Becoming a research associate is a great way to make learning and discovering a part of your everyday life. You can make a living working on cutting-edge technologies, making scientific discoveries, and giving companies the data they need to make important decisions about their products and services. It is a great way to feel as though you are making a difference.
Research associates typically assist primary researchers in conducting experiments, running tests, and gathering information for a particular company or organization. They work in the collection, analysis, and reporting of several kinds of data.
If you are like many applying to become a research associate, you have dipped your toes into research while you were in college, perhaps even while earning a postgraduate degree. You are probably interested in a specific field of study, and you have found a potential opportunity to start working in that field.
You are extremely excited about the chance to start doing work you are passionate about, and when you are contacted for an interview, you want to make sure that you ace it.
To help you out, we have compiled a list of some interview questions to help you prepare.
Here are a few questions that you may come across when interviewing for a research associate position and example answers to these questions.
Note that these questions are designed to apply to every kind of research associate, and you may be asked more specific questions about the sort of research you will be doing. For example, if you are applying to become a research associate with a pharmaceutical company, assume that they will be asking you specifics regarding medicine.
What makes a quality research associate, in your opinion?
I believe a quality research associate has great attention to detail, can follow complicated instructions, and has excellent reading comprehension skills.
They should be able to understand complex concepts and explain those concepts to others. They should also be able to read academic papers, published experiments, and data sources and summarize the results of these works.
Above all, however, I believe the ideal research associate has a passion for what they are researching and is curious about the discoveries they can make.
What experience do you have working in a research capacity?
As I listed on my resume, while I was in college, earning my bachelor’s degree, I was involved in several research projects, working directly with professors and faculty to run experiments, publish papers, and review data. As a post-grad student, I co-authored a few papers, which I have included in my portfolio.
Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you went about fixing it.
When writing a report of an experiment’s results, I made an error in my statistical calculations, which affected the conclusion we came to.
Luckily, I noticed my mistake prior to submitting the work to my supervisor, and I had the opportunity to recalculate. I also made sure to double-check my work with a colleague to ensure that I was coming to the correct conclusion. Moving forward, I always double-check my calculations before submitting work.
What kind of research interests you?
I am mostly interested in the sort of research that deals directly with human subjects. I enjoy interacting with people, and I would be honored to be a part of research that could better the lives of others and improve a person’s quality of life. As a result, I have long been interested in pharmaceutical studies and the development of medicines.
I also am interested in psychological and psychiatric studies, as the brain, one of the most complicated organs, is particularly interesting to me.
How do you stay up-to-date with the topics we are researching?
I stay up-to-date with the industry by subscribing to several scientific journals and remaining in contact with professors I researched under in the past.
Why do you want to work with us specifically?
I was drawn to your company as I am very impressed with the work you have done and the results of experiments you have done. I believe you are on the cutting edge of the industry, and you have the potential to uncover something great. I am extremely excited that I could have the opportunity to work with your organization.
How would you describe the ideal colleague?
To me, the ideal colleague is someone who is, first and foremost, accountable. They realize that others depend on them, and they complete their work accordingly, with accuracy and efficiency. They understand where they fit on a team and how their contribution to our work matters.
I also believe a good colleague has a passion for what they are doing and is curious and interested in the topic they are researching. There is no replacement for a passion for research and learning.
What database and statistics software are you familiar with?
I am familiar with Stata, SPSS Statistics, and SAT. However, I pick up on new technology quickly and could easily learn another software.
How do you stay motivated during long tasks?
During long tasks, I try to stay motivated by keeping the goal in mind. Having a vision of what the results may look like helps me keep my energy and motivation high. I am also accustomed to working on longer tasks, as I have completed year-long research projects before.
However, I find the best way to stay motivated is to split a task up into more manageable sections, each with its own end goals. This helps me stay motivated and organized.
What, in your opinion, was the most important advancement in our field within the last ten years?
The most important advancement in the past ten years has been the reduced costs of DNA tests. As we can test and process DNA samples at a lower cost, DNA tests have become more accessible and more common.
Not only has this allowed for the average person to have their DNA tested, say to discover ancestry or potential health risks, but it also allows for more research to be done using DNA, including altering DNA to prevent diseases in embryos, reviewing the DNA of viruses to examine how they mutate, et cetera.
This advancement has opened the door for much more scientific work to be done and more advancements to be made.
How well do you handle routine and monotonous work?
As I mentioned before, I have worked on long-term projects before, and in these projects, I often repeated the same set of ten or fifteen steps daily. I find that I can get into a groove, for lack of a better term, with repetitive work, and this type of work is particularly relaxing for me, especially as I know what to expect when coming in for work every day.
Have you presented research before?
Yes, as a post-graduate, I was tasked with presenting our findings to the environmental sciences department at my college.
I was responsible for developing and giving a presentation that accurately described and explained our research process and findings.
I then gave this presentation to a collection of professors and guests who included industry leaders and subject matter experts.
Where do you first look to find academic-level information?
When I need to find information during my research, I look only to the most reputable publications and databases to find sources. I often search library databases, scientific journals, and other similar sources.
How do you handle tight deadlines?
I handle tight deadlines by remaining organized. Keeping a current planner is a habit I have maintained since high school, and it has helped me remain on track and focused.
The best way to manage tight deadlines is to split tasks up into more manageable pieces. Once you are approaching a task with a more structured approach, it is far less likely that you will get distracted or get sidetracked. This way, the task at hand always remains your primary focus.
How well do you work in teams? Do you work well with others?
I work very well on teams. Working with others is very rewarding, as we can help one another with problems that may arise, keep each other on task, and get a second opinion when we are unsure.
I believe working on teams is especially important when conducting research. As the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one,” and this holds true when working on research, as team members can discover mistakes faster, collaborate to improve experiment processes, and come together to make more accurate conclusions.
When it comes to teams of researchers, I believe we have a natural propensity to work together and share ideas, so working on a team comes very easily to me.
Becoming a professional researcher can be an exciting opportunity for anyone who wants to learn and discover. Aside from the job application, the interview is your first chance to prove to your potential employer why you are perfect for the position.
By practicing answering these sample questions, you will find yourself as prepared as you can be for your interview.