Tuesday, June 6

Genius or eccentric? Why the inventor Thomas Edison forced the candidate to have a bowl of soup in his job interviews

If you have attended a job interview, surely you have been asked strange things. But it is unlikely that you have been invited to eat soup.

You know the old saying: “If you are poor and do crazy things, you are crazy. If you are rich or famous and do crazy things, you are an eccentric“. Can we apply it to the cool Thomas AlvaEdison?

Edison is one of the most important scientists and inventors in history. He invented the phonograph to record sounds, one of the first movie cameras, an incandescent light bulb, the electric battery, and much more. He went on to patent more than 1,000 inventions.

They were not just his creations, because in the 19th century most of the great inventions were a sum of technologies from different scientists. But he is considered a pioneer of electric lighting in homes, movies, music recording, and electric cars.

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Thomas Edison was a genius. And geniuses have a reputation for being eccentric.

Our colleague Daniel Cáceres, from Business Insider, echoes an anecdote related to the inventor by historian Andrew Martin on Medium.

According to documents from the time, Thomas Edison had a huge workshop where he carried out his inventions, and required nnumerous laboratory assistants.

But His job interviews were very peculiar. Instead of meeting the candidates in the workshop, he took them to eat at a restaurant. He was the one who chose the menu, and first there was always soup.

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As they talked about work, Edison watched carefully as the candidate ate his soup.. He didn’t know, but it was key to deciding if he would hire him.

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If the candidate sprinkled salt or pepper before tasting the soup, it was automatically discarded. The reason was that he didn’t want prejudiced people on his teamto take things for granted, before experimenting.

People who salt their soup before eating it assume that it is bland, without knowing it.

If the candidate first tasted the soup and then added the salt, then went ahead with the interview.

It seems an eccentric way of hiring a worker. But it conforms to modern canons, which rely less and less on interviews. As Inc explains, “Asking questions is a method that tends to favor those who know how to speak against those who are really competent. Then you have to take into account the bias of the intervieweer”.

Therefore many modern recruiters prefer to do a little practice, a demo, instead of questions. Edison was 100 years ahead of this trend, demonstrating his genius here too.

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