May 3, 2021

What How We Load The Dishwasher Says About You

This is the fifteenth in a series of short essays I wrote as part of the Ship 30 for 30 program. You can read all thirty essays here.

I once read a tweet where a hiring manager said that the most insightful interview question they routinely asked was, “How do you load a dishwasher?”

If how we do anything is how we do everything, then the way we approach everyday tasks—like loading a dishwasher—should reveal something fundamental about us.

For instance, we could load the dishwasher haphazardly, putting things wherever seems easiest. This path of least resistance approach probably doesn’t get you hired, so let’s look at a strategic approach instead.

Some items can only go on the top shelf, which removes the need for decision-making. We’ll ignore them and consider everything else. Dishwasher racks are wide enough to stack dishes in two rows. The most efficient way to do this is to put large dinner plates in one row and side plates in the other. They will fit neatly side-by-side and are easily stackable when removed.

It is best to load the dishwasher from back to front, so you don’t have to reach over items at the front once it starts getting full. Bowls, however, tend to lean forward, so they take up less space if you stack them at the front rather than mixing them in with the plates.

Separate cutlery into knives, forks, and spoons as you place it into the basket, so it is already sorted when you return it to the drawer once cleaned.

And rinse everything before placing it in the dishwasher to reduce cleaning and maintenance.

This orderly approach requires more thought and planning, but it creates a smooth, efficient process, which is what that hiring manager is looking for.

If you want to develop a more organised, effective approach to things, rather than starting with a large, complex project, maybe start with the dishwasher and take things from there.