Questionnaire – Concept, types, what they are for and examples

We explain what a questionnaire is, what types exist, what they are for and various examples. Also, how to do a questionnaire.

The questionnaires can be standardized or personalized.

What is a questionnaire?

A questionnaire is an information gathering tool, that is, a type of survey, which consists of a successive and organized series of questions. Its name comes from the Latin quaestionarius, which means “list of questions.”

The questionnaires are offered to the public whose opinion wishes to be known or whose knowledge wishes to be evaluated, and once answered they can be analyzed to obtain individual conclusions or, depending on their nature, for group or statistical projections.

In general, every questionnaire consists of a set of questions to be answered, which should always be written as clearly as possible, so as not to lead to confusion or misinterpretation. Since the phrasing or the way of constructing the questions, and even the order in which they are put on paper, will largely depend on the type of results obtained.

Questionnaires are common and popular tools, since they are inexpensive and can be carried out orally or in writing, standardized or with high levels of customization, that is, it is a very adaptable type of survey. The use of questionnaires in marketing surveys, school evaluations, public opinion polls, and a long etcetera is common.

Questionnaire types

Questionnaires can be very different from each other, but roughly they are classified into two types, judging by the type of answers they seek:

  • Questionnaires whose questions measure separate variables, that is, that they collect information regarding diverse matters and topics, not necessarily related to each other.
  • Questionnaires whose questions make up a scale, that is, whose questions are closely linked since they ask the respondent to prioritize, order or rank different topics or issues.

What is a questionnaire for?

Fundamentally, the questionnaires are tools to obtain information. They seek the participation of the respondent through the answer or resolution of the questions, in such a way that it reflects their knowledge or their way of thinking.

In addition, later can be used for an evaluation of some kind (as is done with questionnaires in school), or to feed a statistical interpretation process, that is, a study that, based on the responses of a population or a representative sample of it, is encouraged to draw conclusions about said population .

How to do a questionnaire?

When making a questionnaire, first of all we must decide what media will be used to survey people. If it is a telephone survey, for example, we must aim for something very short, never exceeding 5 minutes, while in writing and in person answering the questionnaire can take two and three times that same time, without problems.

Exceeding these limits will make it more difficult for respondents to accept your participation, or lose interest and attention as they delve into the endless responses.

Secondly, the questions in the questionnaire should follow a logical structureThat goes from the particular to the general, in such a way that the respondent does not feel that he is answering the same thing over and over again, nor that the questions are trying to lead him to give an opinion on something specific. For this reason, the texts of a questionnaire must be clear, formal, with a direct and simple language, written as neutrally as possible.

Finally, it is important to understand the key question types in any questionnaire, such as:

  • “Filter” questions, which determine whether or not the respondent belongs to a population group to be studied. They tend, therefore, to address the personal or subjective data of the respondent.
  • Questions “control”, which serve to determine how true the previous responses of the respondent have been, trying to hunt down some revealing contradiction or asking the same thing again in a different way.
  • Open questions, in which the respondent is free to propose his answer.
  • Closed questions, in which preselected alternatives of response are offered to the respondent, so that they can reject or confirm them.
  • Dichotomous questions, which offer the respondent two contradictory options to choose only one of them.
  • Multiple choice questions, which provide the respondent with a series of possible answers and allow them to choose the one or those that best suit their thinking.

Sample questionnaire

Examples of questionnaires are both school exams, the forms that we must fill out before a doctor sees us for the first time, or the customs forms that in many countries they distribute to tourists as soon as they cross the border. In general, they usually look like the following example:

XYZ Juice Brand Quiz

Please read the following questions carefully and respond as directed.

  • Have you ever tried XYZ juices?
  • What is your opinion of the XYZ juices, on a scale of 1 (terrible) to 5 (excellent).
  • Mark with an x ​​the option that best suits your criteria:
    • a- I like XYZ juices and I buy them at each visit to the market ().
    • b- I have tried the XYZ juices and I did not like them ().
    • c- I have never tried XYZ () juices.
  • If you answered the previous question with the option “a”, what do you like the most about XYZ juices?
  • How likely would you be to recommend XYZ Juices to a friend, and why?