In the market research world – whether you work in UX, consumer insights, or run a qualitative research company – finding good qualitative research recruiters is one of the most challenging aspects of the job. The internet is filled with scammers, AI bots, and “professional respondents” who are dishonest on screeners. Both B2B and B2C qualitative research require high-quality respondents who meet stringent screening criteria, and the accuracy of a research project hinges on whether you can find the right respondents. So as a qualitative researcher, what’s the best way to ensure you’re getting high-quality qualitative respondents? Here are a few tips.
Tip 1 for qualitative research recruiting: Don’t work with panel providers
Many companies claim to have “panels with thousands of participants.” While this may seem appealing, what that usually means is that people have signed up through their website or have participated in past studies and are looking for extra income. There is a bit of a selection bias when people repeatedly sign up to be in research studies. While there may be some B2C studies or even B2B where panels can be useful, by in large, these are not customized enough. Instead, look for qualitative recruiting companies that offer truly customized recruiting. What does this mean? It means that for each study, they will custom recruit, via ads and trade groups, to find participants that meet your selection criteria.
Tip 2 for qualitative research recruiting: Make sure there is a tech check included for online studies
One of the common scams currently happening in qualitative research recruiting is participants who live outside of the U.S who respond to ads, quickly research the project, and pretend to be the right participant. Unfortunately, the moderator doesn’t realize this until the interview happens, and it becomes quickly apparent that the participant is misrepresenting themselves. There are some safeguards that good qualitative research recruiting firms do to ensure these participants don’t slip through:
- Do tech checks beforehand. This is where the participant has to sign on, meet the recruiter, and answer further questions.
- Upload their ID, listing their address and confirming they are who they say they are
- Provide a verified online profile: For B2B, this should always be LinkedIn, and it should show a clear work history and connection to others who work in their field
Before you work with a qualitative recruiting firm, ask them if they take these above steps to ensure you’ll have accurate respondents.
Tip 2 for qualitative research recruiting: Find a firm that has a solid reputation and history of success
There are numerous online recruiting platforms nowadays that promise inexpensive participants. However, like we mentioned in point number 1, these are all panel respondents. Furthermore, these large online databases don’t undergo the strict tech checks and ID verification methods outlined in point number 2. Before you work with a qualitative research recruiter, ask about their past clients, ask for references, and ensure they have a specialty in your industry. For example, there are specific recruiting firms that excel in just medical-field recruiting. Others are specialized in the tech industry. Make sure they understand your project’s unique requirements before you hire them for the job.
One final point: Expect to spend $160-$250 (B2C to B2B) on each recruit. Finding amazing respondents should take time and not be a discounted commodity. Additionally, make sure you budget for custom-outreach ads, NDA fulfillment, incentives, and incentive processing. These are standard fees for every project that are part of a custom research recruit. After all, the success of your project depends on your respondents.