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Stay Quiet or Make a Fuss? The ‘Breakfast Order’ Interview

December 28, 2017



Picture the scene: you’ve made it to a final interview at a big American firm; you get invited to a breakfast interview with the CEO; you’re excited; you’re nervous; you don’t want to mess up.


You order the eggs Benedict with black coffee and talk positively about your aims for the future, and just how you plan to tackle that transformation project. The waiter arrives and your poached eggs on toast are delivered with a steaming hot latte. You tuck in … no wait.


It’s totally the wrong order and, whilst you’d happily eat it, you think the CEO’s noticed too. You curse your luck that this is happening now, of all times!


Only, something’s afoot.


The CEO in your interview today is Walt Bettinger, and the company is Charles Schwab. He arrived early and had a word with the waiter. He told him to mess your order up.


“I do that because I want to see how the person responds,” he says.


It’s just one of the tactics he uses to see inside your heart and not just your head. Will you get angry, complain, frustrated, or just stay quiet? Does that make you short-tempered, a confused thinker, or too timid?  How do you react with the people around you? Are you respectful, rude, or unclear in your actions?


Other than avoiding a scene, there’s no right answer of course. Some jobs require different personality types (compare the aggression needed in trading compared to public relations) and all hirers are different, usually with a bias towards people similar to themselves.


The best advice I can give is be yourself. If you falsely follow a prescribed personality type, like a highly trained robot, then you’ll get found out in the end. Honesty shines through.


If this happens to you, hopefully it's just the order and not your chances which get messed up.   


Or just order a water.


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