3 JUNE, 2019


When hiring, it’s easy to narrow down your job candidates based on whether or not they have the qualifications, skills, and experiences you’re looking for. But how do you make sure you hire the best person for the job? The answer is to look for active learners in your candidates.

To help you choose the right person and make the hiring process easier for you, we’ll discuss what active learning is and why it’s important, plus how you can spot active learners in job applicants.

What is active learning?

Active learning is a learning activity in which employees participate or interact with the learning process instead of just passively taking in the information. Active learning activities include:

  • Reading books or articles related to the job.
  • Doing additional research and taking notes.
  • Attending seminars or conferences.
  • Networking with professionals in the industry.
  • Practicing or applying what was learned to the job.
  • Discussing or reviewing ideas.
  • Analysing or evaluating information.
  • Identifying and solving problems.
  • Exploring new concepts in teams.
  • Working out a math problem on paper.

These activities allow employees to be actively engaged in the learning process, both mentally and physically.

Why active learning in a job is important

When employees actively engage with the information they’re learning, they’lllearn more and perform better as it helps nurture the brain. By doing things such as connecting new and old information, correcting previous misconceptions and reconsidering existing thoughts or opinions, the cognitive and sensory networks in the brain are activated, which can help employees to process and store new information. As an employer, this is crucial when it comes to reskilling and upskilling your workforce. An active learner will be more successful in their role as it’ll be easier for them to retrain or learn new processes and systems, and to stay current with changing technological and business needs.

It’s important to promote active learning in the workplace as you can expect higher employee achievement and engagement, as well as the long-term retention, understanding, and transfer of knowledge. You can do this by developing active learning strategies, such as allowing your employees to ask questions, produce ideas, come up with solutions to problems, integrate new and old information, and frequently retrieve learned information. What’s more, employees who make use of active learning strategies in the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of their learning progress are more likely to outperform their colleagues who don’t employ active learning strategies.

How to identify when job applicants are active learners

Soft skills such as communication skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, and flexibility determine a job applicant’s ability to actively learn. You can measure these skills and identify when an applicant is an active learner through their resume, references, application, online assessment results, and the interview.

1. Resumes

Focus on keywords that an applicant uses to describe themselves when it comes to job perseverance, their desire to train for growth, and their dedication to the organisation. Keywords you should look out for include the following:

  • I did some benchmarking.
  • I have an intellectual curiosity.
  • I carried out literature surveys.
  • I became an expert.
  • I can learn new things quickly.
  • I have a passion for learning.
  • I sought the help of experts.

2. Job references

You should call up the references listed in the resume and ask them to list the applicant’s top five capabilities to see if active learning is included. You can also get them to rate the applicant’s active learning ability on a scale from 1 to 10.

3. Applications

In the application, ask questions that’ll tell you whether an applicant is willing to pursue additional learning opportunities in a job or on their own. For example, you can ask them to list relevant courses, seminars, or conferences they attended in order to expand their knowledge and skills. Also ask them to share details about the course they studied at college or university and any extracurricular activities related to their studies that they participated in.

4. Online assessments

As part of the application process, you can have applicants complete an online assessment such as an active learning ability test to help you identify their strengths and weaknesses. The online assessment should also help you predict an applicant’s on-the-job learning ability.

5. Interview questions

When interviewing a job applicant, you should ask both behavioral and situational interview questions. Behavioral interview questions can help you determine the applicant’s ability to actively learn, such as:

  • Please share something you have learned on the job and then applied to future tasks and experiences.
  • Walk us through the steps of how you would quickly become knowledgeable if you were given an assignment in a new area where there’s little easy-to-find information.
  • What specific sources would you use to find information in this area (eg advanced technical area) and why are these sources superior?
  • What do you know about our organisation, products, services, competitors, and job?
  • Give us a recent example of how you’ve remained on the leading edge of learning in your current job. Did the information you gather actually have a business impact?
  • Do you currently have a personal learning plan, how did you develop it, what are its key components, and how do you use it?

On the other hand, situational interview questions place candidates in hypothetical situations that can help you determine how they’ll best solve a problem and prevent future problems. For example:

  • If there’s something you don’t know how to do on the job, what would your course of action be?
  • Describe your learning process. If you discover a mistake in your work, how would you approach the mistake, fix it, and prevent it from happening again?

Additionally, you can ask the following questions to spot an active learner:

  • List the learning targets you would have during the first month on the job.
  • What are your top five capabilities?
  • How would you rate your active learning ability on a scale of 1 to 10?

Provide ongoing learning and development for new hires with DeakinCo.

As you can see, there are five simple ways that can help you find out which of your job candidates are active learners. An active learner is a valuable asset to any company, so follow these tips and your organisation can reap the rewards.

Once you’ve hired an active learner for your organisation, you can continue to foster their development and learning with DeakinCo.’s workforce solutions. Find out more about what our services can do for you by contacting us today.