Clinical research pursues a high-impact project with immediate impact for human health and advanced medical treatment. You may see your interview for a clinical research associate position as a high-stress ordeal or daunting challenge. Focusing your effort on preparing the story you want to present at the interview can keep you calm until the day arrives. Look at your prior and future research, weaving them together into a coherent story of your career to present during the interview. Once you've practiced interviewing successfully, the real thing will fly by like a breeze.
Research the institution and the particular lab group you will be working with. Come to the interview prepared to discuss your role in current and future research. Institutional and lab websites offer a good resource to start with, although many lab websites are not up to date with research or publications. Search for the latest papers on indexing services such as PubMed.gov and make use of your professional network to determine what projects that lab is investigating.
Weave your past research into a coherent story that meshes with the clinical research you will be performing. Though it may not reflect actual circumstances, you should present your prior research as if it was performed to place you in the best position to succeed in your future clinical research project. As a researcher, you are marketing the promise of results that you can deliver.
Prepare yourself to discuss your past research. Although you should have your laptop with you and presentation slides ready, do not count on being able to use them. Your interview may involve a chalk talk, where you present your research without any visual aids.
Compose a list of key points you want to come across in your interview, but avoid linking them too closely in a dialog. You don't want to be thrown off if you are interrupted, have to skip around or make your points out of order.
Check into the background of other clinical scientists working in the lab. You likely will be interviewing or meeting many members of the lab. Having an idea of who everyone is can put you at ease. This also will allow you to anticipate aspects of your background they may focus on when asking questions.
Review your resume or CV and make sure you can answer or talk in-depth about each bullet point if asked. It's embarrassing and creates a bad impression to be asked about something on your resume and draw a blank.
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