Are you preparing to answer the latest lab technician interview questions in an upcoming interview? Whether you’re interviewing for a clinical, medical, or research lab technology job, preparation is critical to landing the position.
Answering questions about your experience and skills and demonstrating your commitment to the profession will give you an edge in hiring.
To help you get started, in this article, we’ll cover some common lab technician interview questions that hiring managers ask.
This list of questions will help you understand what to expect in the interview and give you time to construct thoughtful answers for each question.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for the laboratory technician position?
Knowing the necessary skills to become a lab technician is key. With that in mind, here are some essential skills to consider investing in.
- Communication skills
Communicating effectively with coworkers, managers, and customers is essential for success as a lab technician. For example, if you are responsible for running tests and interpreting results, you must be able to explain your findings clearly.
- Organizational skills
Being organized is essential in all job areas as a lab technician. You’ll need to keep track of laboratory samples, chemicals, and supplies. Additionally, you may be required to maintain accurate records of test results and other data.
- Computer skills
Most modern labs now incorporate computer systems for logging, tracking, and analyzing data. It’s essential to understand how to operate the software used in the lab environment so that you can efficiently complete tasks. If you don’t possess the necessary skills already, consider taking a course or reading up on it before the interview.
- Time-management skills
Time management is critical in a lab environment, where tasks must be completed quickly and accurately. You should demonstrate the ability to work efficiently under pressure and stick to deadlines.
- Problem-solving skills
Lab technicians are often presented with problems that require creative solutions. It’s essential to show the interviewer that you have strong problem-solving skills and can find new ways of dealing with challenges in the lab. Doing so will help keep operations running smoothly and improve productivity.
23 Laboratory Technician Interview Questions and Answers
Let’s now explore some of the most common questions you’ll likely encounter during an interview for a Lab Technician role.
We’ll list why this is an important question and a model answer you can adapt for your experience.
General Interview Questions:
1. What hobbies or activities do you enjoy in your free time?
Why this is important: Knowing what hobbies and activities a prospective lab tech enjoys can give hiring managers a better idea of how well they will fit into the company culture.
Model answer: In my free time, I enjoy reading scientific articles to stay up to date with the latest trends in my field. Additionally, I love running, hiking, and exploring nature when possible. All these activities keep me sharp and focused on my work.
2. How would your former employer characterize you?
Why this is important: Your past performance in previous roles speaks volumes about you as a professional. Hiring managers want to know that you have been successful in other positions before joining their team.
Model answer: My former employer would describe me as reliable, organized, and detail-oriented. I have a strong work ethic and always strive to complete tasks quickly and accurately.
3. What inspired you to pursue this field of work?
Why this is important: Understanding why a candidate chooses to become a lab tech can help to hire managers gauge their passion for the job.
Model answer: As far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated by science and learning about new things. Working in a lab environment allows me to combine my scientific knowledge with my problem-solving skills, which excites me.
4. What motivates you to join our team?
Why this is important: Knowing what motivated a candidate to apply for your company gives insights into why they feel they’d be a good fit for the role.
Model answer: I am motivated to join your team because of the cutting-edge research and development opportunities it offers. The opportunity to work in a lab environment with innovative people is something that I find very inspiring and motivating, which is why this would be an ideal role for me.
5. What are the aspects of our research that captivate your attention?
Why this is important: Hiring managers want to know that candidates understand the type of work they will be doing if hired. By understanding what parts of their research excite them, they can better assess their qualifications for the job.
Model answer: What interests me about your research is the potential to explore creative solutions. I am excited about the opportunity to develop new ideas and strategies for tackling challenging projects in the lab.
6. How are you remaining abreast of our industry’s cutting-edge trends and developments?
Why this is important: Lab techs must stay informed on new methods, technologies, and discoveries that can help them do their jobs better. Hiring managers want to ensure prospective employees understand how they plan to remain current with these changes.
Model answer: I subscribe to several scientific magazines and journals to keep myself informed of the latest developments in my field. Additionally, I attend conferences whenever possible and network with colleagues.
Experience and Background Interview Questions
7. In what lab equipment are you proficient?
Why this is important: Lab techs often need to use various lab equipment proficiently. Asking this question allows hiring managers to determine the level of experience a candidate has with different pieces of lab equipment.
Model answer: I am proficient in using various laboratory equipment, including spectrometers, microscopes, and incubators. In my previous roles, I used these instruments for multiple tasks, such as analyzing samples and conducting experiments. Additionally, I am familiar with software programs related to scientific research and data analysis.
8. What processes do you utilize to prevent contamination?
Why this is important: Contamination poses a severe risk in the lab, so techs need to know procedures and protocols that can help minimize this risk. This question will help to hire managers to assess how well a candidate understands contamination
Model answer: To prevent contamination, I utilize standard laboratory safety protocols such as wearing protective clothing and gloves when handling samples, regularly cleaning lab equipment, and properly disposing of hazardous materials. Additionally, I follow strict guidelines for labeling and storing pieces to avoid cross-contamination between different experiments.
9. Can you please provide me with a summary of the lab duties you fulfilled in your prior position?
Why this is important: Hiring managers must know what tasks prospective employees have previously done in the lab. By asking this question, they can better understand their experience and expertise.
Model answer: In my previous lab role, I set up experiments and conducted tests according to established protocols. Additionally, I analyzed samples using various lab equipment and microscopes, recorded data accurately in databases, and prepared reports on my findings. Furthermore, I assisted with the maintenance of the lab by ensuring all equipment was calibrated and functioning correctly.
10. Are you familiar with different sterilization techniques? If so, can you please provide an overview of each one?
This is important: Sterilizing laboratory equipment is a critical duty for techs to ensure no contamination occurs during experiments. Asking this question allows hiring managers to gauge a candidate’s knowledge of sterilization techniques and how they plan to use them.
Model answer: Yes, I am familiar with different sterilization techniques. Autoclaving is a common technique that involves subjecting the equipment and materials to high-pressure steam for a certain period. Chemical sterilization utilizes various antiseptic compounds, such as alcohol or bleach, to eliminate microorganisms on surfaces. Additionally, ultraviolet radiation can be used to disinfect surfaces by destroying the DNA of microorganisms on contact.
11. How do you manage complex datasets?
Why this is important: Techs often need to work with large amounts of data in their roles, so it’s essential for hiring managers to know how a candidate plans to handle and analyze these datasets. Asking this question allows them to gain insight into this process.
Model answer: I utilize software programs such as Excel and SPSS to organize information efficiently when dealing with complex datasets. Additionally, I use descriptive statistics and graphical analysis tools to identify trends or patterns within the data. Furthermore, I continuously review my results and make adjustments to ensure the final output’s accuracy.
12. How would you define good laboratory practice?
Why this is important: Knowing how a candidate perceives good laboratory practice can provide insight into their work ethic and values when working in the lab. This question allows hiring managers to understand how prospective employees approach their roles.
Model answer: Good laboratory practice is following established protocols, adhering to safety guidelines, and properly handling samples and equipment. It also involves accurately recording data, regularly cleaning the lab space, and collaborating with other team members. Above all else, it’s important to maintain attention to detail throughout each process step to ensure successful outcomes.
Role-specific interview questions:
13. How would you resolve an issue that you identified?
Why this is important: Techs regularly face issues in the lab and must be able to take the initiative when it arises. This question allows hiring managers to understand how candidates think and approach potential problems.
Model answer: I believe it’s essential to approach any issue logically and evaluate all available options before deciding. When I identify an issue, my first step would be gathering data and information related to the problem and brainstorming possible solutions. From there, I select the most viable option that could potentially address the issue while minimizing any negative impacts on other areas of laboratory operations. Once I have chosen a solution, I document my findings and any steps taken to resolve the issue. Lastly, I evaluate the outcome and revise my approach as needed.
14. In the event of a chemical spill, what steps would you take to protect yourself and your environment?
Why this is important: Safety regulations in the lab are of utmost importance, so it’s essential for hiring managers to know how a candidate would handle hazardous situations. Asking this question allows them to understand how the prospective employee would respond and prioritize safety protocols.
Model answer: In the event of a chemical spill, my priority would be to alert other personnel in the area and take all necessary steps to protect myself and those around me. I would then refer to established safety protocols and procedures for guidance on cleanup efforts. This could involve shutting down necessary equipment, limiting access to that lab area, or utilizing appropriate protective gear such as gloves and face shields. Once the cleanup has been completed, I would ensure that the site has been appropriately decontaminated and tested for safety. Lastly, I would document all steps taken during the process and review them with my supervisor or laboratory manager.
15. How would you respond if a colleague disregarded the necessary safety regulations?
This is important: Following safety protocols in the lab is essential to protecting personnel and the environment, so proper communication is critical to ensuring compliance. This question allows hiring managers to understand how the prospective employee would handle such a situation.
Model answer: If I noticed a colleague had disregarded any safety regulations, I would first identify what rule was not followed and assess any potential risks associated with that action. From there, I would respectfully approach them and explain the importance of following safety protocols. I believe it’s essential to remain calm and provide clear guidance on what needs to be done to correct the situation. If needed, I could also offer resources or assistance that could help ensure proper regulations are followed moving forward. My goal is always to ensure that personnel and the environment remain safe.
16. What areas should be adequately prepared beforehand to ensure success in a clinical lab audit?
Why this is important: Clinical lab audits are necessary and can influence an organization’s level of accreditation. Asking this question allows hiring managers to understand how a candidate would prioritize preparation for such an event.
Model answer: To ensure success in a clinical lab audit, it is essential to prepare all necessary areas beforehand adequately. This could include making sure that all equipment is appropriately maintained and calibrated, as well as ensuring valid documentation for any tests or procedures conducted in the laboratory. Additionally, personnel should have a thorough understanding of safety protocols and be able to demonstrate their adherence when necessary. Lastly, it’s essential to review test results from previous audits to identify potential areas of improvement and address them before the upcoming audit. By preparing adequately in all these areas, I believe an organization can set itself up for success during a clinical lab audit.
17. Can you consider a point when your ethics were challenged and describe your method to remedy the issue?
Why this is important: Ethical conduct is essential in the laboratory setting, so it’s important to understand how a candidate would respond when faced with an ethical dilemma. This question allows hiring managers to gain insight into a prospective employee’s values and integrity.
Model answer: One time my ethics were challenged was when I was asked by my supervisor to fudge a few numbers to make our test results look better than they were. After careful consideration, I decided it wasn’t acceptable for me to do so and informed my supervisor of my decision. I explained that I believed this action was unethical from an individual and organizational standpoint since providing false data could potentially have significant legal repercussions. After discussing the situation further, my supervisor agreed with my assessment, and we decided to report our results as accurately and honestly as possible. This experience taught me the importance of remaining true to my values and standing up for what I believe is right, even in challenging situations.
18. What actions would you take to obtain information from multiple sources?
Why this is important: In the laboratory setting, obtaining accurate information from various sources is essential. Asking this question allows hiring managers to understand how a candidate would verify data and acquire research.
Model answer: I believe it’s essential to take an organized approach to obtain information from multiple sources. This could include researching online databases such as PubMed and Web of Science for published research related to the topic. Additionally, I may contact peers or experienced professionals in my field for their opinions or insights. I also think it’s beneficial to consult textbooks or other resources that are known for providing reliable information. By gathering data from multiple sources in this way, I believe it’s possible to build a comprehensive and reliable understanding of the issue at hand.
19. How could you productively collaborate with someone whose opinions often differ from your own?
Why this is important: Collaboration skills are essential in the laboratory setting, so it’s important for hiring managers to understand how a candidate would interact with colleagues who have different points of view. This question allows them to assess prospective employee’s ability to maintain productive peer relationships.
Model answer: If I were faced with collaborating with someone whose opinions often differ from my own, I would first ensure that we both respected each other’s ideas and were open to hearing one another out. This would help create an atmosphere of mutual understanding, allowing us to have productive conversations and discuss the pros and cons of different points of view. Additionally, I think it’s important to focus on collaborating toward a common goal to find a solution that works for both parties. By taking this approach, I believe it’s possible to collaborate effectively with anyone, regardless of their opinions.
Behavioral Interview Questions
20. How did you successfully maneuver through challenges in a laboratory environment? What strategies and tactics did you employ to address this issue?
Why this is important: Working in a laboratory environment often brings unique and unexpected challenges, so it’s essential for hiring managers to understand how a candidate responds in such situations. Asking this question allows them to evaluate the prospective employee’s problem-solving skills and ability to think independently.
Model answer: Whenever I face an unexpected challenge in the laboratory setting, my first response is always to assess the situation before taking action. I use this approach to review relevant data and consider multiple strategies to address the issue. After researching and evaluating potential solutions, I decided which action would be most effective. Finally, I’ll execute that plan and track the results to ensure success. By taking this approach, I believe I can accurately and efficiently address any unexpected challenge in the laboratory setting.
21. Presenting technical research or results to someone without a scientific background can be tricky – how do you handle this situation?
Why this is important: The ability to communicate scientific information and results, even to those without a scientific background, is essential for any laboratory professional. Asking this question allows hiring managers to assess prospective employees’ communication skills and ability to explain complex concepts in simple terms effectively.
Model answer: Whenever I need to present technical research or results to someone without a scientific background, I start by understanding their level of knowledge in the subject area. This helps me frame my explanation around concepts they can likely comprehend rather than diving into complicated jargon that may confuse them. Additionally, I provide visuals where necessary to help explain any complex data points or findings more clearly. Finally, I always strive to speak in plain language that anyone can understand rather than relying on technical terms. I can effectively communicate technical research or results to any audience by taking a thoughtful approach and speaking clearly.
22. Describe a situation when you identified an issue while testing a sample. How did you address it?
This is important: Laboratory professionals must identify sample issues or irregularities before beginning tests or experiments. Asking this question allows hiring managers to evaluate the prospective employee’s attention to detail and ability to think critically when identifying potential problems.
Model answer: While experimenting on a soil sample, I noticed some strange particles mixed in with the soil. To address this issue, I took a closer look at the selection and identified that these particles were bits of plastic, which could contaminate the results of my experiment. As soon as I recognized this issue, I quickly adjusted my testing procedure to account for this contamination. To ensure accurate and reliable results, I set up a more comprehensive filtration system to remove any foreign particles from the sample before beginning the test. By taking swift action and making sure to consider all possible variables, I was able to complete my experiment without compromising its integrity.
23. Are you confident requesting assistance when unable to identify irregularities in a sample? Can you illustrate how this works for you?
Why this is important: Laboratory professionals need to recognize when they may not have the expertise necessary to correctly identify an issue with a sample and seek help when needed. Asking this question allows hiring managers to assess prospective employees’ ability to work collaboratively and their willingness to reach out for help when faced with something unfamiliar.
Model answer: Yes, I am confident in requesting assistance if I cannot identify irregularities in a sample. For example, while testing a water sample for contamination levels recently, I noticed some unexpected results that didn’t add up. After researching independently and consulting with colleagues with more experience in this area, I could still not determine the cause. In this case, I decided to reach out to a more senior technician in our lab who had experience analyzing water samples. By asking for their help and expertise, I better understood the situation and ultimately troubleshot the irregularity I had initially noticed.
I believe it’s essential to recognize an issue outside my knowledge base and seek assistance from those with more expertise to ensure accurate results. Working together and collaborating is always beneficial, especially within the laboratory setting. Thus, I have no problem reaching out for help if needed.
Questions for You to Ask in a Lab Technician Job Interview
While answering questions in a job interview is essential, asking your questions is also beneficial. Here are some inquiries you can make during a lab technician job interview.
What is your timeline for hiring a new employee?
Why this is important: Asking this question allows the hiring manager to gain insight into the company’s recruiting process and how long it typically takes them to fill positions. It also gives the job applicant an idea of when they should expect to hear back from the interviewer about their status.
To whom will I be accountable?
Why this is important: Knowing to whom you will be accountable in the organization helps to create a clear understanding of your role and responsibilities. It also gives the interviewer insight into how well you can handle accountability and if you have experience working with others.
How do you ensure that your new hires are efficiently trained?
Why this is important: This question shows that the job applicant is interested in learning more about the company’s onboarding process and how they can make it smoother and more efficient. It also allows the hiring manager to elaborate on their training methods, which may provide further insight into the company’s culture.
How often do you evaluate employee performance?
Why this is important: Evaluation is an integral part of any job, and knowing how often your performance will be evaluated helps ensure you meet the organization’s expectations. This question also allows the hiring manager to explain in detail how their evaluation process works, which can provide further insight into what they look for in successful employees.
How does this unit’s leadership operate?
Why this is important: Knowing the structure of a company’s leadership team and how it functions daily can give the job applicant an idea of what to expect once they join. It also allows the interviewer to highlight some of their management practices, which may help them evaluate if you are a good fit for their organization.
Who is the ideal candidate to fill this role?
Why this is important: Asking this question allows the interviewer to provide a clear picture of who they are looking for regarding qualifications and experience. It also allows you to see if your background and skill set align with what the company seeks, which can help you determine if you should pursue further discussions about the position.
How To Prepare for Lab Technician Job Interview
The best way to prepare for a lab technician job interview is to use the STAR method: situation, task, action, and result. This method helps applicants structure their answers and provide concrete examples demonstrating their abilities and experience in a field.
First, applicants should think of a situation they encountered while working in a laboratory. This could be a challenge they faced or an opportunity they had to address. They should then describe the task they took on to address this situation.
Next, applicants should explain their actions to achieve the desired result. It is essential to be as specific as possible and provide concrete examples of what steps were taken and how these decisions helped them reach a successful outcome.
Finally, applicants should explain the result of their efforts, including any measurable successes such as increased safety standards or improved efficiency levels. By providing tangible results from their past experiences, applicants can demonstrate their technical skills and how their work can help benefit an organization.
By using the STAR method when answering questions during an interview for a lab technician position, applicants are better equipped with tangible evidence about why they are qualified for the role and how they would contribute to success if hired.
Lab Technician Interview Questions – FAQ
What are the duties of a lab technician?
Lab technicians are responsible for a variety of tasks related to laboratory operations.
These include setting up, calibrating, and maintaining laboratory equipment; performing laboratory tests such as chemical analyses, cell culture work, blood work, and more; preparing samples for testing and analysis; collecting data from experiments; recording and storing results; interpreting test results; providing technical support to researchers and staff; adhering to safety protocols when using hazardous materials or working with biological specimens.
Lab technicians may also be responsible for ordering lab supplies, keeping inventory records, and cleaning the lab.
What are the skills of a lab technician?
Lab technicians must possess strong technical skills to perform their job duties properly. They should have experience handling sensitive instruments, conducting complex tests, reading and interpreting data, following safety protocols, and working with hazardous materials.
They should also possess strong communication skills to work collaboratively with other laboratory staff and adequately document the results of tests or experiments. Additionally, they must have good organizational skills to maintain the lab’s inventory records and keep them organized.
Finally, they need problem-solving skills to troubleshoot technical issues or find solutions when unexpected results arise from tests or experiments.
By being prepared for a lab technician job, applicants can demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and qualifications to succeed in the role.
Possessing appropriate technical knowledge, hands-on experience with laboratory equipment, effective communication and organizational skills, problem-solving abilities, and familiarity with safety protocols are all essential components of a lab technician’s job.
With the right mindset and preparation, applicants will be well-positioned to secure a great lab technician position.