C A R E E R S

PEER REVIEWED

Regan K. Wyatt, MBA

R E S E A R C H

C L I N I C A L

Interviewing Tips for Clinical Research Professionals H
For some of us,interviewing comes easy; for others,the mere thought of interviewing causes sweaty palms and a dry mouth.It is not that we lack the ability to do the job; it is about being prepared, selling our knowledge, experience,and skills,and finding the right match.

ow many of you can relate to the following scenario? You have decided it is time for a change in position or organization. You update your resume, spice it up, and then spend the next few days, weeks, or even months applying for positions in various organizations. Then the interview requests start to arrive. For some of us, interviewing comes easy; for others, the mere thought of interviewing causes sweaty palms and a dry mouth. It is not that we lack the ability to do the job; it is about being prepared, selling our knowledge, experience, and skills, and finding the right match. These interview tips, coupled with your own preparation, should make the whole process more efficient and generate less anxiety. Preparing for an interview is similar to planning a research paper. This is true of any type of interview, regardless of the interview format (behavioral, traditional, telephone, or face-to-face) or the industry in which you are searching. There are four major steps for an interview, and they parallel authoring a research paper: 1. 2. 3. 4. Research of the organization and the position Your introduction at the interview The main portion of the interview The conclusion

Tackling an interview process using these steps will help ensure appropriate preparation and follow-through. Some organizations will choose to begin the process with a telephone interview. This initial call provides an introduction to the organization, position responsibilities, and any necessary technical skills. Whether this call comes from the human resources department or the organization’s hiring manager, this is your opportunity to give a favorable first impression. It is important to sound alert and interested in the conversation. Minimize any distractions or background noise in order to project professionalism through your voice contact; any disruptions suggest to the caller that your focus is elsewhere. Be concise, but give enough detail without straying from the topic. Ask questions based on your initial research of the company (see below and Table 1). Discuss the next steps in the interview process. When scheduling a face-to-face meeting, take the opportunity to ask a few preliminary questions about the interview process in general. Some may not be answered, but try to gather details to help with the preparation. Researching the Organization As is true for those that author any type of article, book, or paper, an interviewee should carefully research the prospective organization. This demon-

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8. In order to minimize the interviewer’s distractions and encourage appropriate eye contact. dress shirts. questions.gov). Today’s technology allows interviewees to access facts and information with a few keystrokes. ties for men. Always use “business professional” dress standards for the interview. 2. 4.com). gain basic information. or the ACRP website (www. socks. and recent news. ● Tell me about a time you failed to meet a deadline. and what are their titles? Is it a panel or one-on-one interview? What kind of management or leadership style do you believe in? Ask for directions or the exact address to map the directions to the interview’s location. What things did you fail to do? ● What did you learn? ● What is your experience with external entities. Centerwatch website (www. Be prepared with backup items (panty hose for women. 5. Typical Questions Asked by Interviewers General Interview Questions ● Tell me about yourself and your work history/experience. CROs.They also attest to the extent of your business knowledge. core competencies. Always obtain a job description prior to the interview. ● How would you describe your abilities as a team player? ● Give me an example of a time you had to make an important decision. Remember. position. Questions. 9. 6. ● What goals do you have for your career? ● How would you describe your ideal job? ● What do you see yourself doing five years from now? ● What motivates you? ● Why should we hire you? Experience/Position-Related Questions ● How are you effective in your role now? ● Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them. These are just a few websites you can use to gather clinical research information. Match your skills and past experiences to the position requirements. What is the interview process and the turnaround time on the hiring decision? Who will be participating in the interview. regardless of organization dress codes. Are they in study startup or closeout? What phase and/or therapeutic area are they in? Does the organization use any specific software or systems? strates your genuine interest in the organization and position and exemplifies your future behavior toward assigned tasks or goals. shoes. you will also encounter new questions. and develop potential questions to ask during the interview. centerwatch. Preparation and research for the interview should include four components: organization. PEER REVIEWED ❘ 25 . Use the U. ● What do you like most and least about your current position? ● How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples. Try to envision questions that might be asked and prepare answers (see Table 2). As your preparation and research continues. Questions for the Initial (Screening) Interview 1. How did you make the decision? How does it affect you today? ● How would you or past employers describe your personality? How would you or past employers describe your work habits? How do you perform under pressure? ● Be prepared for hypothetical or behavioral questions where you will be asked to explain what you would do given a certain situation. Position. and dress. 3. etc. Reconfirm the date and time of the interview. 7. Review and prepare frequently asked interview questions. Although the organization initiated the interview to determine if a candidate is the right fit. Be prepared to discuss those skills and past accomplishments at an appropriate time in the interview. Dress. jewelry for both).acrpnet.org) to search for any information about current or past studies as well as industry information. this is the time for an interviewee to interview the organization as well. It helps you to become familiar with the organization’s history.? ● What are your technical competencies? Attributes-Related Questions These types of questions address how you respond to situations in a short amount of time and assess your decision-making/judgment skills. software vendors. do not wear more than 10 acces- Table 2. fda. this is a symbiotic opportunity. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (www. Many such questions are listed on career websites. Questions should illustrate your interest in the organization and position.Table 1. if necessary. Organization. goods and/or services. Review the organization’s website to gather more information on history. Use one or two of the major search engines to find more details. such as FDA. Jot them down to ask during the interview. Plan interview attire in advance.S. Ask about the status of their current projects.

com. As you are introduced to different team members. Be on time. unless asked first. sell your skills. MBA. being prepared for that first impression is vital. Websites such as www. be mindful of carrying anything too bulky or distracting. A writer’s objective when creating a story. During the interview. experience. As the interviewer addresses issues that relate to your questions. and desire for the position.com and www. along with hard copies of your resume.C. However. Your salary expectations. First impressions are important to help set the tone for the rest of the interview. you should be assessing your compatibility with potential managers. You should have an idea of whether the compensation range and corporate culture fit your goals and/or family needs. graduating with her MBA in 2000 from Western Carolina University. hair accessories.. questions that engage the interviewer but also answer more about them and the organization: ● ● ● What brought you here? What excites you about the organization? What keeps you here? Proper attitude. Treat every interview with the same enthusiasm by using these steps from beginning to end. arrive early. and desire for the position. She worked with an environmental company in Charleston. or book is to capture and retain the audience throughout the entire piece of writing. and confidence are key during an interview. team members. and background. or ties). The Introduction Proper attitude. timeline for a hiring decision. specific industry salary averages. From the moment you step onsite at an organization. researched prior to the interview. and can be reached at rwyatt@ clinforce. commission. Wyatt. It starts with research of the organization and position. do not bring up compensation with the hiring manager. should match the position and its responsibilities. and colleagues.sories (jewelry. Describe your capabilities and ability to do the job. so you can follow up with the appropriate individuals afterwards. It is more appropriate to discuss this topic with the human resources representative. With the face-toface interview. and be honest with this information when asked. received a bachelors’ degree in chemistry from the University of North Carolina. The same objective is true during an interview—for the interviewee as well as the interviewer.and confidence are key during an interview. ask Be prepared to discuss your current salary and compensation expectations. Be able to discuss your total compensation package (i. As you progress through the interview process. LLC the same year. Discuss your skillset.positive body language. experience. Discuss the decision-making process. and benefit costs. scarves. and when and with whom it will be appropriate for you to follow up. As an interviewee. you should have a strong opinion of whether this position and organization will be the right move for you. in 1996. Take a notepad and pen. Just before the interview.com can provide salary reports. salary. Chapel Hill. Save the rest of your questions for the time when the interviewer gives you the opportunity to ask more. Give a smile and a firm handshake. The Conclusion At this point in the interview. ask them. in fact. Follow up with your contact if you have not heard from the organization within the timeframe discussed in the interview. cost-of-living comparisons. Use examples of past work in order to expand on points and issues. Do not walk out of the interview without a closing summary of your skills. Remember that appropriate posture can also display attentiveness and positive self-image. Take full advantage of every opportunity a potential employer extends to strengthen your interview skills until the right match is found. Regan K. Ensure you have all your questions answered. She started her career as a recruiter with ClinForce. make sure the interviewer has asked all the questions necessary for him or her to feel confident that you are the right fit for the position. be consistent and clear about your current salary and expectations. It should thank them for their time and consideration and express your strong interest in the position. A strong final step in the interview process is a follow-up note to your interviewers. S. State your skills and experience as a final brief reminder of why you are the right match. experience. If your assessment of the position and organization is positive. In addition. bonus). it will potentially be verified later.e. such as the next steps. Take the initiative: Introduce yourself and extend your hand first. base. article. Then it is followed through with dressing for success for a strong introduction with everyone you encounter during the interview process. meet. Be discreet with perfume and cologne.monster. before returning to western North Carolina to obtain her master’s degree. and take note of everyone you come in contact with during the interview. She currently oversees the recruiting team.. 26 ❘ MONITOR SEPTEMBER 2007 . you will have been able to test drive the commute and explore the surrounding area. However. Conclude the interview again with a strong impression and follow-up with thank you notes to the interviewers. The Main Portion of the Interview Give the interviewer the opportunity to talk and take the lead. positive body language. Ensure that the interviewer’s questions are answered as well as your own. greet. use whatever techniques work best for you—such as “pumping yourself up” in front of the mirror or calling a friend for words of confidence—in order to better display these positive attributes.

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