How to Avoid Getting Screened Out of Surveys

Published: 30th June 2006
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When you take an online survey, no matter the company, you will encounter a set of questions at the onset called "screener questions." These are designed by the online survey company's market researchers to determine if you, the survey-taker, fit the demographic of the company that hired them. How you answer these is of utmost importance to your payout, since answering them "improperly" may result in getting screened out of the survey.

Firstly, read the survey invitation e-mailed to you by the survey company very carefully! If it says that the survey being given is about lawnmowers, then you will be expected to speak intelligently about them. If you haven't even bought a lawnmower in your life (i.e. you live in New York, like I used to), then you will inevitably be screened out of the survey. That is because if you don't fit the demographic, then your input won't help the hiring company develop its product for sale to that demographic.

Depending on your level of scruples, you may feel the need to "trick" the screeners for the sake of continuing on to the survey itself. That is, you may tell the screener that you, for instance, are in college when you actually are not (for a college-related survey, of course). I, personally, don't suggest it, though I have heard that it can be done with fantastic results. One person I have spoken to cheated an NFO MySurvey screener, earning 1000 points (which is the minimum for a $10 check) whereas he normally would have been screened out. The bottom line: your answers to the screener questions affect your payout drastically!

The main types of screener questions belong to the following groups:
  1. Basic Info (gender, age, race, income, education level, etc.) - You will never be disqualified based on your answer to these types of questions, since such criteria are too broad and wide-encompassing
  2. Employment - The industry in which you work may influence your opinions. Most of the time, the industries listed (marketing, advertising, banking, and others) will automatically screen out people who answer them affirmatively.
  3. Prior Survey Participation - If you have taken a survey about a similar product in the past, then your experience may skew the data. Answering this question affirmatively will most likely screen you out.
  4. Personality Type - These, too, often screen you out. At the end of the survey, however, they are just extra info for the companies and do not affect your payout.
  5. Participation in Activities - This is the biggest factor determining your eligibility to take a survey! Sometimes, you will be asked if you have seen a movie. Other times, you will be asked if you have ever purchased heartburn medication or roofing. Questions about your purchasing activity almost always screen you out if you answer negatively at all or positively but not recently. However, questions about your participation in social or recreational activities (movies you go to, TV shows you watch, who you go to the mall with, etc.) rarely ever do.

I have obviously been taking surveys for a long time, but I am always learning more about the relationship between the questions asked and the effects of one's answers. If I find out something new, I will be sure to update this report.

Copyright 2006 The Paid Online Survey Center ( All Rights Reserved.

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