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Behavioral Interview
Questions

| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 30

Tell me about a time when you had to learn something new within a short deadline.

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Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Tell me about a time when you had to learn something new within a short deadline.

      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.

      Behavioral-based interview questions that begin with 'Tell me about a time...' are best answered using the STAR method. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Organizing your response using this framework will ensure that you provide the interviewer with the right amount of information and detail to form a compelling answer.

      Think about the times when your company implemented new software, or when you learned a new procedure. Perhaps your employer 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.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "(Situation) In my most recent role, I was unfamiliar with their hospital record-keeping system at first. (Task) 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. (Action) I found tutorials online and spent evenings training myself to a deeper level of knowledge. (Result) I became fluent in the program in no time flat. It was nice to dive in, learn the system well, and have that sense of accomplishment early on in my role."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Admin interview

      "(Situation) When I first began my administration career, I started as a temporary employee with a temp agency. (Task) Placed in a variety of roles that changed weekly and sometimes even daily, I often jumped into positions where there was a lot to learn in a short time. Deadlines were often due yesterday, and technology always changed. (Action) I utilized and maximized my resources to the fullest, often learning technical tasks through YouTube tutorials the night before. (Result) I learned plenty of programs and software, and best of all, had fun doing it!"

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Manager interview

      "(Situation) Our company recently implemented a new SAP system. (Task) 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. (Action) I had two weeks to learn and train, so I took a lot of the modules home, watched a plethora of tutorials online, and even utilized some how-to videos on YouTube. (Result) In the end, I met the goal and was proud of myself for learning a complicated concept under such a tight deadline."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Marketing interview

      "(Situation) Our agency implemented a new design program recently. (Task) I needed to know the ins and outs of this design program, to work effectively on my largest client project. (Action) I hunkered down, put a sign on my cubicle that said, 'Do not feed the animals' and got to work researching and learning. (Result) Everyone understood that I needed some time, and they reserved calling my name for urgent requests only. I was able to learn the program in just one day, an accomplishment that I am quite proud of."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Retail interview

      "(Situation) Last year, I earned a promotion to assistant manager with two weeks' notice. (Task) While earning a promotion was super exciting, the promotion was in an entirely different department. From the employees to the merchandise, everything was all brand new to me. (Action) I took the bull by the horns and got to business, learning everything I could about the collections, what sold well, and team dynamics. I wanted to be as efficient as possible right out the gate. I also recognized that I should seek the guidance of the current staff, so they knew I valued their knowledge. (Result) Leading with an eager mind and humble heart, I got down to business and up to speed within a week."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Sales interview

      "(Situation) When I started my first car sales position in 2010, I took a salary cut for a highly commissioned opportunity. (Task) I had to hit the ground running to start earning commissions ASAP. I also had to learn about the car industry in no time so that I could start making appointments and sales. (Action) I spent the first week of this new job shadowing everyone I could, reading industry-related publications, and taking myself through the customer journey and sales cycle. I wanted to understand the entire experience from the customers' perspective. (Result) By the following week, I felt fully ramped and was making appointments and running demos."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Teacher interview

      "(Situation) One instance that stands out is regarding a new student I had this year. This student has special needs, and his parents asked that he attend my Spanish class. (Task) As an experienced teacher, I often have moments of learning on the fly and know that I need to be flexible to all learning levels. (Action) I needed to learn overnight how to best include this student in my classroom without missing a beat teaching him, or the other students. I wanted him to be successful. I read his IEP cover to cover, spoke with his aide, and his parents to better understand his needs. (Result) The next day, this student stayed for Spanish and had a huge grin on his face throughout the lesson. It was so rewarding to see how he connected well with the curriculum and the other students."

      Ryan's Answer

      "I learn by researching and collecting information. Then, I practice my new skill through repetitive performance. For instance, I have begun creating training modules in an online learning portal for my current team. I have also taught myself how to do live webinars, which allows me to reach and educate more team members without location-based limitations. To make this happen, I attended virtual classes and learned the programs required to organize and build these online offerings. I am thrilled that, as a Training and Development Manager, I get to learn new skills every day. I tackle each opportunity from a 'student' point of view and not as an expert. By approaching life as a learner, I open myself up to new perspectives and opportunities every day."

      Rachelle's Answer
       for a Project Accountant interview

      "I completed [X project] in one week even though I had a 2-week timeline. I managed to do so by prioritizing - by identifying which other duties part of my workload were less pressing so as to delegate these duties. I was then able to completely focus on this project and did not hesitate to stay after hours when necessary. I am someone who thrives on challenges and this was a very rewarding project."

      Anonymous Answer

      "Working as head bartender at TGI Fridays, part of my role was to ensure my team, and I was always up to date with new cocktails/ promotions. As the Christmas season was rapidly approaching, there was several new products and promotions to learn. I took home the latest product information and spent some time learning them and coming up with fun games/ rhymes to help my team learn them. In result, this created a fun, lively atmosphere on the bar and the Bartenders enthusiastically promoting the new products."

      Alexandra's Answer

      Great answer! Again, you follow the STAR method here, which is very beneficial in a behavioral interview. I love your example - it not only shows how you learned something quickly, but also goes above and beyond to show how you also helped others learn that.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "Every training I've ever had in the medical sales industry has been like drinking water from a fire hydrant. I value education because I taught high school for many years before switching to corporate sales, and I know how to learn. When I only have a short amount of time to learn something new, I find that YouTube is an excellent resource."

      Rachelle's Answer

      That first sentence made me laugh out loud! Hilarious but so accurate. I like that you brought in your high school teaching experience (which I hear from my teacher friends is also like drinking water from a fire hydrant) :) I noticed you have mentioned YouTube a few times now. Try branching out to other resources or, as mentioned earlier, be specific on what channels you subscribe to. YouTube isn't always seen as a serious resource since you can learn to do brain surgery but also watch cat videos.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "Recently, I went on exchange and decided to undertake an intro physics unit to improve my problem-solving skills. However, I underestimated the amount of prior knowledge expected, so I was really struggling to keep up with the content in class. We had a test coming up in a couple of weeks, so I couldn't afford to keep falling behind. I decided to rent out a high school physics textbook to go over the class's expected knowledge. I allocated time to go over all the necessary chapters about rotational kinematics and thermodynamics to learn the foundations before each class. I allocated time to go over these chapters again after class to make sure I could understand everything. As a result, I was now up to date with the content, and I managed to score an A+ on the test despite my initial struggles."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Wow - this is an incredible achievement. You should be very proud of your success. This answer puts a nice spotlight on your diligence and smarts!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (2) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "When I started in pharmaceuticals, I was an associate rep. I worked with the territory reps to ensure all their accounts were taken care of. Since I was the #1 associate in my training class, I was given the task of taking over a territory reps' accounts while he went home to visit his family in Indonesia. I had a week to not only learn his entire book of business, but introduce myself to them, and learn how they did business as they were all foreign-based pharmacies that spoke very little English. I was expected to maintain his business and not lose any accounts while he was gone for four weeks. However, I exceeded expectations and grew some of the accounts. I was promoted shortly after doing this to my own territory."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Bravo! It seems that everything you put your mind to turns to gold — very strong example.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "In my most recent role, I was unfamiliar with another group's data set. After a few days of an intense self-learn, I was able to analyze the data, but I still wasn't happy with my output. I found tutorials online and spent some time training myself to a deeper level of knowledge. It was nice to dive in, and have that sense of accomplishment. Now I train other co-workers with that information."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your answer shows an excellent ability to self-learn and seek out the answers you need in order to be successful.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "When I first began my Analyst career, I started as a temp with an agency. I was placed in roles that changed weekly and sometimes even daily. I had to learn in a short time and deadlines were often due on short notice. I utilized and maximized my resources to the fullest. I had the opportunity to learn more about the industry and felt successful doing it."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good for you! Years ago, I worked as a temp recruiter and built the utmost respect for those who would adjust well to changing jobs monthly/weekly/daily. This temp work is a great example of adaptability.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes (1) or No (0)
      Anonymous Answer

      "For a software development project that I undertook beyond my responsibilities at my company, I realized that using a cloud database was not good enough in and of itself, as it would not allow me to effectively preserve the state of the application after a user stops using the application and logs out, and return that state once the user logs back in. Therefore, I figured that I would also incorporate a local database solution so that the state would be instantly available without having to wait for a response from the cloud, thereby speeding up the application launch and improving user experience. I had only a couple of days to learn this local database solution. In order to do this, I channeled most of my experience with cloud database management, which translated well, and closed the gap by learning about the differences between the two solutions, which turned out to be quite a few. This method allowed me to learn the technology within the allotted time and saved me a lot of headache versus what would have happened if I had sat down and tried to learn it from scratch."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Wow, this sounds like a heavy undertaking! To give even more perspective, I recommend adding details regarding (approx) how long this would have taken an average individual under a more relaxed deadline.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "In each of my jobs, I had to learn new things in a short time, as everyday something new came up. But in my last job as accounts payable, when I started, even if I had a couple of days training and I was able to post invoices, as it was a new system for me, still I was not that confident and year end was approaching and everyone was very busy. I was watching tutorials on YouTube to get more knowledge and learned to do more things like settlements of the payments and reconciliations, downloads of different accounts, post journals, and I was able to help in the year end for my new team."

      Cindy's Answer

      Good! You're showing that you can learn independently, which is an important skill.

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      Anonymous Answer

      "At my last job, we received a new inventory management system called OrderInsite. It was a step beyond our previous inventory management system, and the full-time technician was struggling to keep up with the inventory requests. I contacted the corporate office and got login codes for the system and proceeded to learn the new system to assist the technician with inventory drug management where we would ship drugs to other pharmacies. I also took it upon myself to work with the technicians to do our cycle fill count sheets to make sure our physical onhands were up to date. By learning the new system, I was able to get our inventory management up to date by assisting the full-time technician. I also continued to assist on OrderInsite at another location."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This example clearly highlights your willingness to learn new systems. Very good!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "Our company recently implemented a new open-source DMaap (Data Movement as a platform) system. Not only was I tasked with learning the system, but I also needed to train my team of five on how to use the system. I had two weeks to work with the DMaap team to onboard our application and start using it for reporting. In the end, I met the goal and was proud of myself for learning a complicated concept under such a tight deadline."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good start to your response! The 'Action' piece seems to be missing, so I encourage you to give detail on what you did to meet your goal.

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