Charles Schwab's CEO takes job candidates to breakfast and asks the restaurant to mess up their order - here's why


Walt Bettinger

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Walt Bettinger, CEO of Charles Schwab.

Walt Bettinger, the CEO of Charles Schwab, wants to know the type of person you are before he offers you a job. But his way of figuring that out is slightly unconventional.


In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of The New York Times, Bettinger says that when hiring, he's most concerned with the kind of person the job candidate is and their character.

"I'll ask questions like, 'Tell me about the greatest successes in your life.' What I'm looking for is whether their view of the world really revolves around others or whether it revolves around them. And I'll ask them about their greatest failures in their life and see whether they own them or whether they were somebody else's fault."

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But another thing he sometimes does is a bit more unique.

Bettinger says he invites the job candidate to breakfast - but arrives at the restaurant early, pulls the manager aside, and says, "I want you to mess up the order of the person who's going to be joining me. It'll be O.K., and I'll give a good tip, but mess up their order."


"I do that because I want to see how the person responds," he tells Bryant. "That will help me understand how they deal with adversity. Are they upset, are they frustrated or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that. It's just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head."

Another response to a messed-up breakfast order that can be very telling: not saying anything at all.

Bettinger didn't mention this in his interview with Bryant, but if you receive the wrong food and don't acknowledge it, this may tell the interviewer that you are timid, pay little attention to detail, or are not willing to right a wrong - all messages that you don't want to send a potential employer.

Of course, you shouldn't make a huge deal of it, and you certainly shouldn't be rude, but it's probably better to say something - politely and respectfully - than nothing at all.

"We're all going to make mistakes. The question is how are we going to recover when we make them, and are we going to be respectful to others when they make them?" Bettinger concludes.


Read the full New York Times interview here.

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