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Interviewing: Questions to Ask the Interviewer

#becomeanidol #besthire #careerchange #elearning #idolcourses #instructionaldesign #interviewing Oct 21, 2021

If you’re actively looking and applying for jobs, analysing job ads and preparing CVs might feel like a part-time job in itself. Then, when you get to the interview stage, there’s more preparation to do.

There are many websites out there to give you tips about nailing the interview. One of these is IDOL member Amanda Kulik’s blog where she shares many tips and useful links to help you prepare for the interview. You can even check out some common instructional designer interview questions. The Self Made Millennial Youtube channel is another useful resource to help you formulate your answers to some common questions. 

However, many of these resources focus on the questions the interviewer will ask you and how you can impress them. But, the interview is a two-way process. So, you should come prepared with some questions too, not only because you will be asked at the end if you have any, but also because you’d probably want to work out how the role fits you. 

If you’re new to the field, you might not know what to look out for and what to ask. I was in the same situation. Since then, I have created a micro-learning unit for Rumie on this topic. In this blog post, I want to share some common tips and a few of my favourite questions to ask.


First of all, let’s start with the preparation

Before you submitted your application, you’d probably studied the job ad to tailor your CV to the person specification. If at this stage, you haven’t done thorough research on the company, now you should do that too. Use the information gathered in both to write clarifying questions about the role or the company. For example, if you’re still unsure how much authoring tool experience is needed for the role, ask that. If during the research, you’ve come across any red flags, such as low employee retention, make sure to address that politely. 

As part of the preparation, make sure to write these questions down and bring the list to the interview. It’s not a problem at all if the interviewer knows about the list. In fact, I once read that the lack of a list made one hiring manager think that the candidate they were about to hire had come unprepared and eventually they didn’t offer him the job.


So what questions to prepare?

  1. Ask about the company.

You might want to watch out for the company’s financial health if you're worried about your job security, what progression plans they have for the future and how the role might change as the company grows or transforms. You could also ask questions about the company’s culture and values to see how they would fit your own values.

Some of my favourite questions are:

  • How has the company changed since the beginning of Covid? (This can reveal how well the management handles difficulties and how adaptable the company is. It might also indicate the financial health of the company.)
  • What surprised you the most about the company in the last year/2 years? (This is a quite open-ended question, but it allows the interviewer to reflect on their experiences and share positive or negative things about the company.)


  1. Ask about the role. 

Make sure you understand what your potential day-to-day responsibilities include and what challenges you might have to face. You’d also want to know about any development opportunities or progression plans and how your performance will be evaluated.

Some of my favourite questions are:

  • What do you think is the most challenging thing about working with such technical content? (This of course could be adapted, but it gives you an insight into the difficulties you’re likely to face. The interviewer might even share some more challenges about the role or the company.)
  • What will be my priorities for the first 3/6 months and how will you measure my success? (This allows you to learn about the immediate task and perhaps even about why the role is open or what challenges the team is facing. It also makes the interviewer visualise you already working for them which works in your favour.)


  1. Ask about the instructional design team. 

This includes where your role sits within the department, the processes and tools they use, the projects and the timelines they have or work with, and the boss’ management style. 

Some of my favourite questions are:

  • What skillset are you looking to add to the team with the new hire? (The answer might help you to work out how suited you are for the role, and you could also use this opportunity to convince the interviewer that you have that skill.)
  • Of the courses that you rolled out this year, what are you really proud of and what would you like to improve? (While you can research the company, it’s not likely that you can find out much about their courseware, so this is an opportunity to find out more about the type of training they create. You can learn what tools they use and whether you’d enjoy taking part in creating these learning solutions. It might even reveal information about the timelines they have.)
  • Let’s say I had a recommendation to change the format of a learning solution, what channels would I use to have that approved? (I only used this question once when interviewing with a big organisation, but I like it because it reveals information about the ease of communication and how much influence some instructional designers can have on certain things.)


  1. Ask anything else.

Of course, ask anything that matters to you. If you think you and the company are a great match, I’d recommend asking this final question too:

  • Before we finish, is there anything that I can clarify or elaborate on regarding my suitability for the position? (This shows enthusiasm, maybe a bit of dare, and gives you an opportunity to address any concerns before the interview is over.)

When and how to ask these questions?

The interviewer will very likely ask you if you have any questions at the end of the interview. (If not, this should be a red flag.) You can ask these questions then. However, interviews should be like conversations, so whenever you feel the time is right or the topic has come up, I think you could bring your query up. Make sure to cross these off your list. 

I’d say come with at least 5 questions prepared (or even more just in case) and ask at least 2 questions at the end. 


Final tips

Remember, the point of asking questions is to work out whether the role is a good fit for you, but also to show enthusiasm and reassure the interviewer of your qualities. Only ask questions that help you achieve that and don’t waste anybody’s time on questions that you could have easily found out before the interview.

I hope your interview goes well. If not, check out my other blog post about how I improved my interview skills when I was struggling with making it to the next round. 


Written by: Ivett Csordas

Ivett is a teacher turned Learning Content Manager / Instructional Designer. She has over 8 years of experience in secondary schools and 5 years in EFL classrooms. As a life-long learner, she is passionate about sharing knowledge and creating meaningful learning experiences. Her niche is breaking concepts down and anticipating potential learning obstacles. Before the pandemic, she loved watching plays in the theatre and going on backpacking adventures. Connect with her on LinkedIn  or check out her portfolio.