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Boss Recounts How He Only Employed Job Seekers Who Passed A ‘Coffee Cup Test’

Source: lga Romanova / Alamy
Source: lga Romanova / Alamy

What if you discover that the qualifying factor for that job interview wasn’t your skill or academic experience? Rather, it’s your ability to pass a ‘coffee cup test’? No, it’s not a barista position. It’s a regular and much-desired white-collar job.

Trent Innes, former boss at Xero Australia, shared how he often used the ‘Coffee Cup Test’ to judge potential employees during their interviews. In his conversation with Lambros Photios on The Venture podcast, he explained how the simple test revealed a lot about the individual’s character. He also revealed how he used it to determine if the person was a good fit for the company.

Unknown to many job seekers applying for juicy posts at this top company, academic knowledge wasn’t going to land them the dream job. Neither will their confidence and poise, or their ability to speak well. At the end of the interview, their fate would rest on their ability to go the extra mile.

Trent went on to share how he would always take the candidate for a walk down to the kitchen and make sure they left with a drink. He would then carry on with his interview as normal, watching to see if the candidate would return the cup at the end of the interview.

Sounds simple, right? But as Trent would recount, not many job seekers crossed that attitude or coffee cup test hurdle. As a result, they missed out on a job they were probably more than qualified for. That’s pretty tragic!

According to Trent, “You can develop skills, you can gain knowledge and experience, but it comes down to attitude.” He further explained how they had a ‘wash your coffee cup’ attitude at Xero Australia.


Apparently, this attitude is a fundamental part of their office culture. He boasted that you could walk into any of their office kitchens, at any time of the day, and find the kitchen clean and coffee cups washed.

The ‘Coffee Cup test is more than a personality test. In his words, “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.”

While some may argue that this is a little extreme, Trent is not the only interviewer who blacklists candidates based on their attitude. A hiring manager recently shared how a candidate blew his interview within the first five minutes of arriving at the office building.

The said candidate was rude and dismissive to the receptionist, refusing to acknowledge her greeting or make eye contact with her. What the candidate didn’t know was the ‘receptionist’ was the ‘hiring manager’.

The hiring manager called him to the interview room and explained to him that he wouldn’t be a good fit as mutual respect was one of the team’s core values.

Once again, the saying “Your Attitude determines Your Altitude” was proven true. Employers aren’t interested in skills alone, attitude matters! Many times, it is the little things that make the difference.


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