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Lab Assistant Interview Questions

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  1. How do you make sure that all research notes are accurately recorded while you work on an experiment? See answer
  2. What experience do you have in working with laboratory information systems? See answer
  3. How do you keep up with training for safety in the laboratory setting? See answer
  4. What safety procedures do you use when working with hazardous samples such as bodily fluids? See answer
  5. Which types of laboratory tests do you perform on a routine basis, and are there any tests that you find particularly challenging to do? See answer
  6. Sometimes you may run tests that give an unexpected result. How do you handle inconclusive lab results? See answer
  7. Explain the importance of using a control group when completing tests for an experiment.
  8. Lab assistants regularly process medical samples that doctors use to make decisions about a patient’s diagnosis. How do you keep samples organized when you have a high volume that you need to test?
  9. Do you have experience handling biohazards and dangerous chemicals in a lab environment?
  10. Lab assistants both set up laboratories for scientists to use and break them down after the experiment or test. Explain the process for cleaning up the lab area after an experiment.
  11. What would you do if you accidentally knocked over a test sample and it spilled on the floor? Explain the reporting process and how you would clean up the spill.
  12. Different parts of your job will require different levels of protective gear. How do you decide what kind of safety equipment you need to carry out each task?
  13. Do you know how to operate a chemical eyewash station?
  14. What would do if you noticed another lab assistant or scientist falsifying results?
  15. What are the necessary conditions for safely storing and preserving a blood sample?
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6 Lab Assistant Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

How do you make sure that all research notes are accurately recorded while you work on an experiment?

A:

You should ask this question because every step of a scientific experiment in the lab must be repeatable in order to be published in a scholarly journal. The answer to this question tells you how organized the lab assistant is while doing their work. Their answer also demonstrates that they know the importance of accurate note taking while they conduct their research.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Description of note-taking process
  • Concise explanation of recording method
  • Listing of tools or method of how notes are taken

Example:

“I carefully record notes on my iPad throughout each step in my process. At the end of the day, I sync the notes to my master file and double check to ensure everything is correct.”

Q:

What experience do you have in working with laboratory information systems?

A:

This is a good question to ask because it gives you an idea of the lab assistant’s experience with technology. You may want to choose a candidate who is familiar with the same information systems that are used in your research laboratory. The answer to this question will also tell you the level of experience that the candidate has with different information systems.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Listing of information systems used
  • Level of experience with each information system
  • Familiarity with the features of each laboratory information system

Example:

“I have used Darwin and Watson for the past six years, and I routinely take training to keep up with the latest system versions.”

Q:

How do you keep up with training for safety in the laboratory setting?

A:

This is important to ask because it demonstrates the lab assistant’s commitment to maintaining a safe work environment. The ideal candidate keeps up to date on material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and best practices for safety. The candidate should know how to conduct safety drills and be able to explain the safety devices and procedures in place in their laboratory.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Knowledge of MSDSs
  • Description of safety tools and devices
  • Familiarity with emergency procedures and reporting of safety hazards

Example:

“I maintain the MSDSs in a file cabinet. Each month, I participate in safety drills for fires, spills and explosions in the laboratory setting.”

Q:

What safety procedures do you use when working with hazardous samples such as bodily fluids?

A:

This is an essential question to ask, especially if your laboratory uses samples collected from humans or if it uses any pathogenic material that could cause human illness. The ideal lab assistant knows how to safely handle the specimens and protect both the specimens and themselves from contamination, infection or other types of harm. Knowledge of proper safety procedures is essential to maintaining a safe environment.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Use of good laboratory practices
  • Knowledge of specimen handling
  • Ability to use personal protective equipment and laboratory safety equipment

Example:

“When handling human blood specimens, I wear new neoprene gloves, confirm the procedure, verify equipment settings and handle the specimens as little as possible.”

Q:

Which types of laboratory tests do you perform on a routine basis, and are there any tests that you find particularly challenging to do?

A:

You should ask a lab assistant this question because their answer demonstrates their ability to do the tests that are routinely performed in your laboratory. You may prefer a candidate who is already familiar with how to do many of the procedures required for the job so that less training is required. Their answer shows their comfort and skill level with different procedures.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to perform a range of laboratory procedures or tests
  • Years or level of experience
  • Concise description of challenges

Example:

“I have run sedimentation rates, real-time PCR and antibody tests for five years. I sometimes find quantitative PCR to be challenging for microbial analysis experiments.”

Q:

Sometimes you may run tests that give an unexpected result. How do you handle inconclusive lab results?

A:

Lab assistants rely on clear procedures to get accurate results from the tests they run and the experiments they perform. They need to be able to identify the cause of unclear results and come up with a plan for either processing the results or arranging for a retest. This question assesses a candidate's understanding of the scientific method and their respect for scientific integrity.

Some of the features of a successful answer are:

  • Ethical responsibility
  • Understanding of lab procedures
  • Attention to detail

An example of a strong response could be:

Example:

"If I ran a test and got an unclear result, I would first take another look at the sample and see if I was possibly missing a critical detail. If I couldn't find anything, I would document the specifics of the result, including why it was unclear and how it differed from the result I expected. I would initiate a retest with a fresh sample, then consult with a supervisor if the results were still unclear."

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