Faced with the need to find a job after my PhD, I turned to my friends and remaining authors of this blog for some guidance, as they have already gone through this same challenge. Together, we came up with a list of items that seem important for us to have into consideration when choosing a lab for postdoc.
What are your goals for 5 years from now? How can this topic and lab help you achieving it? Furthermore, would your new PI be able to help you getting there?
How excited do you feel about the current topics of research of the lab and what do you think of their published papers? You need to decide whether you like the topics enough and whether they fit into your own career plans. Moreover, you should check if their topic of research is significantly different from of their previous supervisor, as competition for funding could impair your chances and there is a higher probability of being scooped. Also, you should try to have a line of research independent from your own PhD supervisor as this can also impair your ability to apply for grants of your own.
What sort of techniques can you learn in the new lab, and how do they fit into your long-term plan for your own career? Are you bringing some knowledge to this lab, or just another pair of hands?
It is important to know in advance the funding strategy: does the lab have current grants that can fund you? If so, for how long? Are you expected to apply for grants anytime after the start of your postdoc? What sort of funding are you eligible for? And what about your potential PI?
How big is the team and how experienced is the PI? Do not forget that new(er) PIs will have more pressure on their selves for publishing and showing they are capable; hence, they will pressure you more and the pace of the lab will be faster. Therefore, make sure you clearly assess the sort of support you will need and check as much as you can whether you would be able to get it from the PI or from senior members of the team.
What are your alternatives and plan Bs? You need to decide how long you can be unemployed as this defines how picky you can be.