“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.'”Trent Innes, former managing director, Xero Australia
Trent Innes, former managing director of an accounting software firm, Xero Australia, says his “coffee cup test” during job interviews with candidates reveals a person’s true attitude. He would even go as far as blocklisting them from working at his company if they failed.
Speaking on the business podcast The Venture with entrepreneur Lambros Photios, he 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 the drink 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?”
Coffee Cup Test
He further explained that “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'”.
He said regardless of what you did inside the organization, the lowest level task was still super important, which would drive a culture of ownership. “You really want to make sure that you’ve got people who have got a real sense of ownership, and that’s really what I was looking for.”
“If you come into the office one day inside Xero, you’ll see the kitchens are almost always clean and sparkling, and it’s very much of that concept of wash your coffee cup, but that sort of led into the interview space,” he added. So, by offering to return your empty cup at the end of the interview, you show your eagerness, which is the determining factor in landing the job.
Trent further pointed out, “It’s really just making sure that they’re actually going to fit into the culture inside Xero and really take on everything that they should be doing.”
Like Trent, bosses can also apply other interview personality tests for the same purpose. The “receptionist test” is another method used on candidates to discover their true nature before hiring or rejecting them.
An incident was shared on Reddit where one candidate got instantly rejected without even getting a chance for an interview after he failed the “receptionist test”. He blew it within five minutes of entering the building for being dismissive to the receptionist and barely making eye contact with her.
The post noted that “She (receptionist) greeted him and he (candidate) barely made eye contact. She tried to engage him in conversation. Again, no eye contact, no interest in speaking with her. He was openly rude and treated her like she was beneath him. What the candidate did not realize was that the “receptionist” was actually the hiring manager.
She (hiring manager) called him back to the conference room and explained how every single person on our team is valuable and worthy of respect. When he thought he was talking to the decision maker, (his) personality totally changed. Suddenly he was friendly, open, relaxed.
Due to his interaction with the “receptionist,” the hiring manager did not feel he was a good fit. Thank you for your time, but the interview is over,” the post ended with advice to “Be nice to everyone in the building.”
Similar to the “Receptionist Test,” how a person treats a waiter can also predict a lot about their character. “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person,” said Bill Swanson, retired chairman & CEO of Raytheon Technologies.
The “Waiter Test” is also used by other CEOs to get to know about the actual character of the people they’re dealing with before trusting them with anything, as detailed further in the link below:Follow Nick Karean