Tough Interview Question - What new competencies or skills have you recently developed?

What new competencies or skills have you recently developed?

Similar interview questions:
Tell me about new skills you have added in the past year.
Where are you focusing in developing your competencies?
Give me an example of your recent skills development.
Which competencies in your skills portfolio need further development?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
Although the underlying nature of the question is geared toward competency and skills development, it is actually a multi-faced question. First of all, it assumes you have done something to develop competencies and skills. Second, it builds on the premise that you previously had a gap which you are seeking to fill. Lastly, it shows what you are doing specifically to address that shortfall. In the aggregate, your answer will show your ability to self-assess and take action to correct shortfalls in your personal skills portfolio.

The best approach to answering this question:
Clearly you have to be ready for this question in advance. Actually, far in advance. So if you haven’t yet assessed your competencies and potential shortcomings, do it now. Then put an action plan in place to address any identified shortcomings. By doing so, your answer will be relatively easy, since you will be walking the interviewer through a real life example of what you have done/are doing to address your skills. Although this may sound like a long process, you can initiate this entire process within a day or two by beginning with online learning.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"In my job I’m required to update my technical skill set on an ongoing basis. However, some of the technical skills are not ones I can fully address within our internal training programs. As an example, there is a software program we have begun using in my work where I needed additional training. I made a request to my boss to do some off-hours training online and she OKed it, so I’ve already begun taking the classes and will be ready to complete the certification exam next month…"

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"Most of my skills development has been through my college coursework. But I also was able to further build out my skillset beyond my peers by taking some online education supplements designed to help me become productive more quickly in my new role…"

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"Well, I don’t really do any training unless it’s required. And even then, I only do it when it’s on the company’s dime. I mean, why should I? It’s just an interruption to my work. So I usually put it off as much as I can and when it is required, I try to take training where it’s kinda like a mini vacation for me. If I have to take the training, I might as well be comfortable…"

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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