CBI Scene Blog

Acing CRA Interviews – The Ball is in Your Court

Posted by Harmony Chan on Jun 1, 2016 8:38:20 AM

The consistent demand for Clinical Research Associates in the health sciences market means that opportunities are abound for experienced candidates in the marketplace. However, newer candidates may find the interview process overwhelming, especially when you feel you are out of your comfort zone or haven’t had to “sell yourself” to a potential employer for some time. This is why preparation is key.

For a CRA, this means being able to articulate your past and present experience well, knowing your therapeutic areas, drawing on your scientific and medical knowledge, and being able to clearly express what you are looking for next.

These five steps listed here will assist you in preparing for CRA or SCRA interviews, particularly with a contract research organization (CRO).

Step 1 – know your CV and skillset

In all interviews, you are usually asked to talk through your career history and reasons for leaving. Prepare well-summarized and informative statements covering your site start-up, recruitment, ethics submission, monitoring, database lock, audit and therapeutic area experience. Tailor these to appropriately answer questions when prompted. Reflect upon your previous work experience, the technical capabilities you have learnt in each role and express how you have developed professionally. Be ready to talk about the different roles you have had on different projects and how this experience relates to the role and organization you are interviewing for.

Step 2 - research the role and organization you are interviewing for

Google, Linkedin and the company website will be your friends here. Analyze the company website, Linkedin page and other relevant sources to learn about the company’s past and present projects, therapeutic areas covered and spend some time thinking about how this relates to what you want next. Relate your CV and skillset back to what you discover, and be open about projects and therapeutic areas you want to work on. Find out all you can about the role you are interviewing in order to be able to articulate why you would be a good fit for the role.

Step 3 - have behavioral/situational examples ready

Managers and human resources (HR) professionals assess behavioral and situational experiences in order to see how you respond to circumstances such as tight deadlines, conflict situations and stressful challenges. Think back to the times you had to deal with difficult site staff or investigators, or had just come on to several complex projects with demanding sponsors at the same time, or couldn’t quite figure out what a clinical trial assistant (CTA) needed from you. Be prepared to draw from these various examples in your career history and answer behavioral questions in a Situation, Action and Response model.

Step 4 – know what you are looking for next

Is it a different therapeutic area? More or less travel? Greater work/life balance? Get ready to talk about this as well as management style and workplace culture preferences so that your next manager knows what you are looking for. This will enable them to determine whether you would be a good fit for the role, team and organization.

Step 5 – be your best professional self

You’ve heard it before – be yourself. In interviews however, it’s more a case of being your best professional self.  Get yourself in the right frame of mind to talk about your professional capabilities, proudest achievements and what you have to offer. Don’t forget the balance between being professional and personable as well – everyone wants to see a little personality to see your point of difference.

The CRA role is a demanding and challenging one, however one that offers great opportunity for career progression. Make sure you are presenting the most capable and competent version of yourself!

To view career opportunities and learn more about life at George Clinical, visit our Linkedin page.

Bio: Harmony Chan is HR Buisiness Partner at George Clinical, a leading contract research organization (CRO) in the Asia Pacific region, with unparalleled Investigator networks. George Clinical provides a full range of trial management services to pharmaceutical and biotech customers, for both registration and post marketing trials.