RAND Interview Questions

Updated Jul 26, 2015
35 Interview Reviews

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  1.  

    Proposal Position - Santa Monica Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Santa Monica, CA
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at RAND (Santa Monica, CA) in July 2009.

    Interview

    This is a review for a position from several years ago - approximately 2009. I received a phone interview for a proposal position for which I fit hand in glove. Not only did I have the proposal experience, I had education in science and political science (graduate degree), and experience in medicine - all which were related to the types of proposals I would be working. The head of the proposal department called and obviously had only briefly scanned my resume. When he asked if I had any experience in anything other than MS Word and any desktop publishing or graphics experience, I said I did. He clearly expected a "no" and was taken aback then stated I didn't need such experience. (?) I stated he just asked me and the job description also required it. He then began to actually read my resume and I could tell that he was going to do whatever to block me from working at RAND. He was seeking someone lesser than what the position description actually required. Clearly, he was one of those people who ensure no one too skilled is in his line of subordinates. To guarantee I didn't walk through the door for an interview where someone may have said "hire this person," he ended the conversation swiftly by selecting the least skilled item in my resume (desktop publishing) and stated that is who I really was and - get this - stated that made me unqualified for the position. When I pointed out that my resume did not reflect that, he began screeching at me to end it right there.

  2.  

    Analyst Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2 days. I interviewed at RAND (Santa Monica, CA) in April 2011.

    Interview

    more like academic than corporate (the organization is sort of in between). part was like a PhD job talk. part was one-on-ones with potential peers. and screening with hiring manager

    Interview Questions

    • why i wanted to be there (vs industry, government, or university)   1 Answer

    Negotiation

    straightforward; they made an offer, I countered, they were surprised what i was making at current employer but responded to JUST get it over the line.

  3. Helpful (1)  

    Linux Systems Administrator Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Pittsburgh, PA
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2 weeks. I interviewed at RAND (Pittsburgh, PA) in October 2014.

    Interview

    First I interviewed with the hiring manager over the phone for about an hour. This was an easy, conversational interview that went well. Following that, I had to do an online exercise to demonstrate my linux administration skills. They send you an email 30 minutes before the exercise telling you how to login to the exercise and giving basic facts about the administration problem your will solve. It is moderately difficult and you won't do well unless you know your way around a Linux system. I apparently did well enough to get an in-person interview at the Pittsburgh location. The interview was a panel type, with the first interviews with technical folks and then an HR person. Then I had an hour with the IT director followed by a couple more interviews with technical folks who were probing to determine my sysadmin chops. The whole thing was about 4 hours.

    Interview Questions

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  5.  

    Project Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3+ months. I interviewed at RAND (Santa Monica, CA) in April 2013.

    Interview

    I had a phone interview first, which seemed to go well. A little while later, I heard back that they wanted to fly me out to Santa Monica for a full day interview. The all day interview with various people in 30 minute intervals. Some are by phone or by video conference with people who work in other RAND offices or even work completely remotely.

    Interview Questions

    • They asked a bit about the research interests I had, as well as what methodological skills I had. They seemed less interested in software expertise.   Answer Question
  6. Helpful (11)  

    Associate Policy Researcher Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 8 weeks. I interviewed at RAND (Santa Monica, CA) in March 2014.

    Interview

    RAND impressed me by actually reading their online applications. They read my materials (papers), resume, cover letter, and recommendation letters and felt that my work was a good fit with their current need. Throughout the process, I felt that idiosyncractic fit -- the folks hiring me liked my work and found it interesting and relevant to their work and that made all the difference. If I'd been similarly skilled but hadn't done work of this type, I doubt any part of the process would've been as smooth. First round interview was via phone with someone who found my work interesting. Partially the interview tried to sell me on the job. But in terms of hard questions, they asked me to detail my research work that I had submitted (papers). First, to describe each succintly and it's contribution and policy-relevance. Second, to describe my thought process and steps in doing the work and collaborating with partners, to ensure both that it was my own thinking/work and to show that I had been really independent in how I initiated and completed the project. Second round of interviews was full day interviews - individual 30 min meetings with potential peers and 1 job talk. Because they are an unstructured group I found their individual interviews fairly disorganized and unpredictable. Each person interviewed you largely independently. So some people like you and want to answer your question about the job. Others are more critical and want to test your abilities to independently come up with research ideas. Others want to assess whether youd' be willing to chip in on projects outside of your area of interest but where there is funding. RAND is a place where you need to be very independent at pursuing funding and research opportunities. The whole place is a loose network of researchers so it's all about first being independent enough to find and create projects with them, and second be able in the long run to build a niche of grant-generation for yourself and your type of projects. Methods matter but ideas and independence matter too. And the desire to spend alot of time pursuing opportunities and to branch out into whatever topic areas might have more funding at any given time.

    Interview Questions

    • If you could research any topic at all - no limitations - what would the study look like? This kind of question is far easier to prep intelligently in advance.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    I researched salary. Timing was poor for negotiation and I was content with my initial offer. It slightly exceeded my demanded salary they required me to provide earlier in the process, but I had a decent sense of what was typical. You could negotiate salary, but also various details related to how supported you would be in terms of material and compensation for trips, etc... as an employee.

  7. Helpful (4)  

    Web Producer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Pittsburgh, PA
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    The process took 1 day. I interviewed at RAND (Pittsburgh, PA) in December 2010.

    Interview

    I applied for the RAND Web Producer position by answering an online ad. Over a month later, I was contacted by their HR manager to schedule an in-person interview. She was very personable and helpful in letting me know where the office was and what I needed to do to get signed in and registered. I wore business formal (suit) to the interview, which was appropriate for this interview. The employees were dressed in "nice" casual and informal business casual. The HR manager got me prepared in the conference room and gave me a packet about their benefits, and then we went through the interview process. It took about two hours. I had several conference calls with managers in Santa Monica (corporate headquarters), as well as a panel interview, 1:1 interviews, and a chat with the HR person in California. Most of the interview questions were easy. However, there were several I found difficult to answer. They kept asking why I voluntarily changed duties at my current job, and seemed concerned that I was at a higher management level than the position required. The man who interviewed me also chose to ask many questions that were more fitting of a stress interview. He seemed to also feel the position was a bit low-level for me. He questioned several times whether I was able to work independently, since I was so used to being a manager. The job didn't sound appealing in the end. It had a strict 8:30-5:30 or 9-6 schedule, with an hour for lunch. The duties were also not in my area of interest. I was in a creative position at that time, and the described job duties were very heavy on analytics gathering and reporting, which don't interest me. I also didn't appreciate the inflexibility of the role, or how quiet and sterile the office environment seemed. There wasn't a lot of room for growth or upward mobility, and the youngest employee there was around 35. (This may be a Pittsburgh thing more than a RAND thing, though.) For the last interview, which was a private conference call with the HR lady in Santa Monica, they left me alone in the room. I could see my college apartment from the conference room window, and halfway through our call, I realized I was straying far from my major and from my career goals in taking this job. At this point I realized the job was not for me, but I finished out the interview to be polite. No one remembered I was in there, so I had to come out and find people to conclude the interview and show me out. I wrote a series of thank-you notes the next day, in which I announced I was withdrawing my application. A month later, they sent me a rejection form letter by e-mail.

    Interview Questions

    • Describe a conflict you had with a co-worker and how you solved it. Please be specific.   Answer Question
  8. Helpful (2)  

    Project Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 4+ weeks. I interviewed at RAND (Santa Monica, CA) in December 2013.

    Interview

    Wow, they are interviewing like mad, and hiring great people. The interviews are intense. All day affairs, typically 7 to 9 interviews with lots of people at all levels of the organization. Top level manners get engaged in the process.

    Interview Questions

    • I think the most difficult aspect is the number of interviewers and they cover everything about a candidate, from technical, to behavior, to cultural fit. You really are asked a lot of questions from a lot of perspectives, but super professional.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    Simple. They made a fair offer. I didn't feel a need to negotiate and they wanted me to start right away.

  9. Helpful (1)  

    Administrative Assistant Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2 days. I interviewed at RAND (Arlington, VA) in July 2009.

    Interview

    I applied online in December 2008 and got a call from RAND in the spring of 2009. I was interviewed over the phone, then had to pass a computer-based test on my skills in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, typing, proofreading, etc. I passed and got a second call to come in for an interview. Three researchers interviewed me, each separately; all three of them were very enthusiastic and cordial. A few days later I got an offer which I couldn't refuse. RAND offers great benefits (health insurance, 15 vacation days a year, retirement plan) and has a very friendly work environment.

    Interview Questions

  10. Helpful (3)  

    Associate Political Scientist Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at RAND (Santa Monica, CA) in September 2008.

    Interview

    Had interviews with HR, several peers, some senior associates and the hiring manager who is a part-time manager-part time researcher. Also gave a 1 hr presentation on my research to anyone at any RAND office who wished to attend. Fielded questions from the audience--mostly about methods. Everyone who interviews you or attends your presentation can write a review of you and make a hiring recommendation. The hiring manager pools all of these reviews and tries to see whether people who have funded projects might need someone with your expertise in the coming year. These people have to commit to using you for the first year.

    Interview Questions

    • Most of the difficult questions were methods questions about my presentation--so those are easy to prepare answers. Some of the harder questions were challenges from the presentation audience on my findings because they found something different to be true.   1 Answer

    Negotiation

    I was offered the position and didn't really negotiate because I thought it was my dream job and I was assured my salary would quickly become commensurate with others'. It did. I got several salary increases just because an assessment had been done and mine was too low about 6 months into my time there.

  11. Helpful (1)  

    Librarian Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Santa Monica, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 6+ weeks. I interviewed at RAND (Santa Monica, CA).

    Interview

    Had first round interview via phone. Second round interview was in person. Met most of the staff I would be working with, had lunch and various round table sessions. Gave me a chance to get to know most of the staff I would be working with, ask questions and be asked questions. Appreciated getting to spend most of the day with them so that I could get a sense of the culture and who I would be working with.

    Interview Questions

    • Nothing unusual was asked during the interview process. Very professional and typical questions were asked.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    Pretty straight forward. I was given an offer, I gave a counter offer and we met somewhere in the middle.

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