Interview Q & AA willingness to learn something new is highly desirable in any new employee.

It is why you must be prepared to answer questions which may appear very easy, or are related to situations or somewhat complex.

For the candidate, not every time do they seem to indicate why the question is being asked.

If you are unsure in any way, simply ask the hiring manager to qualify the question, check their perspectives and need to have an answer to the question. do not be afraid to even qualify your response afterwards with a check question “was that relevant or were you seeking other learning experiences which may be more relevant.”

The Reasoning Behind Learning Questions Can Include:
  • To understand and to learn how much self-awareness you have and the importance you attach to learning.
  • To ask a number of linked or in series questions to find out how you learn, are you the type of person who is willing to seek or source information from colleagues, team leaders, customers, suppliers or from elsewhere.
  • To check if you are able to share or actively seek and include the perspectives, suggestions, experiences or thoughts of others when you complete tasks or projects.
  • To establish how you learn from failure in the past, a question on a failure or two is very common during interview.
  • To discover a willingness to “jump in” on work, when it is not known that there is a definite 100% success outcome.  To try and be 80% successful is far better than to not even try a required work activity.
  • To better understand your change stress or pressure thresholds, what has been learnt from past situations, how they were handled and your reactions. Quite simply, what are you like in a crisis? Can you manage and stay calm, make good decisions, prioritise actions or thoughts and most importantly not panic!

This background helps those asking or responding to questions, answers can and do lead to further questions from both sides of the table.

You as a candidate for selection in the process must be as responsible as the hiring manager and seek to clarify the opportunity, the potential issues so you can make a good judgement on your career move.

At interview, you as a candidate will never be given the “complete picture,” ask any partner or spouse, the answers about what they have learnt today since the start of the “partnership” make for interesting and often sometimes funny statements.

Common Learning Question Examples To Watch Out For:
  • How did you learn to include others who may be shy, young or new to the company in your team success? Please explain any differences in approach or tactics used.
  • Please provide one or two examples of unsuccessful attempts on a project or important task and tell me/us what you learnt from those experiences.
  • How do you use failure as an opportunity to learn?
  • When was the last time you accepted work or a project even though you were only 50% certain it would succeed and why?
  • What job in your career gave you the most enjoyable learning opportunity and why?
  • What do you see as your top and second skills, and how did you learn them?
  • How did you learn to be a manager and to lead a team?
  • When seeking the ideas of colleagues on a successful project, where did you learn how to get them to come forward to give them?
  • What is your preferred method of learning, reading instructions, watching someone else perform a task, or trying to do it by trial and error?
  • Are you a good decision maker in a situation when circumstances are always changing?

This last question is a great yes no closed question example which can lead you into a big trap.

Too often candidates say yes, tell the world how fantastic they are and have prepared for this question, so state excellent relevant skills and learning points applied in some really major  change situations, yet very few pause for a breath, qualify the question and simply say:

“Yes, however could you explain more about the types, scope or size of the changes, then I may be better able to answer.”

The lead-in closed question is not a deliberate trap, yet you must know it leads straight to another, so instead of leaping in, walk slowly to the edge of the cliff ! It is a time to be careful.

Linked Questions Can Eat Up Your Chances Up

Some interviewers simply split up their questions because of the “power of silence” and its ability to get candidates to talk pure rubbish.

The candidate receives the lead-in question, the part 1 of 2 or 3.

So can you tell me how do you learn best, pictures, reading or the computer and why?

  • The answer has a lead on with the use of why? Too often candidates are like a fat carp seeing a worm in front of their eyes, a free meal. Only afterwards do they realise that they have been hooked by the fisherman. Many often leap in and tell interviewer why for 10 minutes, then find there is limited time left, no critical points have been concisely, conveyed to the interviewer, then start to mentally panic. More dangerous is that the interviewer may be mentally on other topics and switched off, now dreaming of their dinner date, food shopping for the weekend or other more pressing matters.
  • It could be the “power of silence” trick, just to see how the candidate reacts and then fills in the silence afterwards. Prolonged silence is awkward, do not panic, do not tell your life story, nor do you play the 10 minute super silence power play by saying nothing and staring out the hiring manager. Trust me this happens, so please no never think this tactic is simply to be used to confirm that who speaks first is the loser.

All learning interview questions are structured to evaluate you as a candidate, to check that you prepared for the interview, to validate that you learnt somewhere topics, experiences and inter-personal exchanges which match what is being sought.

It is also to ensure that you have learnt to think wider, to research and to anticipate different question types and how to answer them.

Quite simply:

A learning point on a learning interview question point!

Good luck next time you interview, more will be provided in the coming weeks to further support this stage in the recruitment selection process.

If you have examples to add, or experiences to share, please do not hesitate to comment, you could help others more than you think with your post.