The Top 5 Hidden Tests at Job Interviews

careers Jul 23, 2018

Five Ways Interviewers are Testing You (without you even realising you’re being tested).


Sweet. Nailed it. Your CV sang like Chop Chop Master Onion (OK it rapped but that doesn’t work as well), the recruiter/recruiting manager saw what they wanted in there, and now it’s time to talk about your knowledge, skills, and experience, and how you are perfect for this role.

While it’s unlikely you’ll be thrown into a testing chamber, unless you’re applying to work at Aperture, you may have to do a test. Typing a letter, querying a database, or maybe a personality test to make sure you wont set fire to your manager’s eyebrows the first time they get stressy with you.

Sure, tests can be part of the process.

But what about those hidden tests?

Yep, recruiting managers have a whole heap of tricks up their sneaky sleeves and may be testing you without you even knowing.

Here’s some of the top ones I definitely have never ever used during my time recruiting staff. Ever.


Gosh that receptionist sure is chatty, asking a lot of questions. And I’ve been sitting here for quite some time now. Have they forgotten about me? Should I say something?

You’re not being paranoid, the receptionist is interviewing you.

Make a good impression here and you’re well on your way. The receptionist is the eyes and ears of the organization, their front line. They know everyone who comes and goes and they know if you’ll fit in.

Be polite, be friendly, answer their questions and ask some back – “how long have you worked here? You’re the most important person here, you know what’s going on, what’s it really like to work here?”

This goes for all times anyway, but never, ever be rude to the receptionist. They can destroy you. And given the chance they will.


It’s not a conundrum, I just liked the alliteration. But that friendly person who’s also waiting for an interview? The chatty one? Why are they even here right now?

What if they’re a plant, testing you, finding out what you know, what you’re really like, while your guard is down.

What if this started earlier? That man on the tube who said hello (I mean no one chats on the tube unless they’re drunk right?).

Some really sneaky things go on.

BE VIGILANT and basically don’t be a dick.


Gosh they really are keeping me waiting for the manager to arrive to start this interview. In fact it’s a little bit rude now… OR IS IT A TEST?

The receptionist is watching, keeping notes on how you react. Do you get annoyed or do you make good use of your time and review your notes? Are you relaxed and read the paper, or are you on your phone?

Stay calm, ask if you can get a drink of water, or where the ladies/gents restrooms are if you need them.

No one wants the colleague who gets wound up at being made to wait.


If you drive to the interview, make sure your car is clean, tidy, and doesn’t have any political or offensive bumper stickers.

Your car can give away so much about you, and while you’re busy putting on your best show, someone from that office has gone downstairs to get all your secrets.

Seats covered in food wrappers, drinks cans, old newspapers and other assorted rubbish, garbage and detritus? Pro or anti anything stickers? Utterly filthy? Cracked windscreen or lights?

Oh car, how you spill your secrets so easily.

Look how gross their car is, they clearly have no self respect and will mess up the office, and they can’t even fix what’s broken, how can we trust them to do a good job?

And sure, these won’t be the direct reasons you’re not offered the job, at least not on paper, but should you be risking it?


It might be tea, coffee, or water that they offer you. Take it, your mouth might get dry during the interview. Say thank you.

This test comes into play right at the end of the interview. You’ve asked some brilliant questions, shaken hands, and it’s time to leave.

What about that mug, cup, or glass?

Surely you just leave it on the table right?


If it’s a paper cup, throw it away. If it’s a mug, ask what you should do with it.

Don’t make your cup someone else’s problem. Own the problem, deal with it efficiently, and be on your way.


Now you know them, you can spot them, and you can beat them.

Go get ‘em tiger!



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