Recruiting: How to Write the Perfect Screener


recruitingWhen it comes to the recruiting process, developing the screener takes a delicate balance.  What are the goals and objectives of the project?  Why is the client conducting the research?  Who is the target audience? Asking these simple questions will allow you to begin building the framework necessary for a screener that provides a quality set of respondents.

Here are several tips to keep in mind when going after the perfect recruit:

  • Cater the screener to your audience
  • Be strategic in your line of questioning
  • Concentrate on attitudinal and behavioral questions and less on demographics
  • Brief your recruiting team

Cater the Screener

Who are you targeting?  Are you talking to professional or medical respondents? Begin by taking them through the narrow part of the funnel first.  Ask the qualifying questions upfront and then move on to the broader quota and demographic questions if applicable.

If you’re taking aim at a consumer, use a slightly different approach.   Start broad and then narrow in.  This allows you to ease the consumer into the qualifying questions and gives you more opportunities to disqualify the respondent if certain quotas have already been met.  Also, this helps disguise the type of respondent you are actually looking for.

Line of Questioning

Once the framework is in place, think about the shortest and most efficient way to make sure all recruiting specifications are met.  When creating the questions, concentrate on blinded multiple-choice questions and limit the amount of open-ends.  Open-ends can be subjective in nature, and depending on the question, may not yield the type of respondent you desire.  For example, “How often do you travel?”  If left open-ended you will get a range of responses including “Often”.  Providing a series of responses to choose from such as “Once a month, 2-3 times a month, 4-5 times a month, 6 or more times a month” gives you a much clearer answer.  Make the questions direct without leading the respondent.  If searching for a person that checks the weather daily online, frame the question as “Which of the following activities, if any, do you do on a daily basis online?” and provide a varying list of responses.  If you are too direct (i.e., Do you check the weather daily online?) the respondent will know how they “should” answer.

Attitudinal & Behavioral Questions

Many of our clients have invested in Persona Development. We have seen this positively impact the recruiting effort since they are already focused on behaviors and less on the demography of their users.  Just because Brenda is a mom 25-34 years of age, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she will provide the richest feedback.  Asking behavioral questions will help give you the why and determine whether or not the respondent is a good fit. Include task-based questions.  What do they do online?   Do they make purchases online, or just research online? If they have an issue with their cell phone, do they troubleshoot it on their own, or do they have someone in their family fix the problem?  These types of questions will help you achieve a panel of respondents with a mix of internet knowledge, and will tell you more about the respondent than you can learn knowing only their age, gender and income.

Brief your Recruiters

Often recruiters are not privy to the conversations between you and a client.  Briefing the recruiters on the goals of the project and the type of respondent you are striving for will cause them to be more invested in the recruit, and not simply focus on whether or not they qualify on paper.  When it’s time to begin the recruit, stick to a two-week time frame.  Unless it is a very difficult or unusual recruit, anything longer will increase the possibility of the dreaded No Show.

Chris Boggs serves as project manager at User Insight, leveraging his background in marketing research. Chris works closely with clients to ensure that their needs are met and that the goals and objectives of the project are clearly outlined.

If you have any research needs or would like to learn more about our recruiting process, please contact us at or call us at 770-391-1099.