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What is Clinical Research? 

As the study of health and illness in people, this vast discipline of Clinical Research helps to translate laboratory research into treatment outcomes that benefit patients on a wide and global scale. This makes Clinical Research one of the most exciting life sciences careers around. 

With a host of new opportunities appearing across the world in a fast-growing market, there’s never been a better time to work within Clinical Research.  

Top Clinical Research Jobs 

Clinical Research roles mostly operate within pharmaceutical companies or Contract Research Organisations (CROs) who work closely with hospitals to collect information about the safety and effectiveness of drugs. 

Types of Clinical Research jobs include: 

  • Biostatistician
  • Clinical Data Manager (CDM)
  • Clinical Research Associate (CRA)
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Clinical Research Scientist
  • Clinical Trial Manager
  • Clinical Trial Monitor
  • Pharmacovigilance Associate (PVA)
  • Regulatory Affairs Manager (RAM) 

Though becoming CRA certified isn’t a necessity, doing so will help you stand out from the crowd and strengthen your career prospects. Professional development is key in a crowded jobs market, and Clinical Research offers plenty of opportunities for learning and development.  
 
To obtain CRA certification, you’ll need to join a professional Clinical Research Organisation or network. These include: 
 

ACRP – Association of Clinical Research Professionals 

SoCRA – Society of Clinical Research Associates 

CCRA – Clinical & Contract Research Association 

ICR – Institute of Clinical Research 

Clinical Research Interview Preparation 

Interviewing processes within this sector will differ based on your current position and the roles you’re applying for. Our specialist consultant, Nicky Cura, discusses what you can expect in a Clinical Research interview and how best to prepare for them. 

“When you are invited to an interview, the very first step of your preparation should always be to carry our some desk research. Start with a thorough understanding of the company – what they do, what sets them apart in the industry, and what their values are. Go beyond the company website and visit the company’s social media channels too - these can be a fantastic source of information and are generally updated more frequently. Apart from company updates and news, you can also find demographic information about their employees, such as how long they have been with the company and what credentials and experience they have. This can help you to get a sense of the company culture, as well as an idea of the team dynamics and managerial style of the business."

“Armed with your desk research, you should then tailor your CV to match any relevant experience or skillsets that are required in the job description. You’ll also need to highlight these in the interview to show that you’re a good fit for the role. Moreover, it’s essential to prepare tangible examples of your professional achievements that relate to the requirements and duties of the role; this will further assure the hiring manager of your capabilities mentioned in your CV."

"Whether you’re an experienced Clinical Research professional or looking to start a career as one, it is important to take some time to understand current news and trends within the industry as well as be aware of relevant regulatory information. You cannot be expected to know everything, but being well-informed will show the interviewer that you understand this sector.  

Prepare in-depth questions to ask your interviewer. This will show that you have researched their company and are interested in knowing more about them. Showing passion can play a crucial role in sending you to the next stage of the hiring process.  

Your personal presentation is important, even if an interview is carried out virtually. Remember that an interview is your first chance to make a good impression, and you want that impression to be professional. Under this principle, be mindful of what you wear, your technical set-up and background visible on the screen, punctuality as well as your demeanour during the conversation.” 

What can you expect in a Clinical Research Interview?  

Interviews within Clinical Research can vary depending on the company and the role, but they typically range from 1 to 3 stages. The most common is a standard interview focusing on the use of competency-based questions. The interviewer will ask about your experiences, challenges, and motivations and try to understand your skill set in relation to the role you are applying for.  

The follow-up stages normally include a Director or Senior member of the team and some may ask you to deliver a presentation on a subject relating to the role. Hiring managers will almost always ask about your motivation for applying and joining the company. Whatever your reason for seeking a new job is, refrain from speaking ill of your current employer or position. Talk instead about personal development, new opportunities and what you think you can bring to the role.  

Scenario-based questions are common in Clinical Research interviews. These are designed to show the hiring manager how you’d handle certain situations or tasks within a specific context. Questions tend to be based on common scenarios that might occur within the role so that interviewers can get a sense of how you would be able to manage them in context.  

Tasks involved in Clinical Research Interviews 

Not all Clinical Research interviews will require a task as part of the interview process, but when they do, the following two types of tasks are most common: 

A presentation 

You’ll be asked to prepare a 10-15 minute presentation on a subject closely related to the role. When it comes to presentations, make sure the content is concise and relevant. Find a way to deliver your points in a succinct manner in line with the given time frame. And if you’re unsure of anything during your preparation, ask your recruitment consultant as they can help review the materials for you and provide any guidance or advice where needed. 

Scenario-based exercise 

You could be given a task that’s relevant to the responsibilities of the role and you’ll need to explain your approach to managing the task. Similar to answering a scenario-based question, this is where the hiring managers assess your handling of important duties in the day-to-day of the position. And they want to know your thought process and approach to gauge your suitability for the role. Again, speak to your recruitment consultant regarding any questions that arise during your preparation.  

Clinical Research Roles for Doctors 

Are you a medical doctor looking for a career in Clinical Research? 

In Clinical Research, the most common and accessible starting position for a medical doctor is Research Physician. Pharma companies and CROs seek doctors who have completed their foundation training and have 1 or 2 years of post-training within a clinical specialty. Research Physicians are the medical point of contact for a Clinical Trial; dealing with patients and reacting to any changes throughout the clinical trial process. Companies generally look for individuals with a clear career path, dedicated to a particular specialty area, and with good appraisals. 

The expertise and level of experience required may differ from role to role, the easiest way of knowing your options would be talking to a recruitment consultant as they know the recruitment needs and vacancies available on their client’s team. At Carrot Recruitment, you can contact Nicky Cura, who specialises in Clinical Research roles: nicky@carrotpharma.co.uk / 01625 541047

What support can your Clinical Research Recruitment Consultant provide?  

Your recruiter is a great resource as they have in-depth and knowledge of the role and the company you are interviewing with. They can help you achieve a comprehensive understanding of the role and workplace. They can also help shed light on the team structure, progression routes, and culture so you can gauge where you would fit into the business.  

We can provide you with a range of materials to help you to navigate the hiring process, from interview preparation all the way through to handing in your notice. Our service focuses on candidate experience and this is at the core of everything we do.  

If you require more support for your interview preparation or would like to discuss what career options there may be for you? Get in touch with our specialist consultant Nicky Cura:

Nicky headshot bubble

nicky@carrotpharma.co.uk / 01625 541047 

If you’d like to know more about career progression within Clinical Research, read our guide here. And to get a better understanding of the Clinical Research sector, click here 

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