August 5, 2023 | 4:50 p.m
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, as many interviewees stress over how best to answer the questions the employer is asking you.
But not every company asks tough questions. One boss has revealed the ‘coffee cup’ test he uses in job interviews to determine whether a candidate is right for the role.
Former Xero Australia managing director Trent Innes explained how he refused to hire anyone if they couldn’t return an empty glass to the kitchen at the end of the interview.
“I’ll always take you on a walk to one of our kitchens and somehow you always end up leaving with a drink,” Mr Innes said in a new 2019 interview with the podcast The enterprises.
“Then we get the drink back, we do our interview, and one of the things I always look for at the end of the interview is, does the person doing the interview want to take the empty glass back to the kitchen?
“You can develop skills, you can gain knowledge and experience, but it really comes down to attitude, and the attitude we talk about a lot is the wash-your-own-coffee-cup concept.”
Mr Innes said the secret trick allows him to create a good impression of who you are as an employee.
“So what I was trying to find was what is the lowest-level task that I could find that regardless of what you’re doing in the organization is still super important that will actually really drive a culture of ownership “, he said.
“If you walk into the office at Xero one day, you’ll see that the kitchens are almost always clean and sparkling, and that’s very different from the concept of washing the coffee cup, but that kind of led to the interview space.”
Mr. Innes said that by offering to return your empty glass at the end of the interview, your eagerness is the defining part of landing a job.
“You really want to make sure you have people who have a real sense of ownership, and that’s really what I was looking for.
“Attitude and scale of ownership, especially in a really fast-paced environment that we’re going through, and still at this stage. We want to make sure we have people who have real, strong ownership and a growth mindset.
“I’m really just making sure that they really fit into the culture inside Xero and really take on everything that they need to do.”
Mr Innes said only five to 10 per cent of those interviewed fail the ‘coffee cup’ test because they don’t take their empty cups back to the kitchen.
“The really nice thing is that a lot of people are doing it [offer],” he said.
“I don’t always make them take it back, it’s just an offer and I’d usually take it back for them of course – that’s just the point of the offer.”
Mr Innes is not the only employer up to a sneaky trick.
During her podcast She’s on the moneyauthor and money columnist Victoria Devine recently shared a tactic she uses to help her interview candidates.
“In my job descriptions, if I’m advertising on LinkedIn, it’ll be explained in the middle in the ‘About You’ section, it’ll be like, ‘you have to pay close attention to detail,'” she explained.
“Then it will say, ‘You understand that in order to apply for this job, you must use the email at the bottom of this ad and address it to Victoria, and send a direct email including a cover letter’ … and whatever and to be Please for.”
“If you apply directly on LinkedIn, I don’t even look at it because you didn’t follow the guidelines.
“I guess it’s a very appropriate way to recruit, but when we recruit because we’re in the media and because we’re so visible, we really get a lot of applicants.
“For me, it’s really an easy way. I already cut it in half.”
Another sneaky tactic bosses can use is the receptionist test.
Back in 2020, an employee took to Reddit and wrote, “Today a candidate failed his interview within the first 5 minutes of entering the building.
“He was dismissive of the receptionist. She greeted him and he barely met her eyes. She tried to engage him in conversation. Again no eye contact, no interest in talking to her.
“What the applicant didn’t realize was that the ‘receptionist’ was actually the hiring manager.
“She called him back into the conference room and explained to him how every single person on our team is valuable and worthy of respect.
“Because of his interaction with the ‘receptionist’, the hiring manager didn’t think he was a good fit.” Thank you for your time, but the interview is over.
“Be good to everyone in the building.”