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Basic Survey Questions

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The first step in creating a survey that will provide valuable information is to ask the right questions. Survey questions can take various forms – from open-ended questions to closed-ended questions. The type of question to be asked in a survey is determined by its objective. Continue reading to the end of this article to learn about basic survey questions and their examples.

Types of basic survey questions

  • Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are commonly used to get an insight into the respondents’ attitudes and behaviors. If a survey aims at gathering qualitative data, open-ended questions will be the best choice. These questions allow the respondents to answer in their own words. 

They’re usually posed as a follow-up to closed-ended questions or at the end of a survey to gather more data. Since open-ended questions do not come with a predetermined set of options, they allow the respondents to express themselves freely. 

Examples:

  • Please tell us about yourself.
  • What did you like about our product?
  • What would you like us to improve in our future products?

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  • Multiple Choice Questions

As the name implies, multiple-choice questions offer the respondents a list of options to choose from. The result obtained from these questions is clean and can be analyzed easily. 

These questions are of two types:

  1. Single answer questions: In this, the respondent can choose only one relevant answer from the list of options.
  2. Multiple answer questions: Respondents can choose multiple answers that they feel are appropriate.

For example,

What genre of music do you prefer?

  • Rock
  • Hip-hop
  • Indie
  • Heavy metal
  • Folk
  • Likert Scale Questions

One of the most prevalent forms of survey questions is the Likert scale question. If surveys want to record the opinions of respondents concerning a subject, they can use Likert scale questions. These questions usually give between 4-7 options to choose from. The options range from extreme to moderate opinions. They can be used to gauge the satisfaction levels of customers regarding the services offered by businesses.

For example,

How satisfied are you with our website?

  • Very satisfied
  • Moderately satisfied
  • Unsatisfied
  • Very unsatisfied
  • Ranking questions

A ranking question is a basic survey question that asks respondents to rank a list of choices according to their preference. These can be used to figure out which features clients like best and which ones are not up to the mark.

Example,

Rank the following pizza toppings in the order of your preference, 1 being your favorite.

  • Jalapenos
  • Pepperoni
  • Olives
  • Mushrooms

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  • Rating Questions

Rating questions ask respondents to rate the options on a given scale (1-10, 1-100, etc). They are commonly used to rate movies, restaurants, or the overall satisfaction levels of respondents. They choose the option that aptly reflects their opinion.

For example,

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the food served at our restaurant?

  • Picture choice questions

Picture choice questions can be used to make surveys interactive and give a break from the textual content. Adding a few pictures also makes the surveys look aesthetically appealing. 

For example,

  • Demographic Questions

Demographic questions focus on gathering background information about an individual. This can include questions related to age, gender, ethnicity, income, etc. Collecting demographic information helps businesses obtain a clear understanding of the target audience. They help in identifying how demography plays a role in the choices made by an individual.

Example,

Select your age group.

  • <18
  • 19-25
  • 26-35
  • >35

How to use these basic survey questions?

It is very important to stick to the objective of the survey and ask precise questions. Avoid imprecise phrases and be as specific as you can.

Consider the question “How many hours do you spend watching tv?”

For what period? A day, a week, or a month? 

The above question can be rephrased by specifying the timeline.

For example, How many hours in a week do you spend watching tv?

  • Use simple wordings

Avoid using jargon, technical terms, and acronyms. The respondents should not have to spend time using a dictionary. Define any terminology that the respondent may need. 

  • Focus on one question at a time

Every question in the survey should focus on one subject only. Avoid merging two questions into one. 

For example, How satisfied are you with our website and services?

One question at a time:

How satisfied are you with our website?

How satisfied are you with our services?

  • Avoid subjective adjectives

Subjective adjectives like “amazing”, “great”, etc can create a bias in the respondents. They may draw the responses towards a certain option. Always use neutral workings that will not skew the results. 

For example, Our customers speak highly of the services delivered by us. How would you rate it?

Unbiased: What do you think of our services?

  • Include all possible options wherever applicable

Closed-ended questions are accompanied by a range of options. These options should best describe the feelings of respondents. Also, allow them to skip the question if they do not wish to answer.

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What are some basic questions to ask in a survey?

Customer demographic

  • How old are you?
  • What is your current employment status?
  • What gender do you identify yourself as?
  • What is your yearly income?

Product testing

  • What features of the product did you like?
  • What features would you like to improve?
  • How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend or relative?
  • How would you rate this product in terms of value for money?

Brand performance

  • What comes to your mind when you think of our product?
  • Was our product successful in meeting your needs?
  • Rate the product based on the following: Price, Design, Packaging, Quality, etc

Now that you have a list of basic survey questions, incorporate them into your survey to yield accurate results.

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It is very important to stick to the objective of the survey and ask precise questions. Avoid imprecise phrases and be as specific as you can.

Consider the question “How many hours do you spend watching tv?”

For what period? A day, a week, or a month? 

The above question can be rephrased by specifying the timeline.

For example, How many hours in a week do you spend watching tv?

  • Use simple wordings

Avoid using jargon, technical terms, and acronyms. The respondents should not have to spend time using a dictionary. Define any terminology that the respondent may need. 

  • Focus on one question at a time

Every question in the survey should focus on one subject only. Avoid merging two questions into one. 

For example, How satisfied are you with our website and services?

One question at a time:

How satisfied are you with our website?

How satisfied are you with our services?

  • Avoid subjective adjectives

Subjective adjectives like “amazing”, “great”, etc can create a bias in the respondents. They may draw the responses towards a certain option. Always use neutral workings that will not skew the results. 

For example, Our customers speak highly of the services delivered by us. How would you rate it?

Unbiased: What do you think of our services?

  • Include all possible options wherever applicable

Closed-ended questions are accompanied by a range of options. These options should best describe the feelings of respondents. Also, allow them to skip the question if they do not wish to answer.

Hindol Basu 
GM, Voxco Intelligence

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