The success of qualitative research hinges on the quality of data derived from a well-chosen group of participants. Given the smaller sample sizes and the detailed insights required, the selection process is crucial. At Touchstone Research, we have learned that a one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment does not work; each study demands a tailored strategy to meet its unique needs effectively.

Recognizing this, we utilize a customized approach, selecting the most suitable recruitment methods to fulfill our clients’ distinctive needs and objectives. This strategy ensures that our recruitment efforts not only ensure a diverse and rich dataset but also aligns closely with the research objectives, enhancing the study’s overall quality and outcomes. 

In this article, we will explore a range of recruitment strategies and highlight the benefits of each method and their contribution to securing a pool of participants who can provide the most valuable and actionable insights.

Online Screening Surveys 

Online screening surveys serve as an initial filter in the participant recruitment process, utilizing a carefully crafted set of questions to assess eligibility and interest in the study. These surveys are designed to efficiently process a large volume of responses, enabling researchers to quickly compile a pool of candidates who preliminarily meet the study’s requirements.


  • Broad Reach: Ability to cast a wide net, attracting a substantial number of potential participants, which is essential for finding a diverse and suitable pool of candidates.
  • Automated Quality Controls: Fraud detection technology (e.g., digital fingerprinting), advanced algorithms and other in-survey checks can be implemented to identify and eliminate responses from bots or fraudulent entries, ensuring the integrity of the candidate pool.
  • Comprehensive Screening: Surveys collect a wide range of data on participants’ demographics, experiences, and characteristics, facilitating a targeted selection process based on specific study criteria in a short amount of time.
  • Informative for Participants: Surveys also function as a medium to communicate study details to potential participants, setting expectations right from the start.
  • Efficient Consent Process: The online format allows for the early collection of consent forms, streamlining administrative procedures and ensuring ethical compliance.
  • Refinement and Filtering: They are effective in sifting through the initial volume of respondents to identify those who preliminarily qualify for the next stages of the recruitment process.
  • Participant Convenience: Surveys enable participants to complete screenings flexibly, at their convenience, enhancing accessibility and participation by allowing engagement from any location with internet access.


Phone & Video Interviews

Following the initial screening through online surveys, phone and/or video   interviews serve as a critical next step in the recruitment process. A phone interview consists of a direct phone conversation between the recruitment team and a prospective participant. A video interview entails a virtual “face-to-face” interaction between a member of the recruitment team and the research candidate conducted over video chat. Both methods involve direct communication with potential participants to verify their eligibility and gather deeper insights.


  • Survey Response Verification: These interviews help validate the information provided by respondents in the screening survey, ensuring the accuracy of participant data.
  • In-depth Probing: Recruiters can delve into participants’ responses, probing for detailed answers and assessing articulation levels.
  • Comprehensive Participant Evaluation: Allows the recruitment team to conduct a comprehensive assessment, aiding in the selection of the most suitable participants.
  • Participant Engagement: Participants can ask the recruitment team questions during these interviews, fostering engagement and enhancing their comfort level with the research process.
  • Verification of Participant Legitimacy: Recruiters can authenticate participant identity and credentials, ensuring the integrity of the selection process.
  • Detailed Exploration: The interactive nature of these interviews allows recruiters to delve into more detailed answers, providing deeper insights into participants’ suitability.
  • Rapport Building: These interviews are particularly effective in building rapport with candidates, especially in studies involving children, which strengthens the relationship between participants and researchers.


Proof Submissions

Participants provide documentation to validate their eligibility for a study. This documentation may include employment verification, screenshot verification, and video/photo submissions to confirm ownership/use of a product.


  • Ensures validity of participant information: They serve as an additional layer of verification, ensuring that participants possess the necessary qualifications to participate in the study. For example, if a study requires participants from a certain industry, participants can submit proof of employment (i.e., LinkedIn page, work ID, etc.) to verify that they work in the required industry.
  • Essential for Specific Criteria: Proof submissions are indispensable for studies with highly specific requirements and help guarantee that participants meet the predefined eligibility criteria.
  • Seamless Integration: Proof submissions can be integrated into an online screening survey, streamlining the participant verification process.



Involve short tasks completed by potential participants before project selection. These tasks may include providing written responses to questions or submitting photos or videos.


  • Task Familiarization: Pre-assignments mirror tasks participants will encounter if selected, familiarizing them with the research process.
  • Preparation Opportunity: Participants can engage with the research topic beforehand, aiding in their preparation for the session.
  • Evaluation Resource: Responses to pre-assignments offer valuable insights into candidates’ suitability for the project, aiding in selection.
  • Moderator Familiarization: Moderators can review pre-assignment responses to familiarize themselves with participants before sessions, optimizing research time.
  • Time Efficiency: Pre-assignments streamline session preparation by eliminating the need for redundant data collection during sessions, allowing moderators to focus on research.


The Touchstone Difference:  Elevating Research Through Strategic Recruitment

At Touchstone Research, we understand that the success of qualitative research sessions hinges on the strategic recruitment of participants. We are committed to ensuring the highest quality of data for our clients through a customized approach to recruitment. Recruiters assess the unique needs and objectives of each study, selecting the best set of methods to meet these goals.

For instance, live sessions often begin with online screening surveys and phone interviews as foundational elements.  Online surveys enable us to efficiently process vast numbers of responses and maintain the candidate pool’s integrity through automated controls. They lay the groundwork for a targeted selection, crucial for a diverse candidate pool. Phone interviews follow, providing a deeper data verification and participant engagement, essential for accurate and comprehensive candidate evaluation.  This foundation is further enhanced by incorporating additional methods and validations, such as video interviews, proof submissions, pre-assignments tailored specifically to the unique demands of each project and its target consumer base.

This personalized strategy is not about merely filling quotas but about enriching our research with participants who offer deep, actionable insights. By aligning our recruitment strategies with the specific needs of our clients, we ensure each study’s success. Our goal is clear: to deliver exceptional research outcomes by connecting our clients with participants who provide the most valuable