How To Answer “Tell Me About a Time You Had To Learn Something Quickly?”

Do you have an upcoming job interview? Learn how to answer the “Tell me about a time when you had to learn something new within a short deadline” or “Tell me about a time you had to learn something quickly” interview question. Check out the example answer, do’s and don’ts on this page. 

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There are three reasons why interviewers might ask you this question. They want to know if you are a fast learner, eager to learn and capable of learning new skills under pressure. Provide a real-life example and use the STAR method to structure your answer:

Example Answer (With Experience)

Situation: “When I first began my career in web development, I started as a temporary employee at an employment agency. I was placed on a 6-month project where I had to learn a lot of web developer duties and responsibilities in a short period of time. 

Task: These include, but were not limited to, installing and testing applications for [Website XYZ], troubleshooting and fixing bugs in Adobe Experience Manager and staying-up-to-date on technology. 

Action: I utilized all internal training resources and materials that were at my disposal, and for sudden unexpected technical problems, I browsed the internet and watched Youtube tutorials the night before. 

Results: These methods allowed me to learn the technology within the allotted time and most importantly, it gave me that sense of accomplishment early on in my role.”

Example Answer (No Experience)

Situation: “During my time at [University XYZ], my marketing teacher asked for a volunteer to cover the responsibilities of a peer who was going on an exchange for several months. I volunteered to be that person.

Task: It was my task to quickly learn how to operate the audio-visual equipment for an upcoming event, whilst at the same time making sure my own responsibilities were fulfilled. 

Action: I started out by reading blogs and watching Youtube videos before deciding which tasks I could easily do, and which ones I would need to learn. 

For the ones I needed to learn, I read the operational manual and liaised with the university’s janitor to get some tips on how to complete each task to the required standard.

Result: By prioritizing which tasks I needed to learn, and by dedicating the right amount of time to each one, I was able to learn all of my peer’s tasks within the allotted time.”

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t talk negatively about your current or former employers, because the interviewer might assume you’ll behave the same towards them.
  • Do share a suitable story that shows you get up to speed quickly in the role and do come across as a proactive and assertive candidate who’s eager to take on additional responsibilities
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