Participant Recruitment


I’d love to hear more about how people are managing their participant recruitment.

  • Are you recruiting via intercepts?
  • What does your participant management system look like?
  • Are you using a 3rd party recruitment service?
  • How are you handling incentives?
  • What’s worked and what hasn’t?


Has anyone else put together something like this?


This also seems like a nice setup for an internal tool.


In South Africa, the UX industry is relatively immature so we don’t have agencies that can recruit for us. The other side of this is that many clients have yet to see the value of user research. They are mostly excited about “User Experience” and that is something that they love to mention in planning meetings. But somehow they haven’t made the connection between research and UX. It almost feels as if most consider it as an extension to design where we contribute to feature ideas, especially of the “surprise and delight” variety.

My past research studies have typically had the corporate client carefully hand selecting participants that they felt would be valuable to the study. In one client’s case they selected only customers that had good things to say about the product previously. I managed to get around this by scouring LinkedIn for the specialist job roles I was looking for and then cold calling them at their place of business. I was able to recruit quite a few users in this way.

One thing that I found was that by doing some user research with some of these specialists I was able to ask them for access to other specialists in their organisation that they felt could contribute. This helped the recruiting effort immensely. I also had a number of participants feeling anxiety that they were just telling me things about their day and not providing big insights that would change the way the system works. I imagine this is quite common in research studies but I thought it was interesting that participants were eager to provide solutions to problems.

Incentives haven’t yet been a big issue, I usually provide a very small token of my appreciation for the participants time (a box of Lindor) but my studies have been small and haven’t had budget allocated to them. I currently work for an agency and I’ve considered using Facebook ads as a way to help target appropriate users. I haven’t tried this yet but if I manage I’ll report the results.


I’ve heard of people having really good results with using Facebook for recruitment. Apparently they have some pretty good demographic segmentation tools so you can try to get the ads in front of folks that match your recruiting criteria relatively easy.


I am trying to figure this out currently. I am thinking about a semi-automatic solution as a first step. I could imagine the following setup:

  1. Automated screening based on an online survey
  2. I than go through the list and tag participants who are a fit for the current research
  3. Invitation and scheduling is then automatically triggered.

I thought about making Tuesday interview day. Any thoughts on this? I know that Tom Chi for example is a big fan of inviting early and often so like 2 days a week instead of just one (Friday i.e.).


For recruiting, we reach out through every channel we can to get people involved in our research activities. Of course, we have a repository for them to manage everything. The big funnel is getting a survey out for people to sign up and we can select specific, target users for each project. It’s not that difficult when you have willing clients. The general public is another matter.