What Is Learning Agility? (And How To Emphasize It During an Interview)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 14, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Learning agility is an openness to experiences that allows employees to remain flexible during their workday. The set of skills that comprise learning agility can make leaders more effective in both teaching skills to others and continuously improving in their careers. Understanding more about learning agility can help you prepare for a leadership position in your industry. In this article, we define learning agility, list ways you can improve it and explain how you can emphasize this skill during an interview.

What is learning agility?

Learning agility is a person's orientation toward and ability to learn new things. Rather than being a single skill that someone can develop, learning agility is a set of skills that make a leader more flexible and experienced in navigating unpredictable circumstances and training others to do the same. Some skills that learning agile employees have often include:

  • Communication skills: Agile learners are adept at communicating their needs and experiences to others. As leaders, they understand how to illustrate steps and requirements for particular work processes to employees.

  • Adaptability: Employees who have learning agility skills are adaptable when experiencing both new and common situations during work. They understand how to adapt to unfamiliar circumstances, workspaces and people while accomplishing their duties.

  • Listening skills: Learning agile employees often actively listen as much as they communicate. This enables them to listen to employee requests appropriately to make informed decisions.

  • Eagerness to learn: A learning agile person is eager to undergo new experiences and develop improved skills in the workplace. Even if they have the opportunity to learn skills unrelated to their current job, someone who's learning agile is typically eager to improve in as many areas as possible.

Related: What Are Skills? (With Tips on How To Improve Them)

How to improve learning agility

If you want to learn how to improve your learning agility, consider some of the following steps:

1. Learn from mistakes

Considering each mistake to be a learning opportunity can help you develop the skills you need to become an agile learner. An important aspect of being an agile learner is finding opportunities to learn skills, both inside and outside of a work environment. Failing at a task or being less efficient than you could have been can present an opportunity to learn by showing you what steps led to that outcome. Consider documenting both successes and failures so that you can learn substantially from both.

2. Encourage work challenges

Being an agile learner typically includes a desire to challenge yourself during work. Testing yourself in work settings can entail multiple components, such as accepting more responsibilities as a leader, managing challenging projects or accepting new objectives. Experiencing difficult challenges and working to overcome them can be a great way to show potential employers that you're willing to adapt to and learn from new positions.

Related: How To Show You're Willing To Learn on a Resume (With Tips and Examples)

3. Seek continuous improvement opportunities

Another important aspect of a learning agile employee is their desire to continuously improve. Continuously improving yourself could entail seeking more tasks, accepting different tasks entirely or registering for training sessions with experts. Working on skills outside of your normal skill set can show both current and future managers that you're eager to learn and succeed in new environments.

Related: 15 Professional Skills (Plus Definition and Tips)

How to emphasize learning agility during an interview

If you want to learn how to emphasize your learning agility skills during an interview, consider some of the following steps:

1. Recount your relevant experience

To accurately describe your preparedness within challenging situations, try to recount some of your relevant experiences during an interview. A learning agile team member prepares for many kinds of challenges throughout their workday. Showcasing your various skills through anecdotes can demonstrate to your interviewer that you can handle unique situations within a new role.

Related: Multitasking Skills: Definition and Examples

2. Describe difficult circumstances

To show your potential employer that you understand how to handle difficult situations, describe times where you encountered less than optimal circumstances. This might be a story regarding a difficult circumstance, a time when you felt unprepared or how you handled a situation with an antagonistic peer or customer. Illustrating your reaction to difficult situations can highlight your ability to react positively to stressful situations.

3. Highlight learning opportunities you've sought

You can also emphasize your learning agility to hiring managers by talking about any learning opportunities you've recently sought at work. These can be through new challenges you've experienced, training sessions you've undergone, times where you've succeeded or moments in which you've failed. This helps illustrate that you know how to derive lessons from different work situations, even ones in which you didn't receive attain the outcome you desired.

4. Discuss your responses to uncertainty

Employers who want learning agile employees look for professionals who have a calm, organized approach to unpredictable work situations. Explaining times when you've worked under uncertain circumstances can help give your potential employer some examples they can use to evaluate your learning agility skills. Consider using the STAR method when explaining your answers to their questions. The STAR method involves these four steps when answering a question:

  • Situation: In your first step, explain the situation you encountered, including your role and what peers were available to help you. This gives your potential employer sufficient context so they can understand the entire situation you experienced.

  • Task: After giving your employer some context, describe your responsibilities in the matter. Include exact details like quotas or specific expectations your manager set for you.

  • Action: Next, describe what actions you took to overcome the challenge. This can include the methods you used and whether they were new to you.

  • Results: Finally, explain to your interviewer how that situation concluded and whether you were successful. As an agile learner, include what lesson you learned from that challenge, regardless of whether you succeeded.

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