Lab technicians are responsible for collecting and analyzing samples, operating sophisticated equipment and instruments, logging information clearly and appropriately, and communicating their findings to the appropriate people. When interviewing a candidate for this position, there are certain types of questions that need to be asked.
Training and Education
Most lab tech positions require a bachelor’s degree and state or national certification. This information is easily scannable on a resume, but the interview allows you to put it into context. Ask questions such as grades earned, awards received, projects worked on, groups the candidate was a member of, coursework, or even why the candidate chose a specific school or program.
Many education programs require students to log hours in a lab, so even entry-level positions need interview questions related to the candidate’s lab experience. Questions should be specific to the skills and equipment used in the position. Both interviewer and candidate should be as specific and detailed as possible. Techs should also be flexible and willing to take on new skill sets and equipment as needed, so ask questions to expose this willingness. For example, “Why do you like working in a lab?” will cause the candidate to consider the work itself, and might reveal her level of enthusiasm or interest in the position. Ask the candidate to name a problem she solved in a previous position that required an innovative workaround or learning of new equipment or procedures.
Lab tech working conditions vary. Depending on the health care facility, school, or any other work environment, techs need to be able to work comfortably both independently and as part of a team. Questions related to communication skills and diplomacy are key. Examples include: “How do you communicate an analysis or diagnosis to the proper channels?” “Do you prefer to work alone or in groups?” or “Have you ever encountered a problem with a co-worker, and how did you solve it?”
Performance Under Pressure
For the most part, the work of a lab tech is routine and evenly paced. This is because techs are required to be incredibly detail oriented and focused, something made possible through confidence and gained from experience. However, issues might arise that lead to a high-pressure situation where the tech needs to be quick but thorough. When possible, look for anecdotal evidence from previous education or work experience to gauge the candidate’s ability to handle a demanding work environment. For example, “How do you modify your approach if you’re under a tight deadline?”
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