Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
What do you hope to learn from this position?
Are there any areas of your skillset that you are looking to improve?
Have you ever needed to upskill yourself quickly?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
Developing Self and Others is one of the key behaviours that the UK Civil Service looks for when recruiting staff. Even if you are not going in for a Civil Service position this is still a question that might arise.
The interviewer is looking to see if you are interested in personal development and this idea of continuous improvement. If we are not looking to improve as individuals and as an organisation then sooner or later someone will come along and take our place.
That is why the interviewer wants to know what you are planning on learning in the next 6 months. They want to see whether you will help with their plans to improve and evolve as an organisation.
The interviewer is also looking to see if you can provide an unbiased assessment of your current abilities. This question gives you the opportunity to talk about your current skill level and areas in which you wish to strengthen.
The best approach to answering this question
The interviewer is looking to see if you value personal improvement as it relates to professional development. Let’s make sure we answer that.
This isn’t a question that is suited to a direct application of the B-STAR technique. What you want to do instead is modify the technique a bit like so:
B – Belief – As we discussed above you want to start your answer off by discussing how you feel continuous learning is vital for individuals and organisations to grow. Say how you always feel there is more to learn and are always looking for ways to better yourself and your work.
S / T – Situation / Task – Move on to talking about what you feel is important for you to learn in the next 6 months. This should be directly lifted from what you know to be important to the company and to the role you are looking to move into. For example if a particular process or methodology is used by your potential new employer talk about how you wish to learn more about it and become an advanced user (be careful that you show that you have the required knowledge but you want to learn more as it will aid you in your role).
A – Activity – Talk about how you intend to complete this learning. Are there qualifications available that you could take. This could also be a good segue into asking the employer what training they offer within the organisation (or circle back to this point at the end when it is time for your questions).
R – Results – Round out your answer by discussing how you think learning this new skill will create better results for you and your organisation.
How NOT to answer this question
- Do not lie. There will more than likely be follow-up questions so you need to ensure you are actually interested in learning this new skill otherwise your answers to the follow-up questions will sound empty and fake.
- Do not oversell yourself. Don’t portray yourself as an intermediate looking to progress to advanced or expert skill level when you are actually a beginner looking to advance to intermediate. As discussed above there is going to be follow-up questions and you will look foolish when you struggle to answer intermediate level questions
- Do not say that you don’t need to learn any new skills. This just reeks of overconfidence and will not endear you to the interviewer.
- Do not talk about non-work skills as the main part of your answer. The interviewer is looking to see how you perform at work today and how you will perform at work in 6 months time. Is the company making a smart investment by hiring you? Going on for 5 minutes about how you are learning the trombone is unlikely to help the interviewer answer this question (outside of some trombone specific roles I suppose). On the other hand do not be afraid to slip in some new extra-curricular skills that you are learning, it will show that you do mean it when you say you always seek to learn new things, just don’t make it the core of your answer.
What new skills do you hope to learn over the next 6 months? – Example answer
“I am always looking to learn new things. I believe that once we stop learning we stop growing, both as individuals and as a business. Sooner or later someone will come along and overtake us. That’s why I always keep my ear to ground, as it were, and make sure I am always up to date with all the latest advancements in my area.
Within the change and project space I can see the shift to Agile methodologies growing even further and reaching into industries and firms that would previous move at glacial speed using Waterfall projects. My previous role at a Top 4 Bank showed me that even in a traditionally cautious moving firm they were slowly adopting to more agile mindsets, that is where I was working when I studied for, and attained, my PRINCE2 Agile qualification.
For me in the next 6 months I wish to expand my knowledge further from this qualification and undertake learning for the Certified Scrum Product Owner qualification. While I have been a Product Owner in my previous role I believe formal training will allow me to further develop my understanding of the role.
I think by learning more about the Product Owner position I will be able to further enhance this organisation’s release strategy and hopefully open up further progression opportunities for myself within the firm when the time comes (assuming I get the role of course!).
After Product Owner I think I will want to get further acquainted with Programme and Portfolio management skills, but let’s just take it 6 months at a time for now.
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