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Pathologist Interview Questions

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  1. Tell me about a time you handled human tissue and fluid samples in a lab. See answer
  2. Why do you want to become a pathologist as opposed to focusing on other areas of medicine? See answer
  3. Tell me about your process for inspecting lab equipment, procedures and inputs to diagnose a problem with an experiment. See answer
  4. How much experience do you have with using microscopic techniques to evaluate issues with blood samples? See answer
  5. What is your level of experience with growing microbial or bacterial samples? See answer
  6. What aspect of pathology interests you most? See answer
  7. What experience do you have in ordering medical supplies and maintaining inventory?
  8. What methods do you use to keep samples organized and minimize error?
  9. What medical management data software are you familiar with and how quickly can you adapt to new programs?
  10. What is your experience with molecular diagnostic tests?
  11. What has been one of your greatest obstacles in pathology and how have you overcome it?
  12. What steps do you take to ensure you remain updated and aware of advancements in your field?
  13. What are some best practices that you use to test and analyze specimen samples for patients?
  14. What has been one of your most interesting experiences as a pathologist?
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6 Pathologist Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Tell me about a time you handled human tissue and fluid samples in a lab.

A:

A pathologist’s work will necessarily revolve around working to diagnose diseases in patients and experimenting to gain insights on illnesses that are currently not well-understood. These specialists conduct experiments that seek to use human fluid and tissue samples to treat problematic diseases in replicable ways across different communities. As such, your candidate will need to be both comfortable handling human fluids and able to follow a strict set of protocols necessary to keep samples from getting contaminated.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Examples of past lab experience
  • Explanation of protocols for keeping samples uncontaminated
  • Capability of undertaking detail-oriented work

Example:

“I previously worked in a pathology lab focused on researching leukemia and worked with human tissue samples on a daily basis.”

Q:

Why do you want to become a pathologist as opposed to focusing on other areas of medicine?

A:

Within the different focuses available in the medical field, pathology is one that requires candidates to focus more on lab work and research than some other careers do. In fact, many pathologists do not need to work in direct patient care at all if they so choose. Therefore, it is important that your candidate is one who is more interested in the research side of medicine and is not keen on working regularly with people.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Clear reason for choosing to study pathology
  • Enjoys research and lab work
  • Ability to synthesize data and medical knowledge

Example:

“I am interested in pursuing pathology because, when compared to other medical disciplines, it is one that will allow me to come closest to discovering new fundamental treatments for illnesses.”

Q:

Tell me about your process for inspecting lab equipment, procedures and inputs to diagnose a problem with an experiment.

A:

Since your pathologist will be working on complex and detailed experiments on a daily basis, it is likely that they will come across situations when certain protocols do not translate into results as was previously expected. Your candidate will need to be able to correctly handle expensive equipment to ensure that the data produced is not contaminated. They will also become an expert in troubleshooting operating procedures to ensure that their experiments are replicable by others in the medical community, a key factor in passing academic peer-review standards.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Has a clear process for troubleshooting experiments
  • Comfortable handling expensive and delicate machines
  • Detail-oriented and methodical disposition

Example:

“Whenever I run into trouble with my experiments, I run through all the procedures to make sure that I have not committed a human error. Afterward, I recalibrate the machines and test the procedure again before trying to get any machines repaired.”

Q:

How much experience do you have with using microscopic techniques to evaluate issues with blood samples?

A:

Most of your pathologist’s lab work will be focused on small samples of human tissue or fluids. Since most diseases attack at the cell level, your candidate will need to be skilled in using microscopes and pipettes to conduct precise experiments. The level of focus necessary to complete these experiments successfully is extremely high, so you should screen for applicants who are able to sit still and work quietly for long periods of time.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience working with microscopic techniques
  • Ability to focus for long periods of time
  • Inquisitive nature

Example:

“While I was attending medical school, I worked in a pathology lab for two years. I ran experiments using microscopic techniques and exploring the effect of bacteria on gut health.”

Q:

What is your level of experience with growing microbial or bacterial samples?

A:

A lot of the work that your pathologist will be conducting will revolve around minute experimentation with microscopic organisms. Since microbial and bacterial colonies take time to grow and can easily become contaminated or die if conditions are not exact, your candidate should be aware of the possible missteps that might occur when working with these types of experiments. Furthermore, they should know how to troubleshoot in case something does go wrong with their microbe samples.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience working with microbial or bacterial samples
  • Knowledge of how to troubleshoot experiments
  • Detail-oriented personality

Example:

“At my previous lab, I was in charge of growing five strains of bacterial colonies for all the experiments undertaken by the team.”

Q:

What aspect of pathology interests you most?

A:

Pathology requires candidates to focus on research, lab duties and data analysis. This question can help you better understand a candidate's passion for their job and their desire to work to find answers. A candidate focused on pathology can work well individually and is often research-driven.

The candidate's response should emphasize:

  • Focus on research aspects of medicine
  • Ability to find information and analyze data
  • Clear rationale for choosing pathology

A response to this question may look like this:

Example:

"I have always been an avid learner and researcher. I am naturally inquisitive and I like numbers and data a lot. Because I like to research so much, I find that pathology, the study of diseases and diagnostic testing help me understand patients and their needs more. This deeper understanding of the nature of disease allows me to help a broader base of individuals in comparison to just helping a select few patients, since my research can be widely applied."

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