Focus Group Researchers Use Open-Ended Questions To Elicit Participants Thoughts Market Research – Why Screening For Talkative Respondents Doesn’t Work

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Market Research – Why Screening For Talkative Respondents Doesn’t Work

We have recently published a special report entitled 25 Common Field Mistakes to Avoid When Conducting Your Qualitative Market Research. In point #12, we suggest that researchers scrap open-ended screening questions intended to identify respondents who are outgoing and able to express themselves.

Here is the full text of point #12:

“If your screener has open-ended questions intended to get expressive types of people, throw those questions out. Questions like that don’t work, and they unnecessarily lengthen your screening process. Yes, you want to exclude respondents who can’t or won’t express themselves, but you don’t need more questions to identify these people. Well-trained recruiters will eliminate them within the first few minutes. to screen. recruit and include a pre-discussion telephone interview. This will be conducted by the moderator who will then select the appropriate respondents.”

Our suggestions got a lot of feedback. Some readers agree with us, some don’t. One of the most interesting comments we received came from a qualitative fieldwork manager at a major full-service research firm. It goes like this: “I disagree with one thing on your list about not including open-ended questions at the end from the screeners. Good recruiters can easily identify talkative respondents, but the tired or distracted recruiters can sometimes go on autopilot … The quality of a screener is worth the time.”

Do you agree with this reader’s comment? Do you need to?

What is an articulation question?

Articulation questions measure a respondent’s ability to communicate. Articulation questions also judge respondents IMMINENT communicativeness in a focus group or interview.

Other synonyms for “communicative” include: outgoing, open, forthcoming, talkative, unrestrained, chatty. So who decides what communication is? The recruiter? The recruiting supervisor? The client who reads the verbatims of their daily reports? And how adequate is the communication? How much is too much?

Even the most experienced recruiters cannot determine how outgoing, open, approachable, talkative, uninhibited or chatty a respondent is at a given point. That’s a judgment call recruiters aren’t qualified to make. But they can count on finding respondents who have…

  • language barriers
  • casual attitudes towards the recruiter, questions of the recruiter or the research
  • reservations about their ability to participate in research
  • whatever communication problems during the screening process

What you should watch out for…

Respondents are tired or go on autopilot if screening interviews take too long (10 minutes or longer).

Articulation questions do not belong at the end of your screener. For some reason, the articulation screening is almost always done at the end of the screening interview. But why is a question so important placed at the end of the screener, that the chance for the respondents to be tired or distracted is the highest? What did recruiters learn about respondents at this point in the process that they didn’t already know?

Articulation questions don’t belong in front of your screener, either. Well-trained recruiters then engage respondents in conversation about the details of the research. It is during this introduction to the screening questions that the recruiters deal with the questions and concerns of the respondents and make an assessment about a respondent’s ability to communicate.

Articulation questions are not magic bullets which ensures good focus group participants. These questions simply ask recruiters to use their own biased judgment to decide whether a respondent can communicate clearly.

Articulation questions extend your screener. Remember this. The higher your screener, the higher your costs.

The respondents were concerned when asked questions from left field unrelated to screening questions. Asked, “What is gazinkle?” or “How many different things can you do with a paperclip?” or “If you were a tree…?” can match even the most articulate respondent. Asking off-the-wall questions from recruiters can confuse and frustrate respondents. This line of questioning is moderator territory.

Of course, group dynamics and respondent personalities affect how open and responsive respondents are. For example, a person may get on the phone with the recruiter, but feel intimidated if an aggressive personality dominates the group. Or, a respondent may not be as comfortable with the research topic as they think they are and feel out of place – especially if the topic offered during recruitment is unclear. How do recruiters know how respondents behave in different conditions? Managing reserved respondents is the moderator’s area of ​​expertise.

In fact, moderators are best qualified to know what respondents can and should expect in terms of communication and speaking. So it makes sense that, as we suggested in point #12 of our special report, the moderators should pre-interview the respondents and choose the right personalities for the research.

So what about talking questions are useful for snapping distracted or unconscious recruiters out of their daze (as suggested by our reader)? Assuming that a tired, distracted recruiter missed all the red flags during screening, does the question of speaking suddenly remind the recruiter that the respondent is not chatty? What do you do about recruiters on “autopilot?” Simple.

The researcher’s job is not to come up with questions that will keep recruiters alert and focused. Tired or distracted recruiters are not an asset to your research. They will not help you get good answers. And neither are questions of articulation. Do not use any of them.

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