Q: Recently I was invited to interview for a company in Cambridge. After the interview, I was given feedback that I did not seem open to learning new technologies. In some respects, this criticism is valid. I know what I know, but I am sometimes reluctant to learn new technologies. How should I handle this in the future?
A: Technology touches most roles now. Although I don’t know what industries you are pursuing, I hear Cambridge and I envision technology, education and biotech. I think every role within these industries would require that an employee to embrace technology and be willing to learn new ones.
It is helpful to understand how a prospective employer may have perceived you. Many employers are not willing to share candid feedback with an applicant, so it beneficial that you learned what concern(s) this company had about your candidacy. First, reflect on your responses to questions which may have led an interviewer to have these concern. Did you mention that you were not comfortable with technology? Did you become nervous in response to a question about your skills in this area? Many interviewers will ask about your technological expertise and you may even be asked to rate your skills. Or, an interviewer may ask how you used that skill. For example, “Describe for me a type of project or task, where you were required to use your advanced Excel skills?” This type of question is fairly common question. If you lacked confidence in these responses, how can you either 1. improve your confidence level and or 2. build and practice your skills in this area?
If you need to improve your confidence in how you respond to these types of questions, practice sample responses. Give examples of when you have to use a specific technology in a past job. Also think about offering an example of when you have to learn a new software or system.
If you need to improve your skills, think about taking a course. You can explore classes and online tutorials or you could enroll in a class at a local technical school or college. There are also training companies which offer a variety of training courses. Online courses are sometimes free and self-paced. Enrolling in a local college would be more expensive but many offer one-or two-day courses.
Once you learn the skill, try to use it a few times to continue practicing the skills. If you have just learned PowerPoint for example, develop a mock PowerPoint presentation on your job search, as an example.
Technology is here to stay. Those candidates who are willing to learn new technologies often have an edge.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.