There are a couple of different scenarios to consider here:
Recruiter Matrices - There are times where I've seen recruiters e-mail me a list of questions for me to answer about what kind of job I want, what are my skill levels, etc. that would be quite similar to the questionnaire you describe here that I have no issue filling out as part of being in their system.
Company introduction essays - I've had less than a handful of times where I have been e-mailed a questionnaire to fill out various questions that a company wanted to know about me. Generally, I'd see this as providing food for the in-person interview as well as verifying my written skills to some degree.
For recruiting companies, they may do in-person interviews to build up that matrix list or it could be done via e-mail. Rarely would it be done over the phone though I suppose it is possible. The key here is to know your skills and so if you plan on using these kinds of companies be prepared to have these things.
They are looking to see what kind of initial basis do you provide. How well do you answer the question, what assumptions do you make, what kind of length do you aim. For example, if there is a, "Why do you think you're a good fit for this position?" then some people may well launch into a chunk of a cover letter about their background. The key here is how much of an answer will you give. A sentence, a paragraph, or a few pages? If the questionnaire is a Word document, the length of answer isn't necessarily given within the document and thus there can be that open question.
Do you want to enforce any company you work to have a "call to screen" policy? I wouldn't though part of this is that different sizes of companies may run things differently and having some flexibility can be useful. A start-up may do things much differently than some big consulting firm.
You felt like that because you likely had some assumptions about what the company wanted to see. They wanted to see what would you do in this situation. You supplied what they see as minimal answers and you view as full answers. Each can have their legitimacy here, though consider what kind of message are you sending with your attitude at times since short answers could be seen as someone that put little effort into things whereas longer answers may be better initially, there could be people that dig into the answers there too.