Hiring the right people can make or break the work that happens in your lab, but choosing the right candidate can feel overwhelming. How will you really know if they are the right fit? Truthfully, you won’t be 100% sure until the new hire starts and you see them in action, however, there are steps you can take during the hiring process to make you feel as confident as possible. Today we are sharing some of our top tips for hiring new employees in your lab.
Maintain a professional network
When it is time to begin seeking out candidates, it will be much easier if you already have a network of contacts who either may be interested or who may know people in their own networks that might apply. Candidates who are referred by someone you trust can help you make choices during the initial vetting process.
Don’t forget to think about soft skills
Labs are often small and you will be working closely with whoever you choose to hire, as a result, you should consider how willing the candidate is to get along with others and how well you think they will fit amongst your existing team. Someone may have the most impressive resume, but if you think they will cause conflict and disagreement in your lab it is best to keep looking.
Don’t overlook references
We have all been to the job interview where the employer asks for references and then never actually contacts them. This is likely because doing so can be time consuming and even a little awkward. However, speaking to people who know your candidate well can give valuable insights. Of course, it is a major red flag if a reference does not speak highly of a candidate, but even beyond this these conversations can give you a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.
Keep an updated presence online
If your lab has active social media channels, candidates will be able to use the information on your pages to further inform whether or not they want to apply. This can help reduce the number of applications you get from people who are not a good fit. Additionally, the interview process will be even more meaningful because candidates will have this additional insight into the work that you do.
Look for potential
In a lab setting, you may find yourself hiring students who have less experience than an older candidate. Students can be amazing assets to your team because of their commitment and willingness to learn. When hiring students, look for those who have a genuine interest in the project and who aren’t just looking to amp up their resume.
Consider their publications
If you are hiring a postdoc, you will want to review what publications they have under their belt. However, this is a situation where quality really is better than quantity. By this point, a postdoc should probably be the lead author on 1-2 papers. Look into what work was contributed, not just how many papers name a given candidate.
Don’t be afraid to seek help
If you do not feel you have the time to dedicate to seeking out and thoroughly vetting candidates, you may consider outsourcing to a company that specializes in this type of work. While this can be a big investment, especially if you are on a tight budget, it is one that can really pay off. Onboarding a candidate who is not a good fit and then having to start the entire process over is also expensive, so you want to do your best to get it done right the first time.
Make a good impression
When interviewing candidates, remember that you don’t just have to like them, they also have to like you! Don’t spend all of your time interrogating your candidate, be sure to give them an overview of the lab and their role, allow them to ask questions, and consider setting up time for them to chat with a current employee at a similar level to the position they are applying for so that they have a full picture of what it’s like to work in your lab.
Read between the lines
Use the information on candidate resumes to teach you more about them beyond just what experience and technical skills they have. Use the descriptions of their work to determine what kind of person they are. For example, are they a critical thinker? Do they remain flexible in difficult situations? Looking to deduce these types of traits can help you make better choices in deciding which candidates to interview.
Keep your options open
Phew, you have finally found the perfect candidate and you are ready to make an offer. Time to email everyone else and let them down gently, right? Wrong! Until your top candidate has officially accepted your offer, you want to keep your other leading choices on stand-by in case your top candidate does not take the position. Otherwise, you will be left starting your job hunt from scratch.
We hope these tips help you to find the top talent for your lab! Do you have your own hiring tips? Share them with us on Twitter, @Conserisapp. Happy hunting!
Conseris is a data collection app designed with researchers in mind. Conseris makes it easy to collect, store, and analyze the unique types of data you need for your project. Learn more here.