How to Create a Questionnaire to Encourage Honest Feedback from Respondents

SurveyPluto 11/02/2023 951 words

How To Create A Questionnaire For Honest Feedback

Creating a questionnaire that elicits respondents' genuine opinions requires careful consideration of various factors, including question phrasing, response options, and overall design. Here are some tips to help you design a questionnaire that encourages honest and meaningful responses:

1. Anonymity and Confidentiality

It is crucial to ensure that respondents feel comfortable and secure while sharing their answers. Therefore, assuring them that their answers will be kept confidential and their identities will remain anonymous is pivotal. This builds trust, encourages participation, and increases the likelihood of honest and open responses. Additionally, incorporating demographic questions such as gender, age range, location, and occupation can aid in segmenting and analyzing the responses efficiently. By gathering this information, it allows for more comprehensive insights into respondents' perceptions and experiences. 


2.Avoid Leading Questions 

When designing a survey or questionnaire, it is essential to formulate questions in a neutral and unbiased manner. Neutral questions do not influence respondents in any particular direction and allow them to answer truthfully and openly. Conversely, biased questions can inadvertently push respondents towards a particular answer by suggesting a particular viewpoint or presenting one answer as more favorable. This skews the data collected and can result in inaccurate conclusions.

For instance, suppose you want to know what respondents think of a new policy that your organization has implemented. In that case, you should avoid leading questions such as "Don't you think the new policy is great?" A better approach would be to ask an open-ended question such as "What are your thoughts on the new policy?" This way, you allow the respondents to express their opinions without any influence from the questions.

3.Randomize Response Order 

If you have multiple response options for a question, randomize their order to reduce the potential for response bias due to the order of options.

For example, suppose you are conducting a survey to gather customer feedback on your product. One of the questions is about the features that customers use the most. If the response choices are listed in a particular order, such as alphabetical, customers may choose the first option that appears without considering all the choices, leading to response bias. To avoid such a bias, it is recommended to randomize the order of response options.

Randomizing the order of response choices helps to ensure that every response option has an equal chance of being selected and reduces the impact of response bias. This way, the data collected is more reliable and accurate, and it is easier to draw meaningful conclusions.

4.Varied Question Types 

Use a mix of question types, including multiple-choice, Likert scale, open-ended, and ranking questions. Different question formats can engage respondents and provide a more comprehensive understanding of their opinions.

Multiple-choice questions are useful for gathering quantitative data and provide respondents with a range of pre-determined options to select from. Likert scale questions are a type of rating scale that measures the degree of agreement or disagreement with a particular statement. These questions have a rating scale format, usually spanning five to seven options ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

Open-ended questions, unlike multiple-choice or Likert scale, encourage respondents to express their opinions and experiences freely, providing researchers with richer and more detailed data. Open-ended questions can be utilized to follow up on specific issues raised in multiple-choice or Likert scale questions. Ranking questions require respondents to rank a set of items in a particular order, such as most to least important or least to most favorable. This type of question can help prioritize items and provide a clear picture of respondents' preferences.

Using a mix of question types can help ensure that all aspects of the survey topic are covered, and respondents are engaged throughout the survey. Careful consideration and planning must go into choosing the appropriate question type, depending on the survey objectives and target audience.

5.Keep It Short and Focused 

Long and complex questionnaires can lead to respondent fatigue and decreased quality of responses. Keep the questionnaire focused on the most important topics to maintain participants' engagement and encourage honest answers.

One way to keep the questionnaire concise is to limit the number of questions and response options. Researchers can prioritize the most important questions and ensure that each question is necessary to achieve the survey's objective. 

Additionally, survey designers must ensure that each question is clear and unambiguous to prevent confusion and frustration. Questions should be phrased in an unbiased manner, without leading the respondent towards a particular answer.

6.Sensitive Questions 

Sensitive questions are those that are personal, intrusive, or uncomfortable to answer. Examples include questions about income level, or mental health. Asking sensitive questions requires careful consideration and planning to ensure that respondents feel comfortable answering, and researchers obtain accurate and valuable data.

One approach to asking sensitive questions is to place them towards the end of the questionnaire once the respondent has built trust with the survey. Moreover, ordering questions in this way gives participants time to acclimate to the survey and builds a sense of momentum.

When designing questions related to sensitive topics, it is essential to use appropriate and non-judgmental language to minimize discomfort or offense. Survey designers need to be precise with language and avoid using overly technical jargon or euphemisms that can be confusing or misinterpreted. Providing definitions of technical terms can also be helpful.

In addition, when asking sensitive questions, offer a "prefer not to answer" option. This option enables respondents to decline to provide the requested information without invoking discomfort or embarrassment. It also allows respondents to complete the survey without feeling coerced to provide answers that make them feel uncomfortable.


The quality of your questionnaire directly influences the quality of the data you collect. Careful planning and thoughtful wording will lead to more genuine and reliable opinions from your respondents.

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