“Coffee cup test” in a company manager’s interview goes viral: “Manipulative”

An executive’s “coffee cup test” for job candidates has sparked online debate as its secret assessment method attracts the attention of social media users who come across his four-year-old interview.

Trent Innes from Melbourne, Australia, revealed his undercover personality test when he appeared on the popular business podcast “The Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios” in May 2019, when he was managing director at Xero, an accounting software company.

In the 16-minute podcast episode titled “The Secret Interview Trick to Recruiting the Right Personnel,” Innes explained that he escorts interview candidates into the office kitchen and offers them a cup of coffee or other beverage before continues with the questions.

Candidates who do not offer to take their empty cups into the kitchen at the end of the interview are unlikely to receive a job offer from Innes.

“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 concept of ‘wash your coffee cup,'” he said during his podcast appearance.

Innes explained that he believes the test weeds out applicants who would not fit the work culture. He also said that most people tend to pass the post-interview test.

"The Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios,"
Lambros Photios from The Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios.

FOX Business reached out to Innes for comment via LinkedIn.

Social media users who discovered Innes’ podcast interview last year are debating whether the coffee cup test is a fair benchmark for assessing an applicant’s suitability.

The online discussions have largely taken place on TikTok, Facebook and Reddit – and most people seem to believe that the coffee cup test is not a reliable verification tool.

“I think it’s weird to wash your own cup at a job interview when you’re a guest there,” one TikTok user wrote. “I’d probably just ask what to do with the cup.”

Social media users warn job candidates that a "Coffee cup test" could be used by a human resources manager who has heard about the covert personality assessment.
Social media users are warning job candidates that a “coffee cup test” could be administered by a hiring manager who has heard about the covert personality assessment.

“If [we’re] Still in the kitchen, yes, but if we’re in a conference room and I leave, I don’t walk around the office again. I don’t work there yet,” another user reasoned.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t even accept the trophy,” another user wrote.

“I understand the spirit of this as I hate it when people don’t clean up themselves, but it’s not a fair or accurate way to test people,” another user shared.

“The people who are so upset about this are definitely the employees leaving dirty dishes at the communal sink,” one TikTok user asked.

“Isn’t it risky to let random people walk around unattended,” another user asked.

“What if you turn down the coffee,” one Facebook user asked.

“Not sure I would pass this interview test,” another user wrote. “Especially because I think I would be nervous during the interview and forget to wash my coffee cup at the end of the interview.”

“I have to ask if I want to work for someone who is manipulative and poorly communicates his expectations,” another user asked. “If they’re like that in the interview, what are they like as a boss?”

Other commenters argued that, in their opinion, the coffee cup test could make social interactions between a job candidate and the hiring manager uncomfortable or stressful if it is not administered delicately and one party can recognize that the other is waiting for them to take action.

In March, Reddit users weighed in on the coffee cup test, with some debating the merits of the secret scoring method.

A CEO's 2019 business podcast interview has resurfaced, sparking debate on social media as people learned he disqualified job seekers if they didn't wash their coffee cups.
A CEO’s 2019 business podcast interview has resurfaced, sparking debate on social media as people learned he disqualified job seekers if they didn’t wash their coffee cups.

“If someone drank the coffee and just left the cup on the bench, I would probably judge them a little bit for that too, especially if they saw me washing out my cup and putting it on the stand,” one Reddit user argued.

“Well, ‘Boss,’ I was hoping the cup my lips just touched wouldn’t be hand washed in a dirty office sink and left for the next candidate,” another user quipped.

“[My] The spouse worked at a place where they offered you water before the interview. If you said no you would be rejected,” another user wrote. “It had something to do with assertiveness…I think it was something they read in a book and they went with it. Luckily it only lasted for a while before it was dropped.”

A Reddit user who claimed to be a human resources manager wrote that during an interview for a “very low-stakes job” he had to come up with questions, scenarios and tests to “disqualify people who had no social skills whatsoever.” , even though they had such “technical skills.”

“Sometimes the bs stuff really makes people show their true selves,” the Reddit user explained.

Other Reddit users argued that hiring managers should focus on outlining job responsibilities, discussing compensation, and how team members work together.

The coffee cup test has also been discussed by recruiters on LinkedIn over the past four years.


DUSTIN JONES is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. DUSTIN JONES joined USTimeToday in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with DUSTIN JONES by emailing dustinjones@ustimetoday.com.

Related Articles

Back to top button