Trying to qualify for surveys can feel like playing Minesweeper with your eyes closed. No matter how far in you are, one wrong guess means it’s game over.
Even surveys which appear directly relevant to your interests and purchasing behaviour can instantly kick you out for no discernible reason- Often after collecting your data for a good 15 minutes.
After hours of frustration, rejection, and unpaid work, experienced survey participants like myself have come to realise that the industry punishes honestly, and rewards lying.
The malpractice of the survey industry is of no benefit to the genuine consumer, or the company funding the research- But that’s their problem. I’m only interested in extracting free money from online surveys by whatever means necessary.
How Survey Companies Lie To You
Before you feel bad about lying on surveys, consider the ways in which deception of consumers is integral to the survey process:
- Surveys often claim that “there are no right or wrong answers”- Before promptly kicking you out of the survey for giving the wrong answer.
- The reported length of the survey you click on doesn’t match the length given on the survey itself- It inevitably increases.
- Surveys pretend to be “full” when they don’t like your responses.
- Fake surveys collect your data, unpaid of course, under the pretense of “finding you a survey” to do.
- Fake questions screen out bots and low-effort participants. These take the form of essay questions, which are wholly unrelated to the survey topic (and the researchers won’t even read the responses). This is a massive waste of time and effort for participants.
Two wrongs don’t make a right, but they do make you money whilst protecting you from exploitation. With this in mind, let’s think about what survey creators are looking for, and how to tell them what they want to hear. Here are my top tips to qualify for surveys:
1. Avoid this trap to qualify for surveys
Surveys often begin by asking which industries members of your household work in. It’s completely irrelevant, since your relatives aren’t the ones giving their opinions.
This question is a disqualification trap. It aims to eliminate those who pose a threat to the survey company’s client. For example, journalists may leak information about upcoming products. Rival companies may discover the strategy of their competitor.
You can get through this question every time with no issues, by selecting ‘None of the above’.
A positive side of this question is that we can use it to predict what the survey is about. In an attempt to filter out rival companies, the survey makers inadvertently reveal their client’s industry. Look for options which stand out from the rest. If one of the options is, for instance, ‘Film & Television’, the survey might be about an upcoming movie. Note: Some survey makers are wise to this now, and will include decoy options.
2. Look for clues on what job to choose
For consumer surveys, it’s not too important what job you have (as long as it’s not one of the forbidden jobs I mention above). They just want to make sure that your job pays you enough to consume their products.
There are also business surveys which are looking for specific job roles within companies. They want to hear from people who make final purchasing decisions (e.g. which cloud computing solution to use). For this reason, you will want to give yourself a high rank in the company, such as director or senior manager. Naturally, this will come with a high salary.
Ideally, the survey router will drop hints on what job you should choose. This may take the form of a leading question, such as ‘Are you the chief financial officer of a company with over 500 employees?’. I’ve also encountered ridiculous situations, where the survey router literally marks which answers will qualify or disqualify you.
If you have no choice but to guess, I recommend saying that you work in IT. A lot of business surveys are about software and computing services used by companies. Accounting and human resources are also common business topics, but these surveys also tend to be about software, meaning you can still make it work if you have chosen IT.
My default choices for company size (unless instructed otherwise by the router) are 1000 employees and £100,000,000 a year revenue. If these options are outside the range that the question is concerned with (i.e. they are the ‘or more’ option at the end), I recommend choosing a smaller answer.
3. Spread betting- My favourite trick to qualify for surveys
It should be your goal to figure out what topic the survey is about as soon as possible, so you can tell the survey maker what they want to hear.
If the survey hasn’t given you anything to work with, then spread betting can be a useful strategy. This means selecting as many options as possible, in the hope of catching the correct answer. This technique mostly applies to questions about your recent or planned purchasing behaviours.
The screenshot below helps demonstrate the effectiveness of spread-betting. The survey maker forgot to type in the category of their product, but it goes to show that selecting all of the possible options would include the correct 5th response.
Be careful– Survey makers deploy their own strategies to counter-act spread betting. They may include fake options like ‘Visited the moon’ to eliminate people who don’t read the questions properly. Some questions are entirely fake and irrelevant to the survey- Their purpose is to test for consistent responses.
4. Act like a consumer
Businesses love people who mindlessly consume products i.e. “consoomers”. Think people who would camp outside the Apple store overnight to be the first to get the new iPhone.
When asked which products you have bought recently, or are planning to buy, choose as many as realistically possible. If they invert the question by asking which products you would never consider, always choose ‘None of the above’.
Some surveys include personality questionnaires. Here you want to paint yourself as someone who:
- Is extroverted; likes being the centre of attention
- Is open-minded; tries new things
- Is influential; guides the opinions of others
- Is ahead of the curve; the first to adopt new technology
As with the business surveys, you need to be the final decision maker when it comes to consumer purchases.
5. People with children and pets qualify for surveys
Some surveys are about products which parents buy for their children, such as toys. In many cases, they will actually ask for the kid to come to the computer and fill in some of the survey (because who doesn’t love unpaid child labor?).
This means that if you say you have a kid, you will gain access to significantly more surveys. Just be ready to answer some questions on their behalf.
Remember that if you claim to have a child, you will need to be of a realistic age relative to the age of your son or daughter e.g. 35 with a 10-year-old kid.
If they ask about children right at the end of the survey, you don’t need to bother with this- It will only make the survey longer because you will then have to give the age of your child.
While you’re at it, why not give yourself a pet dog and cat, to gain access to pet food surveys?
It won’t be possible to always qualify for surveys. Some are outright broken, or determined to disqualify their target demographic. However, using these tips to qualify for surveys will absolutely get you better results than if you tried to answer honestly.
Part of qualifying for surveys is practice. Once you have experience taking many surveys, you will easily be able to spot fake questions, and find it easier to work out the aim of the survey.
If you’re ready to give these tricks a try, I recommend using the survey site Qmee. Their instant PayPal cash-outs with no minimum withdrawal limit makes them perfect for using a hit-and-run strategy. You can also check out the other best paid survey sites available here.