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Survey Examples, Survey Questions

5 Reasons to Ask Survey Screening Questions

When sending a survey, you generally don’t want just anyone to answer. Depending on the topic, you often want input from a select group of people. So, how to pre-qualify survey respondents? Usually, researchers use screening questions (or screeners) within their survey. Based on how a respondent answers, screeners will either qualify or disqualify them from the survey.

What is a Screening Question?

Screening questions (and focus group screening questions) prequalify survey respondents. They are meant to narrow down a large pool of respondents to get input only from your target audience. They can also help discover a different audience you didn’t even know you had. There are generally four types of screening questions. The four types of screening questions are demographics, behavioral, industry-specific, and product-specific. Here are some examples that are most popular with online survey researchers.

Demographics

Demographic questions are the most common screeners. There are a variety of questions to ask candidates in this category. Questions may include age, gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, and marital status. They may also ask about the number of children (if any), location, occupation, education, and annual income.

Behavioral

Sometimes referred to as lifestyle questions, behavioral screeners seek to understand someone’s day-to-day. Depending on the purpose of the survey, behavioral screener questions may vary. An example could be “How many hours per week do you spend online?” Other questions may ask, “Do you regularly vote in presidential elections?”

Industry-Specific

These screeners are used to filter out respondents who may be biased based on the work they do. This could be because they work in the same industry or are close to someone who does. For example, let’s say you’re trying to get honest feedback on a new energy bar. So, you may wish to eliminate respondents who work in the consumer packaged goods industry. 

Product- or Service-Specific

These questions are used to eliminate respondents for whom the product/service is not intended. For example, say you’re a hotel chain considering changing your pet policy. You’re now only going to allow dogs under 20 pounds. So, you may be wondering how much extra people would be willing to pay. Your screener might ask the weight of the dog. Therefore, any respondent with a dog greater than 20 lbs would not qualify.

Benefits of Screening Questions for Surveys

Here are the top five advantages of using survey screening questions.

1. Increased Cost-Savings

Generally, the more people you survey, the more it will cost you. This is regardless of the method of surveying you choose. Screening questions help eliminate respondents who don’t fit your target audience. And, when they’re disqualified in the screening process, you don’t have to pay up.

2. Improved Data Analysis 

Without screening, researchers will need to weed out unqualified respondents. They will have to do this following the conclusion of the survey and it can be time-consuming. Not only does it waste the time of the respondents, but it also wastes the time of the researcher!

3. Elimination of Respondent Bias

Respondents who aren’t qualified to answer your particular set of questions based on their background, behavior, or industry may answer questions in a way that suits them. Or, they may just select random answers, skewing results. Weeding these respondents out helps preserve the quality of response to your surveys.

4. Improved Respondent Experience

Respondents thrust into a survey that has little relevance to them are bound to get frustrated. This could result in them dropping out of the survey or answering questions randomly without thought. And, they’ll be less likely to take you up on other surveys down the road, thinking their time will be wasted again.

5. More Reliable Databases

Once a company has found survey candidates who fit their target audience, they may continue to solicit them. However, people’s personal and professional situations can change over time. Therefore, asking screening questions can eliminate those who once fit your specifications but now no longer do. Plus, this improves your database.

Tips for Creating Screening Questions for Surveys

A couple of quick tips when considering screening questions for candidates:

  • Start your survey with screening questions to weed out unqualified candidates immediately
  • Include enough screeners to improve the quality of responses. Only asking one or two may not narrow down your survey sample enough.
  • Be specific with your online pre-screening questions. This is to ensure non-qualifying respondents don’t slip into the mix.
  • Don’t get too specific with questions as it could frustrate people. For example, a respondent may know they went to the doctor within the last six months, but not in which specific month.

Consider using survey logic to learn more about non-qualifying respondents. While Survey logic won’t immediately take them to a disqualifying page, but will instead send them to an alternate page to ask a few additional questions. This can help you learn more about an individual who may qualify for another survey down the road.

Conclusion

Are you asking screening questions and are you asking the right ones? When you prequalify survey respondents, you help improve the respondent experience, your data analysis, and your database. So, you save money and eliminate survey bias. 

For all your surveying needs, SurveyLegend is here for you! And for any survey, it’s important to remember that the briefer the survey, the more responses you’re likely to get. To that end, SurveyLegend even automatically collects some online pre-screening questions and demographic questions, such as the respondent’s location, reducing the number of questions you have to ask. 

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What types of screening questions does your company use? Are there any specific focus group screening questions that you always ask? Let us know in the comments below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a screening question?

Screening questions prequalify survey respondents, narrowing down a large pool of respondents to get input only from your target audience.

What are the different types of screening questions?

There are four types of screening questions: demographics, behavioral, industry-specific, and product-specific.

What are the benefits of screening questions?

Asking these types of questions increase cost savings, improves data analysis and respondent experience, eliminates respondent bias, and creates more reliable databases.

How many screening questions should you ask on a survey?

Include enough screeners to improve the quality of responses; only asking one or two may not narrow down your survey sample enough for accuracy.

About the Author

Jasko Mahmutovic

Born entrepreneur, passionate leader, motivator, great love for UI & UX design, strong believer in "less is more”. Big advocate of bootstrapping. BS in Logistics Service Management. I don't create company environments, I create family and team environments.