Tackling Tight Timelines, Tough Specs: Is Online Recruiting for Qualitative an Option?

Posted on: June 26th, 2017 by doyle

finger-with-peopleFrom the desk of Natanya Rubin

In a world where the pace of business continues to increase but the demand for actionable, dependable results remains the same, the question in qualitative research becomes, how to deliver?  In the field department, we’re often asked to reconcile a tight timeline with challenging specs, and it’s up to us, with the help of a strong recruiting partner, to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  One option that we sometimes employ is to embrace the online recruit.

Prior to the explosion of online resources, a tough recruit was accomplished mainly by phone.  This was a dependable, but slow, method of finding qualified respondents.  Today, our most common approach to reaching a difficult target quickly is a hybrid of online and telephone recruitment.  Potential respondents are emailed (or even texted!) a preliminary screening survey, containing the study’s foundational specs.  If the respondent qualifies via the survey, they move on to a phone screening to ensure that they truly meet the requirements, and are engaged and articulate.  The online survey saves time and costs, while the telephone screen ensures quality.

Although it’s rare, in the face of a truly compressed timeline we might consider an online only recruit, where respondents complete the entire screener online, and never speak directly with a recruiter.  In that case, embracing the over-recruit is critical to the success of the study.  Although eliminating the hours and manpower that phone screening requires might save some dollars in the budget, an extremely generous over-recruit is needed, sometimes as much as 50% or more.  This ensures enough completes and enough high quality responses to generate reliable findings.  It’s never our preference to recruit this way, but in the face of an urgent need for results, this compromise can deliver.

The challenges of locating hard-to-find respondents are steep enough without adding a compressed timeline to the mix.  But thanks to the possibility of online screening, the chances of success are better than ever.  By deploying a hybrid recruiting method or even an online only method (always being aware of the additional steps needed, in that case, to assure quality completes), a tough timeline can be conquered!

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