5 Characteristics to Look for When Recruiting Market Research Participants

Finding high-quality market research participants can be a tricky process for many recruiters. 

However, as challenging as it can be, it is one of the most important components of conducting qualitative research studies.

Below Drive Research outlines the 5 characteristics to look for in a participant when recruiting for market research projects. 

5 Characteristics to Look for When Recruiting Market Research Participants

Characteristic #1: Takes the project seriously

Those who are unfamiliar with market research may not understand the importance of its findings. It is vital that participants understand how their feedback can impact a business’ next steps. 

Each recruiter working on a project should be able to properly explain to each participant what their feedback will be used for. This will provide the participant a deeper understanding of the importance of the research. 

You don’t need to take an unlimited amount of time to touch on the importance of the project, one sentence can do the trick! 

For example, our qualitative recruiting company explains this with a brief description such as...

“Your feedback is very important to us and will provide relevant insights to help Drive Research improve as an organization, shape future service offerings, and better understand your needs.” 

Doing so tells the participant three important things: 

  1. Their feedback is important to us
  2. The company depending on them (we used ourselves as an example!) 
  3. Three different ways their feedback will be used 

The overall tone from participants should be serious and professional. Participants who attempt to rush through the call, are consistently off-topic, or constantly making jokes are giving indicators that they are not taking the project seriously. 

Characteristic #2: Shows interest in providing valuable feedback 

Okay, you’ve made it beyond point 1, and the participant understands the importance of the research, the next step is ensuring they are prepared to provide valuable feedback. 

Participants should provide thoughtful and thorough feedback to all questions. 

When they take their time to answer questions thoughtfully, that is a good sign that they are ready to do the same in the research project. 

Giving short, vague, or ambiguous answers to open-ended questions is a sign that they aren’t the best fit. 

💡 Pro Tip: Think of re-screening phone calls like a job interview. If participants are truly interested in providing useful feedback, they will be on their best behavior to participate in the project.

It’s a good sign if a participant is asking questions about the next steps. This is showing they are looking forward to participating. Recruiters should be able to explain the study thoroughly and offer assistance. This shows that we are taking the project seriously as well. 

Recommended Reading: The Importance of Re-Screening Phone Calls When Recruiting Participants for Market Research

Characteristic #3: Able to engage with the project, including all concepts 

It’s always important to ensure that participants can meet all technical requirements for the project, but there may be other factors you aren’t aware of. 

Asking questions with a yes/no response can be less valuable because they may have a concern about their ability to participate that you didn’t address. 

A tool to better understand a participant’s capability is to explain each step of the project, and then ask:

Is there any reason you would be unable to participate in this research project?”

Leaving it open-ended is useful for two reasons.

  • First, it allows the participant to speak freely which is useful for gauging the quality of their responses. 
  • Second, it allows the participant to address any concerns they may have about their ability to participate. 

Characteristic #4: Friendly and excited to participate 

My bias may be showing, but market research is fun! Participants are able to see new concepts, ideas, or provide feedback that shapes a company’s strategy. 

Participants should be looking forward to providing their feedback. Those who are unsure or appear uninterested should be avoided. 

Participants who are engaged and excited not only follow through more often, but they take the time to provide more valuable feedback than someone who treats the project as a chore. 

Recruiters also share responsibility in this process. They should be upbeat, friendly, and excited about offering the opportunity to participate. Participants should also display the same characteristics. 

💡 Pro Tip: Recruiters - smile when talking to participants! Studies described on NPR have shown that your tone of voice changes when smiling and promotes a positive response.

Characteristic #5: Talkative, but not too talkative 

Proper communication is the key to running a successful project. Ultimately, the only way to obtain and share information is to communicate with others. 

By providing our clients with top-notch participants, we are able to provide them with quality information to make educated decisions. 

Ambiguous or vague responses to open-ends are rarely useful. Participants should be engaging and talkative. Their responses to open-ends should be thorough, meaningful, and relevant to the question being asked. 

Each rescreening call should be treated as a personal interaction. When doing this, participants may begin sharing personal information freely that is irrelevant to the question asked. 

Though a participant feeling comfortable enough to freely speak is great, it is also important to ensure a participant is able to stay on topic, more isn’t always better; a 500-word response about a football game in 2001 isn’t useful to a question about skincare. 

💡 Pro Tip: Test this process. Allow participants to speak freely during the re-screening call. Let them go off-topic and make sure they are able to be reeled in. If a participant is unable to provide a meaningful response or stay on topic, they are not a good fit. 

For Best Results, Contact Our Qualitative Recruiting Agency

Drive Research does not employ a “first come, first serve” tactic when recruiting participants. Our national market research company utilizes a thorough process to ensure each participant is the best possible fit for your project. 

The participants that we provide to our client on a research project are a direct reflection of us and our work. 

By providing the highest quality participant possible, we allow our clients to see the attention to detail and care we put into each of our studies. 

Interested in learning more about how Drive Research can provide high-quality participants for your project? Reach out to us using the information below. 

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040


Ashley Reynolds

With nearly 10 years of experience in market research, Ashley has worked on countless quantitative and qualitative research studies. As a Fieldwork Manager at Drive Research, she’s involved in every stage of the project, especially recruitment.

Learn more about Ashley, here.

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