- One executive uses a hiring strategy called the “coffee cup test” on candidates in job interviews.
- He said in a resurfaced 2019 clip that he doesn’t hire people who don’t offer to wash their cup after the interview.
- Social media users are calling him out for playing a “deeply disturbing psycho-social game.”
A boss has gone viral on social media after sharing an interview process he calls the “coffee cup test” to filter candidates in job interviews, with some users accusing him of playing mind games with jobseekers.
Trent Innes, a chief growth officer at SiteMinder, appeared on The Venture Podcast with Lambros Photios in 2019 when he was still the managing director of Xero Australia to discuss his hiring strategy. Innes said he only hires people if they offer to take their coffee cups to the kitchen at the end of an interview.
In the podcast, Innes explained that he always takes candidates for a walk to the kitchen to offer them a drink whether it be water, coffee, a cup of tea, or a soft drink.
“Then we take that back and have our interview and one thing I’m always looking for is at the end of the interview is that the person doing the interview wants to take their empty cup back to the kitchen,” he said.
“You can develop skills, you can gain knowledge, and gain experience but it really does come down to attitude,” Innes told Photios about why such a minor task is so significant to him.
He said: “What I was trying to find was what was the lowest level task I could find that regardless of what you do inside the organization was still super important.”
Most candidates did offer to take back their cup with only a few that didn’t, Innes noted at the time.
The podcast episode has now resurfaced on social media, being shared on both TikTok and Reddit, with some users saying that Innes’ strategy is manipulative.
Under one TikTok video about the podcast with over 24,000 likes, a user wrote: “I feel like it’s weird to wash your own cup at an interview when you’re a guest there. I’d prob just ask what they want me to do with the cup.”
Another user commented: “Good to know. If an employer plays mindgames like this. It’s an immediate red flag for me. I end the interview right there.”
The episode is making the rounds on Reddit too, with one thread accumulating over 100 comments.
One person wrote in the thread: “The boss actually said he actively manipulates potential hires into taking a drink, all so he can play his deeply disturbing psycho-social game.”
Another agreed saying: “So he doesn’t communicate his needs, and punishes people for not reading his mind? Sounds like a shitty boss.”
Although Innes’ hiring method appears harmless in theory, social media users are convinced that it signals a toxic work culture.