Shaiza Wan

7 things to look for when hiring a learning designer

Shaiza Wan has placed hundreds of learning designers in organisations, and with over 13 years’ experience in talent acquisition, she knows a thing or two about what to look for when hiring a learning designer.

So you need to hire a learning designer (instructional designer) to join your team, but how do you spot a really good one from an average one? First port of call is always their portfolio and investigating their past projects and experience. But beyond that, what are the key things you should look for? Also if you’re reading this as a learning designer it’s your chance to get insights into what we’re looking for when hiring, so get that inside knowledge and see how you align with these ideas.

Here are my top 7 things to look for in a strong learning designer and also a few tips on how to spot these things or good questions to ask to determine how someone may rate in these areas:


1. Learner focused

A good learning designer needs to be people focused and put the learner first. They should keep the learner at the forefront of their minds throughout the design process. The best way to go about this is to imagine themselves as the learner, and the ideal learning experience they would want to have, and then design according to that mindset.

How to spot this:

  • Ask them ‘What are the first three questions you’d ask when being given a new project brief?’ Answer – you’d hope the learner would come in the top three questions they’d ask, if not the number-one question – Who is the learner? Or Who is the audience for this project?


2. Solutions focused

Having the ability to come up with creative solutions to problems is gold and a must-have skill to look for. They need to be open-minded to try different approaches to find a solution that works best. Out-of-the-box thinking is highly encouraged.

How to spot this:

  • Give your candidates a theoretical brief or learning challenge. Compare solutions and give credit to those that provide a non-traditional approach that also demonstrates effectiveness.


3. Curiosity is key

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it is an essential characteristic to look for in a learning designer. An inquisitive learning designer will go out of their way to fully understand the content they are working with and to discover the best solutions to achieve the outcomes. They are lifelong learners and eager to discover new methods of conveying information.

How to spot this:

  • Do they ask interesting questions in the interview process?
  • Do they continuously upskill to keep up to date on trends in the industry?
  • Ask the question – ‘What are you learning at the moment?’


4. People skills

A good learning designer should be adaptable, able to communicate and work well with different members of the team. They shouldn’t be shy to reach out and ask questions to get the information needed. They will also take on feedback in a positive light to modify their learning design according to that.

How to spot this:

  • You should get a good ‘feel’ for this in the interview process, but also their references and reputation will be key to understanding how they communicate and manage their relationships.


5. Manage time effectively

Time is money. Look for someone that can manage their time efficiently and stick to deadlines as far as possible. A learning designer that is self-driven will have that intrinsic motivation to get the work done to a high standard.

How to spot this:

  • Did they turn up to the interview on time?
  • Ask them how they currently manage their projects.
  • Ask them if they’ve ever needed an extension on a project.
  • Ask them how they feel about working towards a deadline.


6. Working with ambiguity

A good learning designer can work with a big chunk of information and organise it in a way that makes sense to the learner. They will be able to work with uncertainty and will be flexible. They're the kind of person that’s able to find the needle in the haystack.

How to spot this:

  • Ask them how they manage working in uncertainty.
  • Ask them how they’d approach a project with moving parameters.


7. One of a kind

Find that spark of greatness that will add value to the team. Every learning designer will have a different skill set that sets them apart. Think about the specific requirements you are after and make that the focus. Whether it is creative writing, branching scenarios, technical content or a combination of it all, make sure that you find that specific stroke of brilliance.

How to spot this:

  • Ask them – What makes you stand out?
  • What’s your point of difference to other learning designers?


Need to find a learning designer to join your team?

Book a free consultation with Shaiza Wan, our Learning and Development Talent Specialist who can help you find the right person quickly.

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