The “run away screaming” interview

I had my third interview since beginning my search for another job. This is a physician based non-profit trade association with a small office staff and a single person accounting department. None of the association staff are physicians, but the governing board are all doctors and based up and down the state.

Let me just state up front that they would have to at least triple the top of their salary range to make me take this job, it was that awful for me. The executive director and governing board members I met are micro-managing control freaks and the position feels more like a glorified accounting clerk it is so limited in autonomy and independent responsibility. For example, I would not be allowed to make routine journal entries without getting them approved in advance by the executive director or one the board members. I would not be allowed to process payroll without the executive director’s approval. Their system of internal controls is so tight – for a five person office – that I could not even make a deposit without the ED reviewing it and ensuring my math is correct before sending it to the bank. WTF? And for this they had “MBA preferred” in their online posting?

Basically I am a poor fit for them, and I believe they felt may have felt that way as well. When describing my present responsibilities across the spectrum of full-time job and part-time side gigs she kept saying “we do things differently here, advance approval, internal controls, blah and blah and blah.” After 20 minutes I was sure this was not a good fit. After 30 minutes my skin was crawling and I was itching for a graceful exit. By the time we were wrapping up I could care less about graceful exit – get me the hell out of here was on autoplay in my head. So not me. On the other hand, I can completely understand why my former CPA told me referred me – she’s obviously hoping to get someone she can actually work with who will not be looking over her shoulder and questioning every note she makes.

After an excruciatingly painful 90 minute interrogation, I was finally released. I will be professional and write them a nice thank you note and debrief my former boss on how it went, but I am far from desperate enough to take such a position where I’d be feeling caged and unhappy. Even in my most relaxed and relieved state because I’m sure I don’t want the job they managed to set my nerves on edge and make me want to run for my life, screaming to release the tension they inspired.

To really illustrate how awful: these people make my present bosses look exceptionally great and make me want to return to my full-time job and responsibilities if that was my only other choice. It was awful.

14 thoughts on “The “run away screaming” interview

  1. Now don’t hold back your true feelings: “micro-managing control freaks”. LOL. I think this is one job that can’t pay you enough to work there. I’m glad it wasn’t your first interview though – might have sent you running back!

    • Well, you know me, not saying what I mean or speaking my mind. NOT. Those folks need a newly minted college graduate who doesn’t know anything yet. They are scary controlling.

  2. You are very smart to walk (or run) away from that! I worked for a company for eight years that felt the need to micromanage everything despite having some very experienced and well educated workers. Many lost interest in their jobs and the company went belly up! Being an accountant, I understand the importance of internal controls, however, micromanagement is a failed strategy.

    • Agreed. It occurs to me that they need a newly-minted college graduate who has very little real experience. It’s not going to be me, that’s for sure, and thankfully I have some other choices brewing that are much more to my liking and play to my strengths. Things will settle down with this working from home – it’s only the first week – and I can afford to be patient and wait for the right offer on the right job.

      • I’ve been on a job search myself and keep losing out to recent college grads who are willing to work for minimum wage. In my area, experience and education no longer matter. Hope this new job climate gets better soon!

      • I feel extraordinarily fortunate thus far, with 2 good and great opportunities yesterday and 2 for 2 on second meetings within a 24 hours span. These 3 interviews came came from a local CPAs (and former employers), so I am very blessed to have that sort of network in place. Your experience is precisely what I have been fearing – competing head-to-head with college grads willing to work for minimum wage. Ugh!

  3. You’ll like this story I think – for me it highlights the generational difference between me and early 20 somethings – curious what you think. I phoned a woman with a job offer this morning. It is a promotion for her and she comes into head office and works directly for me. I offered her a TEN PERCENT raise which was the maximum I could give within our HR guidelines. She’s now at 39,900. She is all excited and says yes and then not 15 minutes later follows up by email asking if she could be bumped to 40,000 given she had such great performance this last year. I said no. But I was a little surprised she asked. It made me giggle at the folly of youth and at the same time I admired her chutzpah. What’s your take?

    • Actually I love that story! It’s illustrative of errors younger people make these days by not reading through company policies on transers, promotions, and salary adjustments. I always coach my kids (my own and those I work with or mentor) to educate themselves on their firm’s HR guidelines, because it pays to know these things. It shows some initiative (trying to get to that $40,000 mark is big psychological boost) as well as naivety that she will likely shed as she gets more promotions and moves up to the food chain. She will learn so much working directly for you and is a very lucky young lady.

      • Exactly. I totally get the psychological barrier but with our taxes it’s NOTHING annually. I laughed about it thinking when in earth else will you get a 10% base increase!

      • I’m not sure where she’s coming from in your organization or what her role will be, but being a direct report to an executive was HUGE when I was coming up in the work world. The 10% increase would have felt like I had arrived in style at the next level on the job ladder. She’s definitely got some learning to do to be so ballsy as to risk offending the new boss that just promoted her with that 10% salary boost by asking for an additional $100 PER YEAR.

      • Yes, exactly my thoughts. I rarely toot my own horn but I run some of my companies largest and most complex initiatives… So yeah… Right now she has a customer service job, one of the most junior in the bank. If I was her (when I was her!) I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking for $100 more. On the other hand I know women traditionally don’t ask for things either – so that’s where I figure I can take that attitude and help her direct it in a positive way!

      • If she’s smart, and I’m certain she must be, she’ll quickly realize her good fortune. You have a lot to share with her about getting where she wants to go in her career, and the best part of that is you want to help her build on her strengths and skills to get there. Not every boss is so generous. 🙂

    • Exactly! I wrote a really brief, completely non-committal thank you this afternoon and hope to get my rejection email reply ASAP. I’m going to have accepted another position if they invite me back for a second interview.

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