviewer would like to know more about the types of tools you use to stay on task and meet deadlines. Discuss how you prioritize when everything demands your attention at once. Think about the ways you manage your projects and daily tasks.
"Very carefully! I prioritize deadlines and work that needs to be done, then work backward from there. When necessary, I utilize my resources and team to pitch in and contribute."
"When I'm busy, I seem to get the most done. To prioritize, I make lists with to-do items and how long I think they'll take. That way, I know what needs to be done first and what small to-dos I can squeeze in in between the larger tasks. I find it an effective way to manage my time and get things done when I'm busy."
"I like to be busy- it makes the hours pass faster and makes me feel productive. I am always sure to block things out on my schedule as needed, and love to follow a project management system, too. Something as simple as my calendar on my phone with alarms reminding me of what I'm supposed to be doing and when is helpful. I love to be busy and get things done!"
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the company website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of items you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their company site!
"I have a couple of questions - thanks for asking! Could you clarify for me if this is a newly created position or a replacement? Also, what is the first thing you would like to see me accomplish in this role?"
"Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part about working here? - What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the most significant change in this industry over the past three years? - Is there any reason why you would not hire me? "
"Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? Also, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"
The interviewer would like to know if you are satisfied with your interview performance. Be honest and open about your feelings regarding your interview performance and be confident in asking for a re-do if you feel that you stumbled on an important answer.
"I feel confident about our discussion today and am looking forward to the next steps in the interview process."
"If you feel that your performance in the interview is not going well: "I am not sure if I have been able to portray myself 100% accurately in this interview; although, I am trying my best. If there is anything more that I can clarify for you I would be happy to do so."
"If you feel that your performance in the interview is going well: "I believe that this interview has been quite informative and I am happy with my performance. Is there anything that I can clarify for you from this conversation?"
Are you satisfied with your GPA or would you change it if you could? Talk to the interviewer about your post-secondary experience. If you were not satisfied with your post-secondary experience: "I feel that my GPA could have been higher; however, I was working full time while attending classes. All in all, I did learn a lot about discipline and commitment."
"I feel that my GPA could have been higher; however, I was working full time while attending classes. All in all, I did learn a lot about discipline and commitment."
"Definitely! I studied hard in school and averaged a 3.54 GPA. Obtaining my Life Sciences degree was the best decision I have ever made for myself, and I look forward to continuing this level of diligence while working for your facility."
"If you were satisfied with your post-secondary experience: "I graduated top of my class and am very proud of my accomplishments during University. The experience taught me to study hard and set goals for myself."
Before your interview, make sure you have a start date in mind for the new employer. Whether you need to give two weeks to your previous position, or are unemployed and can start right away, be prepared with an affirmative answer. If you are currently working, you should always show professionalism by offering two weeks' notice to your current employer. No hiring manager is ever impressed when they hear 'I can quit my job today and start tomorrow!' Show that you are professional and reliable in all situations. If you are unemployed: 'I am currently unemployed; however, I have a long weekend trip planned from the 12th to the 15th. I would be thrilled to start the Tuesday after that.'
"As a professional courtesy, I would like to give my current employer two weeks' notice. I could start anytime after that."
"I would need to give a customary two weeks' notice to my current company so that they could choose if they want me to stay and transition my work or make it my last day. But, out of courtesy to them, I need to let them make the decision."
"I would need to give my current lab 2 weeks' notice. Due to my length of employment, it is possible that I may need to work an additional week if they were to request it of me to aid in the transition to the next clinical research manager, but I am available immediately following. Can you clarify your timeline for me?"
A part of being a diligent employee is to ensure that you are always on time and present when expected. It's great to even be 10 minutes early rather than just showing up right on the dot. Talk to the interviewer about your attendance.
"I had zero unexcused absences last year. In total, I took 12 vacation days out of my 15 allotted days. I was sick just 2, and a note from my Doctor accompanied those. Once I was late due to a terrible snow storm, and I always try to be 10 minutes early for my shift."
"I cannot recall the exact number, but I think it was around three days total. All absences were excused and with notice."
"I think I missed ten days, counting vacation time. Of those, five were for my vacation. For three days, I was excused under a doctor's note. The other two absences were pre-approved family days."
The best way to discuss your salary expectations is to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.
"Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year plus a potential 20% annual bonus. Last year my earnings were $52,000, and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."
"As I am new to my clinical research career, I am happy to negotiate my earnings based on your typical salary for this role."
"I am negotiable with my salary expectations. However, I am not inclined to lose compensation. Compensation to me, though, is not just net pay. I take into account work hours, drive time, benefits, etc."
The employer is looking to see the range of responsibilities you have been given in your previous roles. Your answer could potentially reveal the size of clinics/clinical trials you have been involved with. It's best to answer this one with specifics and then end with a question for the interviewer. Once the interviewer answers your question, you can choose to continue this further by adding more types of data analysis to your answer or merely reinforce your original response.
"In my last position I was most often exposed to sequential and exploratory analysis. What type of data analysis is most often utilized in this clinic?"
"I am fully trained in qualitative and quantitative data analysis. While earning my Bachelor's degree in Medical Technology, we also touched on descriptive and predictive analysis. I look forward to expanding my familiarity with other types of analysis as my career in clinical research grows."
"I have been able to work with a variety of qualitative and quantitative data analysis including descriptive, exploratory, inferential and predictive. I am comfortable with all and am open to utilizing other resources, as well."
The employer is looking to identify the software programs you are well versed in and where you will need training. When answering this question, refer to any software the interviewer has mentioned. How do your current skills fit? Perhaps you are familiar with their program or have used one that is very similar.
"From what I understand, you use Programs X, Y, and Z. Are there any other programs or types of software that I would frequently be using? The software that I am most familiar with is A, B, and C. They are similar to X, Y, and Z in many ways such as...(give examples)."
"I have experience using a few different data analysis software programs including Open Clinica, and Medrio. I am a fast learner and am eager to learn any other types of programs that you utilize."
"I am an expert level user in Clinical Studio and Longboat, having used each for the past eight years. I see that you use both of these programs here, which is great news. The time to train me will be greatly reduced! Are there any other programs used here?"
If you would like to have growth in your role, it is okay to say so! Be sure to pace yourself and refer to the opportunity as though you are more than willing to earn it your progression through hard work and proven results. You could also refer to a positive experience you may have had with a director level colleague during an internship or co-op and why that inspired you to further your career.
"I would like to grow into a site director role in the future. While earning my degree (specify degree type) I took a course in Directorship and Management (or applicable course). As I learn this position further and feel more comfortable in my role, I would be very open to furthering my knowledge to earn a site director title."
"I do see myself stepping into a leadership role in the future, and I think a site-supervisor would be a great position. In my next company, I am looking for growth opportunities and a possibility to learn from a strong supervisor."
"I was a site director a few years ago for a smaller research unit. The experience was a positive one, and I am certainly interested in gaining more experience in a role like this in the future."
The best thing to do is to recite the laboratory techniques that are listed on your resume and tell the interviewer which laboratory techniques you are most familiar and comfortable with, out of that list.
"In my previous position I spent the majority of my time running chemical tests, anterograde tracing and boom method. Those are the techniques I am most familiar with, but I have used many others. Which techniques would be of primary focus in this position?"
"In my clinical research training, I became most familiar with three types of laboratory techniques including Cell Fractionation, DNA Extraction, and RNA Extraction. I am excited to continue to expand my knowledge of new techniques."
"I have used a wide range of techniques in my twelve years as a clinical researcher. I am an expert in A, B, and C techniques and an advanced level in X, Y, Z. I see that these six techniques are the most often practiced in your lab. Are there any other experiences you would like to know about?"
The interviewer is looking for your ability to seek mentorship, feedback, and how well you implement suggestions for improvement. The ability to ask for, receive, and execute feedback is incredibly necessary to be successful in any career. You can answer this question using a specific example but be sure to avoid breaching any confidentiality agreements.
"When I first began with Company ABC I found myself in a complicated situation with a patient who had a psycho-social disorder. I had never worked with a patient this severe and found myself losing some control in the situation. I sought advice from my supervisor who gave me multiple case studies to read. Learning what others had done in similar situations gave me the ability to implement their methods. Eventually, I was able to create my professional methods for managing this patient. I have no problem seeking help when needed as I firmly believe there is always more to learn."
"As a new clinical researcher, I ask for advice all of the time! Most recently, I asked my research director about my documentation because it felt a bit scattered. She gave me some tips and tricks for clearer, and more concise, notes. Her help has improved my notes immensely."
"At this point in my career, the majority of work that I do is assisting and mentoring junior clinical researchers. I do have an industry mentor whom I meet with on a monthly basis. We discuss new approaches to research and recent breakthroughs. Also, I learn quite frequently from my new researchers who are recent graduates. They are so eager, and fresh in their knowledge that I greatly appreciate their fresh set of eyes in the lab."
Multidisciplinary teams can create a challenging environment, but they also offer many benefits. Be sure that you understand if this particular clinic is an MDT driven environment before submitting a strong opinion one way or the other. If you have worked in an MDT environment, provide an example of a time when it worked well. If you have not, you can give a light opinion on the positive aspects you foresee. It is always better to provide positive insight over negative.
"In my last position I worked in an MDT setting for the first time. I was unsure of how smoothly the projects would flow but was pleasantly surprised with the result. If each team member has an obvious idea of their role, and if communication is strong, it can be very beneficial. One of the biggest positives for me was that it gave everyone the ability to work off of each other's knowledge. One thing that everyone needs to bring while working in an MDT setting is an open mind to learning from every team member."
"I have not worked in an MDT driven environment but am no stranger to group projects and working cross-functionally. I think that working in a multidisciplinary team would be incredibly helpful for me, and would fast-track my knowledge in a few areas."
"I have worked primarily in an MDT setting throughout my career and know there are incredible amounts of benefits when while working in a multidisciplinary team. I recently read a paper from the Mental Health Commission that said research evidence supports multidisciplinary team working as the most effective means of delivering a comprehensive service as well as accountability through the clinical team."
Your answer to this question will reveal to the interviewer your biggest areas of interest and where you strengths stand out during a research project or clinical trial. The answer you provide should have 3 parts: 1) Name the projects that you took the most initiative on. 2) Including WHY you took the most initiative on those projects. Was is because you were asked? Did you volunteer to take the lead? What drove you? 3) What the outcome was, and why you were proud of the outcome. What was the feedback from your team lead or supervisor?
"I am new to my career as a clinical researcher and have not yet been given the opportunity to take the lead on a research project. I did; however, take the lead on a couple of group projects while completing my Bachelor's degree in Life Sciences. I brought one of my proudest projects with me today so that you could see my work. It's a research project on the link between obesity and mental health. Would you like to take a look?"
"I have had ownership over a handful of projects in my current role, but I took the most initiative on a project related to kidney disease research. I thought up a partnership with a local nursing home that allowed us to survey patients before and after their dialysis treatments and monitor their emotional states. This ended up being the most important data collected in the research."
The interviewer would like to know if you are making a lateral move by joining their organization. As all hiring managers know- the better the movement is for you, the higher chance that you will stay. It is essential that you express how this new position will help you grow in your career. This is not an invitation to focus on what you dislike about your current position. Avoid being negative and speaking poorly of your current or most recent employer. Always end on a positive note by referring to your excitement for this job!
"I am excited to join your clinic because of your focus on diabetes research. This is a subject of great interest to me, and I am not able to focus on it as much as I would like in my current position. I feel the growth this position offers is what I need to catapult me into an amazing and fulfilling career."
"My current position is a summer placement which was part of my terms of graduating with my Bachelor's in Medical Technology. This will be my very first career move as a new clinical researcher. It's important to me that I start my career on the right foot with a reputable organization such as yours."
"I have been pleased with my current position and have been part of an amazing research team. However, I am looking at what's next for me, and I think it may be exciting to work in a more innovative industry, like cancer research, and to partner with a world-class research team. This is why I've applied to work for your organization."
Most clinics are required to be very transparent with their spending. The interviewer needs to be assured that you are experienced with budget management. Be specific in your answer by including numbers and percentages. Also, discuss any specific software or budget tracking programs you are familiar with.
"I have experience managing budgets anywhere from $3M to $56MM. One of the most challenging experiences was with 'ABC Company' when I was asked to allocate a very small budget of $1M. I achieved this successfully through careful planning and financial analysis in 'Program XYZ'. I am comfortable with all budget related tasks."
"As I am new to my research career I have not been in charge of budget management or resource allocation; however, I have taken some training in university on the subject. I saw in your job posting that this role will have a large part in assisting with budget management. This is exciting to me, and I look forward to learning from your senior team members."
"In my current role, I am accountable for a research budget of around $75,000 per project. While this is not the largest budget that I have managed, I can clearly estimate expenses, determine the project timeline and allocate resources within budget. I am proud that I have come in on budget for 91% of my clinical research projects in my current role."
Clinical research analysts play an important role in clinical trials and medical studies. Their exact duties may vary depending on the kind of research facility they are working in. In general, clinical research analysts conduct clinical studies and trials in order to assess the effectiveness of a prescription drug, medical process or medical device on the human body. These analysts usually work with physicians or scientists in a laboratory, research facility, hospital or any other medical or pharmaceutical company. Their responsibilities may extend to overseeing protocol, collecting data from patients, and tracking inventory.
A degree in health science or a clinical field is the minimum educational qualification required to become a clinical research analyst. While an associate's degree may suffice for entry-level jobs, a bachelor's or a master's degree is essential for higher-level and higher paying jobs. Work experience can make a huge difference to your job prospects. University research work, participation in clinical research, interning with licensed physicians and exposure to common procedures are some of the ways to gain the necessary work experience. Clinical research analysts must have outstanding analytical, organizational and time-management skills as well as a strong eye for detail.
Be prepared for a tough interview for this position as prospective employers will want to make 100% sure they are hiring the right applicant. To convince them that you are the right person for the job, you must be able to answer their questions confidently. Prepare for your upcoming interview by checking out commonly asked questions listed on Mock Questions.