Mark Cuban looks for 2 qualities in employees: ‘If they fail on either one, you’re going to be in trouble’

Wealth

Whether or not you get hired by billionaire Mark Cuban comes down to two qualities: culture and  competency.

They’re the “two things that matter the most,” Cuban said during a MasterClass course released last month. “Are they competent enough to do the job? And do they fit in the culture of the organization? If they fail on either one, you’re going to be in trouble.”

Culture is more important than raw talent, Cuban said. Most of the workforce agrees: 56% of workers rank a strong workplace culture as more important than salary, with more than 75% of employees saying they’d consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there, according to a 2019 Glassdoor survey of more than 5,000 adults in the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany.

Young millennials and Gen Zers consider company culture a particular priority, the Glassdoor report noted — meaning Cuban’s observation many prove more true over time, as those workers increasingly rise through the ranks.

Cuban does value employees who complete tasks correctly and efficiently — that’s the competency part. But searching for the perfect worker to fix your company’s problems, a “home run hire,” without properly vetting their cultural fit is “probably the biggest mistake I’ve seen my portfolio companies [make],” he said.

To find employees who check both boxes, Cuban said he asks specific job interview questions like:

  • What’s one thing you’ve failed at and one thing you’ve succeeded at?
  • Tell me about a time you took a chance at work.
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What’s the best culture of a company that you’ve ever worked in?
  • Who’s the best manager you’ve ever worked for?

“I want to get them talking about their positive or negative experiences, so I can understand whether or not they’re going to be a fit,” he said.

For Cuban, the right fit doesn’t mean a carbon copy of himself: He looks for employees and partners who “complement” his skill set, but are unafraid to speak up when they disagree with him, he noted.

“I think one of the biggest problems an entrepreneur [or] CEO can make is they hire people who are like them,” Cuban said. “You don’t need to hire people like you. You’ve got you.”

“I don’t need people to tell me yes,” he added. “I can tell myself yes … I need people who are going to challenge conventional wisdom and challenge me, and when they think I’ve done something wrong, say, ‘I think you think you’re making a mistake here, and this is why.'”

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