Research Analyst Interview Questions
June 6, 2018 5:57 AM   Subscribe

I have an interview at a smallish university in my area as a Research Analyst. What kind of interview questions, particularly in a post-secondary setting, are typical of this position?

I very much need (and am interested in and want!) this position. The interview is in a few days and I am psyching myself out a bit. The internet has some information about market research positions, but not a ton about the interviewing process. And I'd guess the interviews at a university will differ from a business setting.

Snowflakey details: I have an MA in a social science field but little work experience outside of my graduate program. I'm decent with stats and know my way around SPSS, but my strengths definitely lie more on the 'social' side of things (e.g. planning a research project, theoretical analyses, etc). If I were to be quizzed on the spot re: stats knowledge I probably wouldn't do great, but I can easily talk about projects where I've used stats effectively.

The interview is 30 minutes long. Should I expect longer, more in-depth interviews afterward? Something that may reflect good odds (or not? you tell me!): the posting for this job has been up for nearly a month and they got back to me within 3 days.

Any hope and help (specific questions you've asked/have been asked) would be greatly appreciated!
posted by xiasanlan to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does the job description say what department the Research Analyst position is in? I think that would significantly shape your interview questions and answers. I work in a university Institutional Advancement department, and the person in my department with that title reviews prospects for fundraising solicitation and ranks them, using databases like WealthEngine. A Research Analyst in an Institutional Research department would be dealing with statistics about the university itself (student demographics, etc.) for internal quality control. Other departments might use Research Analysts for academic research projects, and those would vary with the discipline.

So, it's hard to answer this question without a slightly higher level of detail about what's expected for this particular job.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:19 AM on June 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yo. I have worked as a research analyst in a university and am also interviewing for similar positions. Typically they stick with questions that are related to the position and some interpersonal fluff thrown in regarding how you work with a team. It has varied wildly but the questions I keep running into are:

1. How do you prioritize multiple projects with similar deadlines? How do you make sure everything is finished on time? What do you do if you can't?

2. Describe an analysis project you found most challenging and why?

3. Describe a time when you had a disagreement with a coworker. How did you resolve it?

I haven't ever been quizzed on stats or anything of the sort even with jobs I've been offered, HOWEVER, I do have a "written" test coming up for one really piquing my curiosity. I wasn't given any clues as to what would be on it, but I'd be surprised and perplexed if it was the equivalent of a stats test (then again this is the same place that required 6 references, including 1 from my current supervisor, so I have a feeling whoever is hiring in this department is flying by the seat of their pants more often than not).

One position had 18 questions (!) that were extremely generic and had little to do with the position but I think that was an HR requirement.

If anything they might ask you specific experience with certain elements of SPSS (using syntax, merging multiple data sets, querying an external database, etc.) or statistical analyses (your experience conducing multiple regression, etc.) but nothing hardcore to quiz your knowledge because, honestly, they know most people don't (and don't have to) have those things memorized.
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:22 AM on June 6, 2018

Response by poster: Yep, it's an Institutional Research department for quality control! They specifically mention program review and course evaluations for this one.
posted by xiasanlan at 6:29 AM on June 6, 2018

For course evaluations they might ask you questions about your experience with LMS software or online survey platforms (I think the most common in IR are Blue, Qualtrics, and Blackboard, but I hear a lot about Banner).
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:34 AM on June 6, 2018

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