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notaguineapig

Scared to death about lab manager interviews!

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Hi all!

It looks like all of the grad schools I applied to are ghosting me except for the one I've already received a rejection for post-interview (the POI said I was too young). I'm applying right out of undergrad and while I have research experience at 3 universities, I understand that my CV might not be as developed as it needs to be for the programs I was looking at. As a result, I'm applying to lab manager positions to gain some experience and boost my resume for the next few cycles. I'm pursuing lab manager over RA because of the additional leadership elements. I've applied for about 6 positions and have already started interviewing.

 I have my second interview at my top choice Ivy League today with the PI and I'm terrified. The initial interview with the lab manager was last week and it went well. I interned at the school this past summer so I know the department well, but I really want the position and I'm scared I'll shoot myself in the foot, so I'm reaching out for help!

Does anyone have any insight into what I should expect, what to do/what not to do, and what questions I should prepare for?

Thanks everyone!

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47 minutes ago, notaguineapig said:

Hi all!

It looks like all of the grad schools I applied to are ghosting me except for the one I've already received a rejection for post-interview (the POI said I was too young). I'm applying right out of undergrad and while I have research experience at 3 universities, I understand that my CV might not be as developed as it needs to be for the programs I was looking at. As a result, I'm applying to lab manager positions to gain some experience and boost my resume for the next few cycles. I'm pursuing lab manager over RA because of the additional leadership elements. I've applied for about 6 positions and have already started interviewing.

 I have my second interview at my top choice Ivy League today with the PI and I'm terrified. The initial interview with the lab manager was last week and it went well. I interned at the school this past summer so I know the department well, but I really want the position and I'm scared I'll shoot myself in the foot, so I'm reaching out for help!

Does anyone have any insight into what I should expect, what to do/what not to do, and what questions I should prepare for?

Thanks everyone!

First of all, congrats on your interview! 

 

I HATE interviews and was a nervous wreck applying to lab manager jobs last year. It turned out that I actually enjoyed the PI interviews more than speaking with the current lab managers & grad students. Usually the students/managers asked more typical "job" questions, e.g. "what are your weaknesses, give an example of a conflict you've had to handle..." which I find to be a nightmare. With PIs, it was always just a conversation about research that flowed really naturally. Have a spiel prepared about a project you've been working on (ideally one that you were involved in designing), explain it clearly and in moderate detail, the professor will ask you questions about it, and it'll go by super quickly! Keep in mind that they are not familiar with the specific work you've done, so they are not testing you on content knowledge - they are asking questions out of sincere interest, and they mainly want to see that you're able to talk about research.

One question that tripped me up in a PI interview was "what is your favorite part of doing research?" This should be an easy question to answer if you think about it beforehand, but I was caught off guard and said something really stupid. 

So basically, just do some self-reflection beforehand and be prepared to answer any questions about your research interests, why you want the job, why you liked the department when you interned there. And ask the professor a few questions. Just relax (easier said than done) and don't worry about sounding "smart!"

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1 hour ago, ItPhBeLikeThatSometimes said:

First of all, congrats on your interview! 

 

I HATE interviews and was a nervous wreck applying to lab manager jobs last year. It turned out that I actually enjoyed the PI interviews more than speaking with the current lab managers & grad students. Usually the students/managers asked more typical "job" questions, e.g. "what are your weaknesses, give an example of a conflict you've had to handle..." which I find to be a nightmare. With PIs, it was always just a conversation about research that flowed really naturally. Have a spiel prepared about a project you've been working on (ideally one that you were involved in designing), explain it clearly and in moderate detail, the professor will ask you questions about it, and it'll go by super quickly! Keep in mind that they are not familiar with the specific work you've done, so they are not testing you on content knowledge - they are asking questions out of sincere interest, and they mainly want to see that you're able to talk about research.

One question that tripped me up in a PI interview was "what is your favorite part of doing research?" This should be an easy question to answer if you think about it beforehand, but I was caught off guard and said something really stupid. 

So basically, just do some self-reflection beforehand and be prepared to answer any questions about your research interests, why you want the job, why you liked the department when you interned there. And ask the professor a few questions. Just relax (easier said than done) and don't worry about sounding "smart!"

Thanks!

In my first interview, the lab manager asked NO typical "job" questions that I was prepared for, which really threw me off. She asked a lot about my research experience and knowledge, which I thought the PI was going to ask. We'll see if he asks the same types of questions or switches it up on me!

Again, thanks for the feedback. I practiced walking through my research spiels like you suggested and I feel like I can do this!

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8 hours ago, notaguineapig said:

Hi all!

It looks like all of the grad schools I applied to are ghosting me except for the one I've already received a rejection for post-interview (the POI said I was too young). I'm applying right out of undergrad and while I have research experience at 3 universities, I understand that my CV might not be as developed as it needs to be for the programs I was looking at. As a result, I'm applying to lab manager positions to gain some experience and boost my resume for the next few cycles. I'm pursuing lab manager over RA because of the additional leadership elements. I've applied for about 6 positions and have already started interviewing.

 I have my second interview at my top choice Ivy League today with the PI and I'm terrified. The initial interview with the lab manager was last week and it went well. I interned at the school this past summer so I know the department well, but I really want the position and I'm scared I'll shoot myself in the foot, so I'm reaching out for help!

Does anyone have any insight into what I should expect, what to do/what not to do, and what questions I should prepare for?

Thanks everyone!

are you the 17 year old with a feature on HuffingtonPost?

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2 hours ago, imonfire98 said:

are you the 17 year old with a feature on HuffingtonPost?

There's another one of these?! I knew there was one a few years ago, but not recently!

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11 minutes ago, PsychWannabee said:

There's another one of these?! I knew there was one a few years ago, but not recently!

i looked at the date and its from like 2008. either way age discrimination is wrong

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Hey! Congratulations on your interview, that's so exciting!! Take a second and appreciate yourself - it's impressive that you were contacted this early on for a lab coordinator position AND at such a prestigious institute! Good for you, those programs are missing out ;). I also would like to take this time as well to say that it's completely okay to strike out on your first round of applications, especially if you were right out of undergrad. I've heard it's pretty typical for this to happen and in fact, most PI's I've talked to prefer someone that's more seasoned (i.e., been out of undergrad for longer) because they tend to be a) more mature and serious about their studies and b) have more experience. This is again not to say that you are at all not competent, but more so to show you how far you can grow on your time off! I'm actually in the same boat (chose to work for a year as a lab manager then applied), and I can say that this job was instrumental in securing me an acceptance this year.

As for interviews for a lab manager position, I definitely can give you some solid insight as I myself went through this a year ago. My supervisor made me go through two rounds of interviews - one with him, and then with two of his grad students. When I met with him via Skype, he asked me research-oriented questions (e.g., tell me about your thesis, what are you interested in, why my lab etc...). Then he proceeded to ask me interpersonal-esque questions, which I think people often forget about but are SO important. He specifically asked me how I deal with lots of pressure, what I look like when I'm stressed (which I thought was weird but now after doing this for a year I understand), and if I can (and how specifically) compartmentalize aspects of the job that are difficult. Again, these questions perhaps were asked specifically because his lab is in mood disorders and my job requires me to do a LOT of clinical interviews which can be really overbearing. Lab coordinators, in general, go through a lot of pressure (you're legit the glue that holds a lab together), so I think my PI (and yours probably) wants to know that they can have someone who they can rely on even when things seem to be going crazy. I would say to maybe expect some questions like this, and to maybe even give some anecdotes about how you work well under stress and what you do to compartmentalize (again could be different if your area isn't Clinical/mood disorders).

The interview with the grad students was pretty chill, more-so a formality so he could make sure that his lab would get along with me. Questions again were pretty interpersonal-related, asking me about any work-place difficulties I've had, how I solved them, how I would deal with management issues among RA's etc. They want to look for someone who's capable of delegating and being a leader, but also won't go on a crazy power-trip when they're given that much "power". I would say a BIG part of the job is hiring/training/interacting with RA's so they just in general want to make sure you have stellar interpersonal skills.

I'm sorry if this was a novel but I hope some of this was helpful! Feel free to PM me with any questions about the interview/tips on the job - happy to help! Goodluck :)

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