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Self-Reported Demographic Questions: Best Practices

Demographic survey questions allow you to collect characteristics about your participants – age, gender, and tenure are examples - and later segment your survey data to compare how responses vary by group. While demographic data can provide valuable insights, consider these best practices before designing your next survey.

First and foremost, consider pre-loading your demographics to avoid self-reported demographic questions. Most survey providers, including Quantum Workplace, allow you to load a file listing the individuals you’re surveying. This file should contain relevant and valuable demographics. This recommended approach prevents survey participants from answering information about themselves that you already know. It typically also leads to more accurate data and fewer concerns about confidentiality.

There may be times when you don’t have certain or any demographic information about your survey-takers, though. In this case, you may want to add a survey item to collect it.

If you include demographic survey questions…

Only ask for information you really need. Be very intentional about your demographic questions. If you include too many, you’ll frustrate the participant, who is giving you their valuable time, and it might cause them to question the survey’s intent. As you create the survey, think about how you want to segment the results, then include demographic questions that will help you slice the data to achieve your goal.

Put demographic questions at the end of the survey. Doing so prevents participants from introducing bias in previous answers. And if the participant is tired with the survey or runs out of time, you still get the responses to the questions you really need.

Make demographic questions optional. Asking more personal questions may make some participants uncomfortable, and you don’t want to lose out on their opinions. Provide the option to answer demographic questions, but let them know these responses aren’t mandatory.

Curious for more? Check out our examples of valuable demographic survey questions.