Editor | 6 June 2019
Would You Use This Xero Boss’s ‘Coffee Cup’ Interview Technique?

Would You Use This Xero Boss’s ‘Coffee Cup’ Interview Technique?

The boss of accounting software firm Xero Australia has revealed an innovative and somewhat controversial interview technique that he uses to weed out candidates that don’t fit with the company culture.

Trent Innes’ technique has nothing to do with skills or experience, it’s all down to how interview candidates deal with a dirty coffee cup.

The Xero boss says that when he’s giving an interviewee a tour of the company headquarters, he makes sure they pick up a tea or coffee from the kitchen.

Then, when the interview is completed, he looks out for whether the candidate offers to return the used cup to the kitchen or leaves it on the table for someone else to clean up.

“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’,” Trent says.

“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.”

According to Trent, most interview candidates do offer to return the cup. He doesn’t actually make them do it, but he wants to see them make the offer.

On Twitter, some commenters praised the innovative technique, but others have dismissed the test as an arbitrary mind game that has little to do with an interviewee’s suitability for a job.

Jessica Liebman, another manager with Insider Inc, said that she weeds out ‘undeserving’ candidates by waiting to see if she receives a thank you email after the interview.

In her eyes, this email shows that a potential hire is eager, organised, well-mannered and resourceful. But some HR professionals have poured scorn on these techniques.

Claire McCartney from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development told the Guardian that these kinds of tests lack rigour.

“People might respond differently for different reasons – they might be nervous about being interviewed. Not saying thank you to an interviewer doesn’t mean they’re not courteous.”

She also pointed out that some employers may find follow-up thank you emails desperate and annoying.

So, what do you think about these techniques? Do you have any of your own to find the ideal person for a role? Let us know on Facebook.