The one interview question I always ask when screening someone for a training position


I’ve been interviewing a lot of people recently for a variety of training positions.

Interviews are a funny phenomenon. Some people interview really well. Other people get quite nervous and struggle mightily. I learned the hard way that you can’t hire someone solely on the strength of their interview performance. Other factors like their resume, work samples, portfolio and performance during a simulated task are also key factors.

There is one question that I’ve found when screening training professionals that offers me insights into how they think and what they identify as important to them: “What is the most interesting training project you’ve ever worked on?”

I’ve found that candidates’ responses to this question help me get to know a host of things about them in a very short period of time, such as:

  1. Creativity. How creative are they when it comes to problem solving? How creative are they when it comes to packaging content and engaging learners?
  2. Impact. It’s one thing to be involved in a project that’s fun. It’s another thing to be involved in a project that leads to measurable change. If you can combine these two things, you have what I would consider to be a very interesting project.
  3. Experience. Was the candidate leading the project? Involved as an individual contributor? Did the candidate have the original idea for the project? Did the candidate play a critical role in turning someone else’s idea into reality?
  4. What am I missing? It’s fun to hear someone talk about an interesting project that is similar to something I’ve done in the past. If the candidate talks about something that I wouldn’t have even dreamed up, they might just be able to bring something to the team that doesn’t currently exist.

As I mentioned earlier, a hiring decision can’t be made on one interview, much less one question. However, asking the right set of questions (and then listening to the quality of questions the candidate asks me) goes a long way in helping me decide whether to move forward with a candidate or not.

Do you have one question that, above all others, you feel can tell you a lot about the person you’re interviewing? Let’s hear about that question in the comment section.

4 thoughts on “The one interview question I always ask when screening someone for a training position

  1. I would never, ever hire anyone for a training position without them conducting an hour sample test-teach. I would let the candidate choose the topic. This shows how they’ve done the ID, how they facilitate conversations, what their slides look like, how they debrief activities (hopefully they HAVE activities) etc. You can even throw some curveballs at them as an audience member to see how they handle stress/pressure

    • I agree with someone who’s going to be delivering training in front of a group (or online if they’ll be facilitating webinars). What do you think of higher level training positions that will be more strategic in nature/responsibilities and less (perhaps no) classroom delivery?

      • That’s a great question, too. It’s very simple and straight forward and honestly I haven’t heard a lot of great answers… on the one hand that’s to be expected. It’s quite difficult to separate the impact of training from other factors. On the other hand, it’s such a good question because you can very quickly identify which candidates have even *thought* about measuring success beyond Level 1 eval scores or simply completing the development of a training program.

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