07 Recruiting in UXR

Learning with Lee Anne

Lee Anne Mercado
3 min readJan 13, 2021

I graduated with an HCI degree and a minor in design in 2018. I (naively) believed that I was fully equipped to understand UX in business, outside of school, but it turns out — I wasn’t! (Surprise!) Luckily, we never stop learning due to our peers, mentors, and random articles on the internet like this one. Since this is a time where my vulnerabilities and struggles are leading me to better understand research, I thought I’d document my learning process of how UX Research works in my everyday world of business!

Only when I started working did I understand how complicated, intricate, and vital the recruiting process can be for UX research. When I learned about this in college, I didn’t fully grasp the idea that participants can make or break research findings. It seemed important, sure, but I thought it was just a quick, general process like identifying who is a bus rider and who is not a bus rider for our study. I’ve come to realize that the recruit questions go much deeper than looking for such surface level criteria (especially in the health industry I work in).

Here are a few points I’ve learned about recruitment and writing the recruitment guide:

Start out by understanding what the different segments will be

This will help determine what questions need to be asked. Segments may be vastly different or very similar to each other, so understanding those key questions for each type is essential in making sure we’re recruiting the right audience.

Think about the recruitment guide as a survey

Since the recruitment guide is a survey, it’s important to remember to treat it as so. Consider how questions and logic are structured. You won’t be there in person to clarify questions or make sure people understand what you’re saying so it’s important that this is all spelled out with little room for nuance or misinterpretation.

Having a loose template is useful

Aside from the core questions used to make sure we target the right people, there are also standard questions we often ask for extra demographic information. This helps with analysis and understanding the backgrounds of the people we spoke to. As a result, I like to have a template of the recruit questions we ask in every study so that I don’t have to start from the ground up each time and I can focus my energy on coming up with the essential questions.

Especially when the study does not have to do with diversity, include a diversity of participants

Diversity has always been important! As researchers, we have the opportunity to bring user voices into the room; this means capturing the voices of people of various: ethnicities, income, gender, etc. Putting extra effort into this seemingly small aspect of recruitment is a powerful way to ensure inclusion in the products/ experience we output as a company.

Utilize the help of third party vendors

The recruiting process can be very time consuming, which can be a burden during this process of research when you also need to work on the interview guide/survey (in addition to everything else). Working with third party vendors helps not only with time, but they often have panelists they can send the recruiting surveys to. This is huge because half the challenge of recruiting is also finding people who might even be interested in taking the survey.

Work with the stakeholders

As always, I like to emphasize collaboration in research projects. Because the stakeholder has more context into the experience or product being tested, they are likely to have a good idea of the specific criteria and possible edge cases of people that should be recruited. Along with the researcher’s experience of understanding the types of questions to ask to target the appropriate audience, collaboration once again proves itself to be essential.

While not an exhaustive list, these are just a few initial points I’ve found most helpful when starting to understand this space.