How do I put it delicately?

So I had an interview on Monday morning.  I was offered the job on Monday afternoon.  I started Tuesday morning.  I quit by 10am.

Come again?

Lets start from the beginning.

The interview went fairly well, although I was a little hesitant about it.  It was a very small company (less than 10 people) and they seemed, well, not very polished but as it was a small company it was pretty understandable.  There was no front desk, no reception – just a bell on the door as you entered.  Different but, ok, I could handle it.  In the interview they were pretty vague about the job itself, speaking in fairly general terms but I put that down to fact that it was a new role (they’d had no admin staff in their company before; it was an IT/telecomms company that seems to have operated basically as a startup since its inception in 1993) and they obviously weren’t used to interviewing.  Again, not exactly reassuring but it’s a tight market in Queensland right now and people haven’t been knocking down my door trying to get me in for an interview so I thought I’d take a chance, especially as the job description that they’d provided in their ad was pretty specific: it was advertised as ‘PA to CEO’ for the company and the criteria was university educated, 4+ years admin experience at a senior level, discreet, professional, etc, with key functions being standard PA-type things such as travel bookings, diary management, coordination of meetings and minutes, event coordination and task/project coordination.  All things I’m good at and have experience with and the standard of candidates they were looking for was reassuringly high.

Anyway, when they rang me up yesterday afternoon to offer the job in the salary range I said I was looking in, I was pleased (and relieved – when moving countries, getting a job is priority number 1).

Cue this morning.  I’m the first to arrive and wondering if I got the time right.  When the CEO does arrive, he invites me into his office.  He flaps about, clearing his desk and trying to find his checklist of things to talk to me about.  All pretty standard until, 10 minutes in, he encourages me to foster a relationship with his wife, the CFO, as (in his words), a man having a female PA can cause “tensions” with wives, he wanted to avoid jealousy, etc, and basically intimating that he was worried that his wife would think I might want to sleep with him.  Colour me horrified.

As it turns out, this was the highlight of the morning as it was all downhill from there.  They’re an IT/telecomms company selling computer programs/IT solutions.  Everything he tried to show me crashed as he opened it.

When I asked him what they were looking for from me/what things they wanted me to do, he commented that I was obviously from a corporate environment and wanted to go a “million miles an hour”.  Because I wanted to know what work they wanted me to do?

The General Manager then joined us and then he and the CEO went on to bad mouth the staff – two were leaving and he explained to me their bad habits (poor communicators!  easily overwhelmed!  gets flustered!  thinks he’s top sh*t!).  Then they went out to bad mouth the one staff member – and my future colleague – who was staying.  They then had some anecdotes about how stupid customers are (relating one story about one such customer, who asked to speak to the manager… the CEO, as he explained to me “never backs away from a fight” and delighted in telling me how he dismissed and “smashed” every one of the customer’s complaints… complaints that, at that point, seemed to me were likely quite valid).  This was followed by boasting about how many restaurants and bars they’d been kicked out from following staff lunches.

I then learned that they farm out their HR functions to a freelancer in the Phillipines who they communicate through Skype with.  They then went on to explain how much of their work is outsourced and, of that, most of it seemed to be done by slave labour in south-east Asia.  Example, they didn’t want me to organise or minute meetings (despite that being a noted job function in the ad) because a) they don’t hold formal staff meetings/committees and b) any meetings they might have with clients, etc, they have recorded and get freelancers in Malaysia or somewhere to transcribe them for “2 bucks an hour”.  He then bagged them for being totally unreliable.

They hold no meetings, don’t do much/any business travel and basically didn’t want me to do any of the things advertised.  In fact, after one and a half hours, I still didn’t know what they wanted me to do even generally, let alone specifically in the short-term.  All they could say was that they weren’t very organised and it sure would be nice for that to be better.  Cue significant look at me.  Eh?

Then they started talking to me about telemarketing and how I might be able to help them with that?  It was at that point that I knew I had to leave.  Right that very instant.

I tried to put it to them as delicately as possible – “job not what I expected”/”not the right culture fit” – and then I willed myself to walk, rather than run, out.  And so, after two hours, my new and glorious career in IT came to abrupt end.  I may not have a job but surely I’ve set some kind of record?

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9 thoughts on “How do I put it delicately?

  1. Pingback: Stealth office shots for the insatiably curious | Hipster, Begone

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