Qualitative Recruitment - people gathered around checkbox
April 14, 2021

4 Tips To Better Understand Qualitative Recruitment

At Focus Forward, we recruit respondents for all types of qualitative marketing research. Our strength is nationwide recruitment, so we are most helpful with online focus groups, bulletin boards, TDIs, product tests, and ethnographies. In many markets, from our database or from your lists, we are also here for your in-person focus groups, at any location. Many clients ask us, “What does team Focus Forward do throughout their qualitative recruitment process to better help my project move forward?” We pulled together 4 tips to better understand qualitative recruitment success!


Recruiting firms are on a journey to find new individuals for marketing research.  We start with our database. This source is the least frustrating way for a respondent to be selected for a project, since we pre-identify possible respondents based on their demographic match to client specifications. We initially send an invitation to apply, to those we believe are most qualified. We then follow up with a phone call to those we feel best fit our client’s needs. Our firm is always advertising for new people to join our database. We also use a variety of social media platforms to advertise and prescreen for projects so we can throw the widest net for a project and new possible respondents. Once a respondent is recruited, a profile is made, which can be active, if a respondent chooses, or passive, where it is simply used internally to track participation and source of the respondent.

The best recruitment firms access respondent panels, in-house databases, social media, purchased lists, association or company directories, etc. to ensure we reach the respondents you need for your research.


Reviewing the screener in the bid process is very important to determine if the project overall falls within the scope of what we do well, or if there are factors within the project that might be worth pointing out to a client where a possible unintended consequence may occur.  Depending on your research, you may be targeting a very specific and potentially rare population. In those cases, it may be rather difficult to recruit from those groups. Alternatively, the project may be about salty snacks, which seems not that challenging, and yet there are questions that may result in a larger number of DNQs than anyone expected. The more thoroughly the screener is reviewed up front, the better chance that all expectations are met.


Often, our clients will provide us a list of those they want us to use to recruit their qualitative research. Lists can be great, or not so great. We work to determine the source of the list, purchased or internal. Also, the more ways to contact a possible respondent, including email, cell, and other contact information, the better the result from the list, to ensure the respondent’s response. The joint effort of the recruiter and the market researcher working together can go a long way to understanding and evaluating that the list will allow for the full recruitment of the project.


We are excited to share the incentive with respondents, and they feel happy to have options valued, too. Keeping with the spirit of valuing the time of the respondent is important. Setting the expectation that a board will take 4 hours should mean the board takes 4 hours or, if a phone interview is 45 minutes, it should start and end on time. If not, the respondent should have the option, for more incentive, to extend participation. Respondents can become frustrated when the project extends longer than originally proposed. Respondents can lose enthusiasm, like anyone, if they feel as if there was a change in the promise from the brand, research firm, and recruiter over the course of the project.


We’re the recruiting pros, but you may be looking to sharpen your skills, too. When you work with a trusted recruiter, you’ll know that their strong experience will benefit your research and, in turn, make you more prepared for the upcoming studies you and your company may have. So, what are you waiting for! Focus Forward with us today!