A Blog

I'm a Fast Learner

October 23, 2018

When I’m hiring, I hear this one a lot. A candidate is nervous about something that I just asked, let’s use GraphQL as an example, about and they’ll say “Well, I don’t know much about GraphQL, but I’m a fast learner!!” and their earnestness nearly jumps out of their body and does a little dance.

Here’s the thing. I hear that phrase all the time. I imagine so does every other hiring manager. And this may sound mean, but so what? If everyone is truly a fast learner, what separates you from the rest? Also, I can probably find someone who already knows GraphQL in the stack of resumes I’m procrastinating in sifting through. What’s my motivation to keep going with you?

Yeah, that’s definitely harsh, but it’s reality. Hiring managers are usually stressed and need to find the right person very badly. Here’s a way to play to that need and flip the situation. Start with this:

Wow, it sounds like GraphQL is a bigger deal for this role than I originally thought, and it sounds like I’m a little out of my depth. This still sounds like a dynamite job though, so here’s what I’m going to do: Tonight I’m going to watch the egghead.io series on GraphQL. Then over the next week I’m going to build a little project that consumes the GitHub GraphQL API. I’ll send it to you if you’re still interested. How does that sound?

That’s a lot better than “I’m a fast learner, please hire me.” It acknowledges the problem (a gap in expectations), and then presents a solid plan for how to overcome it. Further, that candidate shows crazy kinds of initiative, as well as a strong desire for the job, without coming off as begging. And lastly, it’d show me some code, which is very useful when hiring a developer.

It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the gig, but will at least impress the interviewer.

Other things:

If the job description wasn’t clear about the requirements for GraphQL in the first place… that’s a miss on the hiring manager’s part.

Also, that response presumes that the candidate has the free-time to do all that, which is not the case for everybody.

Scott Williams

Written by Scott Williams who lives and works in sunny Phoenix, AZ. Twitter is also a place.