Recruiting strategies and their benefits  

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Enhancing Qualitative Research Through Strategic Participant Recruitment.”

The success of qualitative research hinges on the quality of the data derived from a well-chosen group of participants. Given the smaller sample sizes and the detailed insights required, the selection process is crucial. It is important to remember that a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment does not work; each study demands a tailored strategy to meet its unique needs effectively.

This article will explore a range of recruitment strategies and highlight the benefits of each method and their contribution to securing a pool of participants that can provide the most valuable and actionable insights.

Online screening surveys: How to narrow your potential marketing research participants

Online screening surveys serve as an initial filter in the participant recruitment process, utilizing a carefully crafted set of questions to assess eligibility and interest in the study. These surveys are designed to efficiently process a large volume of responses, enabling researchers to quickly compile a pool of candidates who preliminarily meet the study’s requirements.

The benefits of online screening surveys

You get a broad reach

Online screening surveys offer you the ability to cast a wide net, attracting a substantial number of potential participants, which is essential for finding a diverse and suitable pool of candidates.

Automated quality controls

Fraud detection technology (e.g., digital fingerprinting), advanced algorithms and other in-survey checks can be implemented to identify and eliminate responses from bots or fraudulent entries, ensuring the integrity of the candidate pool.

Comprehensive screening

Surveys collect a wide range of data from participants’ demographics, experiences and characteristics, facilitating a targeted selection process based on specific study criteria in a short amount of time. 

Informative for participants

Surveys also function as a medium to communicate study details to potential participants, setting expectations right from the start. 

Efficient consent process

The online format allows for the early collection of consent forms, streamlining administrative procedures and ensuring ethical compliance. 

Refining and filtering respondents

They are effective in sifting through the initial volume of respondents to identify those who preliminarily qualify for the next stages of the recruitment process. 

Convenience for research participants 

Surveys enable participants to complete screenings at their convenience, enhancing accessibility and participation by allowing engagement from any location with internet access.

Conducting phone and video interviews

Phone and/or video interviews serve as a critical next step in the recruitment process. A phone interview consists of a direct phone conversation between the recruitment team and a prospective participant. A video interview entails a virtual “face-to-face” interaction between a member of the recruitment team and the research candidate. Both methods involve direct communication with potential participants to verify their eligibility and help gather deeper insights. 

The benefits of phone and video interviews

Survey response verification

These interviews help validate the information provided by respondents in the screening survey, ensuring the accuracy of participant data. 

In-depth probing

Recruiters can delve into participants’ responses, probing for detailed answers and assessing articulation levels.

Comprehensive participant evaluation

Allows the recruitment team to conduct a comprehensive assessment, aiding in the selection of the most suitable participants. 

Improving participant engagement

Participants can ask the recruitment team questions during these interviews, fostering engagement and enhancing their comfort level with the research process.

Verification of participant legitimacy

Recruiters can authenticate participant identity and credentials, ensuring the integrity of the selection process.

Detailed exploration, getting clarification

The interactive nature of these interviews allows recruiters to delve into more detailed answers, providing deeper insights into participants’ suitability.

Building rapport with research participants

These interviews are particularly effective in building rapport with candidates, especially in studies involving children, which strengthens the relationship between participants and researchers.

Authenticating the materials submitted 

Participants provide documentation to validate their eligibility for a study. This documentation may include employment verification, screenshot verification and video/photo submissions to confirm ownership/use of a product.

The benefits of authenticating submissions

Ensures validity of participant information

This adds an additional layer of verification, ensuring that participants possess the necessary qualifications to participate in the study. For example, if a study requires participants from a certain industry, participants can submit proof of employment (i.e., LinkedIn page, work ID, etc.) to verify that they work in the required industry.

Essential for specific criteria

Proof submissions are indispensable for studies with highly specific requirements and help guarantee that participants meet the predefined eligibility criteria. 

Seamless integration

Proof submissions can be integrated into an online screening survey, streamlining the participant verification process. 

Pre-assignments: Assign short and simple tasks

Involve short tasks completed by potential participants before project selection. These tasks may include providing written responses to questions or submitting photos or videos.

The benefits of pre-assignments

Task familiarization

Pre-assignments mirror tasks participants will encounter if selected, familiarizing them with the research process.

Preparation opportunity

Participants can engage with the research topic beforehand, aiding in their preparation for the session. 

Evaluation resource

Responses to pre-assignments offer valuable insights into candidates’ suitability for the project, aiding in selection. 

Moderator familiarization

Moderators can review pre-assignment responses to familiarize themselves with participants before sessions, optimizing research time.

Time efficiency

Pre-assignments streamline session preparation by eliminating the need for redundant data collection during sessions, allowing moderators to focus on research.