[Histonet] interview cutting-OT-disarmingly long for deletion disinterested

koellingr <@t> comcast.net koellingr <@t> comcast.net
Sat Jan 28 12:22:35 CST 2012

Or as Gayle wisely pointed out it might be interview sectioning to differentiate those who "cut out" on an interview. 

While there is no right or wrong to this question, I'm still not convinced that it is a useful tool for you or HR to just have a routine "can cut (section) on rotary microtome" check box on application the same as you do for a "current address" or "reference contact" check box on a form. As I pointed out in my original stupid reply, willfully breaking my own internal rule to avoid taking up these gray (not black and white scientific) discussions, it would depend on the circumstance (unknown person from unknown parts vs. someone from part of the "histology community" well known). If I call "x" who I've known for years about an applicant "y" who is applying and worked with "x" and am told "Oh! "y" worked for us for last 4 years. He/she along with "z" and "zz" were our 3 who sectioned (#) blocks a day. Devastated to see him/her go but know they had to move along with husband/wife. Great cutter and everyone liked him/her". Having him/her sit down to now cut 10 blocks to see "if they can cut" as a routine question accomplishes WHAT?" If someone mysterious with no background walked in, sure have them cut although there have been numerous fantastic options already posted how to weed them out prior to sectioning a finger off. A (purposely) mis-processed block with tissue now shrunken in from block face and a question of "we need a recut, what would you do for this block" will let you know in about 2 seconds whether or not this is a histotech impostor. Or looking at a blandly stained, necrotic section under microscope and asking "interpret this section" will tell you something of who or what this person is. Personally, I'd far rather have a person who is energetic, scientifically and intellectually confident and talented, personable, works well within the "symphony" of histology and cuts 8 blocks and leaves a few wrinkles in this new environment set-up than a (female or male) diva who cuts 10 perfect blocks but who has that nearly imperceptible tint of not a complete team player or dubious personality. A routine check box "can cut" I think is just a waste of time and resources unless a particular circumstance warrants it. 

Someone asked "would you hire a secretary without a wpm typing test". Absolutely, beyond any doubt. If the transcriptionist next door wants a secretary position and routinely types 3 times faster than is required as a secretary; why a wpm test? If I call someone I know across state where this applicant worked for last 10 years and "she's an immaculate and fast typist beyond anything we've ever had and so sorry she had to move", I'd rather then concentrate on more esoteric matrices than wpm. If he/she was a secretary 25 years ago and has been a house-husband or house-wife for 25 years and starting back now or if someone walks in off the street to apply then beyond any doubt; they take a typing test. 

Someone pointed out that all musicians play their instrument in application to test for the orchestra. Of course but for a completely different reason. You could give an "oral test" to 1,000 musicians of which 999 would know how to transpose 3 pitches up by 7 semi-tones or define a diatonic scale or identify the composer if listening to an excerpt from the Overture-Midsummers Night Dream. That's not what the interviewee is looking for. They are looking for the ONE in 1,000 who has the exact pitch, timbre, affannato, vibrato, arioso and legato from their specific instrument that only that particular person's instrument and ability possesses. Only a finely trained ear (the conductor) has that God-given ability of relative/perfect pitch or undefinable gift to identify that one instrument and one ability to fit into the total music experience. And there is only one way to find out; have him or her play. Totally different scenario than in a histology lab unless the object is to see how well the speed and noise of one person's cutting blends in with the symphony of 75 other microtomes being used in the lab at the same time. 

Then you start to ponder, as did a fine mind out there who understood the butterfly comment, if a current 30-year superstar of histology walked into a lab looking for a histology job, would they take a cutting ( sectioning?) test? If Yo-Yo Ma or James Galway or Itzhak Perlman or John Cerminaro had ever walked in to "test" for an orchestral position, surely they wouldn't be tested just to see if "can they play" a cello or flute or violin or French Horn or even how well they play on that particular day in that particular environment. 

Maybe what I'm mis-understanding is that apparently there are A LOT of histology wannabees, walking in off the street trying to "sneak into histology"? and if so that seems like there should be some manner of response to that situation although not sure what it is. But something short of sitting down to cut and have them slice a finger. And if accredited histology schools are putting out graduated students with HT certifications, and have never cut a block or only 3 blocks or trained to routinely cut thick and thin, then that seems a matter for the school, NSH, NACCLS, ASCP, CAP, state agencies, etc and not the histonet. 

In the end, I think there are potentially far better ways (and there have been numerous great suggestions already) to ascertain information about an applicant than a routine (check-accomplished cutting 10 blocks) check-off box although depending on the situation, I'm not at all against cutting blocks at application if warranted. 

If the Samurai Pathologist is out there reading still; any idea over your career, about how many glass slides have you viewed under a microscope since the first? Your replies are always top-notch, entertaining and informative. And hope with each new job you don't have to show someone you can pass a test of which slide shows normal liver and which slide shows cirrhotic liver in your interview. 

One day about a year ago, I sat down and did some fairly accurate (I think) estimation of "how many blocks have I cut in 45 years in pathology" . Came up with a number a bit above 1,100,000 blocks (paraffin, frozen OCT, glycol methacrylate, EPON). So if I come looking for a bench histology job, hope I can skip the routine, required "can section?" check box. Would rather spend the time talking about the greatest sports franchise in the history of all sports; The St. Louis Baseball Cardinals. Summer of 1967 cut my first paraffin block while on high school summer break (after a few weeks learning to hone my steel knife with a Belgian stone and sharpening/stropping with a barber razor strop). And in summer of 1967 I also watched an unhitable Bob Gibson lead the Cards to yet another World Series. 

Phenopath Labs 
Seattle WA 

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