The 36-year-old CEO of Burger King asks job candidates ‘Are you smart or do you work hard?’ — and there’s a right answer

  • Daniel Schwartz is the CEO of Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes.
  • He became CEO at 32.
  • Schwartz, now 36, asks an interview question about smarts versus hard work, and he has a right answer in mind.

Daniel Schwartz, the CEO of Restaurant Brands International — the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes — is a business prodigy. He stepped into the role at age 32 after swiftly climbing the corporate ladder in investment banking and private equity.

Running a multibillion-dollar company at such a young age is surely evidence 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 interviewees, Schwartz, now 36, told Adam Bryant of The New York Times.

“One question I ask is, ‘Are you smart or do you work hard?'” he said. “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.”

Schwartz says he acquired his desire to hire hard workers with humility from his parents.

“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.”

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