What did you learn on your first job interview? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

I had just turned 13 and my mother woke me up one Saturday morning and told me two things:

  1. That it was time for me to get a job.
  2. That working for McDonald's would look good on my resume when I got older.

Phase 1

We hopped in the car, drove a couple blocks to our regular McDonald's and picked up an application. We got in the car, and then my mom handed me a pen.

So, right there in the parking lot, my mom gave me a tutorial on how to fill out an application. We dropped it off and, apparently, this was only phase one of the plan.

"Next we'll call first thing Monday to make sure they got your application. That will increase your chances of getting an interview."


It worked like a charm. I called, and not only did they get the application, they scheduled me for an interview.

Phase 2: Interview Day

Wearing my best "Church Clothes for an Adolescent Skateboarder", I showed up with knots in my stomach. I guess I really care about getting this job. My nerves made my voice crack and squeak like the puberty I'd gone through didn't take for some reason.

I'll never forget seeing the interviewer. I'd never seen a McDonald's issue white, button-up dress shirt, or a McDonald's employee wearing a tie--but there he was. The best-dressed Big Mac boss you've ever seen.

"Hello Mr. Lynam. Have a seat."

I'd been eating at this location since I was 5, but this was the first time it scared me.

"I want to tell you that we appreciate you filling out this application, but because you're only 13, we wouldn't be able to give you a job."

Off the hook. Relief. I thank him.

"You were very persistent and we look forward to having an interview with you when you're old enough to work."

Phase 3

I hurry back to the car to inform my mom of the news. "Too young." It was as if the news never registered with her. Like one of those "Goonies Never Say Die" moments, but for, you know, a job at McDonald's. So she says:

"That's just for this location."

Funny thing about McDonald's--there are a lot of them. We immediately drove over to the McDonald's exactly three blocks in the opposite direction of our house, and repeated the steps: Application, Phone Call, and then an Interview.

Then It Happens

I showed up at McDonald's #2 exactly a week after my first interview. I was wearing the same clothes, and this time I was a little less freaked to walk in.

I took a seat because my interviewer was busy.

Then I saw that same white, button-up shirt and tie. McDonald's issue. It's the same guy. You know those nightmares where you wake up and think you're safe, only to realize it's still part of the nightmare? Well this was the McDonald's job interview version of that.

He looked at me, then looked at the application.

"Hi Mr. Lynam, um, yeah, it's the same deal as last time."


What my mother taught me was persistence. There are countless times that I think back to this story when I'm faced with a situation that challenges my, or my team's, comfort zone. My mom still laughs at this story, and so do I, but that doesn't mean I don't respect what this moment has continued to teach me all these years later.

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