To Start Our FREE Interview Training Course

Oct 21, 2015
by James

Hiring for Culture Fit with Gary Vaynerchuk

Posted in Great Interview Questions

Hiring for culture fit

I’ve been a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk since the early days when he was pioneering the use of video content to grow his family wine business via WineLibrary TV.   I’ve read all of his books on the power of social media and, most recently, I’ve enjoyed his high energy rants on the #AskGaryVee Show.

Whenever I consume content these days, I listen for clues of how high growth companies – like Gary’s “Vayner Media” business – are conducting interviews and selecting talent.  I do this because innovative companies typically have an unorthodox approach to hiring.   Even if I don’t agree with what they’re doing, it still makes me stop and question all the conventional wisdom that drives my beliefs about talent acquisition today.   And if I’m not questioning the norms, I might as well just leave the profession.

On some recent episodes of the #AskGaryVee Show, I’ve noticed that Gary has been talking a lot about interviewing and HR in general.  He’s been consistent in how he describes his approach to interviewing so I thought I’d take a few moments and unpack his strategy because it goes against what I typically preach.  And even though it runs contrary to my own beliefs,  it makes total sense for his role in the organization and I think there is a ton of value to his process.


On Episode 152, Mark Cuban submitted the following question:

“Hey Gary…I’d like to know what your    “go-to” interview questions are.  The questions you have to ask every candidate that you interview, every time.”

While Gary doesn’t answer Mark’s question directly, he made some interesting points that I thought were worth sharing and learning from.   The following are excerpts of his rant along with my best interpretation of his interviewing strategy:

Point 1:  “With interviews, I really try to reverse engineer what the person wants.” 

This was one of the areas that Gary was most passionate about.  What he really likes to do with candidates is find out what their “end game” is.  What do they ultimately want to do?  If they want to start a competing Agency, he’s fine with that.  He just wants to know the truth so he can help them achieve their goals faster.

While I would typically advise clients to look for people who ultimately want to grow at their company, this is a refreshing approach to hiring that I see more often in startups who value talent over tenure.   When you know someone’s motive, then you hold the key to motivating them.   It’s a genius way to amplify employee engagement.   I think larger companies could learn a lot from this philosophy.

Point 2:  I try to break down a person in an interview within the first few minutes of meeting them — to get them to fully trust and believe in me.”

I don’t think Gary was insinuating that he does a “hard sell” on his candidates in the first few minutes.  What he’s getting at is something that’s really important to him from an engagement standpoint — “buy in”.  Does the candidate buy into Gary Vee and does he or she trust that Gary is going to make decisions that are in the best interest for THEM.

Ultimately, TRUST is a huge factor in engagement and it sounds like Gary knows this in his core.   He didn’t discuss “how” he breaks down the applicant, but I would guess that he has an enthusiastic, off-the-cuff, elevator pitch that lets the candidate know exactly what they’re getting into when they join one of his companies.

Point 3:  “When I interview, there’s times when I’m in complete Charlie Brown mode.  I don’t hear a word you’re saying…I’m just going by the feel.”

For those of you who don’t know what “Charlie Brown Mode” is, check out this link.  Basically, what Gary is eluding to is that sometimes interviewing is less about the questions and answers and more about the feeling you get in the presence of another human being.

It’s the hardest thing to quantify from an interviewing perspective but human intuition is a sixth sense that all great interviewers develop at some point.   Be careful though…it’s just one data point that you should evaluate across your entire interview process.  It shouldn’t receive a disproportionate amount of value.

Point 4:  “I ask almost everybody about siblings.”

Gary didn’t have a really strong belief around this statement – nor did he go into much detail – but I think I understood what he was trying to say.   In the hiring process, it’s really common for people who grow up a certain way (or who go to a certain school) to have a belief system about what makes someone capable of being successful.   HR practitioners call this a “bias”.

In Gary’s case, from what I could gather, he has a belief that there is a connection between people who have siblings and people who play nice together at work (aka Collaboration).  Presumably because of how he grew up.

Now, most HR folks would steer you away from using bias in the interview process — and rightfully so in most cases — but it’s important to note that biases can often be like clichés — there’s some truth to them or they wouldn’t exist.

For the record, I think there are better ways to assess someone’s ability to be collaborative so I don’t support asking about siblings, but if it works for Gary – and he’s okay with the risk – he should use this question as a part of his selection strategy.   My guess is, you probably can’t convince him otherwise!


From what I could tell, there are no competency-based “Tell me about a time when…” behavioral interview questions from Gary.   No case studies.  No trick questions.   Nothing that sounds remotely like a traditional interview.

No sir…

That’s because Gary’s role in the interview process is what I like to call the “Culture and Motivation Auditor”.   And for a CEO, who is probably the final interviewer, that’s exactly what he should be doing.

A Culture and Motivation audit is simply a relationship-oriented interview in which you and your candidate sit down and have a normal conversation between two adults.   You absolutely have some pre-planned “go-to questions”, but it shouldn’t feel like an interview.  It feels more like a counseling session where you’re really trying to get at the core of why someone wants to work for you, what they ultimately want to do with their career and how they fit into the organization and the job.   You want to make sure that they will be engaged in the vision.

There’s a time and place for structured, behavioral and achievement-oriented questions, but it’s not when you’re meeting with a top executive after several rounds of interviews.  Especially when that executive has an EQ as off-the-charts as Gary Vee’s.

In Summary

While Gary’s approach to interviewing has some unconventional parts to it, overall I think there is some learning to be had in how he spends his time focused on hiring for culture fit and motivation.    For him to have the freedom to focus solely on this, as opposed to technical skills, is a testament to how his HR team screens candidates before they get to him.

As for Mark Cuban, hopefully he extracted the same learnings that I did, even though Gary didn’t divulge his specific “go to” questions.    It would be interesting to hear the question asked in reverse as I’m sure that Mark has some interesting interview practices to learn from as well!

Want to start asking better interview questions?   Download our “How To” guide and start asking better questions today!

How to write great interview questions - HireBar

HireBar - Blog Author Profile - James Colino

55 thoughts on “Hiring for Culture Fit with Gary Vaynerchuk”

  1. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging
    on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be exciting
    to read through content from other authors and practice a little something from other

  2. Having read this I thought it was rather informative.
    I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this content together.
    I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and commenting.
    But so what, it was still worth it!

  3. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your website?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to
    say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with
    it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  4. Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  5. Great blog here! Also your web site loads up fast! What host are you using?
    Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  6. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the
    structure of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so
    people could connect with it better. Youve got
    an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images.

    Maybe you could space it out better?

  7. Hi, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Opera, it looks
    fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, wonderful blog!

  8. Hello! Quick question that’s totally off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks
    weird when viewing from my iphone4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this issue.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. Thank you!

  9. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.

    Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently fast.

  10. What i do not understood is in fact how you’re not actually
    a lot more well-liked than you may be now.
    You’re very intelligent. You recognize thus significantly in the case of this subject, produced me
    for my part believe it from so many varied angles.

    Its like women and men aren’t interested until it is something to accomplish with Lady gaga!
    Your personal stuffs outstanding. All the time care for it up!

  11. Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured
    I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest
    authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My blog goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe
    we could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free
    to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Superb blog by the way!

  12. Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your
    favorite reason seemed to be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of.

    I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about
    worries that they plainly do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out
    the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal.
    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  13. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I’m quite sure I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here!

    Best of luck for the next!

  14. Quest bars cheap fitnesstipsnew1 quest bars cheap 516999410492780544 quest bars cheap
    I think this is one of the most important info for me. And i am glad reading your article.

    But should remark on some general things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is really
    great : D. Good job, cheers quest bars cheap fitnesstipsnew1 quest bars cheap 516999410492780544 quest bars cheap

  15. I’ve read a few good stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking
    for revisiting. I surprise how much attempt you set to make this type of great informative site.

  16. It’s remarkable to pay a quick visit this web site and reading the views of all mates regarding this post,
    while I am also zealous of getting knowledge.

  17. This is very interesting, You are a very skilled blogger.

    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of
    your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social

  18. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this weblog and
    I’m impressed! Extremely useful info particularly the remaining section :
    ) I take care of such information a lot. I used to be seeking this certain information for a very long time.

    Thanks and good luck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.