So, you’ve landed an instructional design interview, and now you’re looking for interview tips! You’re in luck. As both a hiring manager and someone who has interviewed for various instructional design jobs and learning and development positions, I have plenty of advice I’d love to pass on.
The interview tips I’ll share with you will be perfect for new instructional designers who haven’t yet been through an interview process, as well as those of you who have been hanging around learning and development for a while and might need a refresher.
On top of my best interview advice, I’ll take you through questions you should prepare to show off your best self during your interview.
What to Expect in an Instructional Design Job Interview
First of all, if you’re reading this and you’ve landed an interview for an instructional design job, CONGRATULATIONS! I believe we don’t celebrate ourselves enough for landing job interviews. So take a moment to pat yourself on the back.
You’re here because your resume and cover letter passed the Applicant Tracking System or interested a hiring manager. That means you’re doing something right already! Regardless of if you land this instructional design job or not, the interview process is great practice.
The best thing you can do to have a great interview experience is prepare, prepare, prepare. Anticipating what questions will be asked and what kind of environment to expect are huge parts of your preparation.
Before the Interview: Tips for Preparing
Let’s get into some things you can prepare ahead of time that might come up in your interview.
Save the Job Description
When you apply for an instructional design job, I already know you’re paying close attention to that job description. That’s because you should be tailoring your resume to each job you apply to. If you’re scratching your head right now, do yourself a favor and check out this instructional design resume ebook.
But I also highly recommend you save each job description as you apply for jobs. If you land an interview, definitely go back and grab the job description as soon as possible.
It’s not uncommon for organizations or recruiters to pull the job posting once they’ve identified interview candidates. Unfortunately, that means by the time you start preparing for possible interview questions, the posting could be gone!
Save yourself the hassle and grab that job description right away by saving the site contents as a PDF or taking a screenshot.
Prepare Examples for Each Job Requirement
Here’s another one of my interview tips that use that job posting you saved. For each bullet point under the job requirements, brainstorm ways you’ve demonstrated that skill. For example, you might have a past project you can reference or simply a statement backing up your level of experience with that line item.
Get to Know the Interview Panel
Before your interview, this is a great thing to do, but it requires planning. When setting up your interview, ask who you should expect to interview with. If you’re given the team member’s name, you can go straight to their LinkedIn profile and learn more about them.
You might get more generic information. For example, the recruiter might say you’ll be speaking with the head of learning and development. In that case, I would check the company’s website. See if they have a page that lists their team members. If not, see if you can find someone with that title on LinkedIn.
Once you’ve found your interviewer on LinkedIn, try to make a personal connection with them. For example, where did they go to school? In what cities have they worked? These are all great opportunities for you to connect during the interview.
What to Expect During an Instructional Design Interview
I’ve already said preparation is key to nailing an interview. Of course, everyone gets nervous during an interview, but the more prepared you are, the less anxious you’ll be.
Let’s talk about six things you can expect during your interview, some interview tips, and a few great questions to prepare for ahead of time.
1. More Information About the Company and the Position
Your interviewers will likely start by telling you more about the job. Don’t expect them to give you information you could have googled. But do listen carefully to how the interviewer describes the position. You’ll get more information about what job responsibilities are most important to them. You can try to highlight these as you answer their questions later. You’re also likely to learn more about the company’s culture. It can be tempting to zone out or start thinking about how you will respond to the first question. This is a definite DON’T! It’s important to hear about the role and the company from the interviewer’s perspective.
2. Getting to Know You Questions
In one way or another, you’re going to be asked, “tell me about yourself.” One of my best interview tips for this question is to have an elevator pitch prepared ahead of time. How would you want to ‘sell’ yourself as an employee? Keep it short and sweet! Rehearse, so you know what you want to say, but remember to make it sound natural in the moment. You don’t want to sound like you’re reading from a script.
3. Identifying your Strengths and Weaknesses
Another question you can expect from your interviewer will have something to do with identifying your pain points as an instructional designer. For example, they may ask you outright, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Or, they may ask you to talk them through a time when you had a challenging project. Either way, they’re trying to get to the root of how you problem-solve. However, you plan to respond, be sure you can tie the weakness or challenge with a positive outcome.
4. Explaining Why You’re Leaving Your Current Role
This is a great thing to keep in mind. Especially if you are leaving your current field for instructional design. You can briefly explain your journey to an instructional design job. Your interview is not interested in hearing about how terrible your current job is. It’s important to phrase your response positively. You might be leaving your current job because you hate your boss and the work is boring. Don’t say that, though! Focus on what excites you about the role you’re interviewing for instead.
5. Walking Through Your Instructional Design Process
Your potential employer will want to get a feel for how you approach and complete a project. Be prepared to explain your design process in some capacity. This is an excellent opportunity to highlight your project management skills as well. If you use a specific project to help explain, even better!
6. Asking Your Interviewer Questions
As you wrap up your interview, you’re likely to be asked what questions you have. As a hiring manager, I cannot stress the importance of asking questions enough! And I guarantee your mind will go blank at this moment if you don’t plan ahead. Write down at least three questions before the interview. I have some suggestions to get you started. Don’t be afraid to bring a journal with these questions written down if you’re interviewing in person. For virtual interviews, you can have notes next to your computer or sticky notes on the side of your screen.
Now, I’m not saying that all of these things will happen every time. But, the more information you have about what might happen during your interview, the better you can prepare for any situation.
More Job Interview Tips and Resources
When it comes to applying, preparing, and interviewing for an instructional design job, I try to do my best to share as much as I can with new and aspiring instructional designers. However, here are a few more resources to use as you navigate the application and interviewing process.
Professional Instructional Designer Resume eBook: everything you need to know about creating an instructional design resume, including resume and cover letter samples.
Resume and Cover Letter Tips: The Instructional Design Company’s resident resume expert took us through 6 resume and cover letter tips to help you land an interview.
Coaching: if you’re looking for one-on-one help as you put together your resume, cover letter, or portfolio, sign up for a session with one of our fabulous coaches.
After the Interview: you didn’t think I would tell you to kick back and relax when the interview is over, did you? Don’t worry. There’s plenty of time for you to celebrate your interview successes. But first, check out my tips for follow-up after an interview.
Wrapping It Up
I know what a headache the whole job application process can be. I hope my interview tips and resources will help you be as prepared as possible going into your interview. I’ll say it one more time. Preparation is the key to a great interview! You can never be too prepared, in my opinion.
Now, I want you to head over to The Hangout, a community for new and aspiring instructional designers and instructional design lovers at every experience level. Share your interview stories, ask questions about the interview process, and more!
The Testimonials are In:
Working with Shanwtay and Katie at the Instructional Design Company was a dream come true. Their creativity, expertise, and professionalism throughout the entire process was beyond top notch. I engaged them to help turn my first book into a training course, and I could not be happier with how the final product turned out. If you have an instructional design project and you’re considering which company to work with, you can stop your search and thank me later. They are truly the best in the business.
I joined the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program because I struggled to find jobs in instructional design beyond the development phase. I’ve done a couple of training programs with lots of random projects, but I was overwhelmed, not connecting the dots, and not good at structuring my writing to hit learning objectives. I was looking for motivation and direction at beginning a better Instructional Designer.
After taking the Instructional Design & Tech Certificate program and joining my fantastic team for support, I found the structure and approach to be what I need to take my next steps, evening improving my skills in the development stage.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I love how this course let’s you work at your own pace. I got great tips and learned many things. The ongoing support for multiple people and groups is what I love the best. You are never alone in this process. I have been able to adjust my resume and began creating a portfolio of work I’ve completed to add when applying for jobs. I use many of the PowerPoint skills in my lessons and trainings. I would highly recommend this for anyone wanting to become an instructional designer.
Teacher, Future Instructional Designer
I have searched for the last few years to find some suitable career change where I wouldn’t have to earn another degree and where I could use the talents and skills I already have as a teacher. When I came across the Instructional Design Accelerator course, I loved the fact that Shawntay was a former teacher and could relate to a teacher’s need to transition from the classroom. This was what sold the course for me. Her experiences are invaluable especially when translating teacher duties to instructional designer duties. I would (and have) recommended this program to other teachers I know who are looking to transition out of the classroom. I do appreciate ALL of her feedback on my projects!
L&D Project Manager
The Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator certificate program is one of the most comprehensive ID programs out there for beginners. If you’re looking to grow your schools in ID and development then I highly recommend this program. Not only will this program give you an overview of theory, but you will receive a thorough walkthrough of how to apply what you have learned. Although I had already secured a position in Learning & Development when I bought this course, it helped me to move up into a new position as a Learning & Development Project Manager!
Future Instructional Designer
If you have any interest in ID, sign up for this program NOW! Shawntay and her team are top notch! The course content exceeded my expectations in a big way and the encouragement and support continues to be so valuable. You will not feel alone going through this course, you will learn so much, you’ll have many cheerleaders, and you will have fun!
Future Instructional Designer
I am really enjoying this program! It’s prerfect for someone who is thinking about a career shift to Instructional Design and does not have a lot of experience. This is my first real introduction to Instructional Design and it’s been the perfect beginner course to help me get my feet wet. The modules are broken down well and it’s great to go at your own pace and at your own time. The modules themselves are very comprehensive and you learn a lot from all of them. I really like how each one build upon each other and you’re working towards the bigger project of designing your first training course from scratch. I’m learning so much from going through this course! I was provided great feedback from Katie and Shawntay through the process via Trello Boards, comments on the Google documents, and Facebook group. This course has been well worth the time and effort and I appreciate the fact that I will always have the resources available to me after I complete the training (just in case I’m not quite ready to transition yet).
Future Instructional Designer
I can’t say enough great things about the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program! The length of the program is perfect; it doesn’t feel rushed and there’s just the right amount of structure to give you the accountability you need. There are so many opportunities to get live answers to any questions you have related to the course content or anything ID-related! This program gave me the support and structure I needed to both feel affirmed in the relevant skills I already had coming in and to fill in the gaps I had as a career-changer going into ID. Shawntay, Katie, and all the coaches are super helpful and supportive. I now feel confident that I have the tools and access to resources I need to apply for ID jobs without wondering if there’s something I’m “missing” in the preparation process. I’d highly recommend this program to anyone wanting to transition into ID or who just wants to brush up on their skills in the field.
Krista Johnson Awomoyi
Freelance Instructional Designer
I’d highly recommend the Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program. I’m blown away by how much I learned in just 12 weeks. I had ID experience prior to taking this course and was just looking to get a better understanding of applying adult learning principles. This course well exceeded my expectations! Not only did I gain a clear understanding of adult learning principles, I was also able to apply those principles by creating assets for your portfolio using PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere Pro and Storyline. The hands on support that we received was top notch.
This program is one of the most robust yet fulfilling L&D programs I’ve seen. I learned so much about the industry and about the limitlessness of my own capabilities. I am so appreciative of Shawntay and all of the trainers who took part in the program. They went above and beyond with not only guiding, but communicating live and working one on one or in small groups. If you are on the fence, I say take the leap and you will not regret it! There’s so much to learn, not only from the trainers, but also the learners in your group. Everyone comes in with their own skills and can be additional support and guidance for you. Thank you for creating this program!
Instructional Designer Training Facilitator
Shawntay is an amazing individual. She is very knowledgeable in all aspects of ID and eLearning. She is also very compassionate and loves to help and see everyone around her grow and prosper. Shawntay has been a great mentor to me and she has helped me mature as an instructional designer and eLearning developer. She has provided me with opportunities when others have overlooked me. I am very grateful to have met and built a lifelong relationship with Shawntay.
I recently got hired into my first instructional design / training position and Shawntay was one of the first people to congratulate me!
Freelance Instructional Designer
My teacher-to-instructional-designer journey began two years ago when I left my teaching comfort zone and started my first freelance ID job. Now, I’m stepping out of the classroom and taking my freelance work full-time, so I’m thrilled to be joining the Tech Accelerator program. Adding technologies like Articulate 360 and Adobe Premiere Pro to my qualifications will help me take my courses to the next level and attract more clients!
Teacher Transitioning into Instructional Design
I am genuinely grateful for this course. I wanted a real-world perspective and feel like I got it. I’m teaching now, but nearing retirement age but can see myself working as an instructional designer well into my retirement years. My other goal is to take as many courses in statistics as possible in hopes of bringing some mathematical precision to the ROI question. Like you say, getting accurate metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but I intend to work on that part. That’s unimportant right now, what is important is the fact that I feel like this course was well worth every penny I spent and I would to it again in a heartbeat. I have too much going on right now, but as soon as I get some time freed up I intend to take your course in project management.
Turns Your Written Thoughts Into a Masterpiece!
Shawntay Skjoldager can turn your written thoughts into a masterpiece. She is great to work with and the most organized person I know!
President and CEO, The Creative Entreprenuer
Shawntay has been incredible!
Shawntay has been incredible and her team is responsive and effective in translating my training programs into professional presentations. Don’t hesitate to contact her for your project.
Beth B. De Lima, MBA, SPHR-CA, SHRM-SCP
President and Principal of HRM Consulting, Inc.
IDC is My Secret Weapon to Soar Above My Competition!
The IDC team has been my secret and special weapon of success. They have delivered above and beyond with every single project out in front of them. They have met and beat timelines. They have been Uber responsive every step of the way. I keep them on speed dial and have and continue to recommend them to friends and clients. If you are in need of instructional design and plenty more, this is THE ALL-STAR team that will more than deliver and help make you and your project soar above the competition.
LT. COL. Jason O. Harris
U.S. Air Force Officer, Special Operations Pilot, U.S.A.F. Academy Instructor, Motivational Speaker
A Tremendous Asset to the Project Team!
Working with Shawntay and the Instructional Design Company has allowed our university to meet the growing demands of our programs. Shawntay’s expertise allowed for the course development to be completed on time and met all of the university requirements. Shawntay’s project management skills were phenomenal and allowed my team to work on other areas while she completed this project for us. Her work is of high quality and her professionalism and willingness to help made her a tremendous asset to the project team.
Academic Quality Assurance Specialist, Abilene Christian University
Creative & Highly Talented!
Shawntay is a creative and highly talented instructional designer. She brought a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and leadership that enabled her to own the design and creation of a full scale facilitator curriculum and train-the-trainer program. It was a pleasure to partner with Shawntay, her project management and communication skills ensured the project was on time and on budget.
Breaks Down Mammoth Projects
“Shawntay is quick study and carefully synthesizes information for presentations that are clear, concise and captivating. Her personality draws the audience in and her content mastery is excellent. A team player and organizer, Shawntay has the ability to break down mammoth projects, keep everybody on time and on task.”
Author, Speaker, Strengths Coach
“I have had many opportunities to work with Shawntay—mainly in the support of implementing new eLearning initiatives. I have been very impressed by her ability to quickly learn how to use rapid eLearning development tools and effectively use them to create multiple courses within a short timeframe. Shawntay’s enthusiastic nature, attention to detail, and dedication to her work make her a pleasure to work with and a great asset to both Texas A&M University-Commerce and the broader training community within the Texas A&M University System.”
Director of Learning Strategy, Caveo Learning
Top Notch Professional
Working with Shawntay has been an immense pleasure. She is atop notch professional who brings enthusiasm and extensiveexpertise to professional curriculum development and execution. Her knowledge of tried and true techniques to maximize the effectiveness of presentations is invaluable.
Nancy Drapeau, PRC
Vice President of Research, CEIR - Center for Exhibition Industry Research
Fortunate to Find Shawntay!
“I was fortunate to find Shawntay when our organization was looking to expand and update our educational offerings. Shawntay proved herself to be an educational and personal development expert who immediately made an impact with our clients throughout Europe. Everyone who came into contact with Shawntay was immediately impressed by her level of expertise and willingness to share her knowledge with those around her. I would not hesitate to recommend Shawntay to anyone looking for an education subject matter expert.”
Director of Qualifications and NSD Services, Mary Kay Inc.
Short Turn Around. On Time. Under Budget!
“We hired Shawntay to develop a training facilitator’s guide and PowerPoint slide deck for an operations manual heavy with technical content. The project was made more challenging by a very short turn around, 5 business days, and the fact that the operations manual wasn’t complete and was being updated simultaneously with the facilitator’s guide and slide deck. Despite these challenges, Shawntay delivered as promised. On time and under budget.”
Dave Beeman, CPP
Vice President, Andy Frain Services
Need an Expert Who Consistently Delivers?
“Working with Shawntay you will immediately notice her professional presence and poise, but over time her tenacious pursuit of excellence and her skills in instructional development and adult learning will really impress you. I worked with her at Mary Kay, and was able to experience firsthand her great rapport with regional partners in Europe, understanding their unique sales force training needs. In addition, Shawntay consistently exhibited grace under pressure, made executive decisions to move business forward. If you are looking for an expert who consistently delivers and goes the extra mile to get things done, contact Shawntay!”
Marketing Director, Academic Partnerships
Quality Products & Solutions!
“I had had the pleasure of knowing and working with Shawntay on more than a few occasions. I found her to be a very good business partner and very committed to delivering a quality product or solution in a timely manner. I have always had a positive experience in partnering with Shawntay and would recommend that you consider leveraging her talent.”
Judy Owen, CPC
Transformational Leadership Coach
“Invest in yourself and take your skills to the next NEXT level!”
Get yourself signed up for Shawntay Skjoldager’s Instructional Design & Tech Accelerator Certificate Program today and be on your way to success! Within the first week of taking her course, you will experience growth! Be sure to plug into her Facebook Q&A sessions for personalized help, too. This is THE course to take if you are new to instructional design or have landed on the training team and need help getting started.
Managing Partner, PHiG
“Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!”
Shawntay has exceptional knowledge and experience with all aspects of creating and implementing effective, performance based training for adults. She is exceptional at needs analysis – identifying target audiences and collaborating with business owners to keep training focused on business needs. And she is great to work with – always providing great support to get projects done on-time and on-target. She is always on the look-out for new and more effective ways to engage learners. Her enthusiasm for adult learning is contagious!
eLearning Developer/Instructional Designer, Vivos Therapeutics
I have known and worked with Shawntay as a education program director and use the expertise of ShawntayMichelle for the development of my presentations. The service has always been “spot on” with professionalism, care and attention. Shawntay’s recommendations to my ideas make me look good to my clients.
Al Lomas CMP, CEM, CMM, CFE
Owner, Certified Consulting Services
“Shawntay Skjoldager reached in and made my training life so much easier!”
I am new to the training design and development world and I was SO excited to get in there, but I really lacked the real-world knowledge that would set me apart from my peers. And, then Shawntay Skjoldager walked into my life with an outstretched hand and a seemingly endless list of ways to knock every training out of the park. From the Training Analysis Form to the Tay Tay tips, this course made my life so much easier and even ironed out the review process that I had been struggling with for months.
Take time to invest in your own learning and make sure to put Shawntay Michelle at the top of your personal development list!
Training Specialist, LegalShield