A market researcher on the phone speaking to a participant for their user research telescreen interview.

The importance of phone validation in user research recruitment

It goes without saying that participant validation is paramount in any market research project – but especially in user research

After all, if you don’t thoroughly screen your participants, chances are you won’t recruit the best ones for your project, and you’ll subsequently lose out on great insights to improve your product or service with – or, at worst, gather insights that aren’t truly representative of/applicable to your target users.

The type of validation methods you implement here can make a huge difference, too.

While many researchers choose to only use a pre-questionnaire to check the quality of their user research participants, we’ve consistently found here at Angelfish that phone validation (otherwise known as a telescreen interview) has ensured that we pick only the absolute best participants for our clients’ user research projects.

But why is this the case? Read on to find out...

A market researcher calling a participants for their telescreen interview.

Here are 4 reasons telescreen interviews are essential in user research recruitment:

1. They'll help you get a better feel for whether the participant is right for your project

There’s only so much that a tick-box or written answer on a form can tell you about a person. Chatting to them on the phone, however, will allow you to dig much deeper into the answers prospective participants give on the pre-questionnaire, and assess whether they’re truly the best person to take part in your project.

For example, if the goal of your project is to test out a new photo editing app, a phone validation will give you the chance to ask creative questions such as “tell me how you would edit a photo of a puppy to upload to social media,” and assess both how quickly and how well the participant comes up with an answer.

In this instance, while a participant could describe their answer in detail in written format, they’ll have more time to meditate on their idea, rather than coming up with something on the fly, which they might need to do during the actual research!

2. They’ll help you weed out any dishonest participants

Sadly, some applicants can be dishonest when they apply to take part in user research projects, and in their pre-questionnaire, for a variety of reasons.

A telescreen interview is therefore a good opportunity to assess how truthful applicants have been in their pre-questionnaire, based on their verbal answers compared to their written ones, and on how naturally the conversation flows!

3. It’s an additional opportunity to make sure participants know what is expected of them during the research

Your prospective participants will already have some idea of what the user research project will entail when they first apply, but a telescreen interview is also a great opportunity to answer any questions they may have or explain the project to them in more depth so that they can decide whether they really do want to take part.

This will also help to prevent dropouts from your study later down the line and give participants an opportunity to reaffirm their consent in addition to the consent forms they will be completing.

4. It’s a chance to build a strong rapport with participants

The effect of participant-researcher rapport on participant engagement in user research is long-established – in short, the better the rapport you build, the more engaged your participants will be throughout the research.

As a one-sided process, it’s almost impossible to build a rapport with participants through a written or digital pre-questionnaire. Over the phone, however, you’re fostering a two-way conversation that will enable you to build a positive relationship with your participants, and really boost their excitement for the user research ahead (provided the chat stays on track, of course)!

A participant being called by a market researcher for their user research telescreen interview.

Implementing telescreen interviews are one of the many things that make us different at Angelfish.

In fact, we’ll leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding you the very best participants for your user research project!

So, if you’re on the hunt for the top-quality user research respondents and are looking for a partner that’ll implement only the most thorough validation and screening practices and techniques, look no further...

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