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A Guide on Survey Screening Questions

Market research 04 12
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Table of Contents
Survey Screening Questions1

What are Screening Questions?

Screening questions, also known as screeners, are used within surveys to determine which respondents can take the rest of the survey. Screening questions are placed at the start of surveys, and can qualify or disqualify respondents from taking a survey based on how they answer. They help researchers identify their target audience within the pool of respondents. 

For instance, let’s assume you work in an organization that sells dietary supplements and you want to survey health enthusiasts that purchase such products. You may ask the following question to screen respondents:

On a scale of 1 to 5, how important do you think is to incorporate dietary supplements into your diet?

  • Very Important (5)
  • Important (4)
  • Moderately Important (3)
  • Slightly Important (2)
  • Not Important (1)

If your survey is only targeting respondents that understand the need for dietary supplements, then you can filter out respondents who chose an answer of one or two.


Benefits of using Screening Questions

The following are a few benefits of using screening questions within your surveys:

  • Reduces Costs

The more respondents you survey, the higher your survey costs are likely to be. Screening questions allow you to filter respondents, leaving only responses that are valuable and relevant to your study. This reduces your survey costs.

  • Reduces Respondent Bias

Some respondents may not be qualified to take your survey if they don’t have enough knowledge on the topic being surveyed. This may create a respondent bias and reduce the quality of responses you receive. Screening questions can reduce or eliminate respondent bias by filtering out respondents that do not qualify for your survey. As a result, this will also increase the quality of your data. 

  • Helps you Reach your Target Audience

Screeners help ensure that your respondents meet certain specifications that qualify them as your target audience. For instance, if you want to survey health enthusiasts who purchase supplements often, you can ask a screening question regarding the last time they purchased supplements.

  • Helps Analyse Responses Quicker

As screeners eliminate responses that don’t meet your target specifications, you do not need to take additional measures to filter unqualified respondents after responses are collected. 

  • Improves Respondent Experience

Screening questions improve respondent experience as they ensure that only those respondents that know about the survey topic are surveyed. Respondents would much rather answer a survey that is relevant to them than one that is not.

Survey Screening Questions2

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Types of Screening Questions

There are two main types of screening questions, and they are:

  1. Behavioral Screeners
  2. Industry-specific Screeners

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Behavioral Screeners

As the name suggests, behavioral screeners limit survey respondents based on their behavior. This may be in regard to the way they spend their time or their money.


How much do you usually spend on shoes?

  • < 100$
  • 100$ – 200$
  • 200$ – 300$
  • 400$ – 500$
  • >500$

Depending on the type of shoes you sell and the price-point you sell them at, you may choose to disqualify certain groups of respondents based on their answer to the question.

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Industry-specific Screeners

Industry-specific screeners, on the other hand, limit respondents based on whether they may be biased in your research study. In studies where you need respondents who are a part of a certain industry, this type of screener can be used to select qualified respondents. 

Industry-specific screeners are also used to eliminate respondents based on industry if it is vital that respondents of the survey aren’t influenced to answer a certain way. 


Does anyone in your family work in the following industries?

  • Automobiles
  • Restaurants
  • Banking
  • Shoes
  • Cosmetics

If you are conducting a survey where you don’t want respondents from within the shoe industry, the aforementioned question can be used to disqualify the respondents that select the “Shoes” option.


Tips to use Screening Questions Appropriately

  • Put the Screeners at the Beginning

Screening questions should be put in the beginning of your survey. This ensures that you don’t collect more information than necessary from respondents who do not qualify the target specifications.

You can also rank your screening questions according to priority and interdependency based on how essential they are to your target audience criteria. The most essential questions should be put first in order to easily and quickly filter out participants that don’t qualify.

  • Avoid the use of Jargon

The use of complicated words may frustrate or confuse respondents, increasing your survey dropout rate or resulting in customers answering screeners incorrectly. If the use of certain jargon is necessary, make sure to explain or define the term within the question. Keep the language within your survey short and comprehensible, and avoid anything that may confuse respondents or lead them to misinterpret your questions. The clearer your questions are, the better the quality of your responses will be.

  • Screen for Psychographics and Behaviors

By screening for psychographics and behaviors, you can group respondents based on what they like and the ways in which they relate to your product category. This can help you filter out those who are not a part of your target audience. 

  • Place a Page Break after the Screening Questions

Placing a page break after your last screening question will help effectively qualify and disqualify respondents once they have responded to the screening questions.

  • Avoid writing Leading Questions

Leading questions are questions that influence respondents to answer in a certain way. Data collected through leading questions is often inaccurate and skewed, hence such questions should be avoided. 

  • Avoid using Questions that make Respondents think too much

Questions that require respondents to recall something very specific may lead to respondents providing inaccurate responses, leading to skewed data. Screening questions should be reasonable and easy to answer. 


What is ‘Incidence Rate’ and why is it Important?

The incidence rate is the percentage of respondents that qualify your screening questions out of all the respondents that answered them. These respondents go on to answer your survey. 

Incidence rate can be calculated using the following formula: 

Incidence Rate = Number of Respondents that Passed the Screeners x 100 / Total Number of Respondents that took your Survey

It is important to calculate your incidence rate as it will help you determine how many respondents your survey should be sent to. 

If your incidence rate is really high, your survey should be sent to a smaller group of people in order to get the amount of responses you need for your survey. Conversely, if your rate is really low, your survey should be sent to a much larger group of people before you can collect the amount of responses you need. 


Why Choose Voxco?

These are just some of the many benefits of choosing Voxco as your survey software:

  • Omnichannel Survey Solution 

Our omnichannel survey software facilitates centralised survey authoring. This means you can create your surveys on a centralised platform before deploying it through all your channels. This saves the time you would’ve required to reprogramme your survey for every different channel. Additionally, responses are collected and presented on a single integrated platform, allowing you to compare feedback received through all channels efficiently.

  • Seamless Online and Offline Surveys

Our software allows you to run your web surveys with Voxco Online, or pair seamlessly with Voxco Mobile Offline for face-to-face interviews. This allows respondents to answer your surveys even when there is no network connection.

  • Additional Survey Tools

Voxco’s software gives you access to additional survey tools such as Voxco Analytics and Dashboard, and Voxco Panel Manager. Additionally, our highly experienced and skilled team is available to you at all times to help cover all your needs.

  • Powerful Dashboards

Voxco’s dynamic dashboards give you real-time visual stories of your survey responses. This allows you to analyse and use data more efficiently. 

  • Voxco IVR and Voxco Dialer

You can integrate Voxco’s survey software with additional tools such as Voxco Dialer and Voxco IVR, to create the most seamless and efficient omnichannel survey experience. 

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