Hire Quick-On-Their-Feet Learners 

Employees who catch on quickly will save you money in the long run.
( Farm Journal )

All organizations would like to have people who eagerly learn new skills in response to tough, ever-changing circumstances, so how can you identify these candidates without breaking the bank? There certainly are many tools available to businesses that would help measure an individual’s ability to learn. However, you can use the interview to shed some light on the candidate’s capability to learn quickly by asking the correct questions. This neither costs more money nor additional time invested in your interview process. 

Initially you might wonder how a person’s speed and flexibility makes a difference. Researcher Scott DeRue at the University of Michigan established a model that identifies speed and flexibility as the two most important factors for determining learning agility. Learning agility is about being able to digest a large amount of information quickly (speed) and figuring out what is most important. 

DeRue also said you should be able to change frameworks (flexibility) that help you understand how different things are related or connected. In other words, flexibility is about being willing to adjust the current structure and explain what is happening from a broader perspective.

Being a quick-on-your-feet learner is a mentality/attitude that allows leaders to continually expand their scope and capabilities. It also magnifies their capacity to manage and solve the increasingly complex problems they face in their day-to-day interactions. 

If we connect the dots, this type of individual can execute a larger workload, flex to the best possible outcome, and impact performance in a positive way. 

Use the following questions to assess the candidate’s potential to gain knowledge in a rapid manner. 

Tell me about a time…

  • You were challenged to do something beyond what you thought you could do at the time.
  • You took an idea and moved it into practice.
  • You felt overwhelmed by the size and complexity of a situation or the work you were facing. 
  • When you needed information on a situation for which you had no experience and you had to ask for help from others to solve this difficult problem.
  • You had to accept or face not having the skills you needed to accomplish the goal. 
  • You had to make an important decision and the information you needed wasn’t readily available.
  • You tried something that was highly visible to others and you were told that you failed. 

In the long run, your wallet will be happier and heavier. Employees who catch up briskly require less training time, which means fewer dollars invested. These employees are ready to start working sooner and you’re more likely to see positive results.