Recruit the best participants for your UX test – a checklist

Participants can make or break your UX test. So you have to make sure you recruit the right people. That is: a proper representation of your target audience. We’ve made a checklist to help you brief your recruiter clearly and get your research off to a flying start.

Firstly, give your recruiter context

You can make the life of your recruiter much easier by explaining what you’re going to test and why it’s important to talk with certain people. Context is king. The more the recruiter knows, the better he or she can decide on the right participants.

    • Don’t just provide a list with criteria – also explain why certain criteria are important.
    • Plan a call with your recruiter for a ‘participant kick-off’. Go through the criteria to make sure you’re on the same page.
    • Recruiters will never know as much about your product and audience as you do. You can easily help them out by translating some of your criteria to example questions. That makes it super concrete.


Then, go through the basics and prioritize

There are basic boxes you always need to tick off with your recruiter. Like for instance:

    • Demographics (If you’re not tied to certain demographics, the best thing you can do is go with an even spread in gender, age, place of living, educational level, income, family composition).
    • Work and industry (especially for exclusion of certain professions)
    • Preferred date(s)
    • Number of participants, spares and floaters (all day standby participants)
    • Duration, preferred time slots and (lunch) breaks
    • Location
    • Main language
    • Whether or not the label and/or brand name has to be hidden
    • Preferred device: desktop/iPhone/Android or a combination
    • Technical instructions or homework tasks

Decide how flexible you can be and how realistic your wishes are. Recruiting doctors, for instance, might require you to be more flexible because they’re harder to reach than, let’s say, university students. Usually, you simply can’t have it all. Which criteria are nice to have and which ones are essential? Where can you make concessions if needed? You should raise the bar high, but accept that participants don’t have to fit the target audience seamlessly to get valuable insights. In most cases the ultimate participant doesn’t exist.

Last but not least: get as specific as you can

We’ve seen it plenty of times: the person you’re interviewing doesn’t use your product as often as you would like. Or he / she doesn’t use it at all because a relative is responsible for the job. Most of the time, that’s for the simple reason that the briefing wasn’t clear enough. Here are some questions to help you avoid situations like this:

    • What is the participant’s relationship with the product?
    • How many times per week/month/year do they use the product?
    • Are they the main ones using the product or is their partner responsible?
    • Are they the decision makers?

As you can see, there’s a lot you need to think about before putting your recruiter to work. The more complete your briefing is, the better your participants and your insights will be.


Need help finding the right participants? We would love to help you out.