5 Questions to Ask your Interviewer

Have you ever been at the end of a job interview when this happens:

Interviewer: “Do you have any questions for me?”

You: “Umm…”

<<crickets chirping outside a silent room>>


Sound familiar?

As part of your interview preparation, you should have several questions for your interviewer. This will not only demonstrate your interest in the position, but it’ll allow you to learn if the employer is a good fit for you. After all, the interview process goes both ways. They want to make sure you are a good fit, but you need to ensure the job duties, expectations, and culture will be a good fit for you.

Be sure to ask open-ended questions that cannot simply be answered with a “yes” or a “no”. These type of questions might spark a new conversation or give you the opportunity to respond to anything you haven’t yet addressed.

Instead of your blood pressure rising and your face flushing, be prepared. Consider these five questions for your next interview.

1. What are the biggest challenges the laboratory/department is currently facing?

The interviewer may have painted a lovely picture of the potential job, but what about the reality? The word “challenge” is key here because it isn’t negative or positive, but an opportunity for improvement — one in which you may want to be involved. The answers to this question could launch a conversation about how you will help tackle these issues. You could also discuss specific examples of how you helped overcome similar challenges in another role.

2. What do you enjoy most about working here?

This is a chance for you to connect personally with the interviewer. Their responses may give you some insight about job satisfaction or culture. If they have a tough time responding, this should be a red flag.

3. What can you tell me about the team I'll be working with?

This is purposely worded as if you will be getting the job. Positivity is key in showing your motivation and desire. Be sure to listen closely to the response; this could be your only chance to learn about your coworkers prior to your first day.

4. How is success measured?

The answer to this positively worded question is to show you are goal-oriented and are not afraid to be held accountable.

5. Would you please tell me about the person who previously held this position?

This question is to gauge why the position is open. Did they leave due to conflict, retirement, or promotion? The answers could clue you into job security, lack of teamwork, company expectations, or even chances for advancement.

Because an interview is a two-way street, don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions. Sure, you need to sell yourself as a motivated, accountable, and dependable employee, but you need to also buy into the company your considering. You should not accept a job that doesn’t feel like a good match and you won’t know that until you learn as much as possible about the company.

If you have specific interview-related questions, give your recruiter a call. They have great relationships with hiring managers and can direct you more specifically into an excellent interview experience.

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Pumpkin spice and our laboratory staffing website

The dropping temperatures and falling leaves indicate winter is not far away. The cooler nights mean more blankets on our beds and warmer pajamas. Our windows will be closed and the heat will be turned on. We’re drinking more hot beverages -- yours may even be the infamous pumpkin spice flavor (we won’t judge).

Along with the changes outside our windows, we’ve been working on some transformations that we’re excited to tell you about!

lab jobs

HCI is pleased to announce our upgraded and updated laboratory staffing website, www.labcareer.com. It has a brand new look with much easier functionality, brighter colors, better images — it’s us all dressed up!

From our website you can submit a resume, connect with a recruiter, search for open clinical and anatomic lab jobs, request help staffing your laboratory, and read our latest blogs. You can even subscribe to our blogs to make sure you don’t miss anything else we’re up to!

HealthCare Connections, Inc.

And have you seen our new logo? The microscope was chosen because we staff laboratories. That’s our only focus. Surrounding the microscope is a bright slightly open circle depicting our belief that our clients, employees, and staff members are family. The circle is not fully closed because we are always open to growth, opportunity, and change.

Actually, just like the changes in seasonality, we’ve got more changes up our sleeves that are only going to make us better able to help YOU so stay tuned.

We’ve been helping people and laboratories since 1997, yet we’re only getting started. Expect more from HCI, the industry leader in clinical and anatomic pathology recruitment for both perm and travel.

clinical and anatomic pathology jobs
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The Unsung Heroes of Healthcare: Medical Laboratory Scientists

In an article titled “The hidden profession that saves lives”, Rodney E. Rohde, PhD identifies the work done by medical laboratory scientists as “one of the most under-recognized health professions – with excellent job prospects”.

Dr. Rohde’s article concludes that medical laboratory scientists (MLS) are the unsung heroes behind patient care.

Medical Laboratory Scientists Jobs

Many patients believe the doctor does the laboratory testing, as they often do on television, but the reality is that most doctors rely on the MLS’s to do it. He says, “Patient history and physical signs and symptoms are vital, but most diagnoses need confirmation that only laboratory tests can provide.”

MLS jobs

The article cites Rodney Forsman, administrative director emeritus of the Mayo Clinic Medical Laboratories and president of the Clinical Laboratory Management Association: “94 percent of the objective medical data in the patient record comes from the laboratory professionals.”

He supports that argument with a 2008 report in the Annals of Clinical Biochemistry where the authors reported that the junior doctors they surveyed were “more confident in their knowledge of when to request tests than in their ability to interpret the results.” Narrowing it down further, “18 percent of them said they would order a lab test without knowing how to interpret the result.”

This is likely due to the fact that only small portion of the training curriculum for physicians and other non-laboratorians is in medical laboratory testing; however, it is the main focus in the studies for MLS and MLT students.

Dr. Mary Ann McLane, University of Delaware professor and past president of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, was quoted: “Medical laboratory scientists are on the cutting edge of determining — by evidence-based practice — the most useful, time-efficient, safest, least costly diagnostic tests to be used for your health care. They are involved in the research needed to bring the best that science and technology can offer into the realm of diagnostic reality, all for the benefit of the patients we serve.”

Dr. Rohde makes what we already knew very clear: medical laboratory scientists and medical laboratory technicians are the solid foundation of many diagnoses and treatment plans. The doctors rely on the laboratorians, as do the patients — even though they don’t know it.

Source: https://www.elsevier.com/connect/the-hidden-profession-that-saves-lives

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Avoid These 5 Resume Writing Snafus

HCI has been in business for over twenty years and has seen more resume mishaps than I’d like to think. Some of them make me giggle, others make me wonder about the applicant.

Consider these issues when crafting or updating your resume:

This one bothers me not just because it seems like the author is yelling, but also because of the hidden spelling errors all caps camouflages. Many people don’t realize that most word processing software like Microsoft Word will not catch errors written in all caps unless they’ve specifically changed the settings. This is because all caps is intended to spell out acronyms, which aren’t typically in the dictionary anyway.

Capital letters should be used sparingly because readability is reduced and slowed because the height of every letter is identical making every word a rectangular shape, forcing the reader to read letter-by-letter. So instead of changing your software’s settings, change what you have typed to sentence case. It’s not only less annoying, it’s also easier and quicker for the reader to grasp.

2 Typos and grammatical errors

Continuing along the same line, use your word processing software to your advantage by correcting the underlined misspelled words. Be careful though. Homonyms and sometimes grammar issues will not be identified with the software, so it’s best to read and re-read your resume, then have someone else take a look at it.

I have written and edited numerous documents where I did not identify a single error, yet when someone else read it, they found mistakes. A simple suggestion is to read the resume aloud as if you are talking to someone. My college technical writing instructor suggested reading the resume in reverse as a way to check spelling.

3 Silly email addresses

Imagine if your resume comes across the desk of a Human Resources professional who is looking for someone with exactly your qualifications. They look at your contact information — drunk.booboo.baby@hotmail.com — and pause while they contemplate your level of seriousness.

If you have a fun email address, that’s great. Use it and enjoy it for personal use, but create a professional one that reflects who you are as a potential employee. Your email address should not be suggestive, silly, flirtatious, or unusual. Instead, consider an email address using your first and last name. Having a second email address might come in handy to help you separate your professional mail from your receipts, order confirmations, and family correspondence.

4 Don’t lie

Your potential employer will check your references and employment history. If you wrote that you worked at a hospital for 6 years, but the Human Resources Department says you were only there for 6 months, you won’t look like the upstanding employee they were hoping to hire.

Assume your resume will be verified — including your certifications, licenses, and degrees — so write it with honesty. Simply explain your work history gaps to your recruiter; they will advise how you should proceed.

5 Make your resume visually attractive

If your resume is the 20th the Human Resources representative has seen that day, you want it to stand out by looking as professional as possible. A bright pink resume using a pop art-esque font may not get considered as the exact same resume written in a sleek, uncluttered, and simple font. Consider using Times New Roman or Arial in 10-, 11-, or 12-point size in black. Be sure your name and contact information are legible using the same font.

As always, proof your resume when you finish creating or updating it. Then once you are done proofing, proof it again! Then, after getting someone else’s comments, proof it again. The goal is to submit an error-free resume that lands you the job you want.

And please remember, the abbreviation for assistant is “asst”, not “ass”. That missing “t” can really hit you in the behind.

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Poop! Labs and laboratories

Passing across my screen every day are words like “Kirby Bauer Sensitivities”, “sed rates”, “electrophoresis”, and “immunofluorescence”. I can only scratch the surface of what those words mean. Sure, I can attempt to use them in a sentence, but it would be more like a list of words instead of a cohesive word-string. I’m bound to confuse trichosis with trichocyst causing us all trichinosis. (Did this give you horripilation? I’m proud to know that one.)

job in the laboratory

Sure, I can find you a fantastic job in the clinical or anatomic lab, secure housing, make travel arrangements, but thank goodness YOU are the one working with human lives at stake! You understand scientific words because know your job in the laboratory.

But how well do you really know labs? And by “labs” of course I’m talking about four legged, floppy eared Labrador retrievers!

Lab Puppies
Here are five newsworthy (or maybe not) tidbits you may not have known about labs:
  • In his confession, serial killer “Son of Sam” David Richard Berkowitz claimed that his neighbor’s black lab was possessed by an ancient demon and commanded him to kill.
  • According to Guinness World Records 2015, the first dog to detect diabetic episodes was a lab named Armstrong. He was trained in 2003 to smell the chemical changes that happen during a hypoglycemic episode.
  • Tiki, a black Labrador retriever in Pennsylvania, was brought to the veterinarian due to vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. X-rays showed a mass in her stomach and a two-hour exploratory surgery revealed the cause: Tiki had ingested 62 hair bands, eight pairs of underwear, and a bandage. She recovered just fine after surgery.
  • The Guinness World Record for the most bottles recycled by a dog belongs to a Labrador in the United Kingdom. Tubby was added to the category “Most bottles recycled by a dog” because on his daily walks he collected and crushed over 26,000 plastic bottles over six years.
  • Casey, an elderly yellow lab, ate nearly $500 in cash then three days later — on Thanksgiving no less — pooped out $480 in full bills. Only one $20 bill was lost because the serial number had been chewed into oblivion rendering it unreadable so the bank wouldn’t accept it. How do I know all this? I was the one who returned the fully washed and digested money to the bank. (I challenge you to find me a better reminder to wash your hands after you touch money.)

So thanks for what you do in the laboratory. I’ll stay out of there and continue helping people like you to find lab jobs throughout the United States.

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Say no to hotel living *and* restaurant eating

If you are an experienced traveler, most contract laboratory assignments begin with you staying in a hotel room for a few days while your apartment details are finalized. But what are you going to eat during that time? If you are like me, after a while I crave home cooking instead of salty and often over-priced restaurant food. If your hotel has a microwave, you are ready to cook your own food!

I’ve included 3 recipes below, one for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (I didn’t include a dessert recipe because quite frankly if you are cooking in a hotel, you aren’t likely to have flour, baking powder, or baking soda. Lean on Betty Crocker and Dunkin Hines; they offer many mug cake and brownie mixes.)

1 French Toast

Serves 1

1 Tbsp butter

¼ cup milk

1 egg, beaten

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp white sugar

¼ tsp vanilla extract

2 slices bread, torn into small pieces


  1. Melt butter in a small microwave-safe dish or large mug (approx. 30 seconds). Tilt dish/mug to coat butter on all sides.
  2. Into the melted butter stir milk, egg, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Press bread pieces into milk mixture.
  4. Microwave on high until set, about 90 seconds.
2 Asian-Style Chicken Salad

Serves 8 (can you say leftovers?!?!)

1 pkg ramen noodles (seasoning packet discarded)

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (meat only)

1 pkg (16 oz) coleslaw mix

6 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias

1 cup Asian sesame salad dressing


  1. Using your hands, break the ramen noodles into bite-sized pieces and add to bowl.
  2. Add the shredded chicken, coleslaw mix, green onions and toss with salad dressing.

Save the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and you’re all set for tomorrow!

Asian-Style Chicken Salad
Macaroni and Cheese
3 Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 1

1/2 cup dried elbow macaroni
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup milk, any percent
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, or provolone)


  1. Combine the macaroni, water, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cook on high for 2-minute intervals until the pasta is al dente. (Watch closely as the foam could pour over the edge. If it does, stir a bit earlier. If the pasta still isn’t done and there isn’t enough water, add a tablespoon of water.)
  3. Stir in the milk and cheese then microwave again for 30 to 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until the cheese and milk form a creamy sauce.
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Since today, November 21, 2018, is the 46th annual World Hello Day…

The idea for the day was born after the 1973 armed conflict in the Middle East between Israel and a coalition of Arab states.

To promote the first step in peace — communication and understanding — brothers Michael and Brian McCormack, both students at the time, spent all their money on postage and sent letters to as many world leaders and government officials they could find asking them support the first ever World Hello Day.

Their hope in creating World Hello Day was celebrate the importance of personal communication for peace, and that they should rely on communication, not force, to resolve conflict.

It’s so easy to participate: Just say hello to at least 10 people.

At HCI we talk to thousands of people each day — be one of them! While you’re at it, ask about our open clinical and anatomic pathology jobs!

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Working in the line of a California wildfire, 11/15/18

Traveler Spotlight: Kelli N., HT(ASCP)

Nearly one month after arriving for an assignment in California, one of our seasoned histology contractors found herself working about a mile from the deadly “Woolsey Fire”. The fire broke out November 8, 2018 in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, and, at press time a week later, was only 57 percent contained and had killed three people.

“When I went to work on Friday morning,” said Kelli N., “I was like, ‘I don’t remember all these lights being up on that mountain’. And then I realized they were orange, and it wasn’t lights at all — it was flames.”

Kelli N., HT(ASCP) and her pup Stella
Kelli N., HT(ASCP) and her pup Stella

She said the devastating fire started very close to her laboratory eventually bringing the flames within a mile.

“Anytime anyone would go on break they would come back in and report what was going on. We’d all go out and take a picture then come back in and show everybody how close the fire was [getting].”

Work parking lot, break, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, 6:00 AM
Work parking lot, lunch, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, 9:30 AM
End of the work day, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, 1:30 PM
Looking toward Malibu, still in flames, Tuesday, Nov. 13

Despite the proximity of the fire on Friday, the immediate area where the laboratory was located was not under evacuation orders. That all changed the following day: “We couldn’t go to work Saturday because of the flames. The supervisor went to work that day to save the specimens. He said the whole mountainside was on fire.”

Kelli said she could smell the smoke at home eight miles away due to a change in direction of the Santa Ana winds, which are defined by the National Weather Service as “strong, hot, dust-bearing winds [that] descend to the Pacific Coast around Los Angeles from inland desert regions”.

“It literally smelled like a campfire. Me being here in my fifth wheel made me feel like I really was camping here in LA.” She said she could have called someone to haul it to a safer place, but if worse came to worse, “Me and the dog would have left. I’ve got insurance. I can replace everything else.”

Despite the tragic fire, Kelli really likes being in California’s San Fernando Valley. In fact, given the opportunity, she would extend her contract. She feels perfectly safe where she is, mainly because of the numerous street-side fire hydrants.

There are currently two other fires burning in California, the “Camp Fire” in Butte County, which is reported to be 35 percent contained, and the “Hill Fire” in Ventura County that is 92 percent contained. The cause of the fires is still being investigated.

The Santa Ana winds continually blow, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 9:30 AM

The fire and the Santa Ana winds, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018 1:30 PM

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Pass the tissues, don’t pass on the flu shot

Along with the many office-related items on my desk are cold medicine, a box of tissues, and a pot of hot tea. Yeah, I’ve got it: the dreaded first cold of the season. It seems so many people around me have already had a cold or are dealing with, let’s say, “intestinal issues”. ‘Tis the season.

Having this cold has been such a pain. I’m trying to train myself to become a mouth-open sleeper who doesn’t mind a desert-level dry mouth. Attempting to eat while breathing is my new Olympic-level activity, but I’m certainly happy I don’t have the flu — again.

Last year tests confirmed what I guessed: I had influenza. My bones ached like they were decomposing yet ever so slowly expanding at the same time. My joints felt like they had shards of glass grinding deep into the cartilage despite barely moving at all. Breathing was strained. Just existing was exhausting.

According to the CDC, “during the 2017-2018 season, the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was at or above the epidemic threshold for 16 consecutive weeks.” In fact, already in this season people have died in influenza-related cases in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida.

We all know the flu kills, but some of us gamble with getting the shot.

In our 20+ years of experience staffing clinical and anatomic laboratories, we have found that most facilities require their employees and contractors to get a flu shot in the fall and winter months. Very few permit them to decline the immunization, and even fewer allow them to wear masks while working.

If you already had a flu shot this season, simply send us a copy and you’ll have one less thing to do. I know I’m happier with one less task, especially with this cold wearing me down.


Excuse me while I get another box of tissues…

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Get Started As a Laboratory Traveler

Because you work in clinical or anatomic pathology, you are very lucky to be able to take your skills and travel around working in laboratories nationwide. But how do you get started? Not to worry! HCI has over 20 years of laboratory staffing experience to share.

When you accept a laboratory travel job with HCI, be sure to let us know you want to bring your buddy with you. With a little extra time, we will be sure to find a pet-friendly way to travel.


If you are already credentialed through American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Medical Technologists (AMT), or American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB), you’ve got a good start. While some facilities don’t require certification, it’s definitely good to have so you can travel to more places.

Determine where you want to go

Do you prefer lying on the beach catching some rays? Are you a hiker who would like to conquer our nation’s highest peaks? Are you a skier or snowboarder who loves to check out new terrain? As a traveler, you are in charge of where you want to go.

Learn if that state has licensing requirements

There are currently 9 states that require licensing: California, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The licensing process is typically the same for all states: fill out an application, provide the required documents, and pay a fee. The time it takes to get your license varies from state to state and depends how busy the licensing office is, so don’t leave your license application to the last minute.

Determine your pay requirements

Pay differs from one area to the next. For example, California will typically pay more than Ohio. And third shift will pay more than first. An area that is more populated will typically pay more than a remote town. Experience also plays a role. There are many factors, so be realistic in your expectations.

Paperwork and Documentation

After you interview, get the job, and sign the contract, paperwork will need to be done and you’ll be asked to provide proof of various immunizations and health documents. The most typically required documents include: TB, MMR, hep B, varicella, Tdap, influenza, and a recent physical. You may also be asked to do a color blind test and a fit test, as well as providing herpes zoster immunization documents, or other facility-specific records. It’s a great idea to have these documents at the ready so you can start as soon as possible.

Time Frame

As your employer, we will run a background check as well as a drug screen. We will also verify your credentials including your degree, certification, and licensure. All of this takes time, so expect a few weeks before you can actually start your travel job.

Getting there

HCI will book your flight and rental car or you are welcome to drive to your assignment. We will also take care of your hotel and/or apartment. All you have to do is pack your bags and get ready for your adventure.

Why not get started? Check out our open positions here: Job Search or give us a call at (954) 346-4475. We have what you are looking for!

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5 Tips For Flying With Your Pet

Many of our laboratory contractors travel with their furry friends. With assignment lengths typically around 13 weeks, many pet parents simply cannot part ways for so long. And I understand fully! In fact, one of my “coworkers” is my 9-year-old maltese/yorkie mix named Sophie. I could NOT leave her sweet face for very long!

When you accept a laboratory travel job with HCI, be sure to let us know you want to bring your buddy with you. With a little extra time, we will be sure to find a pet-friendly way to travel.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when traveling with pets...

Laboratory Contractors Travel
Sophie Marie loves to travel!
1 Airline Restrictions

If your pet is small enough and the airline permits it, you may bring your pet into the cabin as long as they are in a carrier that fits under the seat. Larger pets will need to go in the cargo hold in a carrier that’s comfortable and large enough with plenty of ventilation. Airlines have guidelines for the size and type of carriers, and they have the right to restrict the type of pet permitted on the aircraft. Trained service animals and therapy animals with supporting paperwork are permitted in the cabin. Always contact your airline prior to traveling so you understand their restrictions and requirements.

2 Carriers

If your pet is small enough and the airline permits it, you may bring your pet into the cabin as long as they are in a carrier that fits under the seat. Larger pets will need to go in the cargo hold in a carrier that’s comfortable and large enough with plenty of ventilation. Airlines have guidelines for the size and type of carriers, and they have the right to restrict the type of pet permitted on the aircraft. Trained service animals and therapy animals with supporting paperwork are permitted in the cabin. Always contact your airline prior to traveling so you understand their restrictions and requirements.

3 Avoiding Accidents

Prepare your pet for the journey by providing plenty of exercise prior to the flight. Bring food and water in case there is a delay (collapsable bowls are my favorite), but it’s best to refrain from feeding them for 4 to 6 hours before flying. This will cut down on your pet’s need to “go” while in the air. And some pets, like people, experience motion sickness, so keeping her stomach empty just before and during the flight can help prevent nausea and vomiting. Consider lining the carrier with an absorbent potty pad. Carry extra pads, food, paper towels, and waste bags.

4 Identification

If your animal has a microchip, be sure to update it prior to your departure. If not, have your pet wear a collar with a legible and accurate identification tag with complete information, the rabies vaccination tag, and a license tag.

5 Proof of Vaccinations

Most airlines require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) issued within 10 days of travel. This ensures that all animals on all flights are free from illnesses or parasites that could be harmful to others. The certificate must be signed by a veterinarian after examining your pet and determining it is free from infectious diseases.

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