Trainability: What It Is, and Why You Should Be Hiring For It

Posted by Deltek Partner Guest Blog on February 13, 2020

Trainability: What It Is, and Why You Should Be Hiring For It

By Michelle Silverstein, Content Marketing Manager at Criteria Corp. 

Today’s hiring market is constantly in flux. Thanks to changing technology, the skills that employees need to succeed are rapidly shifting, making it challenging for employers to find qualified job candidates. This is even more true for project-based businesses, which deal with the additional pressure of needing employees who can adapt their skills from one project to the next.

To fill this gap, many employers are turning to employee training programs to reskill or upskill their workforce. Internal training doesn’t just help employees adapt to the changing demands of their roles. It also takes some of the burden away from finding the perfect external candidate to fill a new role, an increasingly difficult task, especially when recruiting for the highly specialized roles common in the industries that Deltek serves.

A robust training and onboarding program can get your relatively “green” employees up to speed, even for jobs that require a high level of skill. But the longer the training program, the more costly it is to train each employee, and the more costly it is to lose an employee who couldn’t successfully pass through the training period.

That’s Where Trainability Comes In

Trainability refers to an individual’s ability to learn quickly and pick up on training. Will a person be able to successfully complete the training program and go on to be a fully contributing, or even high-performing, employee? Will a person be able to develop the skills needed to jump seamlessly into the next project? That is what trainability seeks to answer.

Trainability is really an amalgamation of a bunch of other factors that predict someone’s ability to pick up new skills successfully. One of the key underlying components of trainability comes from cognitive aptitude. Cognitive aptitude, also called cognitive ability or general intelligence, refers to a person’s ability to think critically, solve problems, and digest and apply new information. A lot of this has to do with general brainpower, but it also has as much to do with learning ability.

Interestingly, study after study from Industrial-Organizational Psychology has demonstrated that cognitive aptitude is one of the most predictive factors of job performance, far more predictive than a person’s job experience or the quality of their interview. Even more importantly: cognitive aptitude is equally predictive of job performance across every job level, from entry level to C-suite.

That’s good news in today’s job market. Employers may be struggling to find candidates with the right set of acquired skills, but a candidate’s past job experience isn’t nearly as valuable as general cognitive aptitude when it comes to predicting their ultimate job performance.

Even better is the ease of measuring cognitive ability. A short assessment is more than enough to get a good read on someone’s cognitive ability, and by extension, their trainability. Cognitive aptitude assessments are highly correlated with training outcomes, directly leading to higher training completion rates and reduced training costs overall.

Getting a read on a candidate’s trainability is especially critical if your organization is planning to invest a lot of time and resources into training each new group of employees. A trainable workforce is a stronger workforce, and it’s simply too costly to leave a candidate’s trainability up to chance.


About the Author

Michelle Silverstein is the Content Marketing Manager at Criteria Corp, a leading provider of pre-employment assessments. With a background in B2B, SaaS and HR Technology, Michelle is a passionate advocate for helping companies make more informed talent decisions through evidence-based hiring practices.