Interviewing for a Research Lab at Your College/University




So now you’ve gotten the opportunity to interview with a faculty member for a position in their lab, now what? In most cases, the faculty member will want to interview you to make sure you are a good fit for the lab. Interviews are a great way for the professor to get to know you and also for you to get to know the lab you are interested in. Interviews are a great way for you to know exactly what you are about to get yourself into. The first time I interviewed for a lab position, I was so excited to get the opportunity to work in a lab that I didn’t ask the questions I should’ve asked to make sure the lab was a good fit for me. If I could go back in time, I would definitely have asked more questions and made sure that the lab was a good fit for me.


First things first, before the interview, make sure you have done your research on the faculty member, their lab, and their research. It may be helpful to also read about the types of techniques and equipment they use. Next, you want to make sure you show up a bit early for the interview, this will give you some time to find the interview location, calm your nerves and be prepared. The next step is to be yourself. It sounds cliche but it’s true. You want to show off your amazing, authentic personality because that will also help you figure out if your personality blends in well with the overall vibe of the lab. Trust me you want to make sure that you are going to be happy working in the lab. If you’re not happy in the lab you’re working in, you are not going to excel.


The faculty member is most likely going to ask you questions. You also want to make sure that you reverse interview the faculty member by asking them questions as well. It is important to ask the faulty member questions because this will help make sure that the lab is a good fit for you.


Some key questions you will want to ask/discuss with the faculty member are:


- Meeting times

- How often are lab meetings

- Does the faculty member expect you to have one on one meetings

- Faculty member’s mentoring style

- Is the faculty member a hands on or hands off mentor

- Expectations

- Are you expected to be in the lab at a certain time

- How many hours are you expected to put in each day at the lab

- Is there someone you need to report to when you arrive at the lab

- How are lab chores rotated

- Are you expected to work in the lab over the summer

- Does the faculty member expect a time commitment for how long you need to stay with the lab