Rockville, Maryland, U.S.A. – I recently had my first job interview, for a team member position at my local Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
I arrived 20 minutes early and waited anxiously in the KFC parking lot for the interview time to approach.
I spent several days beforehand studying a two-page Google Doc I compiled, filled from top to bottom with potential interview questions. I deliberated over my answers and shared my anxieties with friends.
By the time the interview rolled around, I felt ready. I believed I did everything I could to prepare for it.
I’d soon find out I was wrong.
The interviewer arrived more than 10 minutes later than the agreed upon time – that surprised me. I also hadn’t prepared for the relatively detached treatment I received from the other employees.
The interview itself was quick and none of her questions were particularly out of the ordinary, but the first impression I received from the work environment left me reconsidering whether I really wanted to work there.
While my expectations for professionalism and hospitality at a local KFC may have been too high, the interview still gave me a vital learning experience.
I left the restaurant with a better understanding of how to prepare for an interview. Because it was my first one, I was overcome with nerves and prepared so excessively for the interview questions that I failed to adequately consider the more practical aspects of a fast food interview.
Now that I’ve very briefly been behind the scenes and witnessed the fast-paced environment, I likely won’t be as surprised when an interviewer cuts me off mid-sentence to address a problem in the kitchen, as happened to me at KFC.
I walked away from the interview with a deeper comprehension of what I want in a workplace. I’ve always valued organizational skills, but this experience showed me that I simply can’t expect this to be a priority for everyone.
It’s impractical to hold other people to your own standards. I witnessed the variety of personalities one sees outside of high school and the importance of adjusting to different people.
While it wasn’t an experience that left me jumping for joy, I still learned a lot from that KFC interview.
Hannah Rah is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.