Demographers study the way human populations evolve and behave. They use statistical analysis, interviews, surveys and census patterns to determine patterns for marketing companies, city planners, educators, housing officials and health care businesses. Whether you’re applying for a job or interviewing a potential candidate, certain questions are bound to come up in the interview.
Tell Me About Your Background
While the interviewer may be interested in where a candidate grew up and how she got interested in demography in the first place, the focus of an answer to this question should stay on courses taken in college and past experiences. The primary degree held by demographers is sociology, but the core courses may differ widely from other sociology grads. Students dedicated to demography focus on courses that cover global development, health care policies and population theory. Candidates should talk about their depth of understanding in economics, statistics, anthropology and even geography. Transferable experience could come from working for the Census Bureau as a survey taker or in a nonprofit relief organization.
Do You Have Any Specific Training for the Position?
Certainly, any past work experience specifically as a demographer is going to be useful when explaining why you are prepared for the work. But when the candidate can add extra training to the mix, that boosts credibility substantially. For example, a Certificate in Demography demonstrates the candidate’s dedication to the profession and adds credibility to her assertions that she’s qualified. A certificate provides essential training in things like statistical programming, quantitative analysis and research methodology tools that may not have been stressed in other courses.
What Do You See as Important Demographic Trends?
Different agencies and corporations have varying levels of focus and target markets. At the same time, the role of demographer is not one that just follows the company line and tells the boss what she wants to hear. Companies hire professionals in demographics to give it to them straight. And while there is variance in how demographers view population trends, there are factors that all agree upon. Talking about how the aging of the population affects a business or agency in the 21st century, for example, shows that a demographer is in sync with the rest of the industry’s conclusions about important trends, according to the journal Demographic Research. A question about trends reveals how in tune the candidate is with the general consensus of demographers, a characteristic important for a new hire’s effectiveness.
How Do You Deal with Conflict on a Team?
Whether a demographer works independently or directly for an agency or company, she almost always works as part of a larger team usually on specific tasks and projects. As such, she will come into conflict with other researchers who disagree with her conclusions or methods of data collection. An effective demographer can illustrate specifically how she deals with conflict by relating a story. For example, a candidate might talk about a time that the manager of a marketing agency didn’t agree with her results and how she listened carefully to her arguments and was able to find a compromise to satisfy the manager without compromising her own findings.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."