A CEO asks job candidates 'Are you smart, or do you work hard?' - and there's a right answer

Daniel SchwartzRestaurant Brands International CEO Daniel Schwartz.

  • Daniel Schwartz CEO of Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes.
  • He became CEO at 32.
  • He asks an interview question about smarts versus hard work, and has a right answer in mind.

Daniel S. Schwartz, the CEO of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes, is a business prodigy. He stepped into his role as CEO the age of 32, after swiftly climbing the corporate ladder in investment banking and private equity.

Running a multi-billion dollar company at such a young age surely means that Schwartz's success is a product of both smarts and hard work. But there's one quality he values more than the other in interviews, Schwartz told Adam Bryant at The New York Times.

"One question I ask is, 'Are you smart or do you work hard?'" he said, referring to interview questions.

"You want hard workers. You'd be surprised how many people tell me, 'I don't need to work hard, I'm smart.' Really? Humility is important," he said.

Schwartz's desire to hire hard workers who posses humility is a quality he acquired from his parents, and carries it with him to this day.

"Probably the biggest influence [my parents have] had is about always being very respectful of other people," he said. "I always have that in the back of my head, regardless of who I'm talking to. The world's a small place, life's short, and so you should only be nice to people. I don't raise my voice at work. I don't have tantrums."

You can read the full interview here »

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