October 5, 2021

  |  

Elena Obolonskaia

5 ways to prep for your next Instructional Design job interview

5 ways to prep for your next Instructional Design job interview
Are you in a career transition, seeking employment after a break, or looking for your first place in Learning and Development? In this post, we’ll share ideas (and examples!) on how to boost your application by creating an ID career asset in 7taps.

Scenarios we’re going to cover:

  1. A digital resume or a mini-portfolio
  2. An engaging alternative to a cover letter
  3. A sample course showcasing your microlearning skills
  4. A quick way to crack job interview assignments
  5. A memorable post-interview “thank you”

Bonus content: Get Expert advice on landing that ID job

“What’s amazing about 7taps, is that you can utilize it in so many ways during the job application/interview process. You can use it as a mini-portfolio and link it from your resume, you can use it as a separate “What My Resume Won’t Tell You” piece, you can have a 7taps course on your portfolio to showcase your microlearning skills, and you can (and should) use it when it comes time for the presentation or project part of the interview. You can even use it to create a post-interview “thank you!”
Sarah Cannistra

Let’s dive into these examples.

1. Create a digital resume or a mini-portfolio

Interviewers and hiring managers are overloaded with drab template resumes and enormous eLearning portfolios. Why not surprise them with a more modern CV? Something that stands out, is mobile-friendly, and super engaging.

“7taps would be a great way for job seekers to introduce themselves and their skills to potential employers, and make a creative, lasting impression! Users can create a course that introduces themselves and their skills, and finishes up with links to their LinkedIn and contact information, to send to prospective employers along with their resumes or cover letters”
Stacey Hulseberg

❤️ Pro tip

If you’re including your instructional design portfolio in the same 7taps — don’t forget to add information about the projects presented. Mention its goals, training needs, learning objectives, audience, industry, software, and learning outcomes.

2. Include an engaging alternative to a cover letter

A wide range of professional skills doesn’t fully describe a person. To stand out from piles of qualified candidates, you need a memorable cover letter. So, even if you choose the more formal resume approach (rather than our digital CV idea above), you can still add a fun, engaging touch to your application with an informal introduction using 7taps.

“My content came about because I felt a bit boxed in by the limits placed on resume’ content with regards to ATS scoring and being seen by a human. It was my outlet to create something that captures more of the real me, my humor, some creativity, and ability to tell my story in a different way. 7taps was a great authoring tool to do this.”
Doene Standley

3. Showcase your microlearning skills in a sample course

“Several of my mentees have been hired after the interview team reviewed their 7taps assets!”
Cheryl Oberlin

Use 7taps to showcase your skills, knowledge, or professional interests. Create samples for your eLearning portfolio, especially if you’re just starting your instructional design career. Practice creating your learning materials —this will speed up the design process.

Here is a great example:

Problem Solving by Brendan Cox, Blend Interactive Content

4. Crack instructional design job interview assignments

Often during the interview process, besides screening questions you’ll be given a test assignment to complete for your potential employer. Creating a fully functional elearning course in a traditional LMS might be time-consuming, especially if you do that for several companies you’d consider working for. Remember that day when you spent hours drafting a storyboard but they never called back?

Use this opportunity to quickly create a course in 7taps. You’ll impress your hiring manager with your use of mobile-friendly technology and knowledge of microlearning best practices.

“I was asked to create a training session for adults about TikTok, to present to an interview panel. I used 7taps as a way to explain the concept of microlearning, and also to discuss the value of microlearning and demonstrate how it fits into the larger picture of processing and learning. The course: was very well received.”
Stacey Huseberg

7taps lowers the costs of working on test projects: no cumbersome software, no graphic design skills are needed. You can come up with a tailored course for any potential employer in about 15 minutes.

“If you are using it as part of a presentation/project, it should be created with your audience in mind and showcase your ability to create an impactful microlearning course. Pro tip: Use their branding (colors, logo, font), as well as imagery from their website to really stand out.”
Sarah Cannistra

5. Send a memorable “thank you” for the post-interview

Even if you don’t think you have all the experience that the position requires, showcasing your skillset with enthusiasm goes a long way. A motivated novice that’s eager to learn and explore is a great catch for any company.

Show that you’re interested in THE specific position, not just in getting hired. Create a thank you message or a proper follow-up for your dream job gatekeeper.

❤️ Pro tip

Reiterate to the hiring manager the key points that you want to be remembered for. And, if you two connected over a shared hobby or experience, don’t be afraid to reference that. Just keep it professional.

Wait, but why use a microlearning tool for job application materials?

The idea came directly from the 7taps community. We are consistently surprised and inspired by the content they create and share. Since remote work became the new normal, instructional designers, curriculum creators, eLearning developers, and corporate trainers have started using 7taps for informal communication, distance education, training programs, and more.

“First, on-the-go microlearning is more important than ever now. People need to be able to access the information they need, when and where they need it, to perform their jobs well. Showing a potential employer that you have the skills and abilities to create, and create quickly, will absolutely set you apart from the competition.

The second reason is that since 7taps is a newer platform, many companies may not know about it, or that story-based microlearning is something they need. Being able to introduce a company to a platform like 7taps shows future employers that you are forward-thinking when it comes to technology. Finally, it’s a great way to get content to future employers fast and showcase your abilities and personality.”

Sarah Cannistra

In short, 7taps defies the box. It’s so much more than niche software. Using 7taps, you can signal that you are:

  • Up-to-date with technology and current trends (like microlearning)
  • Open and curious to try new unconventional tools (i. e. you’re an early adopter)
  • Eager to invest time in developing customized educational or instructional materials
  • Go out of your way to make an impression

Get Expert advice on landing that first (or next) instructional design job

Cara North

We reached out to the L&D expert, the author of How to Ace Your Instructional Design Interview book, Cara North. She shared with us three vital questions that an Instructional Designer needs to ask when looking for a new place. Questions that would help you with both: telling a hiring manager you are curious about how the organization operationalizes L&D and getting more information about the role. 

1. Where does L&D sit in the organization?

The answer will likely be different at each organization. But at least by asking this question, it shows you are aware of where L&D can sit in other organizations and can also determine if you feel like that position is a fit for you.

If the answer is "IT"

The good is that the L&D department may have access to more robust resources (e.g., funding for Learning Management Systems). The downside is IT often has to deal with prickly internal and external customers and can be perceived as a big expense to an organization. I used to sit in the L&D function in an IT department, and I had to turn my projects into "tickets," which made me feel like I was just there to be tech support.

If the answer is "HR"

The good is that you are often tied into fringe L&D assignments (e.g., employee engagement surveys, career pathing). The bad is that you might feel like a "compliance course factory." Depending on the organization, there may be no wiggle room for creativity and autonomy when creating the courses for employees. Also, L&D folks who sit in HR often must compile audit review documentation and other forms of reporting to uphold various laws and standards that the organization has to enforce.

If the answer is "Operations"

Such L&D typically have better access to trainees and subject matter experts since they usually come from the same bucket of the organization. Also, these L&D can get the near-instant gratification of seeing the impact of the learning experiences they create; the feedback loop is often richer as the department is seen as more accessible and open to feedback. L&D in operations often create learning experiences for frontline workers of the organization. A downside is that it may take a lot of education to explain the role of L&D when in operations.

If the answer is "Own department"

This could make the function more vulnerable to the organization's ebbs and flows, and it can be more difficult to do your job depending on how the organization is structured. These L&D often deal with less autonomy, tighter deadlines, and more layers of red tape to complete a project. Additionally, projects may be managed outside of the L&D function, adding an extra level of stress.

2. What is the composition of the L&D department and how are projects managed?

Some of the answers you may receive include (but are not limited to): curriculum developer, educational technologist, LMS admin, knowledge management specialist, eLearning developer, instructional designer, learning experience designer, and project manager. 

Some departments have each team member manage their own projects, and sometimes it can be the role of the senior ID (or team manager). If it's a team where everyone has the same role, you may be expected to adopt the team's style — there could be less room for creativity & originality. 

Through this answer, you should also be able to determine if the team is composed of generalists (who know a bit about everything and likely own their own project from start to finish), or designers with more T-shaped knowledge (they have deep expertise in one/two areas and can do other functions in a limited capacity).

3. Why is this position open?

Sometimes it is answered in the interview process, but if it isn't, please ask. Use the information from this question to determine if you are going to be cleaning up someone else's mess or if the team is growing.

Ready to make use of the tips? Create your career assets in minutes: 7taps.com

If you have used 7taps throughout your career transition — we’d love to hear your story. Email us at hello@7taps.com

BIG thanks and love to our proactive community for providing noteworthy advice, comments, examples, and endless inspiration for this blog post:

  • Donene Standley, Learning Experience Designer & Consultant
  • Sarah Cannistra, L&D Career Coach & Chief Learning Officer
  • Stacey Hulseberg, Education Specialist/Instructional Designer
  • Cheryl Oberlin, E-learning Consultant
  • Brendan Cox, Design Consultant for eLearning
  • Cara North, Learning & Development Leader, Speaker, & Researcher. Author of How to Ace Your Instructional Design Interview

7taps Community Edition is free — forever

Get started today
Create a free account