So you’ve made it to the interview stage of your instructional design job search, congratulations! You should be deep into your interview prep by now which means you need some questions to ask during your interview.
Preparing questions to ask during your interview shows:
- Your interest in the position.
- Your interest in the company itself.
- You are prepared for the interview.
- You are a competitive candidate.
Don’t forget, the purpose of this interview is not just for your interviewer to determine if you’re a good fit for the position. Asking questions during your interview will help you decide if you want the job (if it’s offered to you).
If you’ve been following my advice for how to create a killer resume, you applied for this job in the first place because the job description sounded like your dream job. If you’re prepared with the right questions to ask during your interview, you’ll learn more about the job and the company culture. It could turn out this isn’t your dream position after all, and that’s okay!
So how do you know what to ask that will make you seem like a go-getter AND help you decide if it’s a good fit for you? Arrive prepared with a list of questions to ask during your interview!
15 Questions to Ask During Your Interview for an Instructional Design Job
Interviewers will ALWAYS ask, “What questions do you have for me?”, so make sure you have a list ahead of time, write them down in case your mind goes blank! I’ve broken up 15 great questions into four different question categories:
- The position
- The organization
- Your interviewer
- Instructional design specific questions
So skip ahead to the category that speaks to you or skim through the whole list. As you can see, a lot of these questions are useful for any job interview!
Questions About the Position
Before we jump into these enlightening questions to ask during your interview to learn more about the position, I’d like to point out one important thing. None of the questions here are things you would typically figure out from reading the job posting.
While asking questions is a sign of an engaged, interested, potential employee- asking questions that you’d learn the answer to from thoroughly reading the job description or doing a quick Google search will have the opposite effect! Never ask a question that you should already know the answer to.
With that said, let’s look at a few topics that the job descriptions don’t typically cover.
What is the biggest challenge of this position?
First, this answer will show you what skills you’ll need to be successful in practice. Often, the desired skills on a job posting reflect Human Resource’s idea of the job instead of the real-life practice.
Your interviewer’s response may also reveal areas where the existing team struggles. For example, if they say “well communication is key, you’ve got to be on top of your teammates to make sure you get the content you need and can stick to your deadlines”. To me, that sounds like right now, the team isn’t communicating well!
Maybe communication and organization are strengths of yours. In which case, you can use this question both to learn about the job AND to work in another way you could contribute in this position. See what I did there? Questions can lead to follow-ups from you that further highlight your strengths.
What do the day-to-day responsibilities of this position look like?
Here you’ll get an idea of what your daily routine would be in this role. It’s also another opportunity to figure out which required or desired skills you’ll actually be using.
If the interviewer would be your direct superior, you can also use their answer to get an idea of what they personally expect from the employee on a day-to-day basis. This means if you’re offered the position and you accept, the expectations are already on the table.
Where can I provide the most value to the team right away?
Another great question that shows your willingness to dive right in! You might learn what your interviewer considers to be an area where there’s a gap that you can fill or a weakness you can strengthen.
What would be my first project?
Get your interviewer thinking about you in the role is a great tactic because it attaches your name to the role and, better yet, a specific project that’s coming up.
How would my performance be measured in this position?
Here’s another question that asks your interviewer to imagine you in the role. If you’re not comfortable going there quite yet, don’t sweat it. You can always leave this as a follow-up if you’re invited in for another round of interviews!
If your interviewer has a clear answer, that’s great. That means there are clear expectations as well as indicators of whether those expectations are being met. There may be a formal process the company uses for evaluations or it may be department specific.
On the other hand, maybe there’s not a straight answer for this question. That can also reveal a lot about a position and the company you’re interviewing for.
Questions About the Interviewer
An interview that feels more like a conversation leaves a better impression on your interviewer. Since your first goal is to stand out as a candidate, you want your interviewer to leave the conversation feeling good about your talk.
Asking questions engages your interviewer and allows them to talk about themselves, their work, and their company.
What is your leadership style?
Have your interviewer describe what they’re like as a leader or what approach they take to project management. Whether the management style seems strict or casual, you know what style works best for you. Use this information to better decide if this is the right environment.
If you’re speaking with a recruiter, you’ll want to skip this question. But you can still get a good idea if you’re interviewing with a senior team member who wouldn’t be your direct superior. Just ask “what’s the leadership style like from management?” instead.
What do you like most about working for this company?
This is one of those questions to ask during your interview that hits multiple goals. First, you get the interviewer to talk about him or herself.
Second, you’ll learn about the company culture. Notice if your interviewer mentions their colleagues, the value of their work, the office environment. These might all just be personal preferences, but they can also shine a light on what’s great about the company.
Notice what’s not said too, but bear in mind this is just one person’s opinion!
What changes or innovations in the company/industry are you looking forward to or most excited by?
This last one is one of my favorites. It shows you what your interviewer is passionate about and it can be a way to learn about exciting new projects that the company has in the pipeline.
It’s also a good way for you to stay up to date on trends in the field.
Questions About the Organization
Your expressed interest in the organization shows that you care about the wider reach of what your work would be if you were on the team. You can also learn more about the company’s culture than what you’ll find on their website or LinkedIn.
What are the other roles on the team?
Enthusiasm about teamwork is always a good look! Plus you’ll learn if there’s an e-learning developer, a graphic designer, a training facilitator, a video editor, etc…
Does the company offer any career development opportunities?
So many companies understand the importance of upskilling their current workforce with in-house training. Show you’re passionate about life-long learning opportunities for yourself as well as the learners you design for.
How would you describe the culture here?
When you’re working in the same place, with the same people day-in and day-out, you’ve got to feel like it’s the right environment for you. Whether it’s casual or traditional and whether colleagues are Facebook-friends or just-talk-to-me-at-work friends. Just like management styles, different work environments suit different people. It’s all about what works best for you.
Instructional Design Specific Questions
When you’re brainstorming questions to ask during your interview, you might not automatically think of instructional design-specific questions. Especially if this is your first position in instructional design!
I’ve got a few good questions that will give you insight into a specific company’s instructional design process.
Do you have a preferred Instructional Systems the team follows?
You can preface this by stating which process you’ve used before or are most familiar with. Or, follow up with this after you’ve been asked what your process is.
How do you handle graphics/video editing / eLearning development?
If these things haven’t already been mentioned, it’s worth an ask! Especially if you’re interviewing as a consultant or for a company that doesn’t already have an instructional design strategy.
I’ve interviewed to work on multiple projects where the company didn’t fully know what an instructional designer does. If I hadn’t asked this question, they wouldn’t have realized that their vision for training needed a whole team, not just an instructional designer.
How involved would I be in course implementation?
I asked this question in one of my first instructional design interviews with a university. The team had given me a thorough run-down of their process and didn’t mention anything about the implementation or assessment phases.
The teacher in me loves to improve on a course after it’s been implemented, so I asked! They were impressed to hear that I cared about how training was received and appreciated my eagerness. Unfortunately, the answer was, “we send the course off and never get to touch it again.” That position wasn’t for me, but the question is one I’m keeping in my back pocket.
Want to gauge your performance during an interview? Why not ask:
How do I compare to other candidates?
If you’re feeling pretty good about the conversation, this is a great way to see how you stack up. If you’re missing key skills or other candidates have notable strengths, it’s good to know so you can start working on those things!
Still, need some help? Join the conversation in my Facebook community, The Hangout for new and aspiring instructional designers. I did a live session on how to rock your instructional design interview. You can also schedule a one-on-one coaching session with me for even more interview tips.