There are several laboratory and healthcare professionals which should tell you just how big the healthcare industry is. A specimen processor works in the laboratory setting or generally the healthcare industry and, as the name suggests, deals with the specimen. They generally receive different biological samples, sort them, perform a range of data entries and offer the provided support to members of their team or other staff.
How can you land a job as a specimen processor? You need to know that the interviewer will assess your experience level and different skills, both soft and technical. We are here to help you ahead of your interview by suggesting some of the questions you should expect. Take a look at the following recommendations:
1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?
This is one of the most equipped and modern laboratories in the country and, therefore every lab worker or professional’s dream. I have been eyeing this position for quite some time and believe that I can make a change and propagate the amazing work you have been doing over the years. I am passionate about receiving biological samples and processing them, which sums up my work as a specimen processor. I believe that I will enjoy my time working here if given a chance. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that this job will guarantee that I work with some of the renowned pathologists and phlebotomists in the country, something I have always wanted.
2. What Are The Roles Of A Specimen Processor?
A specimen processor plays several important roles in the laboratory, making them valuable. They normally receive and process specimens such as blood and urine samples, as the name suggests. The specimen can also be other biological samples. After receipt, they are sorted after which the necessary data is input. These individuals also offer support to their other colleagues.
3. What Qualities That A Specimen Processor Needs To Be Successful?
Specimen processors require a range of important skills and qualities owing to their role in the laboratory. Their main work is receiving and processing specimens, which calls for excellent typing and data entry skills. They should know how to type fast and efficiently and input correct data. Other requirements include excellent communication skills be it verbally or in written form since they work in team settings, the ability to achieve and maintain high levels of accuracy, and exemplary organizational skills.
4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?
I faced many challenges during my last role, even though I managed to overcome them. One of the most outstanding was inadequate facilities since the laboratory was under-funded and couldn’t obtain sophisticated machines and data processing tools. Therefore, I had to occasionally send some specimens to a different laboratory for sophisticated testing after coordinating with the laboratory manager. Luckily, we acquired our pieces, which saved us many unnecessary movements and pressure.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine As A Specimen Processor?
This is a repetitive job, and therefore, I am okay with similar roles day in and day out. I normally report early to work and start receiving and opening specimen bags after which I process the specimen by entering inventory, test codes, and patient demographics into a computer. I also prepare lots of specimens for laboratory testing and analysis, ensure that they are correctly labeled to prevent identification issues, and validate all the requisitions against the specimen before scanning begins. I wish to report that I have done these repeatedly and have since become extremely good at them.
6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience
I first began as a laboratory assistant, setting up tables for experiments and obtaining the right apparatus for different tests. I worked closely with the laboratory scientists and gained lots of insights on specimens, which saw me take a specimen processing course later. I have worked for three different laboratories, playing more or less similar roles such as receiving and opening specimen bags and entering inventory. I have also worked with different teams and obtained valuable insights and experiences, which I will readily use to better my time in this job.
7. What Kind Of Strategies And Mindset Is Required For This Role?
One of the best strategies that a specimen processor can adopt is to maintain exceptional organizational skills to prevent any mixup and work effectively on their tasks. They are charged with data entry, specimen preparation, proper labeling, and requisitions validation, which cannot happen smoothly if they do not observe proper organization. The perfect mindset for this role is a focused one, given the level of accuracy that this job requires. A focused and motivated data processor has better chances of succeeding at their job.
8. What Is The Biggest Challenge That You Foresee In This Job?
I have gone through your laboratory expectations and the job description and would like to say that this is a good working environment. Most of the challenges I faced during my former roles such as lack of enough sophisticated equipment are sorted, making me believe that there are no extraordinary challenges here. However, I am willing to point them out and work together with the team to curb them should they appear if I get the job. I am looking forward to working here.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In Your Work?
I am a perfectionist and therefore believe that part of my motivation comes from my desire to achieve excellent results. I normally push myself hard to ensure that things turn out just like I had envisioned them, including this job. I love succeeding at what I do and motivating my team members to do the same. I will do everything possible to succeed in this job and motivate everyone around me to be at their best.
10. Describe A Time When You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learned?
I once failed to go through the data I had entered to check for errors, which almost cost me my job. I had a lot on my plate given that I was multitasking and decided to skip the review part and instead focus on other demanding tasks. It turned out that I confused one column, resulting in wrong or misguided data. My supervisor was furious upon noticing until I explained it to him. This experience taught me the importance of maintaining high levels of accuracy when working in the lab.
11. Why Do You Feel You Are The Most Suited For This Role?
I have lots of experience that I am willing to put to use. I started my laboratory career as a lab assistant, carrying around apparatus and prepping experiments, which made me fall in love more with the lab environment. I then set my eyes on specimen processing, which I have been doing for now. This gives me the best of both worlds, putting me in a better position to succeed given a chance. I also have excellent data entry and communication skills needed for this job. I am positive that I will perform exceedingly well given a chance as I usually believe in my abilities and prowess.
12. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievement.
My greatest achievement in life was moving from a laboratory cleaner to a specimen processor in under two years. I first worked in a school laboratory as a cleaner trying to make ends meet when one of the teachers spotted me and commended me on my quest for information since I asked lots of questions when conversing with the lab assistant. He suggested that I should try to pursue a lab-related course, after which I settled for data processing. I am glad that I made the right choice and would do the same given another chance. I still believe that the sky is the limit.
13. How Do You Normally Process And Aliquot Blood Samples?
I am familiar with all the protocols required in specimen processing. First, I normally ensure that I have the right clothing be it an apron or lab coat, before washing my hands and looking for a pair of disposable gloves. I let the samples spin in the centrifuge before transferring them to the storage rack. The next step is to perform a careful examination to ensure correct labeling before taking a sample and separating the blood components, especially the serum plasma which is then transferred to a collection tube. I then ensure that the tube is well closed before discarding the blood tube and pipetting as required. At times we have to send the sample to a different facility. First, I normally ensure that the secretary does the supporting courier paperwork and arranges for storage where necessary.
14. Do You Have Any Career Aspirations?
Yes. I plan to scale greater heights in my career and, if possible, chart a different or unrelated path. I would love to pursue a course in clinical pathology, given my love for learning more about pathogens and diseases. I also entertain the idea of pursuing phlebotomy, which guarantees to be present in all the necessary stages of sample collection. All in all, I believe that the sky is the limit and will therefore work twice as hard to make my aspirations true.
15. Specimen Processing is Repetitive in Nature. Where Do You Get Your Focus?
I understand how boring it can get when working a repetitive job. I generally process and input several specimens daily, which makes it quite challenging to maintain focus all the time even though I normally do. I have discovered that taking breaks and stretching or playing a game that jogs the brain comes in handy whenever I feel like losing focus. I, therefore, use stretching or a short game as my refocusing procedure as they prepare my mind for future tasks, helping me stay focused however repetitive they can be.
16. Is It Correct To Label A Patient By Their Room Numbers For Identification?
Proper labeling is important in the healthcare industry and therefore, every healthcare professional needs to make sure that they use the right identifier for their patients. A room number is not acceptable and should not, therefore, be used on any occasion. In such an instance, I will approach the patient while still in the room and get the proper information to be used as an identifier, be it their fast and last names, date of birth, or test requests. If the patient is no longer in the station, I will go through the intake paperwork and obtain their information. I have also been forced to occasionally call back clients so that they can resubmit a specimen.
17. What Is The Best Way Of Putting Across Information To A Patient Who Has Trouble Getting You?
I normally encounter such patients, given that not everyone understands the medical lingo. Some of the things we consider basic knowledge or information are foreign to several people. Therefore, I always keep it simple when communicating with patients, avoiding medical jargon and other sophisticated names. I normally break down information to its simplest form and where necessary, use examples patients can easily understand. All in all, I normally make sure that information gets across by the end of the day.
18. Mention Some Of The Safety Measures You Take In The Laboratory
There are lots of safety measures that every specimen processor needs to adhere to for workplace safety. First, the right attire and protective gear should be worn when handling specimens. My apron and pair of disposable gloves are always on whenever I have a test to run or specimen to sample. I also maintain a safe distance to avoid spillages or dangerous exposure to different specimens. Other measures include sanitizing surfaces and ensuring that my colleagues have the right attire and protective gear.
19. Your Colleague Stella Has Been Taking Shortcuts In Lab Procedures. What Would You Do If You Find Out?
I believe that every specimen processor or laboratory worker should know the importance of following the right procedure in the lab and the dangers of shortcuts when dealing with anything lab-related. I would condemn Stella and remind her of following the right procedures and why she should abide by all the laboratory regulations. I would then review her procedures for any irregularity and if any, direct her to redo them, this time following the right procedure.
20. Can You Correct A Labeling Error?
Yes. However, before doing so, I would find out as much information as possible about the specimen for accuracy purposes. I would also only use the right identifiers and correct any data input if necessary. I am positive that I will do a great job, and no error will slip past me.
21. How Would You Handle A Situation Where You Are Accidentally Exposed To A Specimen?
I normally take all the necessary precautions to prevent accidental exposure by wearing the right laboratory gear such as goggles(where necessary), disposable pair of gloves, and an apron when interacting with specimens. However, I also understand that accidents are prone to happen and the best way to deal with them is to find the right cause of action. I normally avoid any anxiety during accidental exposure but move swiftly to deal with the situation by first reducing the exposure or its effects.
22. There Can Be Lots Of Interruptions In The Laboratory. How Do You Normally Handle Them?
I always ensure that I am focused on my work while in the laboratory. I normally block out unnecessary interruptions and give all attention to the data entry or overall specimen processing processes. Most of my colleagues also. Understand that only necessary interruptions such as seeking clarifications and reporting emergencies are allowed, and I am glad that they respect that.
23. How Do You Normally Ensure That Specimen Are Transported Safely?
I understand the importance of safe storage and transportation of specimens. To ensure that they are transported well, I normally direct that they should be transported in the right fixative. All the ports must also be tightly sealed and taken from one place to the other through specimen bags. I believe that the request card should also be placed in the specimen bag pocket.
24. Mention Your Greatest Strength
I have several positive attributes that I believe will come in handy in this role. However, the most significant is my accuracy, ensuring proper data entry and processing. I am usually thorough in my work, taking some time to review it before submitting the final copy. I also use several software to ensure that my entries are accurate.
25. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
My ability to multitask without compromising on the quality of my work always makes me believe that I can handle more workload than others. Therefore, I normally take the gist of the work when delegating tasks, which normally weigh heavily on me even though I usually get it done. However, I am learning to go easy on myself and beginning to delegate work equally.
These are some of the questions you are likely to be asked in your upcoming interview. Take some time to slowly review them to increase your chances of landing the job.