Training specialist trains new hires, conduct orientation sessions, help the employees to improve on their skills, and evaluate the effectiveness of training programs. It is an interesting and rewarding position, but you will have to pass a difficult interview to get this job. The typical interview process for training specialist consists in three parts:
- A brief phone interview with HR manager or HR generalist (screening questions),
- A face to face session with one of the managers or with an external recruiter (behavioral and technical questions)
- A personality test (optional but common in big companies).
In many cases though, you will deal with all questions in a single interview session. Let’s have a look at some of them right now.
How would you identify the training needs?
Without a proper skills gap analysis, we can hardly do a good job. Stress the importance of this step, and demonstrate your knowledge of most common tools that help us to understand the level of desired skills of new hires, such as assessments, practical case studies, interviews, performance reviews feedback, etc.
Do not forget the very first step (which is often forgotten by HR professionals), the proper understanding of desired skills for each given position, the so-called “ideal candidate profile”.
In my experience, however, the most crucial step is done when recruiting new staff. People do not change easily, and not everyone is capable of learning certain skill or changing the way they approach their job. However, consider carefully whether you mention this in your answer or not—because recruiting new staff is not within the scope of your duties. You simply have to try your best with the people someone else recruited…
It’s all about comparing the ideal employee profile to the real skills set of a particular employee. Of course, the more we break it down to individual skills and abilities, the better we will be able to test every skill, and eventually identify the training needs for the employee.
In my experience, different skills require different forms of testing. Sometimes a simple interview or questionnaire may suffice, other times a real case study or a computerized exam is required. I have experience with all these tools, and hope to use them effectively to identify training needs.
How would you train a new sales person?
Hiring an excellent salesman is one of the toughest tasks in recruitment. Training someone to become a good salesman is not much easier. Despite of that, many companies follow similar road: They will hire anyone with motivation and decent communication skills, for an entry level sales position. Then they hope that the Training Specialists will turn these people into top-notch salesmen.
In my opinion that’s not possible. But your success in an interview is not about my opinions… It’s about convincing the employer that you can do whatever they expect from you. Talk about the training, step by step, and do not forget to mention that successful salesmen from the company should lead the training (or at least prepare the training material).
Before doing anything else, I would have a one-on-one meeting with top three salesmen from the particular department. I would ask them to outline their strategies, and explain what works and what doesn’t. I may actually ask them to mock the sales presentation. If possible, these people should lead the trainings, and walk new hires through the entire process from discovering leads and making cold calls, to delivering presentations and closing the deals.
My goal is to ensure that they apply correct teaching methods, and lead the training in a meaningful way, so the trainees can actually benefit from the sessions with them.
Another thing that works well, at least in my experience, is assigning new sales people to existing sales teams. If done correctly, they can learn from more experienced colleagues directly in the job, and they can also seek advice or help anytime they need it.
Can you create training materials from scratch?
In an ideal case you should give them an example how you did this before—how you designed training materials from scratch. But even if you have no experience, you should show confidence in your abilities. Say that you consider yourself a creative person, and should not struggle with creating training manuals from scratch. Once you understand the training needs and goals you want to achieve, you should be able to put together decent materials.
I definitely think it is important, since every business is different. We can’t simulate the actual conditions with training materials from another company, or one an external coach prepared. I am a firm believer in creating customized training materials, even for each important hire, since every person is different and requires a different approach (different skills to work on).
I have experience with creating training manuals for call center operators and for sales reps., and I can definitely see myself preparing excellent materials also for other positions. I can work with all common software programs, and prepare materials that are easy to understand and work with.
Why do you think you can be a good training specialist?
You should say that you have good communication skills, can recognize the weaknesses and the strengths of other people in the team, and know how to help them to improve on their weaknesses. You can also say that you love the nature of the job, and that you have relevant experience (if true). You should show some confidence while answering this interview question. Show them that you believe in your skills, and they will also start believing in them.
I believe to have what it takes to become a great training specialist, when it comes to personality traits, character, attitude to work, and also experience. What’s more, I really love the nature of this job, and am ready to give my 100% every day. Combining it with my experience and skills, I cannot see a reason why I would not eventually become an great training specialist, someone that will help the employees take their skills to a new level…
How would you evaluate effectiveness of an educational/training program?
Things are sometimes easier as they seem, and that’s exactly the case with this question. There’s no point in going into lengthy debates of effectiveness of various training programs, comparing internal and external education, e-learning with traditional form of teaching, and so on, and so forth.
Simply say that the key is to measure (as accurately as possible) the level of certain skill and ability before the training, and after the training. Needless to say, a proper skill gap analysis and training needs identification is a prerequisite for your ability to evaluate effectiveness of any training program or method…
I would do it in a very simple way. With the help of a simple test, or a case study, I’d evaluate the level of each particular skill or ability (or knowledge) before the training. Once the training is over, I’d repeat the tests (using different questions), and evaluate the progress in each area, which subsequently defines the effectiveness of the training program.
Apart from the technical (role-specific) questions, you will have to deal with difficult behavioral questions, questions that examine your attitude and approach to various situations that do happen in a job of a training specialist. For example:
- Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.
- What’s the most challenging training scenario you have faced? What did you do?
- Describe a conflict you had with your colleague, someone you were training.
- Tell us about a situation when you reached a goal and how you achieved it.
- Describe a situation when you had to motivate someone in work, for example one of the new hires.
- Narrate a situation when you struggled to communicate something to your colleague, one of the new hires. How did you manage to get your message over?
- Describe a difficult decision you had to make in your professional career. How did making this decision affect you?
- Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
Final thoughts, answers to all 25 interview questions for Training Specialists
Training specialist is a popular job title, and you will always compete with many other people for the position. Interviewers will ask you a variety of personal and behavioral questions, trying to understand your readiness for the job, motivation, and attitude to various situations you will encounter in this job.
If you want to stand out from the competitors in an interview, and tell the hiring managers exactly what they want to hear from you, have a look at an eBook I wrote for you, the Training Specialist Interview Guide.
Multiple brilliant answers to 25 most common interview questions for Training Specialist, including all dreaded scenario-based questions, and winning interview strategies, will help you outclass your competitors and get the job.
Some questions are answered directly on the eBook page, so even if you do not want to purchase anything, you can still check them our here. Thank you, and I wish you best of luck in this difficult interview!
Matthew Chulaw, InterviewPenguin.com
* You can also download the list of questions in a simple one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
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