Lab technicians are in demand, with job opportunities available across the United States. But, just as with any other career, landing that perfect assignment often depends on getting the interview just right. With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to some of the most common lab technician interview questions, along with some quick advice on how to provide the right answer.
Common Lab Technician Interview Questions & How to Answer Them
Before we get started, remember that good communication skills are appreciated by most employers. That includes not just written but spoken communication. After all, a safely run lab depends on the ability of everyone involved to communicate clearly and calmly in any type of situation. And there’s no better place to show off this skill than in your initial job interview.
With that in mind, you’ll find it helpful to acquaint yourself with the questions below, and think about how you’d answer them. Being prepared helps you communicate your responses clearly and confidently, helping your overall chances of landing the job.
Questions about education and background
Education, qualifications and professional background are all important considerations for facilities that employ lab technicians. This is the info that lets them know that you’re qualified for the job, so expect a lot of questions on the topic. Unlike questions of a more personal nature, these will usually have concrete answers — and it’s important to get them right.
Common questions: Some sample questions in this category include:
- How would you describe your educational achievements?
- How would you describe your background in math and science (especially biology, chemistry or physics)?
- How many years of experience do you have as a lab tech?
- What responsibilities have you held in your previous jobs?
- Explain what a (piece of lab equipment, such as a pipette) is, and how you use it.
- What techniques have you learned from working in a lab setting?
How to answer them: Prepare by reviewing your own background and credentials in detail, and be ready to talk about them. It’s easy to rattle off the number of years you’ve been a lab tech, for instance. But a better way to talk about your level of experience would be to talk specifically about aspects of your background that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
And that means taking the time to research the company, including the setting and type of work required, then matching your background to that skill set. Of course, researching the employer you’re meeting with is a good idea anyway. It helps to make sure that (a) it’s the right job for you, while also (b) giving you the chance to impress the interviewer by asking more specific questions.
Questions about personal motivation
What motivates you personally is almost as important as what you’ve learned and where you’ve worked before — and for some employers, even more so. As you prepare your answers to these questions, remember that employers value people who are motivated, who love to learn and who are able to think critically and solve problems
Common questions: Some sample lab technician interview questions in this category are:
- What would you describe as your strongest skill?
- What would you say is your biggest weakness, or which part of the job do you find most challenging?
- Why did you choose to work in a lab setting?
- What do you find most rewarding about working as a tech?
- Tell us about a time that an unexpected challenge arose, and how you solved it.
- Tell us about a time that you demonstrated teamwork and good communication with your colleagues.
- What’s your system for getting organized and prioritizing your tasks?
How to answer them: These kinds of questions can catch you off guard if you’re not ready for them! We all know to expect “what’s your biggest weakness,” for example. But unless you have a good answer ready, this question and others like it are still common stumbling blocks for many interviewees.
So, make sure you’re ready for these types of questions by talking them through with a loved one or trusted colleague. Get someone else’s perspective on your strengths and weaknesses, and how you can communicate them in the best light. And when you arrive at the interview, be ready with answers that are clear, confident, and humble. (In general, these questions aren’t the time to show off.)
Questions about the Job
After your qualifications and personal profile, you can expect the interviewer to move on to your current career. Why do you want this job? Why did you leave your last one? Be ready to talk honestly about your reasons — but try to avoid talking about money, unless it’s brought up by the interviewer.
Common questions: Some common lab technician interview questions you can expect to be asked at this point are:
- Why are you applying for this job?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- Where do you see yourself in five years? Or 10?
- How do you think your last employer describe you?
How to answer them: Remember, these aren’t gotcha questions, and the interviewer isn’t trying to put you on the spot. Open and honest responses are the best course. If you left your last job (or any previous job) on bad terms, it’s best to let them know that. And being prepared to talk about it in the best possible light — for instance, how it’s shown you that you need to grow.
Questions about the Assignment
Finally, you’re also sure to be asked questions specifically about the company and the job that you’re interviewing for, as well as how you would react in certain, specific situations. The better prepared you are to answer these types of questions, the more you’ll show that you’re the candidate who’s most motivated to land the job.
Common questions: Some of the most common types of questions on this topic include:
- What interests you about working for our company, or helping us with the research we do?
- How do you see your specific skills fitting into this company?
- Describe the role you’re applying for, as you understand it.
- How would you prepare for a clinical lab audit?
- What would you do in the event of a chemical spill?
- What are the steps you take to sterilize equipment, or to avoid lab contamination?
- How do you handle conflict with co-workers?
- What would you do if you observed a co-worker violating safety protocols?
How to answer them: Doing some cursory research on the company is mandatory here. Luckily, the Internet makes that a fairly easy task. Visit their website, or find the company profile on LinkedIn. If it’s a larger company, read their most recent news releases to see what’s happening.
Even better, if you’re told who your interviewers will be beforehand, find them on LinkedIn, too. Being familiar with their names and titles when you arrive helps you speak more confidently, as well as ask more pertinent questions.
“Do you have any questions for us?”
Almost every interview ends with the opportunity for the job-seeker to ask questions of their own. And you should absolutely take this opportunity to clarify any questions you have about the job, the culture, or the company itself. Doing so will show that you’re interested in working there. It’ll also help prepare you for the actual job if you’re hired.
Common questions: Some great questions to ask your interviewers are:
- What can you tell me about the culture here?
- What do you think would make someone successful in this role?
- What’s the next step in this process? What should I expect next?
- If I’m hired, what would by the top priority on day one of the job?
- What do you (the interviewer) like about working here?
More Lab Tech Interview Advice from CareerStaff
In addition to being prepared for the most common lab technician interview questions, there are some other basics guidelines you should follow:
- Know your resume/CV by heart.
- Take the time to figure out exactly where you need to go for the interview, and plan on arriving a few minutes early.
- Wear business casual clothing, and remember that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
- After the interview, send a follow-up note thanking the interviewers for their time and for considering you for the role.
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