The People for Research team recently worked on a couple of big user recruitment projects, with a focus on senior professionals using specific types of software, across seven different countries. Although these two projects were quite different (one was looking for people to take part in unmoderated online tasks, while the other one was looking to get users involved in remote moderated research sessions), we felt like both projects were a learning curve for us due to the niche nature of the participants and the strict split requirements.

Keep reading to find out the six top lessons we learnt while working on these international projects.

Incentivise in line with the market

You need to take into consideration the country you are recruiting in when setting the incentive value to ensure you are attracting a quality pool of participants to select from. For example, you will need to provide a higher incentive for a finance director based in New York than for one in London.

Think about the local cost of living, what their average salary is likely to be, the research format and length, as well as their seniority. All participants, but especially people in senior roles and business owners, like to feel rewarded for their time and feedback.

Consider the different time zones

We understand that it’s ideal to be able to conduct research during your working hours. However, if you are, for example, based in the UK and looking to run research in Australia or the USA, this is not always possible. And the challenge is even more complex when the country you are recruiting in has more than one time zone.

Our experience shows that if you limit your moderated sessions’ times to match your working day, you will likely see a reduced level of engagement and attendance. We would advise being flexible with your schedule and using a time tool like World Time Buddy to ensure your local time matches up with your participants’ time zones.

Think about the date/time

So, you have defined your incentive and you have decided to be flexible with your sessions’ times; now it’s time to agree on the dates to run the sessions. Before finalising this step, check the public holidays in your participants’ location: you don’t want to be running research in India in the middle of Diwali when no one is available to talk to you!

It’s also essential to research each country’s traditional working week and hours, as it may not mirror the UK’s typical ‘9 to 5, Monday to Friday’ culture; in some cultures, for example, it is not acceptable to conduct out-of-work activities on company time and that could affect the pool of participants available for your sessions.

Consider any potential language barriers

This is an important one. Before kicking-off recruitment, you should consider what language the participants are going to be most comfortable using. Even if the participants consider themselves to be bilingual and can hold a conversation during their 10-minute screening call, they may still prefer to use their native language for a longer research session.

If you are able to accommodate this, you will put your participant at ease and will get more out of them in the short time you have with them. However, if this is not possible, make it very clear during the recruitment process, so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises on the day of the research.

Ensure your logistics are in order

While offering a healthy incentive is a great first step to guarantee the participants’ interest and higher levels of engagement, there are other things that can be done to reduce participants dropping out of the research at the last minute. It mostly comes down to being strategic and organised in the time leading up to your research, which includes:

+ Providing clear and detailed written instructions for how to log in to the platform being used for the remote sessions.

+ Encouraging the participants to test the program and their equipment in advance.

+ Providing the session time in their time zone to eliminate any confusion.

+ Sharing all the important information at least three days before the session takes place to allow time for set up/testing.

+ Send confirmation/reminder emails ahead of the session, including a call to action to prompt the participant to log in to the session at the right time – this reduces uncertainty.

Don’t forget about the tech set up

If you are using video conference software, make sure it’s not affected by any restrictions in the country you are recruiting in and that participants will be able to easily access it. Before deciding on the platform you will be using, find out if the participant needs to create a profile or if they can enter as a guest, so you can provide them with correct and clear instructions.

Finally, don’t forget to allow a minimum of 30 minutes in between each session in case of any tech-related issues – this will ensure there is no knock-on effect for the rest of your day.

Following increased demand for international user recruitment, we continue to invest in this area of our business. Please get in touch with if you would like a quote for your project or simply to find out more about our services.



Nicole Partington, Head of Projects

If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user research or usability testing get in touch on 0117 921 0008 or

At People for Research, we recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner up with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.