Survey Questions

The right choice of questions – their wording, purpose, running order and number – can make or break your research success.

Choosing and using survey questions

Let’s look at the key considerations you need to address in order to build a successful survey or questionnaire, and the types of survey question you can put to use…

Survey objectives

Who is the target audience for the survey? Is participant pre-screening required? What are you looking to learn? How will the data be used and reported? Are you looking for quantitative or qualitative information, or both?

How many questions?

Getting the length of your survey just right can be a tricky thing to do. Make it too loo long and you risk your respondents losing interest and abandoning the survey. Make it too short and you can leave them feeling that there isn’t sufficient space to say what they want, or even that you’re trying to steer their answers.

What question types to use?

There are many different types of survey question, each with their own uses, advantages and even disadvantages. Read our guide to question types to pick so you can deploy the styles that best suit your objectives.

Question Types

Open questions

Open-ended questions are questions that require a participant to answer in their own words. They can provide researchers with more information than a simple yes or no answer.

Closed questions

Closed questions give the respondent a limited amount of options to choose from. They are popular, as the quantitative data captured is easier to analyse than qualitative data.

Multiple choice

Multiple choice questions present respondents with either single select options or multi-select options (where more than one answer can be chosen from a list).

Likert scale

Likert scale questions capture respondents’ opinions, typically using a 5 or 7-point scale, and ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. The inclusion of a neutral mid-point choice is also common.


Ranking questions ask respondents to indicate their preferences from a list of research subjects (product attributes, packaging designs, holiday destinations etc) in order to identify the most and least favoured.


Rating questions enable a comparison of different research items (e.g. product or service features) using a consistent scale. Participants are asked to rate choices using a scale that measures numerical score, frequency, star rating, or similar.


Dichotomous questions are commonly used to elicit a ‘Yes or No’, ‘Agree or Disagree’, or ‘True or False’ response. Use them to quickly clarify opinions and understanding.


Hypothetical questions are based on imagined situations, not facts. They can be used to capture participants’ opinions and beliefs about conditions that don’t exist, but could.


Demographic questions are those that look to categorise the identity of the survey participants based on factors such as their age, gender, marital status, and household income.

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