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How to get started with Screener Question writing
How to get started with Screener Question writing

Screener questions can be tricky if you haven't had to write them before, but don't worry, we're here to help.

Updated over a week ago

What are screener Questions?

When you're conducting any type of research or investigation, it's important that you're talking to your ideal participant. Running sessions to find the right insight after all takes valuable time.

Enter screener questions! Screener questions or 'screeners' are a way to filter out participants who don't match your criteria. it sounds simple, but there are a few key things to think about when writing screeners and structuring the flow.

We've put together a quick step by step guide to help you create the best damn screeners ever!

Define your audience, specifically!

Before you start writing your screener questions, you need to think about who you are trying to screen in and out. An easy way to determine this is to create an audience definition, this can also be known as a 'target audience'.

Here is an example of a bad audience definition.

I'm looking for:

  • Young Females

  • Who travel frequently

  • Who use a mix of devices for booking online

  • Who book with Expedia, Flight Centre and Intrepid.

At first glance this seems ok, and most participants would be able to answer these questions quite easily. However as outlined earlier the purpose of screen questions is to find your target audience, so we want to be specific.

Here's why this audience definition is bad:

  • Young Females > What is young?

  • Who Travel Frequently > What is frequently?

  • Who use a mix of devices for booking online > What types of devices and what kind of mix?

  • Who book with Expedia, Flight Centre and Intrepid. > What if they have booked with two is that ok?

So let's make this a little more specific:

I'm looking for:

  • Those who identify as female

  • 18-23 years old

  • Who travel at least once every 3 months

  • Who use a mix of both mobile and desktop devices to book online

  • Who has booked with any of the following sites; Expedia, Flight Centre or Intrepid.

The example above outlines the audience in a way that screener questions can be clear and target the ideal participant.

Start with open questions

Now you can start writing our screeners. So where do you start? A good place is to create open multi choice questions. Not closed ones. There are a few reasons open questions work, and one is that it is quite hard for participants to ascertain what it is you are looking for if the question is open.

For example if you simply ask:

"Do you have an iPhone?"

  • Yes

  • No

It's pretty obvious what it is that you are looking for.

So instead, make sure to frame all your questions as multi choice options. This ensures people don't know what it is you are looking for, while also giving you more info beyond the obvious.

For example if you ask:

"Which type of mobile phone do you primarily use?"

  • Apple iPhone

  • Samsung Galaxy

  • Google Pixel

  • Motorola Razr

  • Xaiomi 14

it is less likely that the person answering will know which is the 'right' answer and therefore it is more likely you will get a true response.

Keep it short

It's tempting to go crazy and write up 25 questions to hone in on your exact person. But we find that any more than 15 means that people don't apply. It's just too much for nothing.

Also, when getting to that many questions, the likelihood of finding someone that specific is extremely unlikely. Less is more, when it comes to screeners!

Don't use jargon!

Make sure to always write screeners for everyone. Remember that participants don't work in your industry or sector so not everyone will know what EV means (electrical vehicle) or BA (Business Analyst).

You are in it everyday, but most people aren't, so be super clear!

An easy tip, if you're getting stuck!

If ever you are struggling to make a criteria into an open, multi choice question - we recommend going with a simple;

"Which of the following represents you?"

And then list out all the variations. This is a fail safe way to ensure you get what you need, without giving anything away.

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