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How to run training surveys (pre-training and post-training)

8 min read
Training is a substantial investment, and you’ll want to get the best out of it, for your employees and your business. Training surveys are essential for informing course content and debriefing afterwards.

What are training surveys?

It’s essential that you know how effective your training is. Participant feedback can help you measure the effectiveness of your courses, improve them, and plan future training.

There are two types of survey:

  • Pre-training: to inform how you run the training, how you deliver it, and what useful and relevant content it should have. It will also tell you about participants’ existing knowledge, expectations, needs, and wants.
  • Post-training: these help you take a long, hard look at the outcomes of your training, making sure it fulfilled your goals and offered value for money.

The benefits of running training surveys

When you invest in training for your employees, they become more valuable to your company. That’s because developing your employees gives them a greater sense of self-worth, leading to increased productivity, less need for constant supervision, and reduced employee turnover.

The link between training, development, and retention

Ideally, your training courses will be tailored to impact your organisation’s most important key performance indicators (e.g. sales growth, customer engagement, return on investment, employee engagementemployee turnover). You will need to understand how effective your training is by measuring it against your KPIs.

By running training surveys along your employee lifecycle you’ll be able not only to measure the learning outcomes but also track how the training has impacted an employee’s performance over time.

When the results of your training surveys sit alongside all your other employee feedback data (performance reviews, employee engagement, productivity) on the same platform, you’ll easily be able to join the dots to see how your training programs impact every stage in the employee lifecycle. You’ll understand how the quality of your training affects the entire employee experience from onboarding ramp time, career development and succession planning, employee engagement and attrition rates, pinpointing areas that demonstrate a need for improvement.

Download our eBook: The Qualtrics handbook of survey question design

Training survey questions to ask

There are really only two kinds of survey questions: quantitative (objective and factual) and qualitative (subjective and based on opinion) However, you have many types of question and responses to choose from to measure quantitative and qualitative data, including:

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Pre-training survey questions

Pre-training surveys don’t need to be very long, but they are useful for identifying demand, knowledge gaps, and expectations of the training. You’ll be able to tailor your training to what people really need.

Here are some question examples:

Questions that measure knowledge

You can either ask participants to evaluate their own knowledge or (more interesting) ask single-choice and multiple-choice questions to test that knowledge:

Question Answer Type
Did you have a clear expectation of the training? (Closed yes/no question)
If you answered yes, what did you expect? (Text entry)
Did the training content deliver what you were expecting? (Closed yes/no question)
If you answered no, what did it not deliver? (Text entry)
Did the training cover the topics you expected? (Single choice: No/To some extent/Yes/Don’t know)

Questions that measure knowledge

Training is only useful if employees learn new things: a course where employees already know the content is valueless. You can either ask participants to self-evaluate what they learned or (more interesting) ask single-choice and multiple-choice questions to test that learning.

Question Answer Type
How much new information did you learn? (Single choice: Nothing/A little/A lot/Don’t know)
What does the O in SWOT analysis stand for? Organizations
(Single choice)

Questions that measure experience

The answer to these tells you how happy your employees were overall with the training. A positive outcome bodes well for the employees to be more productive and more inclined to attend further courses.

Question Answer Type
How likely would you be to recommend this training to a friend or colleague? (5-point Likert scale)
You may also want to include questions about the training venue and catering. You’ll probably receive feedback such as ‘the coffee was horrible’, or ‘the room was too hot’ – these are transient concerns and of less significance as you track the effectiveness of training across the whole employee lifecycle. However, some open-text responses such as ‘there wasn’t a vegan option’ may reveal an experience gap and meeting your employees’ needs that you need to address in order to retain those people. (Text entry)

Questions that measure delivery

Employees are more likely to remember content delivered by an engaging trainer with interesting supporting materials and reliable tech, and return for more training if they found it enjoyable.

Question Answer Type
How engaging was your trainer? (Star rating)
Was the delivery what you expected? (Closed yes/no question)
Was the course structure clear? (Closed yes/no question)
Was the content presented clearly? (Single choice: No/To some extent/Yes/Don’t know)
Was any of the training confusing or unclear? Please tell us. (Text entry)

Questions that measure content

Learning new information is all well and good, but it needs to be relevant to, and usable by, the employee in their job after the training. And with lots of online training being delivered via Learning Management Systems (LMS), with multimedia (video, audio, animations), you need to know if there were technical glitches that affected the training.

Question Answer Type
Did the training content deliver what you were expecting? (Single choice: No/To some extent/Yes/Don’t know)
How did the training content meet, or not meet your expectations? (Text entry)
How easy to understand was the training content? (5-point Likert scale)
Please rate the quality of the training content (Star rating)
Was there anything missing from the training content? Please tell us. (Text entry)
How satisfied were you with the multimedia on the training course? (5-point Likert scale)
How useful was the multimedia? (5-point Likert scale)
Did you encounter any technical issues with the multimedia? Please tell us. (Text entry)
Please rate the quality of the multimedia (Star rating)
How could we improve the multimedia for this course? Please tell us. (Text entry)

When to run a post-training survey

Survey immediately after every training session (no more than 24 hours afterwards), to gather feedback while it’s still fresh in the participants’ minds. 

Best practice for training survey design

There’s a lot to think about when you design a survey that your respondents will love. If you follow these five simple rules, you’ll be able to produce great training surveys that give you insightful feedback every time:

  1. Keep it short – no more than five questions.
  2. Be concise – make questions as simple, and with as few words as possible. This way you avoid them being vague, ambiguous or open to interpretation, which will improve response rate.
  3. Write as you speak – make questions conversational and avoid jargon or over-technical vocabulary.
  4. Vary the question styles – you have a whole lot of question styles at your disposal, so use them to avoid respondent boredom. It’s important to include text entry so people can provide unstructured feedback.
  5. Test your survey – run it past a friend or colleague to make sure they can easily use and understand it. Then tweak it accordingly.

But you don’t have to do all this yourself. Our training feedback solutions are included for all our customers.

Get started on your EX journey with our free survey software