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Article written by Pharmaspecific, specialists in clinical research. This article is available in english version.

Following a professional evolution, at the end of your contract or simply as part of a first job, you’ll may need (e) to apply for a CRA job.

However, the competition is tough, many have the same goal as yours: to find a job. In this context, it is sometimes difficult to find the ARC position you seek.
You have applied for the CRA position and want to get this job at any price?

Some constraints such as distance or lack of time democratized telephone interviews. You may then pass this type of interview, whether for a pre-recruitment or for a full interview.
Passing a phone interview is the first step to success. Do not forget: without preparation, this telephone conversation – your first contact with the recruiter – can easily turn to disaster.

1- The scenes of a successful telephone interview for the position of CRA

Here are the essential steps to properly prepare you for a telephone interview:

  • Get informed in advance about the company to which you have applied (although you should have done it when writing your cover letter 😉 ). What are its main activities? What is his specialty clinical or epidemiological studies, diseases favorite? What are its goals and values? Who are its main partners? Does it work in the international scale? Is it big or small? What are his accomplishments: publications, website, conferences?
  • For this, use the data that you will find on the internet, the company website and social networks: Linkedin, Viadeo, well … You could quote these information during the interview and highlight your strengths to the company profile. For example, if the company is specialized in epidemiological studies, you can highlight your possible experiences in this field.
  • Anticipate questions the recruiter may ask: Who are you? What are your qualifications? Why did you choose this company? What are your career aspirations? How much do you expect as salary?
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For this, you can search in the internet the usual CRA salary of your experience your experience level, assess your skills, your age and your current salary to claim a wage so as to avoid being too demanding.

  • Master your CV on the fingertips. You must be able to quickly answer questions about your professional experience: Studies on how much you have worked, what types of studies it was (Phase I, II, III, IV, epidemiological …), how long have – you spent on every study, what was your role (regulatory Submissions, monitoring, assistance to the investigator, data entry, project management, …).

Warning, the terms may vary from one company to another, it is sufficient for you to say that you were CRA coordinator, you have to be able to explain the tasks that you have treated to your interlocutor. Indeed, this title can represent different items according to your employer.

  • Prepare questions to ask the recruiter (relating to the position or the company): this proves that you’re interested by the Post and the company. What are the company short and long term challenges? On what tasks will you be involved? This will also allow you to find the answers that you have not found during your on the internet research. Avoid obvious questions such as « Will there be any travel? in the case of an CRA job with monitoring on site.
  • Think to review existing regulations and the Good Clinical Practices, to restore them in case of questions without necessarily consulting your notes. Do not forget that these are the basics of CRA job!
  • If you’re stressed (e), learn to control your breathing. During panic, we tend to adopt a short and rapid breathing with the upper chest. Abdominal breathing, slower, helps to calm down. For this, you have to train. Relaxed, lay your hand on your belly and focus on these movements: your belly shall swell to inspiration and go expiration, proof of a deep breath. In case of stress it would help you to reproduce this method to get your senses.
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Do not hesitate to write these elements on paper so that you’ll be prepared and ready when the concerned company will call.

Train in answering questions. You can simulate a phone call with a close, it will help you to highlight improvement areas.

2- During the phone call:

  • Show your motivation, remain relaxed, keep calm. Above all, choose a place where you feel at ease – this possibility is one of the advantages of a telephone interview. Choose especially a quiet place, the noise might give wrong impression to the recruiter.
  • Despite the preparations, you may still feel some anxiety during the interview. It is not necessary to hide it. It is better to tell it to your interlocutor. This will mark a break in the discussion and then allow you to catch up.
  • Be polite) and does not interrupt the person speaking to you. Let the person finish her question, his remarks or explanations before interrupting, even if you already have an answer in your head. Speak distinctly, neither too fast nor too slowly and loudly enough for the recruiter to hear you. Do not forget that your voice must convince the interviewer.
  • Minimize hesitations and the famous « Uh… » that will give the impression that you are not self-confident and you do not master the subject. If you need to think before answering the question, you can rephrase the question, it will give you time to prepare your answer.
  • Make sure you understand everything before answering. Otherwise, do not hesitate to reformulate using « if I understand … » or respectfully ask the person to repeat what was said. This will prevent you from giving an inadequate response.
  • Smile when you speak, it will be perceived by your interlocutor. You have to be dynamic and comfortable in speaking.
  • Do not forget what is expected from a CRA and the information you have gathered about the company and the position during the preparation. Guide your answers to show that you respond to these expectations. Demonstrates that you master the field, you are rigorous and up to date on regulatory requirements and PCBs. This will show that you are operational and autonomous.
  • Demonstrates enthusiasm and active listening: What are the expectations of your correspondant? in which he insists? This will allow you to best meet his expectations.
  • At the end of the interview, do not forget to ask when and how you will they communicate their decision about your recruitment. You can also ask for the number of candidate. This will highlight your motivation and thus prevent you from unnecessary stress.
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As a CRA, you will be in contact with a large number of investigators and collaborators, and which says a lot of people say necessarily different personality and character at every meeting.

For this, a CRA must be readily adaptable to any situation, remaining calm and respectful. Similarly, you must perfectly know the applicable regulations and the principles of Good Clinical Practice and know to answer investigators questions about this. This will probably be assessed during the telephone interview.

There is no silver bullet to pass a telephone interview, the key for its success is the « preparation« .

Now the ball is in your court, play and good luck!

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