The interviewer would like to know what transferable skills you bring. This is your time to talk about other positions you have held before your career as a laboratory assistant. You can talk about your interests, volunteer work, and other hidden talents. Just be sure to tie them into how they would benefit this particular laboratory.
"Before I began laboratory work, I worked in a retail environment. The skills that were instilled in me during those years are skills that I still bring with me to work every day. They include stellar organization, excellent listening skills and the ability to ask discovery-based questions to uncover the needs of others."
"Here are some transferable skills you may have gained along the way: - Experience leading a team - Evident communication skills and ability to help share the company vision - Research experience and expertise to analyze data - Ability to motivate others on the job, and keep yourself motivated even on the tough days - Strong time-management and organizational skills - Ability to effectively prioritize tasks when multiple deadlines are due"
"Before I began my career as a laboratory assistant, I worked as a teachers' aide in my children's school. I learned a great deal about patience, the importance of order, and the ability to communicate expectations clearly."
The interviewer would like some insight into how well you manage stress. Be sure to keep this answer positive and stay focused on the question. It is easy to get derailed and start talking about people or situations that irritate you. That would be the wrong thing to do. Talk about your ability to manage pressure in the workplace.
"I have been told by my previous and current supervisor that I manage stress very well. Being a laboratory assistant is a demanding position, and I knew that before I committed to this career path. I stay calm by being an open communicator and keeping the end goal in mind."
"I learned how to deal with stress while attending university. You become great with stress management when juggling work and school assignments! Stress is part of any demanding job, and I will embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."
"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline in the lab is very helpful, and I will delegate to other assistants when necessary to alleviate some stress."
Compliance is critical in a lab environment. Assure the interviewer that you are aware of the consequences if you do not follow safety protocols. Discuss any safety or policy-related training you may have.
"I have received strong training in safety and compliance and learned a great deal from my clinical experience practicum. I am not too proud to ask for help when I am unsure of a policy or answer."
"In my current role, I am tasked with training new lab assistants on our particular safety and compliance protocols. I am very confident in my abilities to comply and have never encountered a safety issue as a result of my error."
A good fit goes two ways! The interviewer would like to know if their environment is the fit for which you are looking. This is why researching on the clinic, before your interview, is such an essential first step. Do you know their workplace culture? What is it about this clinic that makes you want to work for them?
"My ideal company will have a very inclusive and positive work environment. They will encourage continued training and embrace a team environment. How would you describe your culture?"
"My ideal company is an organization where research, curiosity, growth, and learning is not only accepted but encouraged. Are you able to give me examples of how your organization embodies these qualities?"
"We previously discussed my need for growth, so I am certainly seeking work in a laboratory much larger and technically advanced than the one in which I currently work. I have been taking leadership courses and would like to be in an environment where I am seen as a leader and mentor. I appreciated encouraging leadership teams where curiosity is not only accepted, but encouraged."
The interviewer would like further details on the type of training you have received, as a laboratory assistant. Your answer will help the interviewer to determine if your current education and training are enough or if they will need to fill some gaps in your training. You can answer this question in a very matter-of-fact way, but you can also finish with a question regarding their educational preferences.
"I have my diploma as a Medical Laboratory Assistant. If required, I would be very willing to expand on that training. Is there a specific designation that you are looking for in your next employee?"
"I recently completed my Associate's Degree as a Medical Laboratory Technician from Northcentral Technical College. My best courses were related to hematology and microbiology. I was top of my class in those courses."
"I have been a laboratory assistant for the past ten years and find this career very fulfilling. In addition to having my Degree in Microbiology, I have also taken additional coursework in computer science and phlebotomy."
The interviewer would like to know more about what aspects of this job you enjoy most. Answer from the heart and be sure to show your excitement for your career choice.
"The part that I enjoy most about being a laboratory assistant is the variety of knowledge that I gain in a day. There are always new medical terms to learn, and I am consistently feeling challenged."
"I am new to my career as a laboratory assistant; however, I believe that the aspect I will most enjoy will be the variety of tasks and research in a day. I am an active learner and appreciate the opportunity you will give me to begin growing my career."
"In my eight years as a laboratory assistant, I have most enjoyed climbing the ranks and now having the ability to train and mentor junior laboratory assistants. It's a mutual learning opportunity as their education is so fresh, so I find the opportunity to be a win-win."
As a laboratory assistant, you will work with a variety of chemicals and hazardous substances such as bodily fluids like urine or blood which may be contaminated. You may also work with spinal fluids. Other workplace hazards include compounds that are irritants or emit fumes. If you are not comfortable working with dangerous chemicals, this may not be the position for you. Make sure you answer honestly and ask the interviewer additional questions about what you may be exposed to in their lab.
"While obtaining my Lab Technician Diploma, I learned a great deal about safety and workplace hazards. I am comfortable working with these materials and understand this is part of the role as a laboratory assistant."
"For the past eight years, I have worked around hazardous fluids that could have potentially exposed me to dangerous fumes or blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis or AIDS. I am sure to wear all the required PPE such as a gown, gloves, goggles and face masks."
When you answer this question, be sure to remain positive, even if the experience wasn't. Avoid talking about any previous drama and do not speak poorly of your employer. Keep your answer short and respectful. If you had a good relationship with your previous boss: "I had a very healthy relationship with my previous employer. She was easy to approach, and we would bounce ideas off of each other quite often. I would sum it up as a relationship lead by strong mutual respect." If you did not have a good relationship with your previous boss: "I have had healthier relationships in the past with previous employers, but we did the best that we could. Our communication styles were very different which made it challenging at times."
"I had a very healthy relationship with my previous employer. She was easy to approach, and we would bounce ideas off of each other quite often. I would sum it up as a relationship lead by strong mutual respect."
"My previous boss and I got along well. We had very different interests, so we did not spend a lot of time chatting, but our work interests were aligned, and we respected each other."
"My previous boss and I had a great working relationship. We were in sync when it came to accomplishing things we needed to do in our department. We scheduled weekly touch base meetings to stay current on our progress and address any issues that came up along the way. I learned a lot from them on leadership while adding great value to the team."
Accurate results are critical when working in a lab environment, as is the need to run tests appropriately and adequately. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you know how important accuracy is in a lab environment and that you would instead ask for help rather than perform guess-work.
"I am new to my career as a laboratory assistant and am certainly not too proud to ask for help. If I were asked to get the results of a lab specimen but weren't sure how to run the test, I would ask a senior team member to walk me through it."
"I am confident in my ability to run any test; however, should I come across a situation where I do not have an answer, I will always ask before I guess. I train my junior lab assistants to do the same."
Share with the interviewer what you would like to earn. Be sure to keep your request appropriate to the average pay for a lab assistant in your area. Keep your years of experience and level of education in mind. Another great way to share your compensation expectations is by sharing with the interviewer what you are currently earning and where you would like to be in your next position.
"I have researched local compensation for lab assistants and, based on my years of experience, I think the range of $40k to $45k is reasonable."
"As I am new to my career as a lab assistant, I am happy to negotiate my earnings based on your typical salary for this role."
"I am negotiable with my salary expectations. However, I am not inclined to lose compensation. Compensation to me, though, is not just net pay. I take into account work hours, drive time, benefits, and flex days. Currently, I have these perks along with a $55K base salary."
The interviewer would like to know if you have a preference for your workplace setting. The trick here is that if you are interviewing for a lab assistant role at a hospital, you don't want to say that you prefer a private lab setting. Discuss any environments for which you have worked and be prepared with a positive statement for all settings. It's best not to show an obvious distaste for any type of work."
" For example: "
"As I am new to my career as a laboratory assistant, I have not yet developed a strong preference. I did complete my clinical practicum in a physician's office. The setting was more intimate which was great for me as I was just learning; however, I am confident enough in my knowledge to know that I can succeed in a larger, private lab environment."
"I have been a laboratory assistant for the past twelve years. Over those years, I have spent four working in a hospital, and eight in a private lab. I would love to experience working in a physician's office because, at this point in my career, I crave working for a close-knit team in a very hands-on environment where I can wear multiple hats when it comes to my tasks and responsibilities."
The interviewer would like to get to know you apart from what is written on your resume. You are certainly not obligated to discuss personal matters such as your kids, or relationship status, for instance. Stick with a couple of fun facts to show the interviewer that you are a real person, too. Your answer should be unique so that you are a memorable candidate! Focus on unique non-work related skills or hobbies. For example, you might share that you enjoy beat-boxing or making origami swans. Be prepared for the interviewer to stop you and ask you to perform your skill on the spot when it's possible! (This will make you unforgettable!)
"I am an avid marathon runner and have traveled to 10 countries in the last eight years to compete in a variety of races. I am a competitive individual and enjoy keeping fit."
"I am bilingual in Spanish and have some proficiency in French and Italian, too. I also am a huge Harry Potter fan and could pretty much quote each book to you."
"I am a certified yoga instructor, and I spent those three months after college traveling and doing yoga. I spent six weeks in Asia and another six weeks in Latin America, and it was a fantastic experience that helped me to grow as both a yogi and a person."
It's always a great idea to have questions ready for the interviewer. Review the organization's website and other online resources to ensure the questions you are asking are not mundane, or redundant. The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is a list of questions you could have found the answers to from merely watching a video on their website!
"I do have a couple of questions. First, what would you like to see me accomplish in my first 30 days as your new lab assistant? Second, is this a replacement or a new opening due to growth?"
"Here are some sample questions: - When would you like to have this position filled? - How long has this role been vacant? - Is this a replacement search or a newly created role? - What is your favorite part about working here? - What is the company's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months? - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you? - What do you see as the most significant change in this industry over the past three years? - Is there any reason why you would not hire me? "
"Thank you for asking - I do have a few questions. What is top of mind when it comes to filling this role? Also, what types of career growth opportunities would follow this position? And lastly, do you have internal candidates who are also interviewing for this position?"
The interviewer would like to know more about the types of tools you use to stay on task and meet deadlines. Discuss how you prioritize when everything demands your attention at once. Think about the ways you manage your projects and daily tasks.
"I manage my time by exercising the idea of 'time-blocking.' This means that I won't incessantly check my email; instead, I will allow myself to return emails in 30-minute time blocks, four times per day. Setting calendar alerts and personal deadlines for myself has also helped a lot."
"Very carefully! I prioritize deadlines and work that needs to be done, then work backward from there. When necessary, I utilize my resources and team to pitch in and contribute."
"When I'm busy, I seem to get the most done. To prioritize, I make lists of the to-do items and about how long I think they'll take. That way, I know what needs to be done first and what small to-dos I can squeeze in in between the larger tasks. I find it an effective way to manage my time and get things done when I'm busy."
Before your interview, make sure you have a start date in mind for the new employer. Whether you need to give two weeks to your previous position, or are unemployed and can start right away, be prepared with an affirmative answer. If you are currently working, you should always show professionalism by offering 2 weeks' notice to your current employer. No hiring manager is ever impressed when they hear 'I can quit my job today and start tomorrow!' Show that you are professional and reliable in all situations.
"I am currently unemployed and am willing to start as soon as needed."
"I would need to give a customary two weeks' notice to my current company so that they could choose if they want me to stay and transition my replacement or make it my last day. But, out of courtesy to them, I need to let them make the decision."
"I would need to give my employer two weeks' notice. Due to my length of employment, it is possible that I may need to work an additional week if they were to request it of me to aid in the transition to the next manager, but I am available immediately following. Can you clarify your timeline for me?"
When an interviewer asks you this, make sure you always keep your answer positive. If you are leaving your position because you don’t like your boss, be sure to phrase it more eloquently. If you aren't sure how to remember - it's always a safe bet to focus your answer on career growth and exciting opportunities.
"Since the company merger last year, the workplace culture I admired so much, is no longer there. I am on the search for a supportive and positive environment where I can continue to flourish."
"I feel that I've reached the highest point I can, in my current lab. I am exceeding expectations, but what I am longing for is a team to lead. Right now, and in the next year or more, there is no such position available in my role. Because of this, I need to look for an organization where I can see my full potential."
The interviewer wants to gauge better if their hiring timeline fits with your current timeline. If you are actively interviewing: "Yes, I am very active in my search and have had multiple invitations to interview. Currently, I am in the second interview stage with one company and third interview stage with another."
"Yes, I am very active in my search and have had multiple invitations to interview. Currently, I am in the second interview stage with one company and third interview stage with another."
"If you are not interviewing: "I just started my search, so I am not in final interviews with any other company. I am aggressively seeking, however."
"'I am incredibly exacting about my next move, and I value your organization head and shoulders above all others. Right now, you are the only company I would leave my current organization for. I am not looking for a new position because I have to, but because I believe the time is right for me to expand my horizons, which align perfectly with this current opening."
Employers want to know that you have a methodical approach to problem-solving. Consider the skills and qualities that help you successfully face problems in the lab. Perhaps you have a keen eye for detail. Maybe you can see opportunity when others can only focus on the face value of the issue. Share your strengths as a problem solver, and your ability to come up with innovative solutions as a laboratory assistant.
"I am a great problem solver because I do not allow stress to cloud my judgment and mute my creativity. I am a keen observer with a great memory which allows me to recall unique solutions or ideas."
"I believe I am a great problem solver because I am sure to gather as many facts as possible, through my detailed research. I look at the problem and its potential solutions from multiple angles."
"I am a great problem solver because I draw from the experience of others, whether solicited advice or through my prior observations. My memory and years in the industry have exposed me to many types of situations and problems, so I feel I have a vast amount of experience to draw from, allowing me to be creative and efficient in the way I approach any challenge. Not to mention, I'm not afraid to ask for help or advice along the way."
Why are you the right fit for this particular position? This is an excellent time to highlight the skills you possess and show the interviewer that you are the best choice for the job.
"I feel that I will be successful in this position because I am passionate about what your organization stands for. I can see your vision and have already drafted some great ideas on how I can help you to get there. My organizational skills will be a major asset to you, and I also bring with me a strong track record of safety and compliance."
"I bring a fresh perspective along with my recent education. You will not find a candidate more eager than I am to succeed as a laboratory assistant."
"I believe I am equipped with the experience and know-how to take this role on and be successful. Some of your challenges are situations that I have helped other labs to overcome, and I will be proud to work for a hospital that delivers the services to the community that you do!"
Workplace relationships are essential to nurture. Talk to the interviewer about how you plan to earn the trust of your new co-workers, should you be offered the position.
"I feel that the best way to earn the trust of my co-workers is to be helpful, always do what I promise, and be honest with them at all times. Strong relationships have to be built on these principles."
"I will win my new coworkers over by going above and beyond the expectations given to me. I want to be a helpful team member that they can always come to."
"Trust is something you earn over time with people. I will lead by example and be transparent in my communications. Trust happens when people deliver on doing what they say they will do. I take the approach of under promising and over delivering to accelerate the trust process. With strong trust, teams can accomplish great things together."
In some states, certification is not required. Be sure to check with your state's licensing requirements before your interview. If you do require licensing and do not have it, you need to let the interviewer that you are making steps towards certification.
"I hold a valid and current certification in this state, through the American Medical Technologists Association."
"I am in the process of having my certification approved. I will be fully certified in the next 30 days."
"I have had a valid state certification for the past eight years. I have not allowed my certification to lapse and understand the importance of keeping my certification in good standing."
Laboratory assistants work in the medical field where they process specimens. These specimens are typically bodily fluids or other organic samples. Due to the potentially sensitive nature of the materials being handled, the lab assistant must closely adhere to well-defined policies and procedures. Accurate documentation is important. The work is typically done during normal business hours and performed in a laboratory. It's important for laboratory assistants to pay very close attention to detail and to follow directions precisely. Required qualifications vary by locale and typically require government-approved training and certification.
Vacancies for laboratory assistants may be found on universities' online career portals and sometimes even at job fairs focused on the medical industry. Labs may be associated with hospitals or universities. The interview will assess your ability to follow instructions, your clerical and data entry skills, and your knowledge of relevant standard procedures and best practices in your industry. Any lapses in procedure may have serious negative impacts. An analytical and procedure-oriented approach is most compatible with this job. You'll be expected to be familiar or at least comfortable with the computer systems and technology used in the course of your duties.
To prepare for the interview, think about the technical knowledge you obtained during your certification or education in this field. Laboratory assistants must meet strict deadlines while remaining accurate. You can give the interviewer confidence in your ability by talking about specific techniques that you've developed to help you maintain both quality and quantity of work. Explain it briefly and concisely in a step-by-step manner as if you were teaching it. By doing so, you're simultaneously showing that you're both a procedure-minded person and that you're diligent and organized. Make sure that you maintain up-to-date knowledge of equipment that's used in your field.