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Lab Technician Interview Questions

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  1. What characteristics and skills do you have that make you a qualified lab technician? See answer
  2. What type of lab work and equipment are you familiar with handling? See answer
  3. How do you ensure your workspace doesn’t become contaminated? See answer
  4. Other than technical work, what duties have you been responsible for in a lab? See answer
  5. Are you comfortable asking others for help when you have trouble diagnosing abnormalities with a specimen? What example can you provide? See answer
  6. Can you tell me about a time you detected a problem while testing a sample? How did you respond?
  7. What would your process be for identifying abnormal cells?
  8. You realized you mislabeled test samples. What is the first thing you do?
  9. What is the most meaningful research project you’ve been a part of? Why was it meaningful to you?
  10. Are you confident in your writing capabilities? What examples can you provide in relation to your work as a lab technician?
  11. You notice one of your new coworkers placing blood samples in the wrong compartment. What do you do?
  12. How do you feel about potentially working outside of normal business hours to wait for samples to process?
  13. Can you tell me about a time you had to take accountability for a mistake made during lab experiments?
  14. What types of specimens do you have the most experience working with?
  15. You find a bug in the laboratory. What is your process for documenting and decontaminating the area?
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6 Lab Technician Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What characteristics and skills do you have that make you a qualified lab technician?

A:

Lab technicians have to be highly detailed-oriented and self-disciplined in order to be able to fulfill their day-to-day responsibilities. They must have a strong background and passion for the sciences, especially chemistry and biology, as well as technical skill in the use of computers and electronics. Lab technicians may work alone or collaborate with others in research teams and so must also possess good communication and writing skills.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to work alone or in a group setting
  • Strong scientific and technical skills
  • Focused individual

Example:

“I’m a detail-oriented individual with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a minor in computer science. I excel at working alone but can also work as part of a team when needed.”

Q:

What type of lab work and equipment are you familiar with handling?

A:

A qualified applicant should be familiar with the specific methodology and equipment that will be in use in your lab. They should be able to name and detail their previous lab experience with technology and procedures. This question will help you to determine if the skill set of the applicant fits in with the needs of your facility.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Specific equipment they’re comfortable using
  • Lab duties they’re experienced at performing
  • Previous laboratory experience

Example:

“Throughout my years of laboratory work, I’ve become proficient at preparing samples for study, performing a variety of tests on specimens and recording data. I can also work and maintain centrifuges, titrators and pH meters.”

Q:

How do you ensure your workspace doesn’t become contaminated?

A:

A clean work area is crucial for laboratory efficiency. An improperly cleaned workspace can lead to sample contamination and incorrect results, which can end up costing the lab money if tests have to be repeated. An unclean workspace can also be a safety concern if dangerous substances such as hazardous chemicals or infectious bacteria aren’t properly sanitized. A qualified applicant must be knowledgeable about workplace safety and proper cleaning techniques.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Follows proper cleaning procedures
  • Knowledgeable about laboratory safety
  • Willingness to keep up with routine cleaning

Example:

“I make sure to follow all safety and sanitation protocols during each step of a test procedure. I also stay up to date on all scheduled lab maintenance and clean up to ensure there are no contaminants present in the environment.”

Q:

Tell me about a time you detected a problem while testing a sample. How did you respond?

A:

In the lab, results can sometimes deviate from how things are in the textbook. It’s important for a lab technician to have the mental flexibility to think outside of the box and effectively problem solve a situation when results do not come out as planned. The answer will give you insight into how well an applicant is capable of resolving unique situations on their own.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Willingness to persevere until an answer is found
  • Mental flexibility

Example:

“Once, I was testing a sample that showed a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry signature very unlike any of the control samples for that specimen. After a few days of running various types of analysis, I finally came to the conclusion the sample must have been contaminated on its way to the lab.”

Q:

Other than technical work, what duties have you been responsible for in a lab?

A:

Experiments and tests aren’t the only types of work that lab technicians will be doing. Lab techs also have strict record-keeping requirements and must perform inventory and waste management duties as well. They’re also responsible for communicating test results to physicians or researchers. Applicants should show experience in these crucial areas.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Record-keeping experience
  • Inventory management ability
  • Willingness to perform auxiliary roles

Example:

“During my lab internship, I was responsible for keeping records of samples and specimens. I also fulfilled the role of inventory manager and was responsible for ordering supplies as needed.”

Q:

Are you comfortable asking others for help when you have trouble diagnosing abnormalities with a specimen? What example can you provide?

A:

Lab technicians have various important responsibilities like determining whether or not a cell is cancerous or whether a certain drug counteracts the effects of harmful bacteria. For this reason, lab technicians need to be certain of their findings and should feel comfortable asking for a second opinion when they can't come to a definite conclusion. This question allows interviewers to evaluate a candidate's team-work skills. It also allows them to gain more insights into a candidate's previous work experience as a lab technician.

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Commitment to accuracy
  • Verbal communication
  • Respect for one's coworkers

Here is one example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"Yes, I think it's really important to feel comfortable consulting with other lab technicians and science professionals because the end-goal is to elevate science or determine a proper diagnosis for a medical patient. One time I was reviewing skin cells from a biopsy to determine if they were cancerous. However, when I compared them to common abnormal cell clusters, they appeared to have both characteristics of cancer cells or the presence of an infectious disease. I consulted with my colleagues and we decided to use dye to bring out cancerous components within the cells."

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