Survey Questions

You are are ready to start writing the questions for your survey. Ready, Set…..Wait? Do you have a Survey Goal?.

Set a Survey Goal – Stay on Task!

  • Survey Goal Sample #1: To determine how satisfied customers are with our product for benchmarking future surveys from our product group and across other divisions of our company.
  • Survey Goal Sample #2: To measure purchasing interest of our new product concept.

All the questions you ask in your survey should meet your goal. Having the goal to refer to will help you stay on task, as well as provide you with a defense against stake holders at your company from bloating your survey with unnecessary lines of questioning. For example, the Director of Design wants you to ask a line of questioning about the new company logo that he designed, you can point to your goal and say that their line of questioning if out of scope and would be better serviced with a separate survey.

Now that you have your goal set, are your ready to start?

How NOT to write a Survey Question

When you are writing your questions, there are certain things to avoid. We have provided some classic survey mistakes, examples of these mistakes and some alternative suggestions.

Double-Barreled Questions

Example: How satisfied are you with your salary and your title?

Why you should not ask this type of question: Double-barreled questions touch upon more than one area, yet allow the respondent only one answer. Respondents may not have the same response for each of the areas asked and researchers will be unable to use the data.

A better way to do it: Use a table of radio buttons question that asks:


Casting Too Big of a Net

Example: Is our Human Resources department good?
Why you should not ask this type of question: This question is too broad. If the response is positive, we do not know which employee or aspect of the department is good, or how good it is. The same is true if this response is negative. The data is of little use.

A better way to do it:

Double Negative

Example: Would you say that your manager is not inattentive?

Why you should not ask this type of question: Double Negatives double negatives cancel one another out and produce an affirmative case, but not everyone knows this and the question can be perceived as confusing. Plus, you have presented the question in a negative way and this is a general way to skew data.

Always and Never questions

Example: I can always talk to my manager about the status of my project.

Why you should not ask questions with these terms:

The terms “always” and “never” can bias respondents and your data can be skewed.

A better way to do it:

Exhausting or Restrictive Answer Choices

Don’t overwhelm your respondents with an exhaustive list of possible answers. But don’t provide a restrictive list either that forces your respondent to select an answer that they feel uncomfortable with or doesn’t apply to them. Providing an “other” choice will give you more accurate results.

Questions to Ask in Every Survey

When it comes to writing the questions for your survey, you should really turn to your Survey Goal and build questions in-line with this mission, but there are some basic questions that we would suggest you ask for all of your surveys. These question types are called KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. These questions types create results that can be used for benchmarking over time or comparatively across departments, product or services.

There are three primary KPIs:

  • Overall Satisfaction (OSAT)
  • Likelihood to Recommend
  • Value based on the price

We provide this basic survey template to help you start measuring your KPI. You can customize this to meet your own needs.

You may also want to include satisfaction ratings for certain aspects of your product or service. There are multiple scales that you can utilize. In this example, there is a 0-10 Likert scale, but you can also use a 0-5 Likert, a star rating, or many others. You can use whichever scale best suits your needs, but be consistent across questions so that you do not confuse your respondent.

Basic Survey Question Types

Basic survey question types are ideal for running quick and easy surveys. Analyzing the answers to these survey questions is made easy by creating simple summary reports or exporting your results to CSV or Excel.

Basic survey question types include:

  • Textbox questions
  • Radio button questions
  • Checkbox questions
  • Drop-down menus
  • Rating Scales
  • Image Choice questions

Advanced Survey Questions

Advanced survey questions are ideal for answering more complex questions or combining multiple basic question types into one compact question. Advanced survey questions can appear to be much more complicated, but are really just as easy to create and analyze as the basic question types.

Advanced survey question types include:

  • Tables and Matrices of the basic question types
  • Ranking questions
  • Continuous Sum
  • Star Rankings
  • Contact Information questions
  • Custom Matrix
  • File Upload (ideal for resumes)

Start Adding Questions Now

Most of the survey question types above are available to you with any SurveyGizmo account. Sign up for a free trial. To do this, just follow these quick steps.

Step One: Create a 14 day Trial (don’t worry, we don’t ask for credit cards!)

Step Two: Log into your new account and name your first survey.

Step Three: Start adding all types of survey questions including the most advanced question types.

Step Four: Launch your survey and start collecting responses!

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