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Is It Better to Hire People with Great Skills or Train Them Afterwards?

The title of today’s post poses a question that most companies have considered in different ways when they’re hiring. Maybe you have been thinking about questions like these too . . .

“Should we hire only phone reps who have prior experience on the phone, or hire candidates with lots of potential and train them afterwards?”
“Is it smarter to hire people who have already been selling cars, or train them after they come on board?”
“Should we hire front-desk hotel staffers who have prior hotel experience, or train applicants who have the right kind of personality?”
Advice from a Training Expert

So, what’s the wisest path to take? We asked Dan Black, Chief Learning Strategist at Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, NC. Here’s his advice . . .

“A high focus on skill set can have the effect of putting blinders on, narrowing your perceived options,” Dan told us. “I don’t look for a specific skill set in a new candidate, I look for foundational experience and an attitude that will give the candidate the ability to succeed in the role. Once I find those two things I can pull the trigger with confidence, and avoid the waste that comes with hiring for skill just to fire for attitude.”
What Will Your Decision Be?

So, is it wiser to hire for skills or to train? Answering that questions is tricky, and depends on a number of factors. What is the cost of training, for example? Will you be offering it to all candidates anyway, regardless of their prior experience? And then there is the fact that if you don’t list too many required skills in your job postings, you will probably attract a lot more potential candidates, which could result in better hires.

Related posts on Hiring for the Right Skills:

Are You Hiring for the Right Skills?
Should You Rely on Instinct or Data when You Hire?
What’s the Difference Between Pre-Screening and Screening Questions?
How to Hire Workers with the Skills that Really Matter
What You Need to Know About Pre-Testing Candidates

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