17 Laboratory Scientist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a laboratory scientist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Lab technicians play an important role in the scientific process by helping researchers conduct experiments, analyze data, and develop new products. If you’re looking for a lab technician job, you’ll need to be able to answer common interview questions.

Employers look for lab technicians who are responsible, reliable, and have good problem-solving skills. In this guide, you’ll find sample lab technician interview questions and answers that will help you prepare for your interview.

Are you familiar with the use of hazardous materials in your field of work?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of safety procedures and regulations in the laboratory. Use your answer to highlight your commitment to following protocols that keep you and others safe while working with hazardous materials.

Example: “Yes, I am familiar with the use of hazardous materials in my field of work. In fact, I have a certification in handling dangerous substances, which is required for all employees at my current job. My employer also has an emergency response plan in place should any accidents occur. We practice these drills regularly so we’re prepared if something happens.”

What are some of the most important safety protocols you follow in the lab?

Interviewers may ask this question to make sure you understand the importance of safety in a laboratory setting. They want to know that you will follow all protocols and procedures, especially those related to safety. In your answer, explain what steps you take to ensure your own safety as well as the safety of others around you.

Example: “I always wear my lab coat when working with chemicals or handling samples. I also use gloves at all times when handling anything that could be dangerous. When using equipment like microscopes or other tools, I always double-check that it’s turned off before using it. These are just some of the most important safety protocols I follow in the lab.”

How do you organize and prioritize your work to meet deadlines and deliver quality results?

As a laboratory scientist, you may have multiple projects and assignments to complete. Employers ask this question to learn more about your time management skills and how you plan your schedule to meet deadlines while still producing quality work. Use examples from your experience to explain the steps you take to organize your tasks and keep track of your progress.

Example: “I use my calendar to manage all of my daily tasks and appointments. I find that using a digital calendar is the easiest way for me to stay on top of everything I need to do each day. In addition to scheduling my regular work hours, I also add any important meetings or deadlines to my calendar so I can prepare in advance. This helps me prioritize my work by focusing on the most urgent tasks first.”

What is your experience with using computer software in the lab?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your computer skills and how you use them in the lab. Use your answer to describe which software you’ve used before, what it’s for and whether or not you have any experience with similar programs.

Example: “In my previous role as a microbiologist, I primarily used LabQuest Pro software to collect data from experiments. This program is useful because it allows me to record information while working in the lab without having to write anything down. It also has an app that lets me upload all of my data directly to the cloud so I can access it anywhere. In addition to LabQuest Pro, I’ve also worked with other software like BioRad MyBioSource and Agilent Chemstation.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to troubleshoot an experiment that wasn’t going as planned.

This question is a great way to assess your problem-solving skills and ability to think critically. When answering this question, it can be helpful to provide an example of how you used critical thinking to solve the issue at hand.

Example: “In my previous role as a lab scientist, I was working on a project that required me to test for certain bacteria in water samples. The first few tests came back negative, but I knew there had to be some sort of bacteria present because of the smell of the water sample. After further testing, we found out that the bacteria were actually dead due to the high levels of chlorine in the water. This led us to change our testing methods so we could find the bacteria even if they were dead.”

If we were to visit your lab, what areas would you want us to see?

This question can help interviewers understand your work ethic and how you manage your lab. You should answer this question by describing the areas of your lab that are most important to you, such as those where you conduct experiments or analyze data.

Example: “If I were to show you around my lab, I would start in our main testing area because it’s where we perform all of our experiments. From there, I’d take you to our computer room so you could see how we organize our data and enter it into our database. Finally, I’d take you to our storage facility so you could see how we keep track of our samples.”

What would you do if you were working on an experiment and you realized you were missing a key ingredient?

This question can help interviewers understand how you respond to challenges in the workplace. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a time when you had to improvise or solve a problem while working on an experiment.

Example: “In my last role as a lab scientist, I was working on an experiment that required me to use a certain type of soil. However, I realized halfway through the experiment that we were out of that specific soil and would have to wait until the next day for more to arrive. Instead of waiting, I used another type of soil that was similar to the one I needed and completed the rest of the experiment with that substitute.”

How well do you work with others to complete experiments and research projects on time?

Working as a laboratory scientist often requires collaboration with other scientists, technicians and researchers. Employers ask this question to make sure you can work well in teams. Use your answer to show that you are a team player who is willing to collaborate with others to complete projects on time.

Example: “I am very comfortable working with others to complete experiments and research projects. In my previous role, I worked alongside two other lab scientists to test samples for different chemicals. We would meet every morning to discuss our progress and any challenges we were facing. By collaborating together, we were able to solve problems more quickly and efficiently. This allowed us to finish all of our testing by the end of each day.”

Do you have any questions for us about the position or company?

This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in the position. Interviewers often appreciate when candidates ask them questions about their role, company culture or what they like most about working there. When preparing for this question, think of a few things you’d like to know more about and try to connect those things to your own skills and experience.

Example: “I noticed that you have an open-door policy here at the lab. I’m very interested in learning more about how that policy works and how it’s benefited other employees. I also wanted to learn more about the mentorship program you offer. I am looking to advance my career as a laboratory scientist and would love to work with someone who can help me do that.”

When performing experiments, do you ever get the feeling that you’re tampering with things you shouldn’t?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your ethics and values. They want to know that you’re committed to doing things ethically, especially when it comes to working with human subjects. Your answer should show that you understand the importance of adhering to ethical standards in the workplace.

Example: “I have worked on many projects where we were testing products on humans. I always make sure that my experiments are performed under strict conditions so that no one gets hurt or harmed in any way. I take pride in knowing that I am helping people by performing these tests.”

We want to improve our research and development processes. How would you improve the way you conduct experiments?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and ability to think critically. You can use examples from previous research projects or describe a process you would create if you were in charge of developing new processes for conducting experiments.

Example: “I have worked with the same team on several projects, so I know our processes are effective. However, I believe we could improve by using more automation in our processes. For example, I recently conducted a project where I had to test samples every day. It was time-consuming to do this manually, but it also meant that there was room for human error. If I were in charge of R&D, I would implement software that automatically tests samples at certain intervals.”

Describe your experience with using lab equipment.

This question can help interviewers understand your experience with the tools you’ll use in their lab. Use examples from previous jobs to explain how you used equipment and what kind of results you got.

Example: “In my last position, I was responsible for using a variety of different lab equipment. My favorite piece of equipment is an atomic force microscope because it allows me to see things at a microscopic level without damaging them. In one instance, I needed to examine a sample that had been damaged by another type of microscope. Using the atomic force microscope allowed me to get a clear picture of the sample and determine its makeup.”

What makes you stand out from other candidates for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their organization. Before your interview, make a list of the skills and experiences that qualify you for this role. Focus on highlighting your most relevant experience and soft skills.

Example: “I have three years of laboratory experience, which makes me an ideal candidate for this position. I also have excellent communication skills, as evidenced by my ability to work with other scientists in my previous lab. In addition, I am highly organized and detail-oriented, which helps me maintain quality control in my work. These skills are essential for success in this role.”

Which areas of science interest you the most?

This question can help the interviewer determine if your interests align with the job’s responsibilities. Your answer should include a few of your favorite areas of science and how they relate to the position you’re applying for.

Example: “I have always been fascinated by biology, so I decided to pursue a career in this field. In my current role as a microbiologist, I enjoy working with bacteria the most because it is such an important part of our lives. For example, I recently helped develop a new type of antibiotic that could treat drug-resistant strains of bacteria.”

What do you think is the most important skill for a laboratory scientist to have?

This question can help interviewers learn more about your background and what skills you think are most important for the role. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a skill that you have and how it has helped you in your career.

Example: “I believe the most important skill for a laboratory scientist is communication. In my previous roles, I’ve had to communicate with other scientists, managers and clients, so I am used to speaking in front of groups and explaining complex concepts. This skill has helped me succeed in my career because I can clearly explain my work to others.”

How often do you perform routine maintenance on lab equipment?

This question can help interviewers understand your familiarity with lab equipment and how often you perform maintenance. You may answer this question by describing the frequency of routine maintenance in your current or previous role, or you can describe a specific time when you performed maintenance on lab equipment.

Example: “In my current position as a research scientist at XYZ Pharmaceuticals, I perform routine maintenance on lab equipment once every two weeks. This includes checking all equipment for any issues, cleaning equipment and replacing supplies as needed. In my last position, I also performed routine maintenance on lab equipment once every two weeks. However, I would check equipment daily to ensure it was functioning properly.”

There is a disagreement among your team about the results of an experiment. How do you handle it?

This question can help interviewers understand how you handle conflict and disagreements. It can also show them your leadership skills, communication abilities and problem-solving skills. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation in which you had to resolve a disagreement among team members.

Example: “In my previous role as a lab scientist, I worked with two other scientists on an experiment that involved testing the effectiveness of a new drug. We all came up with different results for the same experiment. After discussing our findings with each other, we realized that one of us forgot to do part of the experiment. Once we completed the entire experiment, we got the same results. This taught me that it’s important to communicate with my colleagues about their work so we can avoid mistakes like this.”


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