7 questions you need to ask when hiring an L&D manager

As you're planning to hire your first dedicated Learning & Development (L&D) leader, it's important to ask the right questions during the interview process. Here are seven essential questions that a successful candidate should be able answer.

7 questions you need to ask when hiring an L&D manager
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM / Unsplash

In 2022, it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of Learning & Development (L&D) in enabling your team to excel. With 55% of employees actively looking for roles that provide best-in-class L&D opportunities, companies that invest in training are reaping the rewards when it comes to employee engagement, retention and performance.

However; effective learning and development programmes rely on strong leadership. This means a person at the helm who can mastermind the creation of a cohesive programme of resources, and who can select and deploy the right supporting technologies. Most importantly, this person must be knowledgeable about the L&D space, with the drive and passion needed to make their ideas a reality.  

Of course, when you’re ready to take the leap and hire an L&D manager for your organization, you’ll want to make the right choice the first time around. But that’s easier said than done, especially when you’ve never been through the process before. To support you on this journey, we’ve compiled this list of key questions that should form part of every L&D manager interview process. They’ve been designed to make sure that you find someone who’s the perfect fit for your company and who’ll help you to achieve your shared goals.

1. What does successful workplace L&D look like to you?

The holy grail of successful L&D is alignment with your wider company goals. So your new L&D manager must share your collective vision and be enthusiastic about creating an L&D programme which reflects and supports this.

That could be supporting a culture of innovation by designing a creative skill-building programme specifically to foster an innovation mindset in the workplace. Alternatively, it could involve rolling out data-backed wellbeing training to improve productivity and employee retention. Whatever your current goals, successful L&D should be gauged by its ability to help you meet them.

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2. How will you measure and track progress towards key goals?

So, you’ve established that the candidate is well-aligned with your team’s vision - great! But goals will never be reached without a robust mechanism for measuring your progress towards them.

The best L&D managers will be super-focused on measuring, collecting and  tracking data, and will be able to produce reports to show progress and the impact of their projects.

Successful measuring is likely to involve:

  • Collecting consistent, tailored feedback from employees
  • Collecting and analyzing data on performance and engagement with training
  • Tracking engagement in L&D against other metrics of whole-company performance

3. Which L&D technologies will you use to help us stay ahead of the competition?

Now, this is an important one. As mentioned above, a successful L&D programme depends heavily on tech for measuring and delivery. And with so many innovative solutions emerging in the space - from XR training simulations to Virtual Humans - it’s important to stay in the know and ahead of the competition.

An effective L&D manager will not be hung up on what worked in the past; instead, they’ll be keen to embrace the latest innovations and adopt cutting-edge technologies as part of their programme. A readiness to evolve with new methods, tools and technologies will set your organization apart.

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4. How can remote and hybrid staff be supported to access L&D?

There’s no ignoring the fact that our workplaces have changed irreversibly over the past two years. With the majority of employees preferring a remote or hybrid style, L&D programmes must be made accessible to all - whilst remaining effective.

Your L&D manager should suggest well-thought-out strategies to engage staff working remotely. For example, the development of immersive training simulations that can be accessed from home via mobile or desktop devices. Alternatively, hybrid team training could be delivered in a virtual office and participants could interact via avatars.

5. How will you gather and utilize feedback from staff?

Feedback is too often thought of as a nice-to-have, an afterthought. But in reality, it’s integral to any successful L&D programme. Understanding how your employees are engaging with training, what is and isn’t working, and how it’s impacting performance, will enable you to make the right and necessary changes.

L&D managers should be confident leveraging tech such as AI sentiment tracking to collect consistent feedback that can be turned into quantifiable data.  This should then be used to iterate and improve the next evolution of the training programme.

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6. How can you encourage and increase employee engagement in L&D?

The old saying “build it and they will come” doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to L&D. Workplace training often gets a bad rep and employees can be reluctant to fully engage with boring, confusing or incomplete resources. So it falls to the L&D manager to tailor training to your employees’ interests and maximize engagement.

How? Digital resources should be made as immersive as possible, using tech such as VR and AI, to prevent passive participation and disengagement. For example, instead of having employees listen to a demonstration on how to carry out a process, immerse them in a simulation in which they can actually practice performing it themselves. This not only keeps employees engaged, but has been proven to boost knowledge gain by up to 230%!

At the same time, training facilitators ought to be able to see - in real time - how engaged their audience is. Nifty features like a tool to show how many attendees of a live session actually have the window open in full-screen mode have real value here. This should be kept in mind when leaders choose which platforms to host training content on.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

7. How will you guarantee maximum ROI for any L&D initiative?

Naturally, you’ll want to know that your L&D programme is going to deliver you maximum return-on-investment (ROI). And measuring this relies on a combination of everything we’ve covered so far.

An L&D manager should be able to guarantee maximum ROI by ensuring that their programme is:

  • Tightly focused on the attainment of specified company goals
  • One step ahead of key competitors
  • Facilitating successful hybrid or remote working
  • Improving employee engagement and performance
  • Constantly evolving to improve outcomes and meet changing needs

Hiring an L&D manager is a great step towards boosting your employee training programme, essential for fostering a company culture that improves retention, satisfaction and performance. Get it right, and it could be one of the best investments you make this year. With these questions in your interview arsenal, you’re already one step closer to finding a brilliant new team member.

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