Interviewing and Hiring Staff
- When interviewing, whether formally or informally, start by introducing yourself and the lab’s main themes. Pose some questions to the student to see if he/she knows you or what you are doing and then elaborate more precisely. This is a good litmus test to asses if the student took the time to read about your project in your website or to talk to the rest of your lab.
- Interview undergraduates (for graduate school) – Ask mainly about what field(s) interest the applicant, what he/she aspires to learn and do in their project. Try to assess their motivation levels and ambition to pursue challenging projects and career choices to see if the student would be a good fit in your laboratory.
- Interview masters graduates – In this type of interview your goal will be to assess how the applicant copes with scientific conduct including working in the face of uncertainty, troubleshooting unsuccessful experiments, and analyzing new results.
- Interviewing post-doctoral fellows or lab managers – Check recommendations (see below), expected aspirations and verify whether the applicant is choosing your lab as a first choice or last resort as that might affect their long-term employment potential.
- Recommendations from previous PI’s – These are very important though require a degree of caution and verification. While you can learn a lot about the candidate research-wise from their previous experience, PI’s can give either over-rated or under-rated assessments of the applicant, which are subjectively influenced by PI’s personality and the nature of the relationship between the PI and the applicant.
Regardless of your applicant’s professional level you should explain your professional and personal expectations of the future employee. Don’t forget: a lab is first of all a social framework. It takes only one rotten apple to spoil the whole bunch.