Skills assessment / training needs analysis

Find your training
Find your training

TNA Questionnaires don't work

In general, Training needs analyses and skills assessment questionnaires don't work. Here's our take on the subject ... but first, a bit of background.

The company behind this TNA / Skills Assessment website has been running computer training courses for nearly 20 years, and we've seen and used all sorts of ways to assess the skills of staff. The main one is the questionnaire.

The idea is that you send out a form containing a series of questions to all the staff whose skills you are trying to assess, and either they or their managers conscientiously and accurately fill it in and return it. You then put together an appropriate training course based on the collated results.

So why doesn't it work?  The problem is that people will nearly always overestimate their ability.

Take a simple question like "Do you know about range names in Excel?".  It's possible to reply YES to that for several different reasons, and yet still not understand them.  For example:

  • You may not want to appear ignorant.
  • You may worry that your job depends on your knowledge of Excel.
  • You may have used range names before, and think that you know about them.
  • You may not know what range names are, but assume that you have used them because you think you know Excel so well.
  • You may think you know what range names are, when in fact they are something else completely.

The solution is to make the questions less subjective.  For example, consider the question:

  • "Which short-cut key would you press to paste a range name into a formula?"

The answer is F3, but you would only know this if you used range names extensively in Excel. You could guess, but the skills assessment tests penalise wrong answers.

So although the skills assessment tests on this site don't pretend to give you a perfect answer, this method of training needs analysis will give you the best results obtainable for a limited budget, and without the subjective bias!