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Phrasing a closed-ended question
Phrasing a closed-ended question
Emilie Roze avatar
Written by Emilie Roze
Updated over a week ago

A closed (or "scaled") question is used to validate and frame a need. In order to structure your scaled questions, you will need to look at 4 elements: the questions' wording, the scale, the scale labels, and the activation of comments. Let's explore these together.

In this article:

1. Phrasing the question

The question can be expressed in the affirmative or interrogative form. It is recommended to use simple, direct, and precise questions. Let's take a closer look at the different elements to consider in order to get proper results for your statistical analysis!

☝️ Assess one topic at a time

If necessary, opt for 2 separate questions rather than one question covering several topics.

Example :

❌ I have good relations with my team and my manager
✅ I have good relations with my team
✅ I have good relations with my manager

🙅 Avoid absolutes

How do you spot these questions? They often call for Yes/No answers and contain words like "always", "all" and "every". This leaves participants with an all-or-nothing obligation and prevents them from qualifying and enriching their answers.

Example :

❌ I never work outside my working hours
✅ I do not work outside my working hours

🙂 Turn the question positively

We use affirmative statements, which then allow us to compare scores between questions. On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 is very critical and 5 is excellent.

It is therefore not advisable to phrase your question negatively or to mark a positive development as this may reverse the reading of the scale and you will no longer be able to compare the questions with each other. A score of 1 will correspond to a good score and 5 to a very critical score.

Example :

❌ I have to make an effort to hide my emotions at work
❌ I feel freer to express my emotions at work
✅ I can express my emotions freely at work

🕗 Avoid notions of time

It is easier for participants to express their feelings at a given moment than in reference to a certain period. Besides, you can always get an idea of the evolution of your employees' feelings by asking the same question regularly.

Example :

❌ Since our last meeting, relations within my team have improved
✅ I have good relations with my team

🎯 Keep it simple and straight to the point

It is always best to use simple, clear, and concise vocabulary in your surveys. In general, you should avoid :

  • acronyms, jargon, and technical terms

  • subjective concepts (I think, I believe, etc.)

  • high standards (best, most, etc.)- You risk confusing participants and getting low scores.

Examples :

Keep it simple

❌ I have the appropriate software (AWM, ERP, etc.) to organize my time
✅ I have the proper digital tools to organize my time

Show modesty

❌ I have the best relations with my manager
✅ I have good relations with my manager

Remain objective

❌ I think my company is making the necessary changes to be competitive in the future
✅ My company is making the necessary changes to be competitive in the future

2. Choosing the question scale

The scale corresponds to the number of possible options that participants are given (e.g. from 1 to 5 or from 0 to 10). In general, we recommend using a scale of 1 to 5 to keep a moderate number of options and thereby simplify the participants' experience.

💡 Tip

To facilitate your analysis, make sure to use only one scale for your entire survey!

The results are only comparable between several questions if the scale is the same. Furthermore, once participants have familiarized themselves with one scale, it will be difficult for them to adapt to another scale.

⇒ For more information: How to choose a rating scale?

3. Adapting the question to the scale labels

Labels are texts that clearly explain to participants what each option means.


Supermood offers 2 models of labels:

  • NPS question labels (from 0 to 10) - "Not at all likely" and "Very likely" at both ends of your scale to avoid a profusion of labels.

  • Labels for other questions scales - the degree of agreement or disagreement with the question asked; ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree.

4. Activating comments

Activate comments whenever you want to have a little more context on your scores. Text fields allow coworkers to argue their rating and provide additional information about the matter at hand.

ℹComments are optional fields for survey participants.

If you are a little intimidated by the creation of a survey from scratch, rest assured! Our specialists have provided you with questions covering many topics and you can also ask your Account Manager for advice.

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