Former Research Assistant at Boston Children's Hospital
almost 2 years ago
First. You will definitely want to research the specific lab you will be joining. It’s crucial that you tailor your qualifications to the lab's research focus. It’s not enough to be at the top of your class or have outstanding letters of recommendation from your professors (although sometimes this helps because they may have worked with your prof in the past or collaborate now). Some interviewers may even ask you why you chose their facility or that area of research. So I would be prepared to discuss your motivation for joining the group, often at Children's there were pre-med students or pre-grad school students that wanted to gain experience before going off to grad of professional school.
In some cases you will find that quite a few of the professors at Children's favor hiring students with great academic records for research assistant positions. They may require a high grade point average, both overall and in an applicant’s major field of study, and may ask candidates to submit official college transcripts. I definitely had a lot of experience but a low GPA (3.2) which I think is nothing to sneeze at but some professors (especially in Boston) are sticklers for GPA. So be mindful of that and don't let their ignorance deter you from working in the field if your GPA is on the lower end.
Be prepared to discuss previous projects (independent or as a group). Highlight your ability to work as part of a team by describing how you collaborated with other students to complete the project. Hopefully, you listed a significant project on your CV/Resume to discuss.
Interviewers often conclude a meeting by asking if you have any questions for them. Ask VERY CLEARLY! about the kind of research you’ll focus on (YOUR SPECIFIC ROLE!) and the tools and equipment you’ll use. I write the above in all caps because it is often easy to forget or lose sight of your path as an Research Assistant. There is always something new to study and more questions to ask. It's important to remind yourself to stay grounded with clearly defined goals.