Job interview Questions:

Job interview questions

Candidates always want to know what job interview questions they should prepare for. What most job seekers don’t realize, however, is that questions and expected answers are likely to vary based on whether the position is a contract or permanent role. 

Today we are going to dig into expected job interview questions for each job type so that you can be fully prepared for those upcoming interviews. 

What Is Common

Every interviewer is expected to do certain things prior to their job interview. While you may be applying to several positions, your future manager wants to believe that you have hand-selected this particular opportunity. 

So when preparing for potential job interview questions, don’t forget these important steps: 

  • Research the company. Why? So you can articulate why you want to work with them. What is the company’s flagship product or service? Their mission? 
  • What questions will you ask the interviewer? In a perfect world, you will know the name and role of your interviewer. Research him/her and draft some questions related to what you learn. You will also want to create questions about the company, about the team, and about the company’s products or project(s).
  • Don’t forget the basics. We have several articles with tips in this space, but the most important is ensuring that you present well. Make sure you are dressed appropriately, make eye contact, actively listen, and be conversational. 

But Here Are Some Specific Differences

A contractor will take a very different approach to selling herself than a perm will. Why? Because a company hiring a contractor will have different short-term needs and a company hiring a perm will have different long-term needs. 

What the Client is Looking For Short-Term

Contract Candidates:

Consultants should never need training on core tasks. Therefore, a competitive contractor will already have related experiences that will enable him/her to quickly and effectively engage in the project with little/no training. 

  • This means the contractor can describe where he/she has strong experience and a high competency in basic monitoring skills. 
  • This also means that ideally, the contractor will have experience in the exact therapeutic(s). It is a bonus if he/she has experience in the specific indication(s). 
  • The only onboarding that a contractor should need would include training on the specific protocol and client-specific SOPs and tools. 

Permanent Candidates:

While Permanent candidates should still have relevant basic skills and experiences, the key difference in the short term is your willingness to learn new things.

You can expect the interviewer to ask questions about your basic knowledge of the core competencies (monitoring, therapeutics, etc) but then progress to a discussion more focused on developmental opportunities. 

  • As a perm candidate, be ready to speak to your experience and competency level in basic monitoring skills. Don’t oversell. 
  • If you don’t have the exact therapeutic or indication experience needed, be prepared to discuss how you will gain those skills.  The key is what you will do to ensure success (self-study, etc). 

Long-term engagement differences:

Contract Candidates:

For contractors, the largest long-term’ concern most hiring managers have is whether you will stay for the duration of the project. 

  • Be prepared to obtain clarity regarding the length of the contract/project. Then, have a candid discussion as it relates to what you are able/willing to commit to in terms of contract length and weekly/monthly utilization.
  • Also, be prepared to answer whether you have ever left a project before it was scheduled to end, and if so, why. 
  • Hiring managers also appreciate being able to call consultants back to work on future projects. Therefore, it is great to express that you are looking for a long-term relationship and hope to be considered for future projects. Not only will you show your interviewer that you are committed, but will help her when it comes to future resource planning.  

Permanent Candidates:

Ideally, the hiring manager will ask questions to assess your long-term goals. But be prepared to discuss those career goals even if you aren’t asked.  

  • First, ensure the topic of expectations is broached. Leading into a ‘what expectations would you have of me within 30/60/90 days’ discussion is a great way to approach this topic. Bringing up this topic will show that you are concerned with being successful and that you are committed to the company and position. And the bonus is that if the expectations are out of alignment with your personal goals, you will quickly become aware that the fit isn’t right. 
  • Second, be prepared to discuss what your long-term career goals are. CRAs typically want to either a) stay in the CRA role while diversifying their knowledge, b) want to move into some type of management role, or c) move into quality assurance. Your path doesn’t have to align with any of these but have a thoughtful answer. And importantly, be prepared to discuss how working in this particular position will give you skills and experiences to help you obtain those long-term goals. 

Understand the interview venues: 

Contract Candidates:

Consultants will typically experience a ‘one and done’ interview. This means you should a) understand your target audience, b) familiarize yourself with the project so you can speak about the details during the interview, and c) be prepared to sell yourself within that single interview. 

For consultants, your target audience is typically going to be a hiring manager or operations manager. Spend your time asking questions about the project. I would even recommend you ask what areas of the project need the most attention. 

Knowing these details will enable you to articulate where you will be best utilized by expressing what specific experience and skills fit their needs. The goal is to show that you can immediately contribute to the project. 

Permanent Candidates:

Permanent candidates should expect multiple interviews that span across different departments within the company. Because you are likely to speak to individuals across various roles, it is important that you a) understand your target audience for each interview and b) tailor your questions and discussions for that particular audience. 

Here are some things to consider:
  • Operations Management: Interviews with operations should focus on operations. This is a simple but important rule. You should never raise the topics of salary, benefits, days off, or other similar items during these interviews. That doesn’t mean the topics won’t arise (we speak to that in the next section), but if your interview is with operations, let your interviewer bring these subjects up. 
  • Human Resources: Questions on benefits, salary, days off, or other items should be reserved for Human Resources. But, be aware that HR representatives are also keenly interested in your long-term career goals and commitments because they are assessing if you will be a long-term fit for the team and company. 
  • Panel or team interviews: These types of interviews are a different beast. The key is to find out who will be in attendance prior to the interview. Research their backgrounds so you know what roles will be interviewing you.  Be prepared to address individuals in leadership roles, future peers/colleagues, or support positions and think of topics each of them cares about.  
A tip:

Use our ‘Preparing for Behavioral Interview Questions’ article to think about potential job interview questions. Spend some time writing out the answers to some of these questions and you will find yourself much more prepared for your upcoming job interviews. 

Be prepared to discuss compensation or salary…at any interview. 

Contract Candidates:

If you are being represented by an agency, you should understand that the bill rate the client will see is different from the pay rate you will receive.  

Agencies will apply a markup to the CRA’s pay rate to contribute to the operations of the agency, payroll or banking costs, licenses, insurance, commissions to the recruiting team, and other associated overhead costs. All consultants should feel empowered to ask their agency what the markup is on their pay rate. 

With that being said, if an agency is representing you, it is taboo to discuss your hourly pay rate with the client’s hiring manager. 

However, if you are representing yourself, you should be prepared to discuss your bill rate because you must be able to explain why you feel your rate is appropriate. And if you aren’t sure what the current contract CRA hourly rate is, benchmark it so that you don’t over or understate your bill rate.  

Permanent Candidates:

Permanent candidates are typically expected to provide their compensation requirements at the beginning of their candidacy.

A couple of things to note:
  • Providing a range is absolutely acceptable. 
  • However, it isn’t acceptable to simply state ‘negotiable’. If you aren’t sure what salary you should be asking for, benchmark it (we can help with that). But most agencies and hiring entities will not progress you if you aren’t clear regarding your expected compensation. 

If you are being represented by an agency, your agency can help you determine the best range based on your experience, the complexity or seniority of the position, and the current market. Unlike contract positions, a recruiter will receive a fee based on your base salary. And this is good for you because typically, the better the salary, the higher the fee the recruiter receives.  However, it also behooves the recruiter to tell you if your expectations are too high because that recruiter only wins the fee if you get placed. 

So have a candid discussion with your recruiter regarding your expectations.

Be prepared to discuss salary expectations during the interview.

If/when this topic comes up during an interview, realize this is an informal discussion, which means you don’t have to accept or decline the offer during the interview. 

  • If you love (love love) the offer, say you love it and would be inclined to accept the offer when it is officially presented! 
  • But, if the informal offer doesn’t knock your socks off, you don’t have to commit right then. The bottom line is that you do not have to negotiate salary during the interview

This bears repeating – you do not have to negotiate salary during the interview. But, you should make sure your response leaves the door open. A simple response like: 

  • The base salary is a little lower than I had hoped. But I am very interested in working for this company / this team / on this project. May I think about it? 
  • I would like to compare this range with others that I am receiving. But I am very interested in working for this company / this team / on this project. May I have a few days to do that comparison? 

And if an agency is representing you, tell your recruiter. It is our job to do that negotiation for you (and we are good at it) – so let us know and we will do all the heavy lifting in terms of getting you the best package possible. 

Lean On Us

The job search continues to change, meaning job interview questions have changed. Candidates always want to know what job interview questions they should prepare for and a great starting point is understanding how those questions (and answers) will vary based on the role.

Preparing for your upcoming job interview doesn’t have to be stressful. We can help.