BLOC Podcast

31: Instructional Design Interviews

August 24, 2021 Heidi Kirby Episode 31
BLOC Podcast
31: Instructional Design Interviews
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk about instructional design interviews. What are the common questions that are asked? What are those questions trying to get at?

In this episode, I reference Nyla Spooner's "I'm New Here" podcast, which you can check out here:

I also reference Episode 3 of the BLOC with LaToya Smith, which you can find here:

Connect with Heidi on LinkedIn: or on my website:

Thanks for listening to the BLOC!

Connect with me on LinkedIn:

Or check out what I'm working on over at

Heidi Kirby:

Hello friends, and welcome to the block the building learning and organizational culture podcast. I'm your host Heidi Kirby. And on today's episode, I want to talk about instructional design interviews, and my experience as both an interviewee. And now, as a hiring manager. I'm interrupting this program to ask for your help. I'm working on my PhD for my instructional design program. And I'm looking for volunteers to be interviewed about their instructional design roles. If you have three years of experience in instructional design, have instructional designer Learning Experience Designer or similar title, and your main responsibility is to design and develop learning experiences, at least three design projects per year than I'm looking to talk to you. If this doesn't apply to you, please feel free to share it with a friend, and reach out to me over LinkedIn through the end of 2021. To help me out with my dissertation. Thanks so much in advance. First off, if you're looking to break into instructional design from another field, I would highly recommend checking out Nyla spooners. I'm new here podcast, where she has a couple of episodes specifically catered towards interviews. I'll put the link in the show notes for you so you can follow along. Also, I'm not going to be talking about phone screens with recruiters here. I'm talking about the nitty gritty details that you get into with the hiring manager. And for those who don't know the difference, because it took me a really long time to understand it. The recruiter is the person who is part of the talent management, talent development, or HR team who's responsible for kind of vetting the applicants before they get to the hiring manager. The hiring manager is the person whose team you're going to be on if you get the role. They're the person you're going to report to. And they have a little bit more knowledge about the day to day aspects of the position, where the recruiter is just going to be asking you really basic high level qualification questions to decide if you should move on to the next interview. So I want to talk about some of the types of common questions that are asked in instructional design interviews, and what I'm looking for in those questions as a hiring manager. First and foremost, if you are in a really good interview for an instructional design position, you're going to be asked some type of question about your design process. What I'm looking for when I asked this question in interviews, is for you to have a process, right? That process can be anything it can follow an instructional design model or not. Typically, what I do when I'm asked about my instructional design process, is without saying, Addie, I walk through the steps of Addie, as I typically conduct them in like a perfect world project, right? No real instructional design project is going to be perfect. But I just go through the needs analysis, how do I come up with the initial design? What do I do to develop the course? How do I do the implementation? And then what metrics or points do I use to evaluate the effectiveness? That's simple? Again, the hiring manager is looking for you to have a process if you don't have anything for an answer to that question. Or if you talk about something completely unrelated, or go on a tangent, that lets me know that you may not have the experience level that I'm looking for, where you have a consistent process for how you work. The second type of question is how you work with other people, or how you work specifically with subject matter experts. You might be asked about a difficult situation, you might be asked about a time where you successfully worked with this me. But really the heart of this question is about getting to the collaborative and teamwork nature of instructional design, and also the consultative nature, right? As an instructional designer, depending on your position, you might be working with other individual contributors, you might be working with a sales team, you might be working with call center representatives, you might be working with VPs or even the C suite of your company. And so the goal here is for you to be able to give a situation that shows that you work well with others, right and that you are able to even take difficult or situations where there's conflict and are able to kind have dispersed that conflict and come to a conclusion and work through problems, to be able to work together as a team. The next kind of question that I often ask about, because I think it's an overlooked part of the instructional designers role a lot of times is about how you react to or enact change, or your change management skills. And the reason that this is so important is because instructional designers are typically training on new and different things. And so you know, if you work in the field of tech, or if you work in the healthcare industry, and something new comes out a new product, a new service that your company is offering, you're probably going to be the person who's tapped to teach the rest of your organization about that new product or service. It is critically important, how you carry yourself how you carry that message about that new product or service to the rest of your organization. Because without knowing it, or maybe you do know it, you've become a change champion, because you're probably going to get one of the first looks or the first, you know, in, you're going to be in the in crowd, right, you're going to get the behind the scenes look at that new product or service, because you're going to have to train on it. So it's going to be up to you to help other people in the organization adjust to that change. And so a lot of times I asked about when an instructional designer has been involved in a change, and how were they able to successfully get buy in from others in the organization? The next question is maybe not as common, but is a pretty generic interview question no matter what field you're in? And that's how do you manage your time? How do you manage your projects? How do you prioritize your work? And again, the question is being asked so that you have an answer, right? Hiring managers are looking for you to give some kind of answer that represents that you know how to prioritize things properly, that you don't show signs of being a procrastinator, that you get your work done on time, and things like that. So one of the ways that I always describe how I prioritize my work is using a risk based approach. And a risk based approach includes looking at any emergencies, any fires, so to speak, that you have to put out, anything that's urgent or critically important. Comes First on that prioritization list. Next comes the things that have the most impending deadlines, right, the things that are due the soonest are the ones that you should be focusing on. And then I look at what impacts the largest number of people in an organization. For instance, my current company, we have two competing projects that are competing for my team members attention. And one project affects one client. The other project affects all of our clients. So that one gets prioritized first because it affects more people. So again, it's just kind of looking for, how do you manage your time? How do you, you know, how are you able to prioritize competing needs? And simply saying that you make lists or have a checklist of all the things you need to do? Is not like, it's not enough, you need to give a little more oomph in that answer to show that you do know how to prioritize based on need, right? So use some of those needs analysis skills that you have to talk a little bit more about that. Last, but certainly not least, are questions about your technical skills. These might be as simple as talk to me about your experience using elearning, authoring tools, video production tools, you know, insert random technical tool here, right? Video conferencing tools, things like that. Simple enough to answer you just, you know, share your experience. But it's becoming more and more common in instructional design interviews to be asked to do some sort of test to prove your knowledge. So you might be asked to create a module using an elearning authoring tool that does X, Y and Z. This is to see the difference between those people who just learned enough of that tool to be able to make one little thing for their portfolio, but then they've never used the tool again, your learning curve is going to be steeper if I hire you, and you've only touched an elearning authoring tool once. So some employers want to see that you actually have spent significant time in that tool and can find your way around given an assignment. That said, How much time should an assignment take? That really depends, you should not be developing an entire course, you should never be developing an entire course for an employer. That to me would be a red flag, that they're trying to get free content. I have heard so many stories out there, not just in instructional design, mind you, but stories out there of people who've done tests or assessments or created case studies through interviews, and then turned around after not getting the job and seeing their work somewhere connected with that company. If you do a test, make sure that you clarify with the interviewer that you can then use that test if you feel like it's good enough in your portfolio in the future. Because why spend all that time if you're not going to land the job, and not end up with a portfolio piece. So it shouldn't take a ton of your time. And you shouldn't be developing an entire course it should be like a sample, it should be like a module. And it shouldn't be on this topic that is so specific, that you're wondering if they're putting you to work, right, it should be a more general generic topic, or they should give you a choice of topic or a broad topic. And knowing full well, that test is not necessarily going to accurately reflect your best work, because it's probably going to be rushed, right? In many situations, they're asking you for a much shorter turnaround time than you'd have in the real world. And you're not going to be like you're not going to be cramming when you actually do that project in the real workplace, you're going to be taking your time you're going to be meeting with people, other people are going to be reviewing it. So it is about doing your best work. But it's more about showing that technical prowess and showing that you do have the skills to back up what you've claimed on your resume. Okay, so the questions that you should ask, during a hiring manager interview, I have an episode of this podcast where I talk to one of my old managers, Latoya Smith, about some of the questions that you can ask to make sure that an organization values learning and development as much as they say they do, or as much as they seem to in the initial interviews. However, there are definitely some questions that you should ask the hiring manager, just show that you've been paying attention. Do your research on the company, do your research on the hiring manager, if the job description tells you who you're going to be reporting to try and find that person on the company's website, if possible, they might not be there. So maybe try and find them on LinkedIn. See if you can find any of their work, see if you can find anything about when they joined the company, things like that. So you can ask about those things. If they're new to the company, ask how it's been going so far. You know, if they'd been with the company for 15 years, ask what they enjoy most about working for the company and ask what they enjoy least about working for the company. On the other hand, you should also clarify if you haven't already, any questions that you have in the hiring manager interview about time off, benefits, schedule, flexibility, any of those questions that are kind of logistical in nature that you still have rattling around, should definitely be asked during the hiring manager interview. Also, it's a great idea to if the job description lists some of like, the projects that you'll be working on, you know, maybe like, a lot of times I've been seeing, like, first year goals, right? So a job description will post in your first year. If you're successful, you'll do X, Y, and Z. Ask questions about those. If they say you know, one of your first year goals will be helping implement an LMS. Ask them which LMS are going to be using. Ask them if they've decided on something yet. Ask them how they're planning on moving their current content over from one LMS to the other. Show your knowledge of the field through asking questions geared towards that job description that you found. So that's my advice on instructional design interviews. And I hope that it's helpful for you a little bit to kind of think about the different types of questions that you might be asked and how you might I plan the best answers thanks again for joining me on the blog. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with friends and review us on your favorite podcast platform. I hope you'll tune in again soon.