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Medical Writer Interview

29 Questions and Answers by Clara Canon
Updated October 19th, 2020 | Clara is a career coaching expert and has supported individuals landing positions in education, nonprofit, corporate, and beyond.
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Question 1 of 29

How have personal connections with colleagues supported your success at work?

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How have personal connections with colleagues supported your success at work?

This question helps the interviewer understand how influential work relationships can be in your overall success as well as how well you work with others. When preparing a response to this question, you can reference how trust and camaraderie among colleagues foster a positive work environment that encourages employees to perform at their best. In this case, you will want to provide a specific example.

Clara's Answer

"I believe that trust and positive relationships among colleagues foster a more enjoyable work environment where employees, myself included, feel more encouraged to do their best. Every time I start a new position, or if we have a new member join our team, I make a point to get to know each person with which I'll be working. It's important to feel that we're able to go to one another with a question or a challenge so we can problem-solve and support each other as a team. For example, I used to manage the tour program at my previous organization. At first, I did all of the tours myself, because I didn't know my colleagues well enough to feel comfortable asking them to help me with such a big task. Eventually, I wasn't able to accept all of the tours that were requested, because so many were coming in at once. At this point, I had strong relationships with several people around my office and finally asked for help. Just from those connections and that willingness to help out, we were able to accept all of the requests we'd received without significantly impacting anyone's schedule. I ended up having people reach out and ask me if they could give a tour, because they'd heard of how much fun they were!"


Do you have any questions for us?

Take advantage of this question! This is a great opportunity to show your interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the position, and it's a good time to show off some of your research about the company! It is also a chance for your to ask about the hiring timeline, as this will help you with your own timeline for following-up. Prepare a list of around 3 questions in advance and bring them to the interview. You can also take notes throughout the interview to ask targeted questions pertaining to something you discussed; this will impress your interviewer and show that you were listening.

Clara's Answer

"I understand that you have recently hired a new Executive Director. In what ways have you felt the impact of new leadership in this department specifically, and what does the organization's strategic vision look like over the next several years?"


What is your approach to citation? What tools are you familiar with?

Some questions might help guide you to an answer, like this one adding on the question regarding tools. Be sure to listen to the full question before you start forming a response in your head so you don't miss key information and take your answer in another direction. In this case, the interviewer is interested in whether or not you are familiar with software that makes citations less cumbersome and save time. If you have examples, then be specific.

Clara's Answer

"Nowadays, I mostly use Mendeley since I can sign in on my desktop or use the website directly from any computer and sign into my account where I have a saved library of journal articles that can be added to a reference page in several different citation styles (i.e.... AMA, MLA, or APA)."


Have you authored anything that has been published?

This question allows your interviewer to see how many publications you might have, and it also opens the door for them to look into your writing skills and styles. So, when answering this question be sure to provide examples of your best accomplishments. This particular question is broad, but you should expect some version of it during a Medical Writer position interview.

Clara's Answer

"I've authored several scientific manuscripts that have been published in peer review journals (you can be specific depending on time and what the specific role is related to). Additionally, a lot of my work has been published internally in newsletters, training manuals, and reports."


Share an experience where you contributed to the team.

This question allows for some creativity in your response since it's open ended. Make sure that your answer goes beyond the basic facts of the experience you share. If you have helpful details or metrics, then use them to demonstrate that our contribution made a real impact, even if what you did wasn't all that big. This is also a chance to highlight anything that hasn't been discussed yet in regards to your teamwork - whether it becollaboration, motivation, and so on.

Clara's Answer

"I had the opportunity to go for a weeklong Medical Wiring training. Not only was it fascinating and I learned tons, but when I returned, I was able to share all of my knowledge and course materials with colleagues which was a great team building experience. Plus, our writing improved."


Give an example of the types of metadata and/or data analysis you are familiar with and have used in previous positions.

Your interviewer will likely ask a range of experience- and knowledge-based questions. You might find hints regarding what topics they'll cover when you scour the job description, so be sure to have it on hand during your preparation. In this case, the interviewer is referencing your experience with large data sets, which are quite common. So, even if you might not have considerable knowledge or experience with data sets in the context of this particular position, you should be able to demonstrate how to handle data and how to incorporate it into your writing.

Clara's Answer

"I have experience using multiple (name them) types of software completing statistical analysis when given raw data and subsequently incorporating it into the manuscript to highlight the findings of research."


What is your experience in the medical and scientific research realm?

As a Medical Writer, you will likely have a slightly different career path compared to your colleagues. Medical Writers have a variety of experiences. In this question, the interviewer is interested in your experiences to see if you are a good fit for the position. Be honest and if you have relevant experience for the position, talk about that.

Clara's Answer

"I have written scientific manuscripts to share with other scientists the viral research my team completed. Moreover, I worked at a medical device company for over 5 years as a Technical Writer. In that position, I authored training manuals, SOPs, Recipes, and Investigations."


How do you handle criticism in the workplace?

This question helps the interviewer understand how you parse out different types of criticism as well as how professionally you respond. Employers want their employees to be coachable, so you want to demonstrate that you are eager to continuously learn and develop. You might also encounter forms of criticism that do not support your development; consider how you might respond professionally to this sort of criticism. If you have examples to share, then be sure to run them by an objective individual before you share them in the interview to ensure that you present the example in the way you intend to.

Clara's Answer

"I highly value criticism and feedback on my work and performance, because I believe that it helps develop me into a better, more skilled professional. I also believe that some forms of criticism are more helpful than others. For example, when someone offers constructive criticism, I take that feedback to heart, ask follow-up questions, and work on developing that particular thing. When the criticism is not coming from a constructive, supportive place, then I thank the person for sharing, process that feedback, and let them know that I will reach out for any further guidance or suggestions on the issue at hand. I always want to remain professional in the workplace regardless of the circumstances."


Aside from writing, in what area of communication are you strongest?

Employers generally value strong communication across the board, so your interviewer is interested in better understanding the extent of your non-written communication skills. Don't be afraid to ask others for feedback - you might be surprised to learn that others perceive certain aspects of your communication to be particularly strong.

Clara's Answer

"I believe that listening is my strongest area of communication. I have always thought that listening is an underrated component of communication, even though it supports better understanding, greater trust, and more authentic relationships."


What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to improve it?

You want to be honest when answering a question about your greatest weakness, and you want to be mindful of what truth you are sharing. You might know that your greatest weakness is realistically snoozing your alarm each morning, but that isn't an answer you want to share. Instead, consider a weakness that doesn't paint you in a light that will deem you unfit for the position. You might also consider a weakness that in some cases might be seen as very relatable to others or even perceived as a strength to some. Be sure you have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness as well.

Clara's Answer

"My greatest weakness is getting heavily absorbed in my work. I love what I do, and sometimes I have difficulty leaving work at work and balancing out things and time for myself outside of work. Over the last year, I have been working more on incorporating routine self-checks, focusing on stress-relieving activities, and establishing boundaries so I don't find myself researching a project as bedtime reading! I've also partnered with a couple of co-workers to hold ourselves accountable to reaching each of our personal goals."


In what sort of working conditions do you thrive?

The interviewer is asking this question to better understand where and how you get your best work done. When preparing for this question, be sure to do as much research as you can on the organization to gain a better understanding of the overall environment. Also, look carefully at the job description for any language around working conditions or physical requirements, which are often listed at the bottom. Be truthful in your response to this question, because you do not want to offer false expectations or set yourself up to work in an environment that doesn't suit you.

Clara's Answer

"I enjoy having some flexibility in my day, either with my location or being able to sit or stand and move around a bit. One thing I love about my career is that I can be mobile with work if needed, so I'm not entirely bound to one specific environment. For instance, sometimes I enjoy working in a perfectly quiet space, and other times I like to pack up and move somewhere a bit more lively so I can carry that energy into my writing."


In the scenario where your boss asks you to edit a manuscript, what is your approach?

Editing is a common task as a Medical Writer. The interviewer is primarily interested in your process both as an editor and also as a team-player. When responding to this question, you can also elaborate on your collaboration and communication skill.

Clara's Answer

"In my experience, people have different expectations when it comes to editing so I would immediately ask what types of edits are expected. I've been requested to do simple grammar edits as well as extensive edits and comments to make the science easier to understand for the reader. Depending on the expectation, my approach will vary."


What is your greatest strength?

This can be a difficult question to answer - we are our own toughest critics - and the interviewers know it! Be sure to prepare for this question in advance so you don't find yourself sitting in silence searching for an answer during the interview. Make sure that the answer you share is relevant in some way, or find a way to explain it to appear relevant. If you have trouble thinking of a good response, then think back to past performance reviews or kudos you have received from your co-workers. You may also ask colleagues or friends for input. When it comes time to share, be confident in your delivery!

Clara's Answer

"I would say that my greatest strength is adaptability. I am adaptable in my communication style, in how I support others, and in my prioritization of tasks. I'm able to remain confident and positive when things change, even when it is a difficult or unexpected pivot."


What experience do you have with including images in your writing?

Often times in Medical Writing, images are included in the final product to enhance the writing in some way whether it is data related or related to procedure. This question provides the interviewer with some understanding around your formatting skills and ability to match relevant imagery with the text.Give specific examples if you have some.

Clara's Answer

"Typically, a significant graph or other data driven image is added, but I like adding images of the procedure or medical device when appropriate and available. Relevant (and not too many) images without doubt add value to the writing."


Tell us about a time you had to think outside the box at work.

Sometimes, writing requires thinking outside the box. Your interviewer is interested in how you step outside of normalcy - or of what is expected - and your success in doing so. When preparing a response to this question, you have flexibility to use an example outside of the career - just make sure that you're able to draw valuable connections to the current position.

Clara's Answer

"In a previous position, I had some materials that needed to be distributed to my team by a certain date, but I hadn't received final approval on the content until the day before. After I finalized each of the materials, I found that we were unexpectedly low on paper from a large print job by a colleague that morning. So, I started exploring different options and stock closets to see what paper we had available on short notice. I found several reams of multicolored paper, and I decided to take a few of each to color-code the printed materials and bring some brightness to our meeting. I made the pivot appear purely intentional, and the team was pleasantly surprised to see some fun, functional colors in the meeting."

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