Research nurses design and monitor medical-related studies, using their findings to improve the efficacy of patient care. In addition to significant clinical knowledge, they need intellectual curiosity, strong communication skills, and the ability to work as part of a team. When interviewing candidates for research nurse positions, focus both on their technical skills and their commitment to enhancing standards of care.

Predicting Job Performance

Instead of relying on previous job titles or past duties when evaluating an applicant’s potential, scrutinize her track record. Behavioral questions can help you better assess how a candidate will perform, by giving you a glimpse into how she’s handled the types of scenarios she’ll encounter if hired. For example, ask her to describe a time when the results of a research project didn’t match what she anticipated and ask her how she responded. Or, ask her to discuss an instance when she witnessed a colleague violating ethical standards.

Analyzing Teamwork Skills

Nurse researchers often work in conjunction with other science professionals, such as pharmacists and even engineers, to address some of medicine’s most challenging problems. Consider how well the candidate works with others and if she’ll be able to put the project ahead of her own interests. For example, ask her how she’d handle a disagreement with a fellow member of the research team. Or, ask her how she approaches group projects or if she prefers to work alone or with others.

Evaluating Communication Skills

In addition to technical knowledge and skills, a research nurse needs the ability to effectively communicate with fellow medical professionals, grant-making organizations and sometimes students. They frequently write articles and reports for industry journals, submit grant applications, and occasionally teach. If you’re interviewing a research nurse who also teaches at a university, ask her how she translates complex medical concepts in a way students can understand. If part of her job will include applying for funding, ask her to discuss previous instances where she wrote effective grant applications and secured funding for the organization.

Assessing Scientific Curiosity

A research nurse’s role goes far beyond clinical duties such as administering medications and measuring a patient’s vital signs. The website Explore Health Careers notes that research nurses must be “scientists at heart.” They need a deep commitment to, and interest in, scientific exploration. Ask the candidate why she chose research over other nursing specialties or what she likes most about the field. If she can’t offer a detailed reason, she might be more interested in a paycheck than in pushing the boundaries of medical research.