You’re in charge of interviewing a potential new hire for your laboratory. You want to make sure that they have the skills needed to do the job, and that they will be a good cultural fit. So, what questions should you ask? This will likely depend on the position, how much experience they have, and the job they will be expected to do, but here are a few basic suggestions.
Take a look at their resume to see where they have previously worked. Identify any gaps in employment or a pattern of job hopping. There may be legitimate reasons, but you also want to make sure this candidate is someone who can commit to the position. Give them the opportunity to tell their story so you can get a complete picture of the person behind the piece of paper. Ask them to tell you a time when they failed and what they learned from it, as well as a time they succeeded, or a project they are most proud of to get a sense of their growth and priorities. It is important to ask about their goals, to determine if there is a path for career growth for this individual within your organization.
Teamwork in the laboratory is very important. Ask them about previous work environments, their ability to collaborate with others, and how they handle disagreements. If they are interviewing for a leadership position, make sure they have the skills needed to mediate problems, delegate responsibility, and create a supportive work environment for their direct reports. You also want to be honest about workload, expectations for shifts, if they may be asked to take on additional responsibilities, to make sure they are ready for the challenge of a busy lab. It can be helpful to have them meet with more than just one person, to make sure the people they will be working with on a daily basis are also on board with the hire.
Find out why they want to work for you and provide them the opportunity to ask you questions. You want to make sure that not only do they meet your needs for an employee, but your place of employment meets their needs as well.
In the age of COVID, it is possible the job interview may be virtual, which means you may not be able to have them in the lab to demonstrate their skills, however do your best to arrange some way to ensure they meet the technical qualifications, especially if they’re new to the field. Having them on site to demonstrate cutting, embedding, staining, will tell you a lot about whether or not they will be a good fit. You can also ask them specific questions about techniques, processes, or tasks they will be expected to do on a regular basis to check their knowledge. If the interview has to be virtual, try showing them pictures of problem slides and ask how they would troubleshoot. Making sure they’re a cultural fit is important, but they also need to know how to do the job!