Biostatisticians work in hospitals, clinics, labs, and medical facilities, where they collect and analyze data obtained from medical research before drawing conclusions and making predictions. These professionals also collaborate with scientists and other statisticians during clinical trials to ensure accurate results. If you are a skilled biostatistician looking for a job, we may have something for you.
Our article covers some of the questions to expect in a biostatistician’s interview. We have also included responses to help you come up with the best answers if asked any of the questions in this piece. Let’s help you get the job you deserve.
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
Although I have worked in several leading labs in the country, I have always dreamt of returning to serve the science department of university that played a big role in my personal and professional life. I would love to use the skills and experience I have obtained in this field to help your science team draw meaningful conclusions from research data and statistics. This role will therefore allow me to give back to my alma mater and help students with a passion for statistical analysis soar, giving me the level of fulfillment I need in this career.
2. What Are The Roles Of A Biostatistician?
My main job as a biostatistician is to design, analyze, implement and report findings on different statistical studies in collaboration with other statisticians and scientists. I also offer advanced statistical guidance, support, and expertise to research teams and researchers. Other roles include overseeing and coordinating the work of different research team members, including data entry staff; developing, programming, and maintaining advanced statistical databases; overseeing the preparation of clinical trial reports and documents; and building resourceful relationships with research-related professionals. I am confident that I will succeed in these and any other provided roles.
3. What Are The Qualities That A Biostatistician Needs To Be Successful?
A good biostatistician should be able to use different complex statistical techniques to support scientific research and analysis, analyze, interpret and obtain useful insight from statistical information and work in research-oriented teams. Some of the skills required include excellent time management, prioritization, multitasking, and coordination skills. Additional qualities include the ability to deliver work on time, strong focus, the ability to liaise with scientific investigators and other staff members, and extensive knowledge and understanding of different statistical research methods, principles, concepts, and standards.
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?
My last workplace needed to be more staffed but could not manage owing to financial constraints. I had to work twice as hard to keep things going and attend to all the 20 scientists and 5 research experts daily. With the facility’s permission, I selected five interns to help with the workload as they learned more about biostatistics. The facility increased its workforce without breaking the bank, and the interns gained valuable experience and a mentor.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine As A Biostatistician
My day is usually packed, given the number of duties I have to attend to in the workplace. My daily routine, therefore, revolves around collecting, analyzing, and summarizing data; drawing conclusions from large volumes of data; analyzing and studying different health factors; attending to different project management activities; participating in clinical studies and reporting; reviewing complex studies and creating automated codes, processes, and calculations. I also regularly develop trial designs addressing study objectives, offer statistical consultation and liaise with other professionals and scientists to ensure research and data integrity. I must work overtime on most days to attend to all these roles.
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience
This is my tenth year as a biostatistician. I have worked in clinics, national hospitals, private laboratories, and science departments of different universities. I have vast experience in data collection and analysis, report generation, process and code automation, statistical consultation, and trial designs development, which I am ready to tap into for the advancement of this facility. This job has also exposed me to several industry professionals and scientists, making me an experienced team player. My experience in this field will make me a better employee.
7. What Kind Of Strategies And Mindsets Are Required For This Role?
The best strategies for any biostatistician are excellent prioritization of work and building great relationships with team members and industry professionals. This is because our days are generally packed with numerous tasks we must complete, calling for outstanding prioritization skills. Building excellent relationships with team members and industry professionals contribute to a smoother workflow, given that this job highly depends on teamwork. As for the right mindsets, it’s important to stay positive to handle the challenges that come with this job well and be result-oriented, given its nature.
8. What Is The Biggest Challenge Your Foresee In This Job?
This is one of the country’s biggest and best-performing private laboratories, which translates to increased workload and pressure, especially for someone who’s only worked in mid-level labs. However, I am confident I am up to the task, given my experience and hardworking personality. I will always stay composed and use my excellent prioritization skills to handle the workload I expect in this job properly. I will also maintain a positive attitude, which normally helps during increased pressure and workload.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated At Work?
I draw a large percentage of my motivation from working towards and seeing results, given that I am result-oriented. I am always prepared to go above and beyond to attain excellent results. I also have daily and weekly goals that I strive to achieve, giving me the motivation to do my best. Lastly, I normally maintain a positive attitude at work, significantly contributing to my extreme motivation.
10. Describe A Time You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learnt
Once while delegating work in my former workplace, I took up a bigger chunk of the workload, which I failed to finish on time, despite breaking it down into smaller manageable parts, multitasking, or working over time. I had to re-assign some at the last minute, which meant going past the deadline. Even though my manager let me off with a warning, he wasn’t happy, an experience that taught me the importance of proper delegation of work. I have since strived to ensure that such an experience never happens again.
11. Why Do You Feel Qualified For This Role?
I am the best choice for this role for several reasons. First, I have met all the requirements in your job listing and even exceeded some. I have ten years of experience in biostatistics obtained from working in government agencies, international laboratories, and national hospitals. I am also passionate about this field, given my love for data, statistics, and Mathematics, which makes me willing to go above and beyond to achieve results. Lastly, I have excellent problem-solving, time management, and teamwork skills, which are needed in this job.
12. What Is Your Greatest Achievement?
My greatest achievement was being the youngest biostatistician to serve on the national health board. I got to share boardrooms with several industry professionals and met most of my industry idols- experiences I still relish to date. We also made more milestones than our predecessors and received recognition from different state agencies, including the presidency. Lastly, it allowed me to make many professional connections which will come in handy in this job.
13. Which Statistical Methods Do You Normally Use To Analyze Medical Data?
I normally use three statistical methods to analyze medical data depending on the situation. Linear regression helps examine the relationships between a dependent variable and one or multiple independent variables, making it the best choice to determine how a treatment will affect the outcome of a disease. I use logistic regression when dealing with a dependent binary variable. A biostatistician can use it to determine how different risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing a disease. The last method is a statistical analysis which comes in handy when studying how a risk factor affects disease progression.
14. How Will You Ensure That Your Statistical Analyses Are Valid And Reliable?
To ensure that my statistical analysis results can be trusted, I will pick statistical methods that match the data or research questions I am handling and ensure that all the assumptions in my method of choice are met for research validity. I also intend to identify and address any missing data or outliers and perform sensitivity analysis to determine the strength/accuracy of the results. All my statistical analyses will be valid and reliable, given that these methods have always come in handy in my work.
15. What’s The Best Way Of Communicating Technical Statistical Information To Non-Experts?
The best way to communicate technical information to non-experts is through simple language devoid of jargon or technical terms. An expert should also use visual aids such as charts or tables to enhance understanding. Additionally, using relatable examples can make communication and understanding easier. I also usually ask questions to gauge whether my audience has understood or if I need to adjust my explanation. This won’t be a problem, given that I have worked with several non-expert audiences.
16. What’s The Best Way To Handle Missing Data, In Your Opinion?
Missing data is a common occurrence in this field which we must address accordingly for accurate analysis. I normally use complete case analysis, likelihood-based methods, and imputation to handle such cases. Imputation means using the available data to estimate values for the missing data, while complete case analysis involves analyzing subjects whose data is complete. The likelihood-based method engages a statistical model that uses the available data to estimate the missing values or data. All these three options are proven ways of handling missing data.
17. How Do You Usually Stay Up-To-Date With The Recent Developments In This Field?
I normally stay updated on the latest advancements in the statistics industry by attending at least four conferences and workshops annually, networking with other statisticians and industry professionals, reading relevant publications and research papers on this field, and registering for different webinars. I am also a member of different online forums and communities, which have helped me stay on par with different developments in this industry.
18. How Do You Normally Ensure That Others Can Easily Reproduce Your Analyses?
I have a set of best practices that I normally abide by to ensure that other professionals can easily reproduce all my analyses. They include clearly explaining my results and interpretations, using open-source software for my work, making my code accessible where coding/ programming is involved, ensuring that all variables have a consistent naming convention, and preparing and maintaining accurate documentation of the data preprocessing and cleaning steps, assumptions made and the statistical methods employed. These best practices also help me achieve a degree of transparency in my work.
19. How Would You Analyze Clustered Data?
Analyzing clustered data can be challenging, given that it involves working with data collected from different subjects and grouped into clusters. This brings about the possibility of biased inferences and thus calls for the right statistical analysis method. I normally use the Generalized Estimating Equations method or multilevel modeling, which can fully account for the dependence among observations common in clustered data and the general structure of such data. I may also employ mixed-effects models to estimate fixed and random effects or examine how the clustering variable impacts the outcome.
20. How Do Bayesian Methods Apply To Your Analyses?
I normally use Bayesian Methods as an alternative to the systematic, commonly used statistical methods. I can easily calculate the probability of an event using Bayesian statistics by taking into account the prior knowledge and data at hand, provided that Bayesian models are included in the data using software such as STAN or JAGS. I am highly skilled in Bayesian Methods and will readily apply them where necessary for better work quality and results.
21. Differentiate A Cross-Sectional Study From A Longitudinal One
Cross-sectional studies differ from longitudinal studies based on their goals and data collection durations. While Cross-sectional studies aim to discover the changes in variables at one point in time, longitudinal studies seek to identify patterns and trends by examining changes in variables over a longer duration. On data collection, longitudinal studies require professionals to collect data from similar subjects over a long duration. In contrast, cross-sectional studies demand that data be collected at only one point. For that reason, longitudinal studies are normally used to discover the effects of a treatment or intervention over time.
22. What Would You Do Upon Discovering That Some Data Is Missing During A Longitudinal Study?
It usually takes more work to handle missing data in a longitudinal study than in a cross-sectional study because of the time taken to collect such data. The missing data can also easily introduce bias or be non-random. However, the best course of action is to use methods such as maximum likelihood methods or multiple imputations, which can help create relatively more accurate references by considering the observed data and pattern created by the missing data.
23. Has Machine Learning Ever Helped You In Any Of Your Analyses?
Yes. Machine learning has always played a significant role in my statistical analyses, especially when dealing with large datasets. Using machine learning methods in statistical analysis enables me to identify patterns and trends in an automated fashion. All I have to do is fit different models, such as neural networks, into a given dataset using languages such as Python and R. It also has cross-validation and feature selection techniques to optimize different models and check their performance.
24. What Do You Understand By Power In Statistical Analysis?
Power refers to the ability of a study to uncover an existing statistically significant difference. Studies with high power are usually more predisposed to detecting such differences than those with low power, making it necessary to consider the level of power a study holds before its design and interpretation. I must also add that power is determined by factors such as the effect size, sample size, and significance level.
25. Differentiate Between Type I And Ii Error
Type I errors, also known as false or alpha errors, normally occur when a statistically significant difference that doesn’t exist is detected. In contrast, Type II false negative or beta errors occur when a statistically significant difference is not detected while one exists. Both of these errors have an impact on the study.
These are some of the most common questions you should have in mind in biostatistician interviews. Since they are mostly practical, brush through the technical aspects of this job to convince the interviewer that you are good at your job. Remember to work on your grooming and first impression to increase your chances of succeeding in your interview. We also have to remind you to ask questions capable of portraying you as resourceful if given a chance by the interviewer.