Looking to grow your eLearning company by adding the best instructional designer you can find? Well, you’re in luck! I’ve got some tips for where to find instructional design candidates that suit your needs, how to sort through applicants and devote your interview time to the strongest fit, and the questions you need to be asking when you conduct interviews.
Stay tuned and you’ll be signing on an amazing new teammate in no time!
Before you Start Searching for the ideal instructional design candidate…
There’s a really important step you have to take before you invest any time searching recruiting sites and contacting people you think would make great instructional design candidates for the job you had in mind.
You’ve got to have a clear job description and specific responsibilities spelled out. Knowing what you want makes it much easier to sort through candidates and organize interview questions.
Here’s my to-do list before interviewing any instructional design candidates:
- Write a detailed job description (or update the one we have, if needed)
- Determine pre-requisites (the must-haves, whether it be formal experience or education)
- Define what you mean by an instructional designer (check out the 2 Types of instructional designers)
- Identify the necessary skills
- Decide if you’ll require candidates to submit a portfolio or build something specific for the interview to assess their skills
- Add on some bonus skills (the nice-to-haves)
- Match the ideal candidate with a specific, upcoming project
- Make sure the new hire budget matches the above expectations
Once you’ve got all of the above, you’re ready to start your search for the perfect instructional design candidates!
Where to Find Instructional Design Candidates
Once you’ve decided you’ve got the need and the budget for a new hire, the first step is to find the most qualified instructional design candidates so you can start setting up interviews.
Posting the position on common job search sites is a popular place to start. Linkedin, Ziprecruiter, and Indeed are all great choices if you want the candidates to come to you.
Even if you’re posting the job, you can do some searching of your own while you wait for the applications to start coming in. If your organization has a recruiter, the recruiter may use the search filters on Linkedin and message candidates directly who might be a good fit and invite them to learn more about the position.
Now, there’s a reason why most larger companies use recruiters to start the onboarding process: searching the candidate pool, contacting potential good fits, and awaiting their applications is time-consuming and takes some patience. If you’re committed to hiring your own employees, I recommend learning how to effectively use Boolean search strings. This is a skill that will help you filter your searches on job posting sites so you only see candidates who fit your needs.
If you’re looking for freelance or part-time instructional design candidates, you can also sign up for sites like Upwork or Fiverr. These sites have free and premium options, depending on your needs. Freelancers are a great talent pool to source from for short-term projects.
Narrowing down the Applicant Pool
If you’re lucky enough to get more applicants than you can interview for your position, you’ll need to know what to look for in applications to make sure you invest your time wisely. Interviewing is a lengthy process, make it easier on yourself by ensuring the people you choose to speak to are good instructional design candidates for your specific position.
- Look for any applicants who do not meet your pre-requisite requirements or don’t have the skills you already identified as must-haves. Toss these out if you can! You made that list for a reason.
- Now that your candidate pool consists of those who meet your requirements, look for applicants who possess your nice-to-have skills on top of your need-to-haves. Push these to the top of your list!
- For any applicants you aren’t sure of, take a closer look at their cover letter, resume, and portfolio to decide who you’ll move to the ‘interview’ pile. What you look for is really going to be up to you: if you’re looking for someone to do precise storyboarding you might toss an applicant with grammar mistakes in his cover letter, for example.
- If you just can’t decide from the resume alone, reach out to an applicant who you think shows promise. Ask a preliminary question via email or ask them to send more work samples. Anything that helps you create a shortlist before you start interviewing will pay off in the long-term.
Asking the Right Questions
Now that you have your interview lined up, you need to prepare for the interview process. Did you think it was only the instructional design candidates who had work to do before an interview?
This is an important meeting for both of you: the candidate is hoping for an offer and you’re hoping for a great addition to your team. We all know about job interview nerves, but the interviewer has a lot at stake too!
Start with a list of important questions, here are my favorite questions to ask an instructional design candidate:
- How did you get into the Instructional Design or eLearning field?
- What interests you about this position?
- Tell me about a project you completed using X (insert your must-have skills here, it’s one thing to list a bunch of eLearning authoring tools on a resume and another to go into detail about projects they’ve done using the tools).
- Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult SME? I have some great tips on this blog!
- Walk me through your instructional design process.
- How do you project manage your training projects?
- How do you determine a training’s success?
- Tell me more about it… here’s your chance to ask about the candidate’s prior experience or portfolio. Write these down as you’re reviewing their submissions so you have specifics in front of you during the interview.
Of course, this is just a list to get you started. Refer back to your job description and your skills list. Use these to craft questions that will help you make the most informed decision.
After the Interview
If you feel great about the potential hires you spoke with, consider asking them to complete a sample project related to your job description. Depending on the type of instructional designer you are looking for, the project could be a storyboard with knowledge checks, a live training the candidate delivers during a second interview, or a short eLearning course. Something simple with a reasonable effort that will give you an idea of the candidate’s skills, quality of work, ability to work under pressure and unknowns, and how they approach asking clarifying questions.
Once you have your preferred candidate, be sure not to dismiss your runners-up in case your first choice doesn’t accept your offer. Even when your offer is accepted, it’s customary to email the other interviewees. Let them know you’ll keep them in mind for future positions, you never know what could happen!
Now that we’ve walked through the process to help you find your ideal instructional designer, head over to the IDCs Facebook community, and join the conversation! Got any questions about the hiring process? Just ask!