Don’t be caught out by this technique employers use at job interviews

By Rhona Shennan
Monday, 03 June, 2019, 15:56
Could that coffee cup you left behind be the reason you didn't get that job? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Have you ever had a job interview go really well but then in the end you didn’t get it? Have you been left wondering where it all went wrong?

It might be that your interviewer uses this ‘coffee cup’ technique in their interviews - here’s how to make sure you don’t get caught out.

‘Coffee cup’ technique?

Revealing on Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios, a podcast that follows entrepreneur Photios as he interviews figures in the world of business, Trent Innes shared his technique for finding the right employee.

When someone arrives for an interview, Innes will take the hopeful applicant to the kitchen and ensures that they come away with a drink.

The interview will occur as usual, but once the interview is done and dusted, that is when the real test takes place.

If the interviewee attempts to take the cup back to the kitchen, they’ll have passed Innes’ test. If they just leave the dirty cup behind, they won’t be getting a call back.

What does this technique prove?

What this technique is designed to do is show the attitude of a person.

“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 own coffee cup”,” Innes explains on the podcast.

He continues: “So what I was trying to find was what was the lowest level task I could find that, regardless of what you did inside the organisation, was still super important that would actually really drive a culture of ownership.”

Leaving the coffee cup behind indicates a bad attitude and lack of responsibility.

“If you come into the office one day inside Xero [Innes’ business], you’ll see the kitchens are almost always clean and sparkling and it’s very much off that concept of wash your coffee cup,” Innes said.

Too harsh?

Managing director at Personal Career Management Corrine Mills can see both sides of the argument when it comes to this technique.

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“I can kind of see the point, but it also feels unfair,” Mills said.

But she could see how the test could show how people express themselves when it comes to personal responsibility, but at the same time it appeared quite “black and white”.

“Interviews are nerve wracking anyway,” Mills said.

While some interviewers might take it upon themselves to ‘test’ their interviewees, the process of an interview is a two way street.

While the interviewer is gauging whether the applicant is right for the job, it’s also a chance for the applicant to check out the work environment and decide if they want to work there.

Mills said: “Some interviewers seem to think we have to test their metal, and if we put them under stress we can see how they respond.”

While that may be acceptable for some roles, it may not be quite as applicable for others.

Interview advice?

Regarding how to make a good impression at an interview, Mills stressed: “You do need to be on your best behaviour, anyone who isn’t will raise alarm bells for an interviewer.”

She also commented that she checks how candidates are acting outside the room.

“If the smile only starts inside the room, and you’ve been unpleasant to reception or security, that could be enough to disqualify you,” Mills said.

You should be charming and remember your manners Mills advised - you’re wanting to show off the best version of yourself.

The revelation of the ‘coffee cup’ technique shouldn’t drastically change your interviewing preparation - just make sure to offer to return your cup back to the kitchen at the end of your interview, it couldn’t hurt your chances.

This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News