Research Assistant Interview Questions & Answers How to Prepare for a Research Assistance Interview Interview Questions For Research Assistant Positions Сonclusions
Research Assistant Interview Questions & Answers How to Prepare for a Research Assistance Interview Interview Questions For Research Assistant Positions Сonclusions
Updated 03/01/2021

Research Assistant Interview Questions & Answers

Nervous about a Research Assistant interview? Get familiar with the possible questions beforehand and learn the best ways to answer them. Be ready to show your best self to the employer.

Nervous about a Research Assistant interview? Get familiar with the possible questions beforehand and learn the best ways to answer them. Be ready to show your best self to the employer.

Research assistants are hired by universities and research facilities to help with research projects. Typically, college students or graduates are considered for this role, but anyone with enough research experience can meet the job requirements. For this position, research assistants work closely with professors and senior staff, gathering and analyzing data, conducting tests, etc. If you are invited to a research assistant interview, make sure you emphasize not only your academic qualifications but also your ability to multitask and work on a team. And be prepared to talk about your work experience and long-term career goals.

To understand how a candidate fits the position, recruiters usually ask professional and behavioral questions and look through the candidate’s application papers. Most recruiters use the same questions to ask during a research assistant interview, so you can look through the list of questions and answers below and become thoroughly prepared.

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How to Prepare for a Research Assistance Interview

Before you start rehearsing your answers to Research Assistant Interview questions, look through the advice and sample answers we have prepared for you.

Research the Organization

Even before you start writing your resume and cover letter, you should apply your developed research skills by googling the hiring company to find out their mission, scale, and needs. The information you learn can be used when preparing a custom-made cover letter for a research assistant to give yourself more time to prepare for a job interview.

This stage is essential because, by tailoring your work experience and qualifications to the job description, you will catch the recruiter’s attention by showing how well you fit the role.

Later, at the interview, if you show that you understand the organization’s requirements, your chances of getting the job become even higher.

When you are reading about the organization, write down the points that attract you to it. You will use them during the interview.

For example, the research will help you to find the best answers to the following questions:

  • Why do you want to work on this research assistant position?
  • What will you bring to the organization?
  • Are there other ways for you to contribute to this department other than research and teaching?
  • Have you done multi-disciplinary work before? Can you see yourself easily collaborating between departments?
  • Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
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Address Your Academic Qualifications

If you are a student or a recent graduate, you may not have any work experience in the field. However, the skills you developed while researching and writing papers and participating in conferences and seminars can still be impressive.

Prepare for a Research Assistance interview by showing your academic records and, in some cases, official college transcripts. If you have not worked as a professional researcher yet, go into detail about how and in what courses you learned research methodology and data collection.

For example, during an interview you could be asked:

  • What is your overall GPA? What are your average grades in the area of research?
  • Where did you learn research methodology? Who were your mentors?
  • Do you have peer-reviewed publications?
  • Did you manage to contribute something important to the field you are working in?
  • Can you name your most significant accomplishments in the field?

Describe Previous Projects

Get ready to describe your previous projects in a detailed manner. Even if the only type of research you did was for your coursework, you can still make it sound valid. Mention not only the topics of your projects but also the efforts you made and the obstacles you encountered. Emphasize the role you played in the project and solutions you offered for problems. Talk about the takeaways from each of the projects. The way you handle obstacles and difficult situations reflects what you bring to the team and how you can evolve as a professional. It is crucial to show that you are good at teamwork and can collaborate with other people.

During an interview you may be asked something to the extent:

  • How have you managed your research project?
  • How do you prioritize when you are expected to share your time between an approaching deadline, teaching commitments, and work with students?
  • Describe a research problem you have faced. What did you learn?
  • What aspects of your research did you struggle with throughout the process?

Prepare to Ask Questions

The last stage of almost any job interview is for a candidate to ask questions. Don’t skip it. Do not think that it is polite to say that you are so enthusiastic to work for this organization that you have nothing to ask them about.

Also, this stage of an interview is not the time or place to ask about salary, perks, and other benefit-related questions. This is an opportunity for you to show your interest and engagement with the organization.

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Get It Done

If you are able to ask clever and to-the-point questions, you demonstrate yourself as a smart candidate. Ask some specific questions about the organization’s programs. Ask about the projects and research you will be involved in, for example, what kind of equipment will be used to carry out research and how independent you can be while doing it.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to clarify the organization’s long-term goals for the research department. For example, you can ask what the company aims to achieve through the project.

Besides asking questions, you can show your knowledge on this specific field and about research-related problems. If the recruiter has already started to discuss the details of the project with you, you can continue the discussion and ask about its aim, what data they already have, and which methods they use. By asking precise and relevant questions you can prove that you are the candidate they are looking for.

For example, you can ask:

  • What data does the organization already have for the project?
  • How has the organization acquired the data so far?
  • Which equipment/methods does the organization use?
  • What can be improved in methodology and the working process?

Interview Questions For Research Assistant Positions

Any job interview typically goes through stages.

Stage 1

First, the interviewer asks general questions to break the ice and make a candidate feel relaxed. These can be just a few questions about the weather or whether you had any trouble finding the office.

For example, opening questions could include the interviewer asking about you and your interest in the position and company.

  1. Tell me about yourself. Or How did you get interested in this field of research?
  2. This question does not prompt you to start telling your biography. You need to angle what you say to the job description and the organization’s requirements. Tell what makes you the best fit for the job requirements.

  3. Why do you want this research assistant job?
  4. Employers usually want their employees to be enthusiastic and passionate about the jobs they have. So when you are getting ready for an interview, identify a few key factors that make this position a great fit for you. For example, if you are applying for a research assistant position in the field of psychology, you can say something to the extent: “I am keen on studying human interaction and I get satisfaction from figuring out what motivates people to act the way they do.” Then add some information specifically about the organization: “I’ve always been interested in clinical trials and want to find answers to important questions together with the scientific community. I see how your company is having great achievements in the field and I want to be a part of it.”

  5. What do you know about our company?
  6. After you did a preliminary search about the organization, rehearse how to talk about it succinctly. Read the organization’s press releases and look through its LinkedIn page. Show that you are familiar with the organization’s mission statement, products/services, and basic details of its history. But you definitely do not need to mention every fact you read about it.

    Stage 2

    Next, the interviewer starts to ask the candidate general questions about their qualifications and academic record. Typically, candidates are asked about the teams they worked in (international, multidisciplinary, etc.) and the projects they did (what field of research, what role they played on the team, what the project’s outcomes were, etc.). Also, the interviewer may ask some specific questions to see how the candidate handles specific tasks.

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  7. Describe a typical work week for a research assistant?
  8. When answering this question, show that you understand what goes into this job. Connect your past research experiences with the job requirements. Emphasize your great time-management skills and attention to detail. For example, you can answer: “The first thing I do on Monday mornings is check my email and create a schedule prioritizing my tasks for the week.”

  9. What have you learned from mistakes on the research assistant job?
  10. Even though you may lack professional experience, by answering this question you can show your credibility and ability to learn quickly. Find some examples from your experience as an undergraduate, demonstrating that you learned how to work on a team in a more efficient manner.

  11. When you are assigned to help a professor with finding information for a paper he or she is writing, where do you look?
  12. Start by telling how you use the college library and internet resources to find relevant information. Then move on to more creative ways for finding necessary information. For example, mention that you can directly email some authors to get their articles and/or books if they are not available online.

    Stage 3

    Research assistants are often required to teach and perform administrative tasks. Therefore, the interviewer will ask you about your skills in these areas too.

  13. Which applications have you installed on the computer and why do you use them?
  14. Answering this question you are expected to describe your computer skills. Mention the applications that help you research and store information.

  15. What teaching experience do you have?
  16. Start by saying how many years you have been teaching, if any. If it was part of your doctoral or postgraduate degree, mention it. If you have experience in curriculum development, make sure you mention that too. If you have extensive teaching experience, you can talk about your teaching philosophy and how you deal with weak students.

  17. Do you have administrative experience?
  18. Describe the extent of your administrative ability. If you have had some administrative experience, mention how your administrative skills improved the quality of your work.

  19. How do you manage your workflow?
  20. When answering this question, you can mention some applications and tricks you use to organize yourself. For example, tell how the Pomodoro app improves your efficiency and time-management. Illustrate your organizational and administrative ability by telling about your color-coordinated and synchronized google schedules.



At the research assistant interview, try to get into a calm state of mind. In many cases, how you say something is just as important as what you say. If you are well-prepared and you have the skills for the job, you won’t say anything wrong or silly unless you are too nervous. That is why getting composed and confident by practicing the most common questions you may be asked at an interview is a surefire way to shine.

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