Common mistakes when writing screener questions for UX and Market research

John Goleby
December 20, 2022

If you conduct research as part of your role, whether that’s user or market research, one of the most important aspects of your study is creating the right screener questions to qualify the right participants for moderated interviews, whether remote or in-person. However, this task is not always straightforward and many researchers fall into common traps that can impact the quality of their data. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common mistakes that you can make when writing screener questions for your research and how to avoid them, so you’re always recruiting the right participants.

1. Asking leading questions
One of the biggest traps that researchers fall into is asking leading questions. A leading question is one that nudges the participant in a certain direction and influences their response. 

This can happen when the researcher is unconsciously biased or has a preconceived notion about the answers they want to receive. To avoid this, it's important to craft questions that are neutral and unbiased, allowing the participant to freely express their thoughts and opinions.

2. Being too specific
Another common mistake is asking questions that are too specific, such as "Have you used Product X in the past 30 days?". This type of question creates bias, and limits the pool of potential participants and can result in a skewed sample. Instead, consider asking more general questions, such as "Do you use similar products in this category?".

3. Not considering the participant's privacy
It's important to respect the participant's privacy and not ask sensitive or personal questions that could make them uncomfortable. For example, avoid asking questions about their income, religion, or political beliefs. 

4. Being too long
Screener questions should be short, clear, and to the point. Participants may become frustrated if the screener questions are too lengthy or convoluted. Keep in mind that the goal is to find qualified participants, not to gather comprehensive information about their background and habits.

5. Not doing a run through of your screeners before you publish them
It's important to test them to make sure they are clear, easy to understand, and don't result in misleading answers. Askable customers make a habit of this, and can be done quickly with a small sample of participants or even your internal team to gather feedback and make any necessary tweaks.

To recap, writing screener questions for a moderated user interview study can be a challenging task, but by avoiding these common mistakes, you can increase the quality of your data and get the insights you need to improve your product or service. Remember to keep the questions neutral, avoid being too specific, respect the participant's privacy, keep the questions short, and pilot test before use.

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John Goleby


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