Top 3 Instructional Design Interview Tips

You’ve been hunting for an Instructional Design gig and have finally secured an interview – congratulations! Here are some of my top Instructional Design interview tips – I hope they help, and be sure to comment below if you have any other questions.

Note: I’ve been a panel member on hiring committees for many Instructional Designers throughout my career, so these tips come based on things I’ve learned from interviewing others as well as interviewing for positions myself.

1.Be Able to Talk the Talk (and back it up)

Having a formal background in education (e.g., Bachelor of Education, Masters of Education, or diploma/certificate related to Instructional Design) doesn’t hurt and will definitely provide you with a leg up on other applicants who are without such education, but it’s not necessary. Many Instructional Designers are accidental and have become successful in their roles through on-the-job training. If that’s you’re situation, don’t let that deter you from applying to positions!

The key here, regardless of your education, is to be able to talk the talk, and back it up. What do I mean by that? Most Instructional Design interviews I’ve been a part of ask questions related to learning theories, Instructional Design processes, and instructional strategies. These are things that as an Instructional Designer you will use daily, but likely subconsciously, so before you head into an interview, brush up on things like:

  • Blooms Taxonomy
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • Behaviourism/Cognitivism/Constructivism
  • Rapid Prototyping/Storyboarding
  • How you work through Instructional Design projects (step-by-step)

If you’re new to Instructional Design or need to brush up on the theory, check out Essentials of Instructional Design, a 10-module comprehensive course covering the end-to-end process of Instructional Design.

2.Have a Portfolio

I’ve been beating a dead horse for YEARS about the necessity of having a portfolio. Even if you don’t do much in terms of development, you can showcase different elements of your Instructional Design career, such as storyboards, graphics, etc. If you do development, showcase samples of projects you’ve built out. Very few interviewees I’ve encountered have had a prepared portfolio ready to go, and most roles I’ve encountered now request one.

A portfolio will definitely boost your chances of securing a gig, because you’re not just talking about things you’ve done, you’re showing them! You’re providing proof that you’re an exceptional Instructional Designer, and that you’re not just fluffing yourself up.

I won’t drone on about portfolios, but if you want to learn more, check out some of my previous posts:

2.Do Some Research!

This could be research related to Instructional Design or just the organization or institution you’re interviewing at. I’ve been floored by interviewees you can’t answer basic questions (or even muster trying to answer the questions) about the organization/institution or why they want to work for the organization/institution. Coming in for any role unprepared really doesn’t do yourself any favours. Some applicants will be able to answer these questions (to the best of their abilities) and it will make them look more desirable than those who come unprepared.

In terms of Instructional Design, I would recommend also researching some recent studies or industry articles so that you’re familiar with things that are going on in the industry and/or are more familiar with current terminology (especially important if you’re applying for your next Instructional Design role after working within the same role for many years).


  1. Ben Butina says

    Solid advice, as always. We’re lucky to work in a field where we can demonstrate our abilities instead of just talking about them. With that said, I’ll share my super-top-secret-ninja interview tip: create something for the interviewing company. Go out to their website, pull down their logo and color scheme, grab some information from their about page, and create a few minutes’ worth of courseware/video/etc. based on it. You’ll really stand out.

    I used to think of this tactic as my secret sauce. After sharing it with several IDs who came to me for advice on job searching, however, I’ve learned that almost no one is willing to do the work. Now I feel comfortable sharing it without much fear that the market will be flooded. I suspect the kind of people who read this blog might be the kind of people who could benefit from it, though.

    • Ashley says

      That’s a great tip! It might come up in my recommendations from here on out; thanks, Ben! And yes – the folks who read this blog and/or the interview tips or portfolio posts would definitely benefit. Thanks again 🙂

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