Recruit the Person, Train the Skills: Unveiling the Power of Soft Skills in Hiring


Organisations are continually seeking ways to build a talented and efficient workforce. While technical skills and knowledge are crucial for any job, there is an increasing realisation that recruiting individuals based solely on their expertise may not guarantee long-term success. 

The adage "Recruit the person, train the skills" has become a prevailing philosophy in the world of talent acquisition, emphasising the importance of hiring candidates with the right 'softer' skills, personality, and attitude rather than solely focusing on their current technical capabilities.

The Rise of Soft Skills

Soft skills, often referred to as interpersonal or people skills, are the intangible qualities that go beyond a candidate's resume. These skills include communication, adaptability, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, teamwork, leadership, and many others. While technical skills can be taught and developed over time, soft skills are deeply ingrained in an individual's personality and character, making them more difficult to change.

The Power of Personality and Attitude

A candidate's personality and attitude play a crucial role in determining how well they will fit into the company culture and work with existing teams. A person with a positive attitude, a growth mindset, and strong work ethics can contribute significantly to a harmonious and productive workplace. Moreover, a candidate's adaptability and willingness to learn can make all the difference in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

Improved Team Dynamics

When hiring based on soft skills, organisations often find themselves fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment. Employees with excellent communication and interpersonal skills can enhance team dynamics, promote better problem-solving, and boost overall productivity. Moreover, such individuals are more likely to interact positively with clients and customers, leading to improved customer satisfaction and brand reputation.

Reduced Training Costs

While technical training is necessary in certain roles, investing in candidates with strong soft skills can significantly reduce the need for extensive and costly training programmes. A candidate with excellent communication skills, for instance, will require less guidance to navigate customer interactions, thus saving valuable time and resources.

Training, especially apprenticeships, has an increasing focus upon Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours. Behaviours are often the most difficult to amend (if required) and embed. Employing the right candidate(s) can streamline the learning process hugely.

Enhanced Leadership Potential

Recruiting individuals with leadership potential is crucial for a company's long-term growth and success. Candidates with innate leadership qualities, such as strong emotional intelligence and the ability to motivate others, are more likely to take on managerial roles effectively. By identifying these traits during the recruitment process, companies can build a leadership pipeline from within their existing talent pool.

Recruit the person, train the skills

Creating an Holistic Hiring Strategy

To embrace the "Recruit the person, train the skills" philosophy, companies must develop a comprehensive and strategic approach to hiring. This involves updating job descriptions to include specific soft skills requirements and incorporating behaviour-based interview questions to assess candidates' competencies. Additionally, utilising assessments and personality tests can offer valuable insights into a candidate's personality traits and how well they align with the organisation's values.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

Prioritising soft skills during the hiring process can also contribute to building a diverse and inclusive workforce. By focusing on a candidate's potential, attitudes, and values, institutions can avoid unconscious biases that may be associated with specific technical qualifications. Embracing diversity in the workplace enriches perspectives, encourages innovation, and fosters a more inclusive culture.

The power of soft skills in the recruitment process cannot be overstated. While technical skills are important, organisations should recognise the value of hiring candidates with the right 'softer' skills, personality, and attitude. 

An holistic hiring strategy that emphasises these aspects can lead to a more productive, harmonious, and successful workforce, ultimately propelling the establishments towards sustainable growth and prosperity. As the business landscape evolves, investing in the right people will remain a timeless recipe for long-term success.

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