Interview Question: What’s the Most Important Thing You Learnt in School?
The school is a theater where learners undergo different experiences to enhance their competencies and attitudes. The extent to which an individual learns in school depends on their interest, the learning environment, the quality of content, and their respective backgrounds. After graduation, it is expected that you have acquired certain skills and experiences which should reflect on both your professional and personal life; These expected traits are often being tested during interviews.
The question is intended to have a peep into an individual’s character. The kind of knowledge or experiences you value the most can show employers your personality and the skills you possess. Interviewers also ask this question to allow you to demonstrate your confidence and aptitude for the job. The most important thing you learned in school should be the knowledge that has the most significant impact on your ideals, dreams, and professional journey. It should equally be relatable to the role you are interviewing for. In this situation, don’t get yourself worked up to identify your strongest trait, but rather the skill or feature that will add value to the position in question.
It is convenient to conclude that the interviewer is after an academic achievement; That might not necessarily be the case. You probably learned something about people, or about yourself while in school that can come to bear on the job. It is hence important to understand this question both in context and perspective. The first step to crafting a quality response is to consider the job requirement. Figure out a way to connect your learning experiences to the position in view. Then emphasize how your knowledge makes you a suitable candidate for the role. You can then wrap it up by telling the interviewer how you have put the knowledge into use to solve or prevent a problem in the past. The answer should be specific, direct but comprehensive. You shouldn’t go about mentioning numerous skills or knowledge sets.
How to craft an answer
- Let the subject matter be relevant to the work: when picking a particular subject or skill, it should be relevant to the role. It has to be a lesson that will support you to succeed if eventually employed. It is very easy to get a generalized knowledge set that is essential in specialized industries such as medicine, law, security, engineering, etc. but when applying for a corporate position and specialized role, you will have to figure out a skill you learned from school that is consistent to the job description and requirements.
- Choose a subject or experience that has shaped your career choice: work takes most of our time daily, and it can be frustrating when you hate your job. This is often the case when you didn’t identify your true calling early in life. Perhaps you just followed the crowd or opted for the same course of study as most of your peers. Or all your academic and career choices were made by your parents. Your school experience can help you realize what you want to do in life, and also what you don’t want to do for a living. Analogies in this direction can be a perfect answer to this interview question. it could also come into play when applying for positions outside your field of study.
- Emphasize specific attitudes and abilities: some important things you learned in school could translate into taking responsibility, empathy, attention to detail, and resilience; These most times constitute what interviewers want to hear in your response. Education could take you to the highest level, but only the right attitude can keep you there. Showing the right character that will make you succeed on the job is vital in the recruitment process. Besides, most entry-level roles do not demand a lot of creativity. Employers often provide entry-level training that will support the transition into the organization. You may only end up struggling on the job because you are unable to adapt to some situations in the workplace and because of your duties. The right attitude will make you surmount this stage with reasonable ease.
A good response to the interview question “What’s the most important thing you learned in school” may sound like this.
“The most important thing I’ve learned in school was to accept and deal with feedback. The criticisms I received from classmates and teachers after academic tasks have greatly shaped my growth. It was initially difficult to present my work to others for their input and opinions, but I eventually realized that regardless of the feedback, it has helped me become more effective and efficient at task execution. These experiences have also taught me to constructively criticize others using language that emphasizes quality and shared goals while avoiding comments that could be interpreted as personal or overly critical”
“The most important thing I learned in school was that I didn’t want to be an engineer, I realized that five years is a long time to learn a course. Sadly, I had always followed the dreams of my parents, instead of figuring out what will make me happy and what kind of impact I will like to have on society. Gladly, here I am today applying for a job in your NGO. I am driven to work in an organization that makes a positive difference in people’s lives and has a value system that resonates with me”
“The most important thing I learned at school is that an individual’s abilities matter more than knowledge. Let me explain. When you know how to work with information when you are responsible and good at communication, you will learn fast; Being it in school or not. When you struggle to express yourself or read between the lines, to distinguish contents of value from those without, you will struggle in both your career and personal life. That is why I try to work mostly on my abilities”
Things to avoid
- Being stalled with responses or overthinking the question
- Implying that your education is no longer relevant because you have had a successful career. Don’t downplay the question by saying “I don’t remember”
- Offer enough information when answering the question but be careful not to deviate. A question that has the word “most” is meant to elicit a focused and direct response
- You should avoid bringing up the social side of the school, and focus on the academic, professional, and character sides.
If you have been out of school for a while, a question like “what is the most important thing you learned in school” can take you off balance. If you lack exactly what to say, you can discuss specific subjects that apply to the position you are vying for. You can also highlight transferable skills like communication and teamwork. However, don’t forget to use concrete examples to support your point.