A boss who uses a 'coffee cup test' to filter candidates in job interviews is being accused by some social media users of playing 'mind games'


The managing director of Xero Australia, Trent Innes, caused a stir on social media after discussing his unique interview process known as the "coffee cup test." In a podcast interview with Lambros Photios on The Venture Podcast in 2019, Innes explained that he only hires candidates who offer to take their coffee cups to the kitchen at the end of the interview.

During the interview process, Innes would take candidates for a walk to the kitchen and offer them a drink, such as water, coffee, tea, or a soft drink. He observed how they behaved at the end of the interview and specifically looked for whether the interviewee would take their empty cup back to the kitchen. Innes believed that this seemingly minor task was a reflection of a candidate's attitude, which he considered crucial for success within the organization.

While most candidates did comply with the request to take their cups back to the kitchen, a few did not. Innes acknowledged this during the podcast interview. However, recently, the podcast episode has resurfaced on social media platforms like TikTok and Reddit, leading to some users criticizing Innes' strategy as manipulative and indicative of a toxic work culture.

One TikTok user commented that they found it strange to wash their own cup during an interview and suggested that they would prefer to ask the interviewer what to do with the cup. Another user on Reddit considered this strategy a red flag and stated that they would immediately end the interview if confronted with such mind games.

Comments on the Reddit thread echoed these sentiments, with one person believing that Innes actively manipulates potential hires, while another called him a "shitty boss" for not clearly communicating his expectations and punishing candidates for not meeting them.

Although Innes' hiring approach may seem harmless in theory, it has generated controversy on social media, with many users perceiving it as a sign of a toxic work culture.  

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