Employer reveals the secret ‘coffee cup test’ used to rule out candidates

Not all job interview questions sound like straight-forward inquiries about your work experience and education. Employers are screening you on your behaviour from the moment you arrive until you have left the building at the end of the meeting.

That’s why your appearance, your small talk, handshake, and body language are all so important. Every employer you meet will have different priorities and biases. You never know which mannerism will be the one their decision hinges on.

Speaking to the Venture Podcast, Trent Innes managing director of software firm Xero revealed the test he always uses to screen potential hires. He won’t hire anyone who fails the ‘coffee cup test’ because of what he believes it says about the attitude of the candidate.

Innes explained:

    • “I will always take you for a walk down to one of our kitchens and somehow you always end up walking away with a drink. Then we take that back, have our interview, and one of the things I’m always looking for at the end of the interview is, does the person doing the interview want to take that empty cup back to the kitchen?

You can develop skills, you can gain knowledge and experience, but it really does come down to attitude, and the attitude that we talk a lot about is the concept of wash your coffee cup.”

For Innes says the test isn’t actually about cleanliness. It isn’t about washing a cup. It’s a way to see if applicants share the company’s values. “We really want to make sure we have people that have a sense of ownership,” Innes said. “Culture comes from the ground up.”

Innes admits that most people pass the test, with only about 10 per cent of applicants leaving the used cup on the table without even offering to take it back to the kitchen.

The skills and credentials on your resume are what will land you an interview. The interview itself is usually more about personality, work style, and cultural fit with the company. Make sure to be friendly, positive, professional, and of course, polite while meeting potential employers.

Also, if the employer offers you a drink at the job interview, it is a good idea to politely decline. See more job interview questions you didn’t realize were job interview questions.

Source: Secret ‘coffee cup test’ used at job interviews to screen applicants

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