What Is a Biographical Questionnaire?

A biographical questionnaire is a method of obtaining biographical data to assess an applicant’s suitability for employment. Typical categories in biographical questionnaires include education, training, work experience, personal interests and attitudes.

Biographical questionnaires measure behavioral consistency by predicting hypothetical future behavior based on past behavioral patterns. Answers to questions in a biographical questionnaire are an indication of how a person performs at a given task. Subject matter experts often configure biodata test items as multiple choice alternatives of how a candidate reacted in the past in various situations. Data from answers across a range of questions indicate patterns of responses. Targeted biographical questionnaires attempt to predict performance in specific job-related situations.

Biographical questionnaires are effective in predicting whether a candidate is likely to achieve job success regardless of gender or race considerations. They are a cost-effective means of selecting employees for training and promotion based on abilities, skills and interests. Administrators without special skills are able to conduct the tests using computers or paper and pen.

Negatives include the fact that biographical questionnaires are time-consuming and costly for professionals with specific expertise to develop. Additionally, job candidates or employees may consider biographical questionnaires personally invasive and may fake responses to try to elicit a positive test outcome.