Look Out For A Hidden Test At Your Next Job Interview

Look Out For A Hidden Test At Your Next Job Interview

Job interviews, on the surface, seem like a simple exchange of questions and answers. Some employers include hidden tests, though, that can tank your job opportunities if you handle them badly.

Photo by jlcwalker

As Fast Company reports, HubSpot interviewer David Cancel brings a disposable cup of water into a job interview for the applicant. He waits to see if the applicant throws away the cup at the end. If they don’t throw away trash, he says, they aren’t a good fit for the company. The applicant isn’t told the interviewer is judging them on their behaviour and to some, a simple cup of water isn’t indicative of a person’s personality. HubSpot disagrees. And that’s not the only test, either:

The interview process across HubSpot’s teams integrates what Cancel calls qualitative tests of character, rather than quantitative measures of skill. Instead of tests and brainteasers, which don’t work, hiring managers look for tells that give insights into people’s personalities.

Hit the link to read about HubSpot’s other tests. The company you interview with may not use the same ones, but be on the lookout for other similar techniques.

HubSpot Reveals The Mind Tricks it Uses To See if You’re Right For A Job [Fast Company]


  • Phrasing it as “1 weird trick for a perfect hire” makes it sound like totally petty bullshit.

    But then, I’d hazard if you asked near anyone if leaving your trash behind after an interview room is a good idea, they’d tell you it wasn’t. It’d give me a negative impression too.

    Things like “cultural fit” isn’t an easily quantifiable metric, so it has to be inferred from attitude/behaviour…. being careless about how you treat the employer’s environment, or oblivious to your own mess is the sort of thing that probably would count.

  • That’s a load of shit, just like the other “super-hard interview questions”. You’re a visitor in a stranger’s place, you do not touch their shit without them saying you can. Do you take a seat before they say “take a seat!”? No.

    The only way for any of this BS to actually weed out proper applicants is to make it very clear that everything is being tested and it’s not a regular interview as they know.

  • Considering I don’t drink anything during most interviews. It’ll be hilarious when I pour an entire cup of water into the guy’s rubbish bin….

    I guess the main thing is that HubSpot is a not a traditional industrial company (e.g. BP or Dow Chemical) where “quantitative measures of skill” are critically important (and potentially life saving).

  • If you don’t pass the test you are not a good fit for the company but also the company is not a good fit for you. An example may be being too old, no matter if their reasons are illegal, may have some rational or not, if they don’t like old people, as an old person you probably won’t like it either. Another example is this one is where your manners, or lack of, may preclude you (as in this case) or include you.

    You don’t have to pass every test and be offered a job in every company. Not all are worth working for, although if you are desperately seeking one your perspective may not be so broad.

    This test is pretty subtle compared to one a friend experienced in Denmark. He thought the interviewers were so rude that he eventually asked if the rest of the interview would continue in the same manner because his bus ticket was still valid and he might as well leave now and save himself the fare home. They admitted it was just a test of his resilience because as a contractor the job was not always pleasant. He was offered the position, took it, and 3 months later resigned because the company culture was so aggressive. He had been a contractor for many years before this, and since. The test is this case was a pretty good one, to see if you would survive in a toxic environment.

    As tests go this one is a bit strange. It does not test if you clean up after yourself. The cup was brought to you, you are not at a friends house, where you might naturally help clean up after dinner. It seems the interviewer was expecting some sort of subservient behaviour in a formal setting where you are also supposed to be treated with respect. In this situation it neither here no there whether you remove the cup, I think says a lot about him that he finds this an important and indicative. I would also be surprised to be offered water in a paper cup at an interview.

    Most of us are not going to job interviews everyday, hopefully with some years interval in between, so its not a bad idea to read some suggestions on what to do and not to do. But if some ideas go against the grain of your character you are probably best to ignore them and present your true self. If you missed out on a job because of a paper cup you probably missed out on some other idiotic behaviour as well.

  • What a giant crock, that guy deserves a swift kick in the nads. Why would I, a guest in a office, touch someone else s belongings and throw them out? Even if a it is a disposable cup, its not my right to do so. Also, I drink many cups of water per day and would like to minimise my impact, so wouldn’t not throwing it out be showing a commitment to my the environment and the companies bottom line? Go f**k yourself David Cancel

  • Ugh. Alright, after reading the article, why they needed to edit, and which Mr. Greenbaum should really reflect in his own edit, I will edit my comment. Mr. Cancel provides the interviewees a cup of water, and waits to see if they deal with their own trash, a much more reasonable test that what is implied buy the article as it stands. I still hate all this hidden testing BS, and anyone who has done the sushi waiter test will agree.

  • Let’s look at it this way. If you’re meeting someone for the first time (in a social sense) and they do something (or fail to do something) which in some way breaches your idea of ‘etiquette’ or ‘appropriate behaviour’, do you a) judge the &$^# out of this one instance and generalise it to them as a person, or b) do something else like consider other interpretations, give the person the benefit of the doubt, perhaps be up front and tell them what they did bothers you and why, etc.

    I think if you chose a) it reflects more on you as a person than it does on the person you’re judging, good luck making friends or hanging on to your friends. In the same way, if I had an interview with someone who wasn’t able to be up front and honest and demonstrate the same values they claim to be interested in from me, then good luck, i’m saving my talent to work in an environment that treats me like a fellow human being.

  • First thing I’d do with that cup is split it. It is currently double stacked in the picture Kotaku used.
    When I saw the picture but before I read the article, I thought that might be what the test was; attention to detail.

  • I got a job once because I pushed in my chair at the end of an interview. It was a hospitality job, and no one else pushed the chair in, showed an attention to detail.

  • I would say that if I didn’t get a job for something so trivial then I was the one who dodged the bullet, not them.

    What an idiotic way to judge someone in an interview.

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