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The pre-training interview

February 25, 2009

The pre-training interview (PTI) is a meeting with a student and their trainer(s), before the training commences, to discuss the planned training activities. The purpose is to outline the training conditions and give the student an opportunity to air any concerns or suggestions for their training. The student and trainer sign the student training agreement (STAg), a contract between them and the organisation to conduct the training in the methods prescribed.

What’s in a pre-training interview

To be effective, the pre-training interview will need the same three components used in all of the models described on this blog; content, consistency and collaboration. The interview is conducted using a six step template that ensures that these three key elements are met.

The PTI template

  1. Review the training plan
  2. Prepare the interview
  3. Compile the STAg
  4. Schedule and invite participants
  5. Deliver the meeting
  6. Administration

Step one: Review the training plan

This process starts with the training plan. It is aligned with the organisation’s growth and succession planning and will outline what needs to be achieved at this particular period of time. Disseminate the training plan as widely as possible within the organisation and invite feed back. This needs to be done early to identify any problems or hurdles that will affect the planned training activities and adjust the plan to ensure realistic goals for the training team.

Step two: Prepare

Preparation involves reviewing each of the planned training activities with each of the involved trainers and other interested parties. The trainers are advised of their role will be in the training to avoid surprising them with unexpected activities and give them an opportunity to prepare their training activities.

Step three: Compile

Compile the interview and prepare the student training agreement. The interview itself revolves around the training agreement and the body of the meeting content will be based on what is contained it.

Step four: Schedule

Schedule the training interview. The student is the critical party, but it can be helpful if the trainer (primary or lead if multiple trainers) and assessor are also present to answer any questions that the student may have. Let all parties know when, where and what they will need to do for the meeting.

  • The student: Needs to consider any questions that they may have for the training manager
  • The trainer: Needs to consider developing a tactical plan for the training and any questions for the training manager
  • The assessor: Needs to check timings and give the trainer the assessment plan.

Step five: Deliver

Delivery is similar to a pre-training brief. Once again this is a meeting, so start on time, but be prepared to take a little longer or less than scheduled as there will be no accounting for the student’s questions or knowledge about the training process. Also, prepare the location so the meeting can be conducted privately and comfortably.

The delivery process consists of 6 steps:

  1. Explain the training particulars. This is running through the training plan with the student and trainer detailing what is occurring and when. Also describe what is available to the student and trainer as well as any hurdles or restrictions to the training – planned leave, staff shortages, equipment maintenance, public holidays etc.
  2. Outline goals and check points (progress assessments etc). Theses are the student’s mid and long term goals for the training that serve as progressive markers through the training. List any progressive or partial assessment activities or criteria that must be met during the training period.
  3. Run through expectations and administrative requirements. This step is as much for the trainer as it is for the student and it includes reporting periods, trainer roles, chain of command, expected behaviour and dispute resolution procedures.
  4. Outline the non-performance and failure procedures. Describe the process for dealing with a failure to progress, assessment failure and not completing the training. This covers things like; how many chances does the student get, what additional time is available, what redress is available and what other training or remedial activities are available.
  5. Invite questions and feed back. This is the opportunity for the student to ask an questions, voice any concerns or offer any suggestions for the training and/or it’s conduct.
  6. Ask for student commitment. The final part of the process is the have the student agree to the planned training activities, verbally and in writing.

Give the student and the trainer (lead if multiple trainers) a copy of the training agreement so that they can refer to the document for timings, available resources and goals set.

Step six: Administration

File the documentation in the student’s training file for future reference.


This may seem a lot of effort just to get the training started but it is crucial that the student is fully aware of what is expected from them. Similarly, it outlines the trainer’s objectives during training and equally explains the training managements expectations of them. It demonstrates commitment from the organisation and serves as an opportunity to clarify any issues that the trainer or student may have with the planned activities.

Download my free e-book “NOW YOU TELL ME” The seven things that I wish I’d known before I started training on the job.

New e-book coming soon “THE EFFECTIVE TRAINER’S TOOL KIT” 8 models for effective on the job training.

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