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How To Recruit Interview Participants

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The First Outreach Email

Where to find participants for User Research Interviews | Sarah Doody, UX Designer

The copy of the initial outreach email doesnât have to be elaborate keep it simple to avoid wasting time. An attention-grabbing subject line is also necessary â if users arenât enticed to open the email, they wonât read the content inside.

Your first email to possible participants should cover:

  • The general topic of the study
  • How to participate
  • Where and when to participate
  • The benefit of participating
  • A link to your screener survey.

Youâll want to set up a screener survey to send in your first email, too. A screener survey consists of a set of questions that respondents answer so you can gauge candidates’ eligibility and choose the best-fit participants.

Use Participant Recruitment And Management Tools That Find Test Participants For You

Using a tool to find research participants can significantly speed up and streamline your recruitment process. While this method often requires payment, it can be well worth the cost to secure the right users, when you need them, for your study.

One key benefit of using participant recruitment tools is the ability to nail down the specifics, from location to demographics. For example, if youre creating a medical app that helps young doctors in New Zealand find available medicines in their local pharmacies, youll need young doctors in the country between the age bracket of 28-35 as your research participants. If its an Android app that youre designing, youll also need to specify that participants must be Android app users.

On top of that, recruiting participants using market research tools is great when recruiting lots of participants, such as for quantitative testing. You can also rely on this method for projects that require thorough research and testing before their launch to avoid any major issues.

Maze, for instance, offers two options to help you locate and manage the right participants:

Reach by Maze

Create An Incentive Plan

We cover incentives in more depth later in this module. But the gist is that you should compensate participants for their time, and do it in a timely manner.

Setting an appropriate incentive increases the likelihood of a great recruit. It shows that you respect participantsâ time and that you value their expertise.

Monetary incentives, including gift cards, are the most popular form of incentive, but incentives can also take the form of charitable donations, account credits, or swag.

The most important thing about your incentives is that they are valuable to your participants and that they get people excited about participating in your research.

Here are our incentive recommendations in a nutshell:

  • In-person studies demand higher incentives than remote studies.
  • Higher income earners expect higher incentives than lower income earners.
  • The longer the time commitment, the higher the incentive.

Weâve also found that moderated researchâwhich requires more coordination and communication between researchers and participantsâgenerally warrants a higher incentive than unmoderated research.

For a detailed breakdown of how much to pay your research study participants for in-person and phone interviews, consult this handy cheat sheet. And check out the UX Research Incentive Calculator for personalized, data-backed incentive recommendations.

ð Read more about User Research Incentives

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Decide Who To Recruit For Your Research

Generally speaking, you need to know what youâre looking for in order to find it. When it comes to finding the right user research participants, this means taking the time to figure out what your research question is and who, exactly, can best help you answer it.

While this step may seem like a no-brainer, itâs often overlooked. Taking time to do it right can make a huge difference in the quality of your research.

Targeting should typically be defined by using a mixture of the following criteria:

  • Psychographics: Activities, hobbies, interests, and opinions
  • Behaviors: What they do
  • Demographics: Age, gender, education, income, marital status, etc.
  • Geographics: Country, city, region, or radius around an area

The first way to improve the quality and suitability of participants when recruiting for a study is to clearly define your intended participants.

If youâre doing research for a company or a product, the target audience is usually representative of your eventualâor existingâcustomers.

To determine who to recruit, ask yourself:

What is the goal of your research?

What you want to learn from your study will determine who you should study. Consider what insight would be most useful, then work backward to figure out who can best provide that insight.

Are you in the discovery, testing and validating, or post-launch phase of product development?

What is your research question?

Who can answer that question?

So our new requirements are:

Pro Tips To Recruit Participants For A User Research

Looking for a UX Research Coordinator? Consider These Alternatives

If you’re stuck for ideas, here are eight ways to find participants:

  • User-generated targeting. Target a specific audience of people who use your product or service.
  • Pay a small fee in exchange for feedback on potential problems with the system/product.
  • Target markets relevant to what you want feedback from using social media advertising and other marketing channels
  • Leverage your personal network. Ask your friends, colleagues, family, and wider network to help you with research studies. The upside to running user interviews with people from your network, is that you can find some really enthusiastic research participants. But there’s a serious downside you need to keep an eye out for. These types of participants might unintentionally give you subjective feedback because they know you or have a personal connection with you.
  • Offer incentives like cash rewards, free products, or services if they participate in research sessions . You can also offer travel accommodations and food vouchers as an incentive. Take care of their time by ensuring that sessions are scheduled at convenient times. Additionally, reward them with little perks during the session such as coffee, water, and snacks, etc.
  • Have a few extra research participants ready to step in. This will ensure that you have a replacement if someone doesn’t show up or has to leave early.
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    Use Of Electronic Mailing Lists

    All staff and student projects that propose the use of block emails to send unsolicited requests for recruitment to research projects or for participation in research such as online questionnaire completion are subject to full ethical review by the relevant ethics committee. Mailings should not be sent until ethical approval has been received.

    Applications for ethical approval must provide information about the proposed use of email lists, whether existing or created specifically for the project. Later use of lists not envisaged in the application must be notified to the Faculty Ethics Committee.

    How Do I Use The Recruit Participants Tool To Invite Participants From Past Studies

    1. Log into your account, select “Participants”, then select “Recruit Participants”.

    2. On the left panel, click into the search field to browse a list of your team’s projects or type to search by project name.

    3. After you select a project, you’ll see a new set of options to further refine your search results. Now you can specify which participant statuses you’d like to include from that project. For example â maybe on the “Dog Lovers” project you only want to see participants in the “Approved” status. Simply uncheck the “Qualified” and “Completed” statuses and you’ll be left only with the approved participants from that project. Easy!

    Pro Tip â the “Approved” status is a useful shortcut! It implies that the participants are a good fit for your needs… you did approve them after all! ð But it also means that were unable to schedule themselves for that project and they have not yet run a session with you. If you want the fastest way to find relevant participants, this might be it!

    You can filter on multiple projects at a time. Just jump back up to the search box and find another project to include. The search results will be “OR.” Meaning it will return participants from “Dog Lovers” OR the second project you select.

    To remove a project rom the search, simply click theâï¸ in the top right corner.

    5. After everyone is selected, click “Invite to project”. Select the project and you’re done! Selected participants will be automatically invited to your project.

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    An Unparalleled Market Research Experience

    Agile Data

    Pollfish is an agile solution and not just due to its top-notch speed. Pollfish provides a platform built for countless iterations, allowing you to complete any research endeavor with timely insights.

    Relentless Quality

    Pollfish applies a vast system of quality checks weeding out survey fraud, bots, gibberish answers and much more to ensure youre reaping the most quality data. You can rest assured that all responses line up with your targeting criteria.

    Develop And Fine Tune Screener Survey Questions

    Recruiting UX Research Participants with LinkedIn Recruiter

    Your screener survey allows you to cull potential participants quickly. This means the most important criteria for qualification/disqualification need to be at the beginning of the surveyboth your non-negotiables and your negotiables .

    In most cases, non-negotiables are concrete questions related to demographics, such as a candidates business, location, age, gender, ethnicity and past research participation. However, screening questions can also be identifying behaviors and/or opinions. For example, if you’re looking for marketing professionals that use a specific type of software, use of this software and even use of this software over a specified amount of time might be a must to qualify.

    Leading questions with transparent choices for response should be avoided. This can be achieved by offering some options in multiple-choice response lists that will mis-direct unqualified potential participants.

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    Tips To Win User Research Recruiting

    User research recruiting for qualitative research can be challenging but the right users make all the difference in the quality of your quantitative research output.

    There are many different user testing software platforms available to help in the recruiting process including our own, PlaybookUX. User research recruiting is integral to conducting successful qualitative research and gaining beneficial user research insights. If you are not speaking to the right users, the insights you gather wont be very accurate. Prior to starting, it is important to consider how much time you have, your budget and how specific you need to narrow your audience.

    Challenges Of Integrating Ppie In Rapid Research

    Diversity of PPIE members was the most referenced challenge of integrating PPIE in rapid research. Researchers described PPIE members as being predominantly retired professionals, probably financially comfortable, educated, etc. and literate with access to devices and Wi-Fi.” and would value a wider range of engagement to gain diverse opinions.

    We need a kind of range of people of different age groups, so younger as well as older, which is a real big problem in not having enough younger people and also, kind of people from different walks of life. .

    Alongside this, one researcher described being turned down by a group of a particular minority based at the Student Union as they received too many requests for involvement work. PPIE members also noted the challenge of diversity with one acknowledging they have had to ask myself some challenging questions about my own privilege and understanding there was an imbalance in the diversity of people who engage in PPIE, realising the usual suspects were often involved.

    I remember being in this focus group once and the chair of it, who was actually a public contributor themselves, saying, The problem with involving people like you is you know too much, and you get that a lot, its like somehow I am stripped of my patient-ness or my patient experience because Ive got research literate it hasnt taken away my patient experiences its just made me very good at holding researchers to account in a way that they dont like. .

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    Review The Survey Responses Of Both Qualified And Disqualified Candidates Before Finalizing Your Approved List Of Participants

    By reviewing the survey responses submitted, you can identify any close-fit study applicants that you may want to consider as a backup candidate if they have most, but not all the criteria for your target audience.

    For example, if your target audience was parents with multiple children, a primarycaregiver aunt or uncle may have been disqualified, yet acceptable for the study. Alternatively, some participants may have been screened out because they picked one of several possible answers .

    How Can I Invite Past Participants From Former Studies To Current Studies

    Perceived facilitators and barriers of...
    Inviting past qualified, approved, and completed participants to future sessions.

    Easily invite previous participants to current projects with our Recruit Participants tool. Available as part of Recruit Starter, Essential, and Custom plans, this tool allows you to source candidates who previously qualified, were approved, or participated in one of your past studies.

    Use the Recruit Participants tool to:

    • Invite participants who may have not snagged a spot in your last study, but you were still interested in talking to.
    • Run follow-up sessions. For example, if you’d like to bring back select participants who were especially helpful in a session for another conversation, you can do that with the Recruit Participants tool.
    • Schedule participants for multi-day studies where multiple steps are required. For example, if your study involves an introductory phone call, followed my an unmoderated survey, followed by an online interview, you may want to launch a 1:1 phone study, book participants, then add those participants to a new unmoderated task study, and then add them to a 1:1 online study. When you use the Recruit Participants tool, you utilize our scheduling tool and automated participant confirmation and reminder emails so participants to ensure all parts of a multi-day study go off without a hitch!

    Here’s a quick video outlining how you can use this tool to recruit participants faster:

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    Opening A Recruitment Request

    A lot of the conversation above occurred in the recruitment request.

    The UX Research Operations Coordinator took great care in creating a segment from our research panel . Because the study was about accessibility, a topic about which many people are passionate, this study was a good one to use custom subject lines and email copy. The UX Research Operations Coordinator sent out an email with the subject line New study – let’s talk accessibility. After two emails, we received over 20 responses.

    The UX Research Operations Coordinator highlighted in green the people who said they do accessibility testing in their jobs, and strongly agreed that accessibility compliance is important . They highlighted in orange people who only fit the latter criterion . Altogether, this is a surplus of participants, however, we now have some participants that we can reach out to directly when the next accessibility study is available.

    Recruiting Participants For Qualitative Research With Sharewell

    There are 2 basic practices that will take your research further:

    Using a basic audience filter:

    Using screener questions:

    Screener questions are multiple-choice questions that you propose to potential participants to exclude or include them based on your requirements. For example, if you need participants with a certain level of familiarity with your product, a screener question can determine if theyre appropriate for your study. You have the option to set up screener questions, which are multiple-choice questions that will allow users to participate in the test only if they meet specified criteria.

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    More Channels For Recruiting Participants

    If you decide to DIY your research recruiting, you have several options, depending on who it is youâre trying to recruit.

    Live intercepts

    Messages can be delivered in real time within your website or app based on the userâs actions or engagement, their background account information, and/or other criteria. You can recruit at the flick of a switch, but youâll need to contend with third-party integrations and potential complexity in managing the tool.

    Organic social media

    If youâve built an active and engaged social following from your own customer base, you can recruit people directly through these profiles. Itâs free and straightforward, but some platforms are making it hard for brands to get by on organic reach aloneâso you might struggle to capture enough eyeballs. You can navigate this by boosting posts to an audience of your own page followers .

    Customer service

    Your support staff are in touch with customers every day, and these are the customers who have something to say. This makes them great candidates for qualitative user researchâif you can align with the support team.

    Your email list

    Pro tip: Use a research CRM to manage your own participant panel. You can build your own research panel using any of these channels, and import your database into Research Hub. There, you can manage the whole research process from within one platform: profile building, scheduling, tracking responses, incentive payments, and more.

    Response To Interested Participants

    Speed interviews: How to recruit with video interviews

    When people respond with the dates and times that theyre available, you can skip this step and, instead, just send them a meeting invitation. But Ive found that many people simply respond that theyd like to participate without providing their available dates and times, so youll need to request information about their availability. This message should also be brief and focus on getting the information you need to schedule a meeting. For example, it could be as simple as the following:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for your help. What dates and times would work well for you? Please let me know, and Ill send you a meeting invitation with the details.


    Dont make the mistake of providing more details about the research at this point. The length of your first email message caused these people to overlook your request that they send you the dates and times when theyre available. So be sure to keep this message brief. Once youve scheduled participants, you can provide more details.

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