I hear this all the time: “Gary, what’s the best question to ask when interviewing somebody?” or, “What’s the one question you always ask in an interview?” The truth is that I laugh at this because I’m stunned by the number of people that don’t understand that what they’re trying to do is fix something that’s so innately human with something that’s quite the opposite.
There is no perfect question, and there is no magical formula that’s going to give you the ideal insight you think you’re looking for. Do we actually think there’s some sure-fire tactic that’s going to help you find the best employees? I hope not. But, I will say that there’s definitely some things you can employ that’ll help you get a bit closer to getting the insights you’re seeking.
And so, if you’re the woman or man in charge of hiring on the back half of 2016, my advice would be to deploy almost all of your energy toward listening, not talking. Coming from the guy who talks a lot, this is one side of the business where I keep my mouth shut. When you’re interviewing, you should focus much less on the things you should be asking, and more so on listening and paying attention to the social cues that will naturally arise from your conversation with the potential hire.
But, if I had to answer “that” question — probably because I have so much love for my brother and sister — I always find myself asking people about their siblings. I’m not sure why, but it feels right to me and it allows me to pay attention to a part of their life that I can really relate to. And I’m not naive — I know it doesn’t actually mean anything, but it does help establish a common understanding, and that’s important when interviewing. You should focus on things that are relatable to everybody, not just the ones that fit the bill for a job-hire.
And so, what I’m really trying to get at is that the person you’re interviewing needs to feel safe when they’re meeting with you. If you really want them to open up so that you can extract real insight as to who they are, you need to level with them. The second the job applicant feels comfortable with you, the more inclined they’ll be to open up and tell you things that are far more insightful to who they are as an individual than some riddle you try and have them solve. And I get it, some roles and positions might call for certain “tests” and methods, but regardless of the job at hand, there will always be a human on the other end and there’s nothing more human than real conversation.
If you can get the job applicant to feel safe, tell you about their background and ambitions, then you’ll be able to get real insight into who they are and how they might try and navigate the position they’re being considered for. And so, the only tactic you can deploy is to do whatever you can to make the interviewee feel safe. Work to make them open up and tell you their actual truths. The minute you can do that and understand the context of where they come from and where they want to go, you’ll be able to understand what you can do to help them win and navigate successfully through your organization, given they're the right fit.
About Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk builds businesses. Fresh out of college he took his family wine business and grew it from a $3M to a $60M business in just five years. Now he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world's hottest digital agencies. Along the way he became a prolific angel investor and venture capitalist, investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Uber and Birchbox before eventually co-founding VaynerRSE, a $25M angel fund.
Gary also currently hosts The #AskGaryVee Show, a way of providing as much value as possible by taking questions about social media, entrepreneurship, startups and family businesses, and giving his answers based on a lifetime of building successful, multimillion dollar companies. The show is also available as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
Gary is also a prolific public speaker, delivering keynotes at events like Le Web and SXSW, which you can watch on his YouTube channel. He was named to both Fortune and Crain's 40 under 40 lists in consecutive years, and has been profiled in the New York Times, Fortune and Inc.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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