Tell me about a time when you had to learn something new within a short deadline.
This question has been answered 7 times by professional recruiters and hiring managers. View their answers below.
The interviewer wants to know that you can learn new skills, under pressure. Hiring managers want to hear that you are willing to put in the effort required to learn new skills, even when it may seem difficult.
Think about times when your company implemented new software, or when you learned a new procedure. Perhaps your employer has asked you to attend a workshop at the last minute, or you had to study for a policy exam. These make great examples! Discuss how you diligently studied related materials, attended a training seminar, or bought a book to help you learn the new content.
Keep in mind; this is another excellent opportunity to express that you accept workplace changes with ease.
Admin answer example
"When I first began my administration career, I started as a temp with an agency. Placed in a variety of roles that changed weekly and sometimes even daily, I often jumped into roles where there was a lot to learn in a short time. Deadlines were often due yesterday. I utilized and maximized my resources to the fullest. I learned about plenty of industries and best of all, had fun doing it!"
Basic answer example
"In my most recent role, I was unfamiliar with their hospital record keeping system. After a few days of on the job training, I was able to maintain the hospital record keeping system, but I still wasn't happy with my fluency. I found tutorials online and spent evenings training myself to a deeper level of knowledge. It was nice to dive in, learn the system well, and have that sense of accomplishment early on in my role."
Manager answer example
"Our company recently implemented a new SAP system. Not only was I tasked with learning the system but I also needed to train my team of five on the use of the system. I had two weeks, so I took a lot of the modules home, watched a plethora of tutorials online, and even utilized some how-to videos on YouTube. I did it, and was proud of the accomplishment."
Marketing answer example
"Our agency implemented a new design program recently, and I needed to know the ins and outs of it in order to work effectively on my largest client project. I hunkered down, put a sign on my cubicle that said, 'Do not feed the animals' and got to work researching and learning. Everyone understood that I needed some time, and they reserved calling my name for urgent requests only."
Retail answer example
"I was promoted to assistant manager in a new department with basically two days' notice. While it was super exciting, it was an entirely unfamiliar department. From the employees to the merchandise, it was all brand new. I took the bull by the horns and got to business learning everything I could about their past inventory, what sells well, and the dynamics of their team, so that I could be as efficient as possible right out the gate. However, I also recognized that I would be most useful if I were to be open about not knowing things and seek out the guidance of the current staff. This approach proved to not only educate me but also to earn their respect. By leading with an eager and humble heart and mind, I got down to business and up to speed within a week."
Sales answer example
"When I started my first sales position, I took a pay cut for a highly commissioned opportunity. I had to hit the ground running to get commissioned more quickly and move up the ranks. I had to learn the car industry in no time so that I could start making appointments and sales. I spent the first week shadowing everyone I could, reading the industry publications after hours, and even went to a dealership on the weekend to walk through as though I were purchasing a used car. I wanted to understand them from the customer perspective. By Monday, I felt fully ramped and was making appointments and running demos."
Teacher answer example
"There are always moments of learning on the fly, as a teacher. One instance that stands out, in particular, is regarding a new student with severe special needs whose parents asked that he be mainstreamed for Spanish. I needed to learn literally overnight how to best include this student in my classroom without missing a beat teaching him, or the other students. He had certain triggers that I needed to learn and avoid, and I wanted him to be successful. I read his IEP cover to cover, spoke with his aide, classroom teacher, and parents to better understand him and his situation. The next day, he stayed for Spanish and had a huge grin on his face and clapped throughout the lesson. It was so fun and rewarding to see. He connected well with the curriculum and the other students."