Whether is it your first or just your next interview for an instructional design position, a training specialist, elearning designer, or employee development consultant, it is a good idea to think about the questions that the hiring manager may ask and think about they may actually mean. We’ve compiled 10 questions that you should be ready to answer in your next interview for a training position.
If you are still trying to identify the right careers in learning and development, but aren’t sure what jobs there are in the field, you may want to start with this article about careers in learning and development. You may also be interested in the fundamentals course in the L&D Pro Academy. It is designed to build, strengthen and sharpen you as a well-rounded L&D professional.
Training Interview Questions About the Position
Why do you want this training position?
What the interviewer may mean when they ask this question:
- Do you even like training and development or are you just looking to escape their current job? Employers may be skeptical that you really want to be in a training position. In some companies, employees are perceived to have sought out training positions to reduce accountability.
- Do you know what we do here? Remember, you aren’t really applying for a training or L&D position, you are applying to work at a company or organization that has a mission.
- What kind of passion do you have for learning and teaching others? Will you find a way to apply that passion to our mission?
What is the position you’re applying for?
What might an interviewer really be asking an applicant for an L&D position when they ask about the job description?
- I know what I want and I wrote it in the job description… did you read the job description? Reading into the details of a job description is important. Some hiring managers will spend a great deal of time with HR shaping the job description. If you only talk about one part of it, maybe you didn’t read the whole document.
- Does your understanding of the job description align with mine? The hiring manager will want to know if you share an understanding of the job. This is also critical to you as an applicant. Job descriptions don’t always mean much once the work starts nor do they often tell an accurate story of the amount of work you’ll do in each category.
- Are you applying for the kind of job you think you’re applying for? The names of L&D roles can be deceptive and unclear. There is no standard. Thus, the hiring manager will want to make sure (and so should you) that you fit this type of job and the work it entails.
Training Interview Questions About Specific Project Work
Tell me about your most recent project.
Does a hiring manager really care about the most recent project? What do they really want to hear when they ask this question?
- We all have our favorite projects… but what are you working on right now? Be prepared to talk about the work you’ve done recently. It doesn’t have to literally be the most recent project, but it should be current. The interviewer may see this as keeping your from cherry picking projects that you want to talk about.
- What is the transition going to be like? Are you working on similar projects? Many people have worked on a variety of projects, but if your last few years have been focused on a particular type of project, L&D Managers want to know that. It could be an indicator for what you’re better at, more interested in, or have more practice delivering.
Tell me about your favorite training project.
What does the hiring manager mean when they ask about your favorite training project?
- What kinds of projects do you get passionate about? The answer can’t be everything. Everyone has a preference and a hiring manager can usually see whether you are really passionate. If they’re smart, they’ll actually ask this question instead of the more generic question about your favorite project.
Training Interview Questions That Focus on Success and Failure
How do you know if your training program is successful?
What does a hiring manager want to know when they ask questions about training program success? The meaning behind this will vary heavily depending on how the organization currently assesses learning.
- How much do you care about the outcomes of your training efforts? This is the more generic reason for this question. Managers want to know whether you are someone who will take a role in L&D and assume that if you teach it the learners should learn it or are you someone who is going to be looking for every opportunity to make sure each program is a success.
- How do you measure success? This question may be about more formal measures or may be about how your work aligns with business goals.
Tell me about a time when you designed a training module (or program) that missed the mark.
Why do hiring managers make us relive our failures?
- Will you admit you are not perfect during this interview? Everyone makes mistakes. Hiring managers in L&D should be more aware that creating a learning culture means acknowledging failures as well as successes. The critical part of the story is what you did with what you learned.
- Again, do you know how to measure success? This question gets at success. What if the training session received high marks from learners but didn’t move the needle on sales for the organization?
Tell me about a time that someone actually did something new or different or better as a result of your training session (or program).
You may hear training interview questions that seem like they’re digging a little deeper. They are. Interviewers may ask you multiple questions about results and you should be ready to talk about them at multiple levels.
- Do you care about what your audience gets from the training session (or program)? The learners are the focus of your efforts.
Time to Flex Your L&D Muscle
How do you keep up to date on the latest trends in learning and development?
This question comes up in a lot of interviews, but has some special meaning for L&D.
- How interested are you in staying on top of your game? Learning & development is an every changing field with new technology, new research, and new ideas.
- What initiative do you take in order to be the best learning and development professional possible?
Why should we hire someone who doesn’t have deep subject matter expertise in our industry?
This question takes a lot of forms because it is a major concern on smaller teams or organizations. The training interview questions they may really be asking are:
- Why should we hire you instead of promoting an in-house subject matter expert? This often goes to the question of whether it is easier to train someone on their content or how to be a trainer.
- Are you willing to learn the content that reduces the burden on the SMEs? Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) usually have some other role that they need to be doing. If they have to do extra work writing training because they didn’t hire someone who knows the content, was it worth it?
- Are you willing to spend a good amount of time writing in their voices?
If I was your learner, what would I experience during one of your training modules?
Interviews may get deeper into the weeds. This is where you get to give examples of the details of work you’ve done.
- Would you engage me… or would you simply provide me with additional time to check my email during your training module?
Interpreting “Tell me about a time” Questions
A little hint on the “Tell me about a time that…” questions: the STAR method of responding can be quite effective. STAR is an acronym for describing the Situation/Task, Action you took and Results you achieved. Be specific! And results-oriented!!
In addition to these training interview questions, you should also be prepared to deliver a sample presentation or present a portfolio of work samples.
If you want to feel more confident in your next L&D job interview, consider joining the L&D experts at the L&D Pro Academy Fundamentals of L&D course. The experience is designed to help you build the skills you need to be successful and feel confident in your new role.