Monday, August 18, 2008

SAS Interview Questions and Answers:Part1 (Behavioral Type Interview Questions)

Part 1: Behavioral Type Interview Questions

1.Tell me about yourself?

sample answer:
I have been working in the Pharmaceutical industry for the past 4.5 years.
My most recent experience has been with CRO, where I’ve worked for the last 2 years.
I enjoy my job because it’s challenging and I like interacting with a variety of people.
In my most recent assignment I was on a project called “Trial of everolimus in combination with Erlotinib in patients with metastatic cancer”.
I made a significant contribution to the project because of my expertise in SAS Programming.
One of my strengths is my attention to detail.
I am known for being extremely thorough and meeting or exceeding deadlines and goals.
My boss knows that I work well under minimal supervision, that I am very conscientious and that the job will be done right the first time.
I’m looking for a new opportunity where I can contribute to the growth of the company by helping educate customers on the benefits of using our consulting services.

sample answer 2:

I have been working in the pharmaceutical industry as a SAS professional for more than 5 years.

I have used Base SAS, SAS Macros and Proc SQL to analyze datasets and then generated Tables, Listings, and Graph’s.

I have generated reports using ODS into formats such as RTF, PDF, and HTML.

I have worked with senior Bio-statisticians and clinical data managers to provide SAS programming in analyzing the clinical trial data according to the SAP.

I have developed programs in SAS for converting the Oracle Data into SAS datasets using SQL Pass through facility and Libname facility.

I have also used SAS macros for frequently used programs and developed programs for generating efficacy and safety tables.

I also involved in validation of my fellow programmer code.I have developed Edit check programs to clean invalid data from the database.

I worked in both WINDOWS and UNIX environments.

I have worked on Case Report Tabulation section of NDA submission as well.

I was also involved in creating annotated case report form (eCRF) using CDISC-SDTM mapping.

I was involved in creating CRT’s for an NDA electronic submission to the FDA.

I also got Involved in mapping, pooling and analysis of clinical study data for safety and validating and QC of the efficacy and safety tables.

Sample Answer 3: My answer....

I've been a SAS programmer for 6 years. I'm especially skilled with CDISC guidelines including SDTM and ADaM.

My recent experience is with XXX company , a CRO in state where I worked as Statistical Programmer on a number of projects in a variety of drug and medical device areas.
I made a significant contribution to the project recently I have worked on because of my expertise in SAS Programming and CDISC skills.

I work well even under minimal supervision also I am a team player.

I had an excellent experience in Base SAS/SAS Graph/Proc SQL including the SAS MACRO language.

I also have great deal of experience in creating CRT’s as a part of electronic submission of NDA application to the FDA.

Now I’m looking for a new opportunity where I can contribute to the growth of the company and have a positive impact on the programming team.

2.Did you bring your resume?
Be prepared with two or three extra copies. Do not offer them unless you’re asked for one.

3.What is your long-range objective?

The key is to focus on your achievable objectives and what you are doing to reach those objectives.

For example: “Within five years, I would like to become one of the best SAS Programmer in the Pharmaceutical Industry.

I want to work toward becoming the expert that others rely upon. And in doing so, I feel I’ll be fully prepared to take on any greater responsibilities which might be presented in the long term.For example, here is what I’m presently doing to prepare myself . . .

”Then go on to show by your examples what you are doing to reach your goals and objectives.

4.Are you a team player?

Teamwork is the key.Almost everyone says yes to this question. But it is not just a yes/no question. You need to provide behavioral examples to back up your answer.

A sample answer:

“Yes, I’m very much a team player. In fact, I’ve had opportunities in my work, school and athletics to develop my skills as a team player. For example, on a recent project . . .”Emphasize teamwork behavioral examples and focus on your openness to diversity of backgrounds. Talk about the strength of the team above the individual. And note that this question may be used as a lead in to questions around how you handle conflict within a team, so be prepared You are, of course, a team player.

Be sure to have examples ready. Specifics that show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself are good evidence of your team attitude. Do not brag, just say it in a matter-of-fact tone. This is a key point.

5.What is your greatest weakness?

Most career books tell you to select strength and present it as a weakness. Such as: “I work too much. I just work and work and work.” Wrong.

First of all, using strength and presenting it as a weakness is deceiving.
Second, it misses the point of the question.You should select a weakness that you have been actively working to overcome.

For example: “I have had trouble in the past with planning and prioritization. However, I’m now taking steps to correct this. I just started using a pocket planner . . .” then show them your planner and how you are using it.Talk about a true weakness and show what you are doing to overcome it.

I would say my greatest weakness has been my lack of proper planning in the past. I would over commit myself with too many variant tasks, then not be able to fully accomplish each, as I would like. However, since I've come to recognize that weakness, I've taken steps to correct it. For example, I now carry a planning calendar in my pocket so that I can plan all of my appointments and "to do" items. Here, let me show you how I have this week planned out...


Tell me about yourself?

Start with the present and tell why you are well qualified for the position. Remember that the
key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is
looking for. In other words you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the single most
important strategy in job hunting.

So, before you answer this or any question it's imperative that you try to uncover your
interviewer's greatest need, want, problem or goal.

To do so, make you take these two steps:

Do all the homework you can before the hr interview to uncover this person's wants and needs
(not the generalized needs of the industry or company)

As early as you can in the interview, ask for a more complete description of what the position
entails. You might say: “I have a number of accomplishments I'd like to tell you about, but I want to make the best use of our time together and talk directly to your needs. To help me do, that, could you tell me more about the most important priorities of this position? All I know is what I (heard from the recruiter, read in the classified ad, etc .

Then, ALWAYS follow-up with a second and possibly, third question, to draw out his needs even more. Surprisingly, it's usually this second or third question that unearths what the interviewer is most looking for.

You might ask simply, "And in addition to that?..." or, "Is there anything else you see as essential to success in this position?:

This process will not feel easy or natural at first, because it is easier simply to answer questions,
but only if you uncover the employer's wants and needs will your answers make the most sense.
Practice asking these key questions before giving your answers, the process will feel more
natural and you will be light years ahead of the other job candidates you're competing with.

After uncovering what the employer is looking for, describe why the needs of this job bear
striking parallels to tasks you've succeeded at before. Be sure to illustrate with specific examples
of your responsibilities and especially your achievements, all of which are geared to present
yourself as a perfect match for the needs he has just described.

What are your greatest strengths?

You know that your key strategy is to first uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs
before you answer questions.

And from Question 1, you know how to do this.

Prior to any interview, you should have a list mentally prepared of your greatest strengths. You
should also have, a specific example or two, which illustrates each strength, an example chosen
from your most recent and most impressive achievements.

You should, have this list of your greatest strengths and corresponding examples from your
achievements so well committed to memory that you can recite them cold after being shaken
awake at 2:30AM.

Then, once you uncover your interviewer's greatest wants and needs, you can choose those
achievements from your list that best match up.

As a general guideline, the 10 most desirable traits that all employers love to see in their
employees are:

A proven track record as an achiever...especially if your achievements match up with the
employer's greatest wants and needs. "savvy".
Honesty...integrity...a decent human being.
Good fit with corporate culture...someone to feel comfortable with...a team player who meshes
well with interviewer's team.
Likeability...positive attitude...sense of humor.
Good communication skills.
Dedication...willingness to walk the extra mile to achieve excellence.
Definiteness of purpose...clear goals.
Enthusiasm...high level of motivation.
Confident...healthy... a leader.

What are your greatest weaknesses?

Disguise strength as a weakness.

Example: “I sometimes push my people too hard. I like to work with a sense of urgency and
everyone is not always on the same wavelength.”

Drawback: This strategy is better than admitting a flaw, but it's so widely used, it is transparent
to any experienced interviewer.

BEST ANSWER: (and another reason it's so important to get a thorough description of your
interviewer's needs before you answer questions): Assure the interviewer that you can think of
nothing that would stand in the way of your performing in this position with excellence. Then,
quickly review you strongest qualifications.

Example: “Nobody's perfect, but based on what you've told me about this position, I believe I' d
make an outstanding match. I know that when I hire people, I look for two things most of all. Do
they have the qualifications to do the job well, and the motivation to do it well? Everything in
my background shows I have both the qualifications and a strong desire to achieve excellence in
whatever I take on. So I can say in all honesty that I see nothing that would cause you even a
small concern about my ability or my strong desire to perform this job with excellence.”
Alternate strategy (if you don't yet know enough about the position to talk about such a perfect

Instead of confessing a weakness, describe what you like most and like least, making sure that
what you like most matches up with the most important qualification for success in the position,
and what you like least is not essential.

Why are you leaving (or did you leave) this position ?

(If you have a job presently tell the hr)
If you’re not yet 100% committed to leaving your present post, don’t be afraid to say so. Since
you have a job, you are in a stronger position than someone who does not. But don’t be coy
either. State honestly what you’d be hoping to find in a new spot. Of course, as stated often
before, you answer will all the stronger if you have already uncovered what this position is all
about and you match your desires to it.

(If you do not presently have a job tell the hr.)
Never lie about having been fired. It’s unethical – and too easily checked. But do try to deflect
the reason from you personally. If your firing was the result of a takeover, merger, division wide
layoff, etc., so much the better.

But you should also do something totally unnatural that will demonstrate consummate
professionalism. Even if it hurts , describe your own firing – candidly, succinctly and without a
trace of bitterness – from the company’s point-of-view, indicating that you could understand
why it happened and you might have made the same decision yourself.

Your stature will rise immensely and, most important of all, you will show you are healed from
the wounds inflicted by the firing. You will enhance your image as first-class management
material and stand head and shoulders above the legions of firing victims who, at the slightest
provocation, zip open their shirts to expose their battle scars and decry the unfairness of it all.

For all prior positions:
Make sure you’ve prepared a brief reason for leaving. Best reasons: more money, opportunity,
responsibility or growth.

Why should I hire you?
By now you can see how critical it is to apply the overall strategy of uncovering the employer’s
needs before you answer questions. If you know the employer’s greatest needs and desires, this
question will give you a big leg up over other candidates because you will give him better
reasons for hiring you than anyone else is likely to…reasons tied directly to his needs.

Whether your interviewer asks you this question explicitly or not, this is the most important
question of your interview because he must answer this question favorably in is own mind
before you will be hired. So help him out! Walk through each of the position’s requirements as
you understand them, and follow each with a reason why you meet that requirement so well.
Example: “As I understand your needs, you are first and foremost looking for someone who can
manage the sales and marketing of your book publishing division. As you’ve said you need
someone with a strong background in trade book sales. This is where I’ve spent almost all of my
career, so I’ve chalked up 18 years of experience exactly in this area. I believe that I know the
right contacts, methods, principles, and successful management techniques as well as any
person can in our industry.”

“You also need someone who can expand your book distribution channels. In my prior post, my
innovative promotional ideas doubled, then tripled, the number of outlets selling our books. I’m
confident I can do the same for you.”

“You need someone to give a new shot in the arm to your mail order sales, someone who knows
how to sell in space and direct mail media. Here, too, I believe I have exactly the experience you
need. In the last five years, I’ve increased our mail order book sales from $600,000 to
$2,800,000, and now we’re the country’s second leading marketer of scientific and medical
books by mail.” Etc., etc., etc.,

Every one of these selling “couplets” (his need matched by your qualifications) is a touchdown
that runs up your score. IT is your best opportunity to outsell your competition.

Aren’t you overqualified for this position?
As with any objection, don’t view this as a sign of imminent defeat. It’s an invitation to teach the
interviewer a new way to think about this situation, seeing advantages instead of drawbacks.

Example: “I recognize the job market for what it is – a marketplace. Like any marketplace, it’s
subject to the laws of supply and demand. So ‘overqualified’ can be a relative term, depending
on how tight the job market is. And right now, it’s very tight. I understand and accept that.”

“I also believe that there could be very positive benefits for both of us in this match.”
“Because of my unusually strong experience in ________________ , I could start to contribute right away, perhaps much faster than someone who’d have to be brought along more slowly.”

“There’s also the value of all the training and years of experience that other companies have
invested tens of thousands of dollars to give me. You’d be getting all the value of that without
having to pay an extra dime for it. With someone who has yet to acquire that experience, he’d
have to gain it on your nickel.”

“I could also help you in many things they don’t teach at the Harvard Business School. For
example…(how to hire, train, motivate, etc.) When it comes to knowing how to work well with
people and getting the most out of them, there’s just no substitute for what you learn over
many years of front-line experience. You company would gain all this, too.”

“From my side, there are strong benefits, as well. Right now, I am unemployed. I want to work,
very much, and the position you have here is exactly what I love to do and am best at. I’ll be
happy doing this work and that’s what matters most to me, a lot more that money or title.”

“Most important, I’m looking to make a long term commitment in my career now. I’ve had
enough of job-hunting and want a permanent spot at this point in my career. I also know that if I
perform this job with excellence, other opportunities cannot help but open up for me right here.
In time, I’ll find many other ways to help this company and in so doing, help myself. I really am
looking to make a long-term commitment.”

NOTE: The main concern behind the “overqualified” question is that you will leave your new
employer as soon as something better comes your way. Anything you can say to demonstrate
the sincerity of your commitment to the employer and reassure him that you’re looking to stay
for the long-term will help you overcome this objection.


continue reading "SAS Interview Questions and Answers:Part1 (Behavioral Type Interview Questions)"