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Ranking Questions
Ranking Questions

Ranking Questions
Guide with Examples

Ranking questions require respondents to prioritize or order a list of items based on a specific criterion or preference. They are useful in gathering information on relative importance or preference among multiple options.

Ranking questions allow the respondents to compare different items and then rank them as per their choice. It is also known as rank-order survey questions. While some people use ranking and rating questions interchangeably, they’re different.

The key difference is that respondents have a wide range of lists in ranking questions that they can rank as per their preference. On the other hand, they would have to rate a particular product in the rating questions. For example, a restaurant might ask a rating question about their food, service, ambiance, etc.

With ranking questions, the restaurant might give five food options and ask you to rank them as per your preference. This article will explore ranking questions in-depth and how they can help you with your market research.

What is a Ranking Question?

Ranking questions are a type of survey question that give the respondents a set of options. The respondents can rate them accordingly, allowing surveys to get quantitative research data. Marketers can better understand which items customers prefer the most and the least.

The question can be a close-ended scale to particular company variations only. For example, you can give your respondents a list of five products and ask them to rank them, with 1 as the “most preferable” and 10 being the “least important” item.

The one thing that helps rank questions from other evaluation questions is that it gives you quantitative data on a single scale. It is why ranking questions are also known as sorting and ladder questions.

The answers that you receive vary from individual to individual. Thus, it allows you to get a wide range of perspectives, allowing the researcher to further study.

Benefits of Ranking Questions

The key benefit of using ranking questions is that you have a clear insight into what is important for your respondents. Every response to a thing comes with a value, providing you with results you can easily measure. As a result, it can help you get a statistical breakdown of your audience’s preferences.

It can also play a critical role in helping you make critical business decisions. You can use the data from ranking questions to know how to satisfy your audience, depending on what’s important to them. Additionally, these questions are an easy way to know the respondents’ preferences for various items.

Every option on the ranking questions will come with a distinctive value. As a result, it will make it easy for you to calculate the acquired data and find out about customers’ preferences.

Here are the biggest advantages of ranking questions at a glance:

  • Efficient data collection: Ranking questions are a time-efficient way to collect data because they allow respondents to indicate their preferences for multiple items in a single question.
  • Reduced bias: Ranking questions can reduce certain types of response bias, such as acquiescence bias or social desirability bias, by requiring respondents to make explicit trade-offs between different options.
  • Enhanced data quality: Ranking questions can increase the quality of data collected by encouraging respondents to think more deeply about their preferences and make more informed decisions.
  • Increased insights: Ranking questions can provide additional insights into the preferences and priorities of survey respondents, beyond what can be captured by simple rating or single-choice questions.
  • Flexibility: Ranking questions can be used in a variety of survey contexts, from product research to employee engagement surveys, and can be adapted to suit the specific needs of different projects.

Drawbacks of Ranking Questions

The biggest drawback of ranking questions is that you can’t find out why something is important or unimportant. Comparing the items might not help you get accurate results regarding what your respondents like or dislike.

Another drawback is that respondents can’t rate two items that are equally important to them. They would have to give preference to one item over the other one. Also, there isn’t any way to calculate the distance between significance levels for each ranking.

Furthermore, “order bias” may also impact the survey results. This means that respondents might rank a few sets of items more positively that come first than the later ones. Moreover, it can also be difficult for respondents to rank various items simultaneously since they might lose concentration.

Types of Ranking Questions

You can choose from different types of ranking questions as per your target audience. Let’s discuss some of the most common ones.

  • Text Box Ranking: The text box ranking question allows the respondents to enter their ranking in a box for the relevant options. Respondents can rank some or all of the options via the validation types.
  • Select Box Ranking: The select box is another type of ranking question where respondents can choose options and rank them by clicking the arrows to move each item up and down.
  • Radio Button Ranking: The Radio Button ranking question allows respondents to select a rank for every option on the list of possible rankings.
  • Drag and Drop Ranking: In the drag-and-drop ranking, the respondents can drag items and then drop them as per their ranking. This type of question is more suitable for a shorter list so respondents can easily rank them.
Ranking Questions Example

When to Use Ranking Questions?

Survey ranking questions can be useful for a wide range of options. It works well for employers, teachers, and businesses to find the preferred options for their relevant audience.

With the help of this data, companies and institutes can make relevant changes or incorporate new strategies to get the intended results. Let’s go over the different ranking question examples you can use, depending on your respondents.

For Employers

Finding out what matters most to your employees can help you increase your employee engagement and satisfaction levels. You can also ask this type of question to learn more about the company culture and work environment. Below are some examples of using the ranking questions to gauge employee satisfaction.

  1. What tools help you the most in completing the task? Please rank them accordingly.

    Tools and software have become an integral part of our work life. There are very few things that are happening without a tool. So, if you want to find what tools the employees need, you can ask them this type of question.

  2. How would you rank the different managerial styles?

    The next important thing in an office after the work environment is the managerial or leadership style. Choosing the right leadership style can benefit your company since it ensures your employees are willing to work under your leadership. Therefore, you can ask your employees which managerial style suits them. Once you have the answers, you can focus on incorporating this managerial style into your organization.

  3. What benefits are the most important for you?

    Apart from basic salary, each business offers benefits to their employees. In order to meet the employee satisfaction level, you need to offer benefits that resonate with your employees. Therefore ranking questions can allow you to get an idea of what your employees want the most.

For Understanding Your Target Audience

Ranking questions is also an optimal way to determine the target audience’s preferences. Here are some ranking question examples you can use for surveys to learn about your target audience in-depth.

  1. Can you rank the features you use the most and the ones you use the least?

    When we talk about market research, it is not only to find what your customers want. Many a time, it focuses on what the customers know about your existing products. That way, you’ll better understand what you can improve for higher customer satisfaction. Knowing what customers like and dislike can give an organization a competitive edge. It can help them to take relevant action and engage their target market accordingly.

  2. Which products would you like to see discounted prices? Please rank the options from most to least important.

    You’ll uncover various things about your target audience by asking these questions. Firstly, it will help you find out whether or not respondents are interested in your industry. Secondly, if they are, what type of products are the most likely to buy with a huge discount? It helps you offer discounts on the right products to increase sales in the long run.

  3. What are the things that might force you to abandon the product or switch to a competitor?

    Most businesses might focus on making improvements to their products. They don’t pay any attention to aspects that can be the reason why customers might stop using your product or switch to a different company. Knowing about the changes, issues, or features that can make your customers leave is also important. This survey ranking question lets you understand the factors driving customers away.

  4. What are your expectations from the customer support team? Please rank them from the most to least preferred.

    Customer experience plays a massive role in the overall success of your brand. Even Steve Jobs emphasized using the customer experience to provide customers with newer features. So, finding out about your customer’s expectations from the support team can be critical.
    Using this ranking question, you can easily learn what your audience expects from the customer team. The team can understand the customers’ pain points and address them accordingly for a better customer experience.

For Teachers

Teachers are essential to building a society, but how can you find the best ones? In such instances, ranking questions can come in handy for educational institutes.

  1. What would your ranking be for the following responsibilities depending on your areas of expertise?

    This question can help the recruiter understand each candidate’s strengths. They can have excellent command over academic and co-curricular management or anything else. As a recruiter, you need to find out whether the person has the skills to handle the responsibilities. If yes, then you can proceed to the next step, which is an interview.

  2. What changes would you like to see in the education sector? Rank from the highest to lowest.

    Constantly innovating is necessary to ensure that things get better. The case is no different for the education sector, which also needs continuous improvement.
    Asking them this question would help you uncover the potential teachers’ opinions about their reactions and adoption of such changes.

Tips for Writing Good Ranking Questions

Ranking questions are an effective way to gather information about people’s preferences or opinions on a set of items or options. However, it is important to create good ranking questions to ensure that the responses collected are accurate and useful. Here are some tips on how to write good ranking questions for surveys:

  1. Keep it simple: The ranking question should be simple and easy to understand. Use simple language and avoid technical jargon or complex phrasing. The instructions for the question should be clear and concise, so respondents know exactly what they are being asked to do.

  2. Keep it short: Limit the number of items being ranked to ensure that respondents can complete the question easily. Too many items can lead to confusion, frustration, or bias in the responses. Ideally, the number of items being ranked should be between three and seven.

  3. Use a consistent scale: Use a consistent scale for ranking the items, such as a 1-5 scale or a 1-10 scale. Ensure that the scale is clearly explained and that respondents understand how to use it.

  4. Use a mix of positive and negative items: A good ranking question should include a mix of positive and negative items. This will help to balance the responses and provide a more accurate picture of people’s preferences or opinions.

  5. Randomize the order of items: To reduce bias, randomize the order of items in the ranking question. This will ensure that no item has an advantage or disadvantage based on its position in the list.

  6. Test the question: Before using the ranking question in a survey, test it with a small group of people to ensure that it is clear, easy to understand, and generates accurate responses.

Example of a good ranking question:

Please rank the following features of our product in order of importance to you, with 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important:

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Design
  • Durability
  • Brand reputation

Writing good ranking questions for surveys requires careful consideration of the items being ranked, the scale being used, and the instructions provided to respondents. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can create effective ranking questions that provide valuable insights into people’s preferences and opinions.


In conclusion, ranking questions are a valuable tool for gathering structured feedback in online surveys. By allowing participants to rank items or options in order of preference, ranking questions can provide clear and quantifiable results that enable comparison between different items or options.

To ensure that your ranking questions are effective, it is important to follow best practices such as keeping the list of items or options short and focused, using clear and concise language, avoiding biased language and phrasing, considering the order of the items or options, and using consistent scales and units of measurement.

Incorporating ranking questions in your online survey can help you to identify priorities and preferences, make informed decisions, and gain deeper insights into your audience’s opinions and preferences.

Therefore, we encourage you to consider using ranking questions in your next online survey and to follow the best practices outlined in this article. By doing so, you can ensure that your ranking questions are effective, yield meaningful results, and provide valuable insights for your organization.

Learn about further Online Survey Question Types

FAQ on Ranking Questions

How do ranking questions differ from other types of survey questions?

Ranking questions help you find out the value of each item on the list. You don't see this in other types of survey questions.

How are ranking questions different from rating questions?

A rating question allows you to compare various items and then give them a rating on a scale of 1 to 10. On the other hand, the ranking question allows you to rank various items according to your preference.

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