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Why Thomas Edison Required Job Applicants To Eat Soup In Front Of Him

The famous inventor had a unique way of finding the best employees

Andrew Martin
3 min readDec 30, 2021

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Few people in American history have the reputation of Thomas Edison, a prolific inventor and entrepreneur, whose work still widely impacts most people around the world to this day. What were the secrets to his incredible success? It turns out one of them was a unique requirement he had for prospective new employees that they eat a bowl of soup in front of him before they’d be considered for a job.

During his lifetime (1847–1931), Edison obtained a jaw-dropping 1,093 patents. Among his innovations were early versions of light bulbs (although he did not invent the light bulb), the phonograph, movie cameras and alkaline storage batteries. However, he couldn’t do it all himself and had a large and talented staff through the years in his research labs. Accordingly, he had to make sure he was getting the right people.

Edison liked to be personally involved in choosing staff. When new positions opened for research jobs at his labs he was there to give the candidates a thorough vetting. He came to find a favorite method for finding the right people was by offering them a bowl of soup and then watching them eat it.

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Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.