A CEO asks interviewees if they’d leave their family at Disneyland to test their work ethic — and doesn’t hire them if they say no

Disney park
He did it, once. Flickr/Dave Hogg

“Would you be willing to leave your family at Disneyland to do something that was really important for the company?”

That’s what CEO Don Mal of software firm Vena Solutions asks applicants in job interviews.

And he expects them to say yes.

In an interview with Adam Bryant of The New York Times, Mal told Bryant:

“Some people have said no, and I haven’t hired them.

“It’s interesting because I did leave my wife and kids at Disneyland once. It was to close the biggest deal of our company’s history. I left for two days. It wasn’t like I was leaving them there for the whole vacation.

“To me, it’s not so much a loyalty question. It’s more of just trying to understand their work ethic.”

Bryant pressed him, pointing out that some people might say “vacations are vacations,” and the question is “outrageous.”

Mal said he’d tell someone who felt that way, “I did it. I felt it was important, and I’ll tell you why. It advanced my career. It helped the company, and my wife was actually O.K. with it because I got a pretty big check to pay for our entire vacation because we closed the deal.”

He tied it back to his focus on sales, his “relentless pursuit of the number. And at some point it does matter. You have to make your numbers,” he said. “Whether you’re a public or a private company, you’ve got to make your numbers. So you do whatever it takes, without doing anything wrong or unethical.”

Read the full interview at The New York Times »