A beginner’s guide to qualifying your participants without losing the plot!.jpeg

A beginner’s guide to qualifying your participants without losing the plot!

So, you’ve thoroughly researched your market research subject, identified your target audience, and started putting tentative plans in place for your chosen methodology. You’re all set and ready to go, right? Wrong. There’s a really important step between sourcing your participants and conducting the interviews with respondents: qualification. Thoroughly checking your participants to ensure they meet your qualifying criteria is a vital part of your market research recruitment process that can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Your participants might seem perfect on paper, but by taking the time to dig a little deeper, you can be completely confident that they meet your criteria and are engaged and enthusiastic about participating. After all, a successful market research study is only as good as the people taking part…


For your market research study to be effective, your participants need to be reliable, flexible, easy to work with and, most importantly, meet the necessary criteria. The good news is that it often only takes a quick phone call or mini-interview to ensure you’ve found a good participant – but first things first, you’ll need to pre-qualify your respondents to make sure they’re the right demographic. Don’t worry though, an online pre-qualifying questionnaire takes just a few minutes to arrange and means you can narrow down your participants with easy demographic questions and core qualifying criteria, ensuring you only take truly eligible participants through to the next stage.

After pre-qualifying your respondents, it’s time to validate them and make sure you’ve got the right people for the job – and without a doubt, the best way to do this is by getting on the phone and having a proper conversation. By following a questionnaire over the phone you can make sure you  confirm the key areas of qualification and assess the individual's confidence  as well as start to build a rapport with your respondents, which will make them feel more comfortable with you. And if your respondents feel comfortable, chances are that they will start to open up to you and you’ll be more likely to gather accurate, honest information.

When qualifying your participants over the phone, it’s really important to ask them the right questions in order to make sure you are speaking to the right people. Make sure you are not asking leading questions, try asking questions without giving easy options or the obvious answers, because this will make it harder for them to determine the elimination criteria. For example, if you ask a simple question such as “Do you work for a competitor company?” the respondent might lie to get selected. But by asking open questions like "Where do you work?" or "Tell me about your job", you can be sure you’re getting honest answers every time.

By asking open questions and qualifying your participants over the phone you can also get a better understanding of how engaged they are and whether or not they are genuine and interested in giving their opinions to better develop brands, products and services rather than just doing so to earn a bit of extra money. Not only that, but chatting to your respondents on the phone can also help to expose frauds and allow you to ask exclusion questions so you can be sure you aren’t talking to participants who regularly take part in market research. Believe it or not, it’s incredibly common for people to lie about certain recruitment criteria and to go as far as applying multiple times with different names and email addresses, which is why you should always take the time to have a quick phone conversation with your respondents so you can be completely confident about your participants moving forward.

A beginner’s guide to qualifying your participants without losing the plot!.jpeg


Speaking to your participants on the phone is also a great way to backup other validation techniques such as asking them to send a picture of their ID, or if the requirement for your online qual is that they own a specific product, asking them to send a picture with the product. A quick phone conversation is all it takes to validate your participants and increase the credibility and validity of your research.

By following these tips, you can take the headache out of qualifying your participants and make sure your market research recruitment runs smoothly from the very beginning. If you need any further help finding participants for your research, why not download our guide to find out more?