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User research

Write a recruitment brief

A recruitment brief is a set of instructions sent to an agency for recruiting user research participants.

They will use this to write a ‘screener’, a script for recruiting participants.

What to put in your brief

You should always send the agency a written brief, even if they’re happy to take instructions over the phone. This will provide a record in case there are problems with the recruitment.

In your brief, you should cover:

  • research dates, including times and length of each session
  • research location - this will often be a research lab, but there may be times when you’ll need to visit participants at their home or work
  • the number of participants you want to recruit
  • a description of the types of people you want to recruit (often referred to by agencies as ‘recruitment criteria’)
  • incentives (you should ask the agency to handle incentives)

Make it clear that you welcome people with disabilities and limited digital skills. This is important because:

Reviewing the screener

The agency will send you a screener based on the criteria you sent them. Always check this matches your needs because it’s not unusual for them to miss points you’ve included in your brief.

They can also add standard agency questions, which may exclude participants you’d like to recruit.

You may also find the following guides useful:

Last update:

Guidance first published