What types of interview questions do I use in my survey or questionnaire?

Category: How to Design a Questionnaire?

By Thijs Verbeek 5 december 2010
The different types of interview questions for questionnaire or survey
There are many types of interview questions used in surveys or questionnaires. Any question in a questionnaire or an interview for survey purposes can be classified in a number of different ways. Survey questions can be divided in structured and unstructured questions. We use 3 types of structured questions in surveys:

1. Dichotomous questions :
These are questions which require a yes/no answer or an answer by choosing a option from a number of possible answers.

2. Nominal questions :
These types of questions we use when we have to inquire about a level of measurement. The correlation between a number and an idea or concept is described in a value. But this value is not an absolute one but indicates only it’s place among the other values to choose from.

3. Qualifying or filter questions:
These types of questions are designed to determine if the individual answering the question needs to continue on to answer subsequent questions (Wikipedia 2010).

Other classifications of question types

1. open or closed questions:
Open questions can be open ended or pre-coded and the range of answers to choose from is not suggsested in the question like in the case where the interviewed must choose between a yes or no.
Most of the time the interviewed person can more or less answer in his own words but normally the lenght of the answer is limited.
Closed answers are always precoded and the list of possible answers is known beforhand. This type of questions is very popular in its use for research because it is easy to administer and cheap to process (Brace 2010)

2. spontaneous or prompted questions:
In case of spontanious questions there is not a list of possible answers from which the interviewed person can choose from. This type of questions is used when the designer of the questionnaire wants to collect reponses in the respondent’s own words or when he doesn’t know the exact range of possible answers (Brace 2010). An example of this type of questions we can find in the cases of measurement of spontaneous brand or advertising awareness.

3. open-ended or precoded questions:
Op-ended questions are unstructured or free-response questions, and they are almost always also open questions.

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