Lab Technician Jobs Interview

Looking for lab technician jobs? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the lab tech position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more

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Lab Technician Jobs Interview

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

I have been working as a lab technician in a biochemistry lab for about five years.

There are a variety of tasks to be accomplished on any given day in lab technician jobs. As one of the more junior members of the laboratory, it's up to me to make sure that the right chemical solutions are made for experiments, and to clean off or sterilize any equipment that might be used. I run experiments, record and enter data, and make sure that we have coherent records of the experiments I ran.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

I am a white male, which I wouldn't say has helped or hurt me in the workplace at all; generally, biochemistry research is a very accommodating and diverse field, and we've even had citizens of other countries come to work with us for periods of about six months to a year.

Although I speak Spanish as well as English, I have not yet had the opportunity to use it on the job. However, some research projects do involve partnerships with other universities and businesses worldwide, so knowing a second language can be a definite asset.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate my job satisfaction at about an 8. Once I get my own assistant to help me with cleanup and data entry, which often occurs after working in the field for several years, this rating would go up to a 9 or 10.

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What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

Like any job, lab technician jobs has some lessons that are learned the hard way. I have gotten some mild burns from dry ice and spilling hydrochloric acid on a lab bench before, which taught me that you have to always be aware of your environment in a laboratory, and to thoroughly know the properties of any chemicals you may be working with.

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

While going to school gave me a good theoretical knowledge of lab technician jobs, much of my work involves setting my own research goals and figuring out experimental means to test hypothesis, which is practical knowledge that I had to learn on the job.

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How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

I got my job while applying to an advertisement I saw on campus while attending the University of Colorado. Initially, I was only there to wash glassware and prep solutions, but I expressed an active interest in the experiments being conducted there, so after a few weeks, the manager had me running my own tests.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in lab technician jobs?

Plenty of unusual things can happen in biochemistry, but one of my stranger days involved having to pick a large amount of spinach leaves from plants in the greenhouse, freeze them with liquid nitrogen, and grind them in a mortar and pestle. It was necessary for a plant experiment we were conducting, but I felt like a gardener the entire day.

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

Lab work is quite rewarding, but one of the things that always makes me feel good is when I run a test, for example, a gel to look at DNA sequences, and it turns out properly, without me having to change or re-do anything.

One of my greatest personal accomplishments at work was finding an allelic variation in the genetic code of the aspen tree that accounted for the tree's production of a certain volatile organic carbon compound; I had been searching for this gene for weeks, and after much trial-and-error, I managed to find a sequence that matched other plants producing the same compound.

The greatest challenge I faced was probably learning how to cultivate bacteria properly for study. It took me quite some time to find the right mixture of nutrients to cultivate E. coli bacteria and plate them properly, and it was difficult to keep the lab environment sterile enough to the point that there would not be any cross-contamination.

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What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?

One of the most common snafus that I encounter is having to re-run experiments, particularly gel electrophoresis or spectroflourometry tests. These can get a bit tedious, but sometimes they take several tries to turn out correctly.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

Lab technician jobs can be stressful at times, but overall, it is a friendly and low-stress environment; while we may sometimes have to stay late, or work on weekends depending on the scheduling of experiments, it's usually easy to have a decent balance between work and life.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

Lab technician jobs usually make between $25,000 and $36,000 a year, although depending on the laboratory, you may make an hourly wage when you begin. My lab pays about average for my position, which I feel is ample compensation, especially considering how much I enjoy the work.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

Having at least a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, or a related field is usually required to be hired in a biochemistry lab technician jobs, but sometimes internships are available for college or even high-school students as a way of being introduced to the field.

While I had the advantage of attending the University of Colorado where the laboratory is located, it's important to remember that these lab technician jobs are open to anyone with the right education and interests. You don't have to be a current student to be hired and succeed in these labs.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

While I don't think my line of work is for everyone, I often tell my friends about the experiments we do or the equipment I've learned to use. It's interesting work and makes for fun conversations.

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