Please help me prepare for a market research job interview
May 27, 2011 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I have an interview at a market research company next week! Which is great, except that I've been in school for physics for the last 7 years and I know next to nothing about the field. Can you give me resources, tips or tricks to prepare for this interview?

I just finished my M.Sc. in particle physics, and have no experience in the business world. I've been clear about this fact in my resume, cover letter or initial telephone call, so the company seems to be ok with it. I would, however, like to be as prepared as possible. This is my first non-academic interview.

The company produces commissioned reports for manufacturers in the medical and dental device markets. This is mostly done by distributing custom surveys, performing interviews with people in the industry, and analysing the results. I would be a "research analyst", a position that requires equal parts data analysis and human interaction.

Is there a "basics of market research" somewhere that I can read this weekend to get an idea of the core concepts of the field? What are some key things I should learn about the the medical device market to show I've done my homework? Where would I find this information?

The contact also said that part of the interview will be a "quiz" on a workstation, and emphasized that I shouldn't worry about preparing for it and gave no further details. Any idea what this will entail?

Thanks in advance, and any other advice you have would be much appreciated.
posted by auto-correct to Work & Money (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Get familiar with generic SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis in the medical device field. I would start right here.

If you understand the basics of SWOT in the medical devices industry, and can feel comfortable discussing the issues in high-level and in technical detail terms, you will be good to go.

Good luck at the interview!
posted by ttyn at 1:21 PM on May 27, 2011

As far as the quiz is concerned, I have no idea what they could ask you, but you can try looking up the company on and see if anyone posted interview information/experiences.
posted by ttyn at 1:26 PM on May 27, 2011

I suspect that the quiz may be one of those "personality test" things that seem to be all the rage with employers. I've had to fill them out as part of the screening process at previous jobs. Mostly, I just give the answers that I think they want to hear (although, I try to be mostly honest, too, since they'll figure it out pretty quickly if who the personality test says I am doesn't match up with the way I actually behave). You generally can't prepare in advance for this sort of quiz, so if that is what they're referring to then I wouldn't worry too much about it.
posted by asnider at 1:40 PM on May 27, 2011

Best answer: The quiz could also be preparing a short analysis based on a hypothetical or real scenario, or a Microsoft Office skills assessment, although it would be strange not to tell someone if it was going to be the latter.

Check Glassdoor and if you like, MeMail me the name of your prospective employer. I've done a reasonably similar track (albeit with more on the consulting side), and could probably give you some more thoughts on how to approach it, depending on if it's a Frost/Datamonitor type publication or a smaller shop.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:59 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Actually, come to think of it: Frost had me do a hilariously easy "math test" for their interview, calculators allowed. Do physics majors remember how to convert fractions into percentages using a calculator? Cool, you're set.
posted by deludingmyself at 2:01 PM on May 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks ttyn, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. Hopefully I will dazzle them with my knowledge.

And it sounds like I shouldn't be too worried about this quiz... I'd started convincing myself that I'd have to write analysis code on the spot with no resources. Sounds like that's not too likely.

deludingmyself, I think I would nail that test :P But it's a small shop and there's not much up on glassdoor, so I can only hope it's that easy.

Thanks everyone for your input!
posted by auto-correct at 2:34 PM on May 27, 2011

Response by poster: Just in case anyone finds this question in the future, I had the interview today and it went ok!

There was about a half an hour of general interview type questions (strengths and weaknesses, work history, etc).

Then they give me a sheet with made up facts about a fictional market (total sales, recent trends, company acquisitions, etc) and gave me an hour to write a 1-page report on the future of the market. I have no idea how well I did on it, but it definitely helped that I had looked up similar reports and some annual reports of companies in the field beforehand.
posted by auto-correct at 12:23 PM on May 31, 2011

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