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We Asked, You Answered: What Do You Want Candidates to Know, and What are You Willing to Teach?

Due to factors like a struggling economy and advancing technology, more and more workers have been going back to school to advance or brush up on their skills and make themselves more marketable. With this in mind, we were curious as to what skills employers expect candidates to have in this economic climate, and what they’re willing to teach on the job. So, for The Hiring Site’s August contest, we asked all of you to answer the following question: “In an interview situation, what skills do you expect candidates to have already, and what are you willing to teach on the job?”

By responding, not only did five lucky winners get a free class of their choosing from CareerBuilder Institute (a $50 value each), but they provided some interesting answers as to which skills employers expect candidates to possess (or that they think can’t be taught), and which skills they’re more willing to work with employees to develop after the candidate’s already been hired. Let’s take a look.

What did readers have to say?

Answers were all across the board as far as what is expected of candidates when they walk into the interview, and seemed to depend on which level or type of position was being considered, which makes sense. Some commenters  said skills like people management, verbal and interpersonal communication, and punctuality can’t be taught; candidates either have them or they don’t.

Many also said they expect candidates to come into an interview with certain skills, but that they’re willing to develop those skills once a candidate’s on the job, whether through classes, mentoring or internal training.

I’ve included some of our commenters’ own words below (full list here). With which statements do you agree or disagree? What can be taught on the job — and what should candidates have (or take classes to learn) before trying to score a job with your company? And what are you doing to develop your own employees’ skills?

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Expects:
For our entry-level positions, we expect candidates to already have basic computer skills (Microsoft Office), good communication skills, solid work ethic, customer service, and common sense. We don’t plan to teach a new employee any of those things.

Will train:

We will train them on their specific job, our policies, and our company culture.  –Debbie

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Expects but will train:
Depending upon the level of the position (indiv. contributor, manager, and mgr. of mgrs.) we recruit and select for essential competencies (both behavioral and technical) and accept the challenge of developing the preferred competencies. –Jim
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Expects:
We require proficient computer skills; Microsoft Office.
For our customer service positions, we expect them to have some customer service experience.

Will train:
We will train advance skills especially in Excel.  We will train on – how to deal with difficult customers, adapting to change, etc – more in depth customer service situations.
–Erica

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Expects:
The process begins with the scheduling of the interview, when I call the candidate I begin by telling them who I am and where I am calling from (during this process I am actually analyzing phone etiquette).

During the actual interview I look for a candidate that has good listening skills; communication skills, writing, basic computer knowledge and of course the ability to clearly answer questions asked. I also expect for a candidate to be punctual and dressed properly.  –Maria

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Expects:
During the interview, I would expect the candidate to have the basic qualification to perform the job effectivelly. Analysis, people management – these are the skills which can not be tought to anyone.


Will train:
However, if I can prefer to teach some technical skills such as MS excel, creating presentations or working on a particular tool.
–Devendra

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James gives a candidate’s point of view:

Expects himself to have:
Punctuality-Be on time for work, at all costs – 4 minutes early is late.
Courtesy-If you ‘have’ to be late Phone in immediately, so that your supervisor can know you are not just slack.
Treat your co-workers the way you expect to be treated. If you do, they will treat you the same.

Expects to be trained in:
As to what do I expect the Company to ‘train me in’.
The policy/procedures expected by the company [these sometimes change from company to company, sometimes branch to branch].

If the need is for operating machinery, then, the employer should be aware of what I ‘already’ know, and be willing to encourage and assist in expanding my potential for success of the whole company. –James

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Expects:
When a candidate is offered a new job, they will need to communicate with a large number of new people all at once, and fit into an organization. Communication – mainly verbal/interpersonal – is not a skill that can be easily taught on the job in most cases. –Katie

What are you doing to train and develop your own employees to help them stay competitive?

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
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