PrideStaff Bend

You spend a lot of time crafting the perfect interview questions. But as much effort and research as you put into the process, you might learn as much about a candidate from a simple response to a seemingly innocuous offer.

“Do you want a glass of water?”

On the surface, it seems like common courtesy. However, you can learn a lot about people from how they respond to tiny social cues. The way a candidate answers this question provides some clues into their character.

After all, you don’t get much time in a standard interview to learn everything you need to know. In the course of a half-hour or so, you want to probe every candidate’s psychological depths. You want to learn about their mental strengths and weaknesses and come to understand their underlying characters.

Unfortunately, you don’t have a lot of tools to achieve these goals. However, if you watch closely, you can pick up subtle signs from seemingly meaningless exchanges.

That’s where the water comes in. Offer the candidate a glass of water when they first come in and then track their response. This shouldn’t become your end-all test. But it can provide some hints as to your applicant’s personality.

Thinking Ahead

Interviews are nerve-racking experiences. People tend to get nervous, and this can lead to some unfortunate physiological consequences. Namely, candidates sometimes suffer from dry mouth or excessive sweating.

Both of these can be averted by a glass of water. If a candidate refuses the water and then finds themselves needing some later on, you can conclude they aren’t very good at planning ahead.

Sometimes you offer water only to have it refused because the candidate brought their own bottle. This presents a significant sign of forward-thinking and preparedness.


Many people will turn down your offer of water because they don’t want to bother you. They are trying to be as accommodating as possible.

In one sense, you can consider this courteous. However, you might want to question the candidate’s comfort level. Are they confident enough to excel in this position?

You don’t want to make any definite conclusions based on the simple refusal of a glass of water (there are plenty of reasons why someone would turn you down that have nothing to do with self-confidence). However, you can use this as a way to steer the later conversation. Explicitly test their confidence with your formal interview questions to get a better gauge.


Don’t just take note of whether they take the water or not. Track how they respond. This will show you how they deal with personal interactions in the workplace. You’ll get a sense of how they might respond to customers and other employees.

You want someone who’s going to show politeness and engage in a constructive manner. Once the interview gets started, candidates know to calibrate their response to a formal setting. However, a question like “Do you want some water” can catch them off guard. You can get a more honest emotional response.

Getting to know a candidate can present a tricky problem. You often have to hire without much information. That is, unless you work with a strong recruiting partner, like PrideStaff, who can pre-screen and vet all your potential team members. You’ll find better workers with less investment on your part.

Contact the expert recruiters at PrideStaff Bend today to learn more.

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