Is Trainability Undervalued and Talent Overvalued in Hiring?

– 5 Pivotal Points Often Overlooked in Hiring

The hiring process is fraught with uncertainty. Making the right hire is no sure thing, despite the increasingly large array of sophisticated tools available to managers. We see job candidates scrutinized, resumes inspected, credentials probed, and yet when all is said and done the selection process is still much more of an art than a science. Very often the moment of truth comes when a newly-hired employee undergoes his first training session to learn the intricacies
of his new job. And it is at this juncture when employers start to see things they never saw during the job interview and second thoughts sometimes begin creeping into their heads.

Training a new employee is something most companies think about independently of the hiring process. Yet the two functions are very much linked because they share the same common denominator – the person who gets hired is the same person who must later be trained. But how often do companies consider trainability as a hiring factor and rank it as highly in importance as things like experience and education? There are a number of characteristics that contribute to making an employee “trainable.” Knowing what these characteristics are and giving them their
proper weight is something that hiring managers often fail to do. Here are some pivotal points
that are often overlooked but would serve employers well when they assess job candidates:

  1. Is the candidate enthusiastic? Enthusiasm can be contagious. What’s more, an eager
    employee is likely to approach training with a positive attitude. This means faster assimilation
    into the new job and fewer headaches for the manager that is responsible for training her!
    Enthusiasm is not as easily measurable as more traditional credentials but it is no less important.
  2. Don’t discount the quick learners! When you think about the kind of qualities that make an
    employee trainable, one comes to mind right away – the ability to catch on to things quickly.
    Some managers already know this. A few of them like to test employees during interviews by
    introducing a series of inter-related puzzles, solving the first two, and asking the candidate to
    solve the third. However you choose to measure it, an aptitude for fast learning is something that
    employers will inevitably want to see in the person they ultimately hire, and it is a trait that they
    should seek out and value.
  3. There is no substitute for perseverance and dependability. What do you call a person who
    always follow through on her commitments, is always true to her word, and always completes
    her assignments on time? Some would call that person an ideal employee. Others might call her
    an impossible dream. Either way, no conscientious employee should ever discount the value of
    perseverance and dependability when making a hiring selection. A person like this is not only
    likely to be an ideal employee but an ideal trainee as well.
  4. How well does the candidate adapt to change? Nothing is as certain as change. This is
    especially true in today’s business climate. Yet some handle it better than others. A person
    who handles it well is at a big advantage when he has to learn new things and adjust to new
    circumstances. Hiring managers should check candidates’ backgrounds for situations where
    changes were required and try to ascertain how well candidates handled them. When making the
    choice for the job, they should take adaptability into serious consideration.
  5. Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance. A confident person is a good learner but an
    arrogant person can’t learn because he already knows everything. It’s important for a hiring
    official to be able to tell the difference. In order to be trainable, a person needs to possess a
    large dose of humility. Real learning entails deference to others, respect for their knowledge and
    experience, and a willingness to ask for advice. True confidence and self-respect is a good thing.
    Pride and arrogance is not. It’s often hard to tell the difference when meeting someone for the
    first time. But the wise hiring manager will make sure he knows the job candidate well enough
    so that he is able to make that crucial distinction.

Hiring will never be an exact science. But maybe that’s a good thing. Some of the most
important characteristics that define a great employee are those that can’t be easily measured.
When thinking about whom they are going to hire, employers also need to think about whom
they are going to need to train. The rule of thumb they should always remember is: when making
a pivotal hiring choice, don’t overlook any pivotal points.

Kenneth McCall builds creative and innovative tools for customer seeking self storage units. Kenneth is the director of operations at which provides Washington D.C. self storage listings, and storage units in many locations across the country. In his spare time he likes to get outside, ideally with a boat and waterskis.

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