How to create a successful UX participant recruitment brief

By Jessica Lewes, Business Development Director at People for Research

At People for Research, we have been recruiting participants for user research, user experience (UX) and usability testing, and market research for 25 years. In this time, we have built up a wealth of knowledge that we are keen to share for client benefit.

For our participant recruitment experts, one of the key ingredients to successful recruitment, and therefore successful user testing or market research, is to define the recruitment brief effectively prior to embarking on the recruitment part of the journey.

A brief should be a clear guide to what’s needed for the UX/user testing or research, and the vital information that will be useful for anyone involved in the participant recruitment process.

Briefing for participant recruitment — the essentials

Getting a brief right is the first step towards a seamless recruitment process: go through the sections below for a more successful participant recruitment experience.

Who are your participants?

We will cover participant types, persona’s and screening in more detail in future blogs but as a minimum a recruitment brief should include:

1. How many participants are required (we always recommend over-recruiting by 10%)
2. Age
3. Gender mix
4. Occupation
5. Social grading
6. Any other important demographics depending on the research study/testing or user group

Outline if you want existing customers, or people with specific experience or knowledge of the product, service, website or app at the centre of the study.

The following information is also included in many recruitment briefs we work with:

  • Technical knowledge (e.g. include one or two participants who are ‘less tech-savvy’).
  • Habits (e.g. participants to display existing habits which show that they are likely to be a user of a new website/service).

What are you testing and why?

It might not seem relevant to share this with the person who will be doing your recruitment. From experience, we have found that the more we know about a project, the better the recruitment process is.

Understanding the wider project will help during the screening process — perhaps certain participants will need additional probing. For example, is there a BETA version that some people maybe using, and do you want to exclude these people?

We have also found on some projects that we have been able to bring forward participants who are specifically relevant, but whom our client assumed wouldn’t be interested in participating.

Do you have any screen-outs?

Screen-outs are the criteria that would immediately make a participant not suitable to participate in a research project.

For example, the majority of our usability clients request that we don’t recruit participants who have extensive knowledge of usability or web design, if the recruitment brief has requested ‘typical’ users of a website.


When are you hoping to hold the research? We usually ask for 10 days’ lead time as a minimum, from the date we are given the recruitment Brief to the date of testing. If we are given a longer lead time, this is always a bonus!

What is the nature of the testing? Face-to-face in depth interview? 1–2–1 website testing? Remote website testing? Group card sort? This can impact the recruitment process.

If remote, for example, will participants need any software installed, or a Skype account?
If in person, where will the sessions need to take place to be fully effective?

In order to help participants understand if they can spare the time to attend, decide your testing location upfront and think about offering flexible time slots.

For example, over lunch time and late afternoon slots are always popular in our experience.

Other things to consider are:

  • How long will the research session take?
  • How will you incentivise participants? (value and method)
  • Can you offer a couple of different days to fit around participant availability?
  • Will participants need to bring anything with them?
  • Is there any ‘homework’ or a pre-task for participants to do?
  • Will participants need to sign a non-disclosure agreement upon arrival?
  • Is there likely to be more than one round of testing?

This blog was originally published on the People for Research website.

We want to keep in touch. Join our mailing list to receive our newsletter and/or our monthly round-up.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
People for Research

People for Research

Lead recruiters of participants for user research & UX testing. Email us at or sign up to our newsletter –