Good manners and reception etiquette could be the difference between your next job and being seen as a slob.

While the first stage of the recruitment process tests your competency as a candidate: Your skills, your experience, your interests, there are simply some things that employers look for that can’t be reflected on your CV or Cover Letter. Communication, teamwork, and calm under pressure are all “soft skills” that can be observed during an interview. Much of these are discussed during the questioning process, which you will have prepared for.

The interview isn’t just there to gauge how effective you will be as a worker, it’s also there to see what it will be like to have you as a co-worker.

Your compatibility as a co-worker can’t fully be demonstrated by the way you answer questions, your employers want to see how you will act when you’re not on your best behaviour, months after being recruited. The way they test those is by putting you in subtle situations that you won’t realise are tested. Let’s take a look at what they are.

The Coffee Cup Trick

This one’s pretty famous. Employers often look for considerate candidates who don’t stress the small details like the wellbeing of the office and go the extra mile for others. To test this, employers will have someone show you around the office, including the kitchen, and make sure that you end up with a cup of coffee. If at the end of the interview you offer to take the mugs back to the kitchen, that’s a sign you don’t sweat the small stuff and take responsibility for yourself and others. There are plenty of employers that swear by this test and will even pass up candidates if they don’t pass. In any case, coffee cups aren’t the only ways employers can gauge this quality, however the interview goes, look for any opportunity to go the extra mile.

The Receptionist Test

Respect is a very important quality to have as a candidate. Many know to show respect to the people who might possibly offer them a job, but respect should be extended to everyone, even the most overlooked among the office. Who else could be better at judging this than the receptionist? Receptionists have trusted opinions in the office, with many bosses relying on their judgement for important matters. One such matter is employment and how much respect a candidate has for their equals. It’s simple: Make sure you treat the receptionist with respect or you can wave that job you’re going for goodbye. If this is all obvious to you, congratulations! But you would not believe how many potential candidates fail this test. 

As these tests get more exposure, their effect will diminish. Instead of testing your unconscious behaviours, it’s just another formality, a hoop you’ll have to jump through – like 12 point font. Employers will have to come up with new ways to see how you act without thinking.

No matter what test employers will concoct, the principle remains the same: Prove yourself, not just as a competent employee, but as a pleasant co-worker.