Choosing the right user recruitment agency to source participants for your research can often be a comparison exercise – especially when it comes to budgets and prices. It’s usually a balance between who can deliver the most for the lowest price, who can turn it around the quickest and who can get the most participants, depending on your priorities. However, there are other, more subtle, considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right partner to work with.

To get to the bottom of what these are, we went straight to the source: user researchers and industry experts themselves. We asked some of our clients about their experiences working with People for Research and what was important to them when looking for the right partner to deliver the best participants.

Here are their responses and the four key takeaways to consider when looking for a user recruitment agency. While some of our clients are happy for us to mention their names and companies, other prefer to remain anonymous due to the nature of the projects they are working on.

✴️ Service and communication

Communication is key when working with any external partner, and a user recruitment agency is no different. The right flow of information between the parties is needed to ensure quality participants are screened for your projects. Equally, open communication is key at every stage of this process, from briefing and understanding your requirements right away to communicating each participant’s experience and relevancy to the project.

From our point of view as experts in this specific part of the user research process, it’s up to the user recruitment agency to use their experience to make communication with clients as easy and natural as possible. It’s not only about how you communicate, but also what you communicate: some clients will want regular updates on a project throughout the day, while some prefer to receive a summary every two or three days.

Here is what user researchers said about their experiences or service and communication when working with PFR as a user recruitment agency.

Absolute excellent service received from all agents. Regular updates received. Highly recommended for research.

Kemi Abari, User Researcher at NHS Digital

I’ve had several projects [with PFR] recently, but on each occasion always get a great service, good communication, guidance where I need it and there is always a willingness to change and amend participant specs when I need it.

✴️ Easy to work with

Resolving issues quickly, being solution-focused and putting needs of others first are all traits that are essential to any project management role. When it comes to finding the right participants, user researchers need to know their projects are in good hands, and that problems will get solved.

The next two quotes come from user researchers we have worked with previously and what they had to say about the importance of proper collaboration with an experienced and efficient user recruitment agency.

The B2B recruitment team were all lovely and very easy to work with. They dealt with any queries we had promptly, efficiently and successfully. They always catered to our needs and worked above and beyond to what was expected. Thank you to the team and it is a pleasure to continue working with you for another round of research.

Leona Hoxha-Kartallozi, EU Exit Negotiations and Strategy Policy Advisor at BEIS

Responsiveness and transparency are very important when collaborating with another organisation. With PFR I know that someone will be available to help answer a query promptly. I am confident I have a project manager who I can rely on totally, on all stages of a project.

✴️ Quality of participants

We know this sounds obvious: the main reason anyone should pick a user recruitment agency is for the quality of the participants. Gauging the quality of participants you are likely to get from a partnership is hard from a 60-minute pitch or an online description of a company’s services, but knowing all the methods that a user recruitment agency has available to find the right participants will help put your mind at ease, allowing you to focus on the research itself.

At PFR, we have worked on a mix of straightforward projects and quite complex, niche briefs. This has generated a wealth of experience and resources that our team uses daily to secure the perfect participants for your sessions. You can read more about a few of our niche projects on our blog: this article is all about how we recruited over 600 business owners and senior professionals to test government services, while this one shares how we found dozens of niche professionals across seven countries for a mix of moderated and unmoderated sessions.

Overall I am very happy with the quality and efficiency of recruitment I have had with PFR and will definitely be using your services in the near future.

Donal Martin, Principal Product Designer at Aylien

The participants we had were all excellent, we had the range of people we needed which has helped us greatly.

Before you decide on a user recruitment agency, ask the right questions. For example, how are they growing and maintaining their databases and systems? What methods do they use to find people outside of their own panels? Are they compliant with data protection regulations? There are countless important questions you can ask to help you make the right decision.

✴️ Ability to recruit niche participants

In every user researcher’s life, there comes a time when they will need to find those diamonds in the rough, a “unicorn” as we like to call the niche participants. These could be people who have very niche jobs, who use a specific type of software, people with a rare type of impairment or just participants that are hard to reach because they are not very good with technology.

It doesn’t matter what the challenge is: a good user recruitment agency will help find the right participants outside of your network and even help scope the market to understand how many of those users are out there compared to participants from other backgrounds.

The most available participants are not always the best participants, so working with a flexible partner to pin down the best people and book them in for user research sessions can be the detail that makes all the difference in the development of the best possible product or service.

This is what two of our clients had to say.

Thank you so much, [our collaboration] was really beneficial to the project I am working on. It is hard to speak to such a niche group of users and I appreciate all the team’s effort to assist us.

Working with the B2B recruitment team at PFR was a pleasure. They were responsive, accommodating, very helpful and also communicated PFR’s terms really clearly and in advance. I always felt informed about what options I had and what those different options meant.

How have you found using a user recruitment agency? Let us know your questions, queries, thoughts and opinions and we can have more of a discussion about the challenges of participant recruitment and the benefits of working with a user recruitment agency.



Kate Parrott, Operations Director

If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user testing or market research 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.