Surveys vs. Questionnaires - What's the Difference?

Although many people use the terms questionnaires and surveys interchangeably, they aren’t the same thing. Both typically ask a series of questions, but the similarities end there.

Learn what the difference between surveys and questionnaires are before you start taking online surveys with us at Branded Surveys. Once you understand the difference, you will also understand why we pay users to take surveys, not questionnaires.

What are Surveys and Questionnaires?

Since you can’t use the terms survey or questionnaire interchangeably, it’s important to understand what each one does and what purpose it serves.

Questionnaires ask a series of questions, but they don’t use the responses for research – they’re just collecting information. They usually have a narrow scope, audience and length. For example, if a company is hiring for a new position, they might ask applicants to fill out a questionnaire to learn more about their employment and education history. The company uses this data to help them select their candidate – that’s all.

A survey, on the other hand, uses a series of questions for research purposes. Surveys usually compare results over time and track changes connected to those results. To use a survey for research, you must analyze the responses you receive to gather data and draw insight. Researchers look for trends, behaviors, strengths and weaknesses. Companies will often use surveys for market research to pinpoint problems in their problems or services. After learning what their problems are from survey responses, they will make changes and then later send out another survey to understand user reactions.

When Should I Use a Survey or Questionnaire?

Your circumstances and needs will determine whether you should use a survey vs. questionnaire.

When to Use a Survey

If your goal is to collect information with the intent to use it for research and analysis, you will use a survey.

Surveys are commonly used for:

  • Market research
  • Reviewing products
  • Understanding job satisfaction at work
  • Giving exit interviews with employees
  • Learning about customer satisfaction
  • Understanding brand awareness
  • Collecting feedback about managers

Each of these examples will use the data collected from the survey responses to distinguish trends and learn about their survey respondents. If the responses pointed out areas of weakness that could use improvement, it’s also likely the data will drive changes.

It’s common for companies to use these survey examples repeatedly over time to track progress and to learn if the changes that took effect led to more favorable responses.


When to Use a Questionnaire

If your main goal is to collect information without the intent to use it for research, you will use a questionnaire.

Questionnaires are commonly used for:

  • Job applications to collect job history
  • Gathering preferences to plan events
  • Collecting medical history
  • A renter’s application for rental history

In each of these examples, the primary goal is to collect information that is factual, not opinionated. The purpose of a questionnaire is to collect information and then use it for whatever you need. You’re not supposed to analyze the information or combine the data with another person’s response to come to any conclusion. You can use the information collected and compare it to another person’s response if you’re using it to sort through responders like in the case of a job or renter’s application.

Get Paid to Take Online Surveys

Now that you understand the difference between a survey and a questionnaire, you can understand why we offer paid opportunities to take online surveys. Companies work with us to find survey-takers so they can collect important market research. Every time you take a survey with us, you’re providing a company with valuable insights that they can use to make improvements to products and services.

Sign up for Branded Surveys today to start earning money by taking online surveys for companies that want to hear your opinion! You can exchange the points earned for cash or gift cards of your choice, help as many companies as we match you with and -- even better -- have unlimited earning potential!

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