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

1 of 30 Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers Written by Rachelle Enns

Updated on July 22nd, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
How to Answer

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 the 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.

Professional Answer Examples
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."

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!"

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."

Answer example

"Our agency implemented a new design program recently, and I needed to know the ins and outs of it 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."

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."

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 about 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."

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 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."

Project Accountant
Answer example

"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."

Written by:

Heather Douglass
Heather Douglass has over 20 years of experience recruiting and hiring candidates. She has a knack for resume writing. You can find her on twitter at @heatherinidaho.
Rachelle Enns
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace. Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career. Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise. Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Ryan Brown
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
First written on: 06/29/2018
Last modified on: 07/22/2018

More Interview Questions

View user-submitted Answers

Tell me about a time when you had to learn something new within a short deadline.
Flash cards and memorization.
The easier way for me is to write notes and asked more questions to have more knowledge on it and practice them.
Principals 7 hour exam. I set up a schedule and followed it precisely and scored 92%.
I was assigned to a new position and needed to learn and new data input system.
I can't think of a time, but if it ever happened, I would try to do it myself. If I can't, I would ask another employee to help me get started. But I'm usually a fast learner.
I was able to learn very quickly because im a fast learner and I am a problem solver so when i.
I learn by first hand experience, getting my hands dirty. If needed I will read or watch videos as well.
I spent much time reading and doing searches about the topic.
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