Is selection of a top-quality candidate more or less important than intensive training?
The obvious answer is that both selecting the right candidate and training are equally important. The crucial point comes in thinking about what is meant by a top quality candidate. Often, managers and human resources staff may define the needed skills too narrowly and not pay attention to overall candidate quality. For example, a smart, energetic person who has the right mix of business skills can quickly learn a new piece of software or new process; since most technology packages change so quickly anyway, it seems better to look for a good person and assume that they can learn a new spreadsheet than to take a weaker candidate who has used Package Y Version x.x. Training very narrow skills can be fast and effective.
On the other hand, if someone has weak communication skills, lacks a global business perspective (and seems to have no interest in global issues), or has a bad attitude, those are issues that cannot be fixed with training.