When creating an assessment, it’s important to include unbiased questions.

Let’s think about the main reason for offering an assessment to people: it’s to get their honest answers, right? Are you doing that already? If not, how do you go about wording your assessment questions to achieve an unbiased result? We’ll dive into some best practices and what-not-to-do’s below to help you easily create more engaging, accurate, and unbiased assessments.


Avoid Leading Words

One way to reduce bias across your assessments is to avoid using leading words. These words, such as asking how much someone “likes” or “enjoys” something, could subconsciously drive a respondent to a certain answer. It’s easy to think of questions like “Do you like driving?” Even if you do not mean to, it’s easy to phrase a question positively or negatively that could affect the answer outcome. Instead, remove positive or negative connotations, such as “How do you feel about driving?”

Tips to help you create unbiased assessment questions

Avoid Assumptions and Suggestions

Similar to how leading words can drive a respondent to a certain answer, the way you word your assessment questions can provide strong suggestions one way or another. “How much do you enjoy doing water sports?” This question assumes you like water sports a little bit and asks how much. What if you actually don’t like water sports at all? Your opportunity to answer that question accurately is already gone — because the assumption and suggestion of liking them are inherently built into the question.

Another good rule of thumb is not to guide an assessment respondent to a certain answer – whether through language in the question or in your answers. Make sure your answers are distinct in and of themselves – there’s no point in having multiple choice or multiple answers if they all point towards the same main answer or topic at the end of the day.


Avoid Combining Questions

Combined questions are a common mistake and can lead to assessment respondents only answering one part of your question. Let’s say you’re a business consultant and ask a respondent “How do you feel about your employer and fellow employees?” These are two totally separate questions and could have vastly different responses. One may be positive, and one may be negative. A respondent will usually only focus on one of the question components, and what’s worse is that you will not know which one. Or perhaps they’ll answer about both, but more generically. To get down to the true results and answers, check any assessment questions you have that seem to combine and separate them out. It will create clearer results for you and a more streamlined process for your respondents!


Keep your assessment questions simple to avoid confusion or bias

Keep it Simple

Keeping your assessment questions simple is the best way to avoid confusion or bias. Really take the time to read through your questions carefully and pare them down as far as you can. If and when you build them back up, be sure you’re avoiding the common mistakes above. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of common phrases and idioms, but those can confuse a respondent in a scenario such as an assessment. This is one time when neutral language and phrasing can actually help you – so take advantage of the opportunity! Then, use your reporting and follow-up with respondents to really let you, your personality, and your business shine.


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Cindy Sideris

Cindy Sideris

Cindy Sideris is a NY-based writer passionate about engagement marketing and an expert on online assessment strategy.