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Clinical Research Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated September 26th, 2020 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Health    
Question 1 of 30
Have you ever been part of a clinical investigation led by the FDA due to non-compliance? How familiar are you with GCP standards and practices?
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How to Answer
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.
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1.
Have you ever been part of a clinical investigation led by the FDA due to non-compliance? How familiar are you with GCP standards and practices?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
2.
What is the most fascinating experience you have had during a clinical trial?
The interviewer would like to know about a clinical trial that has excited you. The best way to answer this question is to tell an exciting story from a previous study. Be prepared to lay out the setting, the goal, what the findings were and why you found it so fascinating. The primary goal here is to show the interviewer that you have a passion for what you do.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my previous position I was working a clinical trial for a new sleep aid drug. Our trial group was to determine the level of the drugs of effectiveness in assisting adult insomnia. About halfway through the trial, we found that our subjects were not only experiencing better sleep patterns but their skin problems were also clearing up. It's always fascinating when you discover an alternate use or solution during a clinical trial."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As a grad student, I was asked to participate in a cancer research program that was on the brink of discovering a new treatment in pediatric oncology. In this role, I was able to partner with some of the most advanced and recognized professionals in research. It was thrilling to be a part of the team that advanced the study, which is now in trial across the country."
3.
What steps do you take to ensure the safety of your participants during a clinical trial?
TThis answer is best to be given in a more factual manner. You can certainly refer to previous projects while answering this question.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
4.
How would you rate your performance in this interview so far?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I feel confident about our discussion today and am looking forward to the next steps in the interview process."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
5.
What type of data analysis are you most familiar with?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
6.
In your career, which research projects have you taken the most initiative on?
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?
Rachelle's Answer #1
"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?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
7.
In your opinion, what is the most important factor in each phase of a clinical trial?
The interviewer is going to gauge your level of expertise in clinical trials based on the knowledge and confidence you display when answering this question. Keep your answer fact-related and easy to understand.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Firstly, I believe it is important to not move onto the next phase of a clinical trial until the objectives of the current stage are met. In Phase 0, the most critical factor is to determine that the effect of the drug on the participant is as expected. In Phase I, evaluating the safety and proper dose is the most important factor. For Phase II..."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have been taught that the most important factor in any phase of a clinical trial is the safety of your test subjects. Without a strong base of safety, no trial can be published without question."
8.
Tell me about your experience in grant writing and fundraising for clinical research.
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
9.
Being a researcher can be really stressful. How do you handle the stress that comes with this line of work?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
10.
What questions do you have for me?
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!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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?"
11.
When would you be available to start?
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.'

Rachelle's Answer #1
"As a professional courtesy, I would like to give my current employer two weeks' notice. I could start anytime after that."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
12.
What is your strongest skill as a Clinical Researcher?
The interviewer would like to know what you consider your greatest strength as a clinical researcher. This helps them to understand where you would best fit, should you be given the opportunity.

Yes, you can brag about yourself! It's tough to do sometimes, so you may want to create and memorize a definite answer before your interview. Be sure to reinforce that others have endorsed your best skills.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In the past, I have received regular positive feedback on my ability to manage multiple projects while keeping consistent and accurate data. If I had to choose my strongest skill as a clinical researcher, I would choose my ability to multitask."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As my career in clinical research is new, I would say my strongest skill is my blend of education and willingness to learn. I am a sponge for information at this point in my career and truly want to learn. I am excellent with accepting, and implementing, feedback."
13.
Are you more interested in the statistics in research or do you prefer to get straight to the answer?
It is important that the interviewer see that your work style is a good fit for their clinic's management style. Are you one to dive into the details or do you prefer the gratification of getting straight to the answer?

If you tend to be the type to get straight to the answer, you could say: "Although I have a strong appreciation for statistical analysis and the amount of work that comes with gathering that data - I crave the feeling of accomplishment that comes with getting to the conclusion."
Rachelle's Answer #1
"Although I have a strong appreciation for statistical analysis and the amount of work that comes with gathering that data - I crave the feeling of accomplishment that comes with getting to the conclusion."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If you get more excited about statistics, you could say: "I have always leaned towards statistical analysis. I love the challenge that comes with taking the data and working it in a variety of ways."
14.
Which industry related current event interests you the most?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
15.
Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma in your clinical work? How did you handle it?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
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30 Clinical Research Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. Have you ever been part of a clinical investigation led by the FDA due to non-compliance? How familiar are you with GCP standards and practices?
  2. What is the most fascinating experience you have had during a clinical trial?
  3. What steps do you take to ensure the safety of your participants during a clinical trial?
  4. How would you rate your performance in this interview so far?
  5. What type of data analysis are you most familiar with?
  6. In your career, which research projects have you taken the most initiative on?
  7. In your opinion, what is the most important factor in each phase of a clinical trial?
  8. Tell me about your experience in grant writing and fundraising for clinical research.
  9. Being a researcher can be really stressful. How do you handle the stress that comes with this line of work?
  10. What questions do you have for me?
  11. When would you be available to start?
  12. What is your strongest skill as a Clinical Researcher?
  13. Are you more interested in the statistics in research or do you prefer to get straight to the answer?
  14. Which industry related current event interests you the most?
  15. Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma in your clinical work? How did you handle it?
  16. What does the term, clinical research, mean to you?
  17. Tell me about a study that you dream of participating in, one day.
  18. Describe your experience creating and writing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's).
  19. How do you handle a larger than average workload?
  20. How do you manage your time, even on the busiest days?
  21. Can you talk to me about your GPA during graduate school?
  22. How many days were you absent from work last year?
  23. What are your salary expectations?
  24. We use a variety of robust internal software programs. What types of clinical trial management software have you used?
  25. Would you like to be a Site Director in the future?
  26. Which laboratory techniques are you familiar with?
  27. Tell me about a time when you needed to seek advice. What did you learn from the situation? Do you find it easy to ask for help?
  28. How do you feel about working in a multidisciplinary team (MDT)? In your opinion, what qualities do members of an MDT need to bring?
  29. What are the benefits in leaving your current job for this position?
  30. We receive a great deal of private funding which requires us to keep very close track or our spending. Outline your experience in budget management and resource allocation.
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