Hiring Tips from the CEO of Charles Schwab

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We ran across an older article from the New York Times which includes some great wisdom, so we thought we would pass it along. The article is an interview with Walt Bettinger, president and CEO of The Charles Schwab Corporation. In it, Bettinger is asked several questions about how his upbringing influenced his career and leadership style that directly relate to hiring good people.

He relates a story of how, as a straight-A student in college he failed an exam because of a totally unexpected one question final exam. Bettinger knew all the answers to the materials that were taught in his business strategy course and was confident in grabbing another A for the class. Unfortunately for him, the professor was looking to teach yet another lesson in his class, and instead of asking anything about what was taught that semester, he asked one question on the final exam: “What’s the name of the lady who cleans the building?” Bettinger had studied for days but had no clue and failed the final. Lesson learned: It’s not all about book smarts. The people who do the work that future leaders will be overseeing are equally important.

Another great story relayed in the article is about part of Bettinger’s job interviews. He asks to meet his job candidates for breakfast where, unbeknownst to them, he has arranged to have their order messed up in some way. This is so Bettinger can see how the person reacts to an unforeseen situation: “Are they upset, are they frustrated or are they understanding?” This field research, he says, is another way to “look in side their heart rather than their head.”

There a several other tidbits Bettinger shares in Adam Bryant’s NYT article “Walt Bettinger of Charles Schwab: You’ve Got to Open Up to Move Up” and we hope you can give it a few minutes to possibly find more ideas you can use in your own hiring processes and decisions.