Shawn Wierzbowski founded Intro, a medical technologist recruitment company, in the fall of 2019. He founded the company as there was a clear need for a recruitment company that focused solely on the field of clinical laboratory science to help connect labs and lab professionals with permanent opportunities. Shawn’s last two years with Intro have provided him a unique view of the clinical industry both from the perspective of clinical laboratory scientists and hiring labs.
Your phone rings and it’s a call from a recruiter at a laboratory you’ve recently applied to—they want to interview you. Excited, you schedule the interview. The morning of, you walk into the lab and get a nervous feeling in your stomach as you start answering question after question. After about 30 minutes, it’s over, and you leave to wait for the lab to call you back.
That is how the interview process used to go, but today, labs are desperate to find qualified professionals, which means you have some leverage that can be used in the interview. To find the right fit for you, it’s important to interview the labs that are interviewing you and to ask them tough questions.
Here are four questions that I recommend clinical laboratory scientists (CLSs) ask at every interview:
1. How does this lab deal with understaffing?
Asking labs how they deal with understaffing is key because it gives you an idea of what you could be getting yourself into. Laboratory professionals are often overworked, and they can only do so for so long before becoming burned out. A big motivating factor for most CLSs is to switch labs for a better schedule.
From my experience, labs deal with understaffing in different ways. Here are some examples of what you could expect to hear:
- “When we get critically short staffed, we bring in traveling clinical professionals that can help us until we hire more permanent staff.”
- “When we’re understaffed, we ask our technicians step up and work extra hours and/or different shifts.”
- “We have a good compensation package and culture here, and we haven’t really had a problem with critical short staffing in the past year or so.”
Ensure you get a clear answer to this question, because it could affect your role if you decide to accept their job offer.
2. Ask, “My professional goal is __[insert your goal]__. Will I have the opportunity to do that here?”
Every laboratory professional has different career goals. Goals range from moving into quality assurance or management, changing shifts, gaining higher compensation, and so much more. Learn about the resources the lab offers and ask them to share examples of current CLSs there that have accomplished the same goals that you want to accomplish.
By asking this question to different companies, you can get a clear idea of what place offers the best avenue for you to get where you want in your career.
3. How will this lab change in the next few years?
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are many more laboratories than there were prior to 2019. With that increase comes a certain degree of risk. While the job may seem like a perfect opportunity now, it is important that you understand a lab’s plans for the future of their operation. This will tell you how your role could change and what opportunities may be available in the next few years.
The growth of the majority of clinical labs will likely remain steady, but it is important for you to understand the whole picture of the lab, such as, whether they plan to outsource testing in the future, to shut down certain departments, or add certain testing. These are all things that should be important to you and your decision to accept their job offer.
4. Why do CLSs like working in this lab?
If possible, ask why the interviewers like working in that particular lab: How passionate are they about working there? Why do their staff like working in their laboratory? Their answers to these questions will give you a good idea of how excited they are about the environment their CLSs work in. If their answers aren’t enthusiastic, that can be a big red flag—if they aren’t excited, why should you be?