This first stage of the application process is very important to the selectors as it determines whether you would be invited for interview.  This means that your CV must be well structured and relevant to the role you are applying for.  Although the selectors are aware that you are all stage 2 students and that you may not have gained much experience in laboratory works, be reminded also that they are aware of the fact that you’ve had some practical experience from your year 1 and during the time you were in college.

If you start by writing down your experience without any reflection of what skills you have gained, then you are likely not going to be considered for interview.  Therefore, you will have to demonstrate what you have achieved from year 1 and how that will help you as a lab assistant.  I was lucky to be on the student mentor selection panel to select students for the mentor role in April this year.  What I found out was that some students just list their work experience without mentioning the skills they acquire from such experience.

My advice here is to write a comprehensive CV that details everything specific to the role you are applying for.  Don’t just list your experience, try to add values to it by stating the skills that you now have that you will be useful to the role you are applying for.  Remember that other candidates may also possess the experience and skills you have.  You must therefore, ensure that your application stand out from the crowd in order for the selectors to invite you for interview.  Please try to limit your CV to two pages only as the selectors have loads of CVs [and cover letters] to review.

Click on the categories below for further tips and advice on the lab assistant post.

If you are finding it hard to organise your CV, you may want to book an appointment with a member of staff of the careers service. The careers service is there to help you with your careers. They also advertise useful jobs and organise work experience for students. Try to book an appointment with them so that your CV can be reviewed. The advice they give will give an edge to your application. I have contacted the careers service on countless occasions either to review my CV or for a practice interview with a member of staff. This had been very helpful to me as I was able to organise my CV in a more professional way and gaining confidence before going for an interview.
Before you submit your CV, ensure that you have researched the lab you would want to work in. You may want to go and read the research profile of the lab you are applying to. This will help you when deciding which lab you want to work in and what the lab actually does, in terms of their current research area. Doing this will also help you during your interview as you would have something to say about the lab; demonstrating you have researched what goes on in the lab. Your interviewer will be impressed as they will think you already know some things about the lab you would soon be working in.
One thing that the school does not mention in the instruction document about how to apply is whether you need to include a cover letter. Some employers do not always state this as they expect you to know what to include in your application. I always send my CV and a cover letter whenever I making an application. The cover letter is there to ''cover'' extra information about you that you may not have included on your CV and this adds points to your application.. It's in the cover letter that you explain why you are applying for that role, the skills you possess, and why you think you are suitable for the position you are applying for. It is always a good idea to include a cover letter as it provides extra details about you and your suitability for the role. Although your CV already covers most of these skills, experience and qualities, it's in the cover letter you expatiate on these.
If you are lucky to be invited for interview, then I would suggest you prepare very well for the interview. Although you may be known to the interviewer, or they could be your tutor, the important thing to note here is that you are competing with other students for limited places. Last year, more than 100 students applied, but only 20 students were offered the lab assistant post. So, you will need to take your preparation very seriously and ensure that you review your CV thoroughly and, where possible, arrange for a practice interview with the careers service. I will suggest you revise your CV, practice an interview session with your friends, and research into what the lab does.

Before my own interview last year, I messaged previous lab assistants and asked them to advise me on what to expect at the interview. They were able to help me by suggesting some of the things I needed to know before going for the interview. Unfortunately, you may not be able to email these students as they have graduated from the school and their email account may have been blocked by ISS. But the good news is that I have compiled what their suggestions were and these can be found in the interview section of this article under the ''Questions you could be asked at the interview'' subsection.

Please do not leave your CV and cover letter submission to deadline as you may not have enough time to prepare your CV and cover letter. This might affect your application compared to if you had devoted a great deal of time to add relevant information to your application.


The following resources would be of great help to any students wishing to apply for the lab assistant post.


Other useful links to be added in the future.