Are You Hiring For Skills or Character?

John Krautzel
Posted by

When you begin your search for the right candidates for customer service positions, it can seem like a perplexing task. Today’s world of customer service involves more than just a nice smile and a warm voice. On top of soft skills, there are computers to operate and complicated phone and point-of-sale systems to master. However, some skills are more easily picked up through practical training than others.

Executives are learning that the best candidates are those whose soft skills are top-notch. The right attitude goes further when dealing with upset customers or potential new customers than knowing the inventory like the back of your hand.

It goes without saying that the candidate you’re considering should possess the ability to learn all the technical duties, inventory and sales techniques, but you can't teach someone how to be friendly or compassionate or to have passion on the job. This is where some confusion might come in: You want someone to master the technical duties quickly, but that person has to possess a genuine love for people and naturally demonstrate the soft skills your brand requires.

Luck might bring you someone who has both, but the more you look at technical skills instead of the right attitude, the greater your chances are of setting up that person to fail. When they fail in their soft skills, your business suffers. The ramifications of poor customer service may not show up right away, but the wheels have been set in motion. First, the customer doesn’t come back, and then they tell their friends.

Word of mouth and social-media advertising is not just a part of your businesses marketing plan – it could be the biggest part of your plan. Regardless of where these two fall in your list of priorities, they are arguably among the most important. When word of amazing customer service begins to fly around the Internet, you could find your business moving more product than you ever considered.

Only a person with natural abilities in soft skills can make this happen. Sure, schools can teach customer service techniques such as answering phones and smiling while offering a warm greeting, and many students do well in such courses, but to harness the best candidates, look for those who are open, look you directly in the eye and possess a positive attitude that’s contagious.

Keep in mind the person you hire should fit your brand and complete the look of your establishment. Think of some of the retail stores you visit that have the best shopping experiences: What kind of people do they hire? Do they know their stuff? Do they smile and show a genuine compassion and enthusiasm for helping people?

When you can definitely picture a candidate contributing great things to your brand, look to see if they can be trained on your equipment. The key is to find the right balance. However, if you come across an applicant whose soft skills are greater than their technical skills, you may want to extend an offer to see how they can help your business.


Photo courtesy of stockimages at



Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch