Getting the best from your recruiter

Hayley Algar, Director of Participant Recruitment at Creative Medical Recruit reviews the common challenges faced by recruiters and offers her top tips for maximising your study outputs with the recruiter you've chosen.

Recruitment fees are often seen as a significant cost but one key no-show or a mis-recruit can derail a study, especially a validation. It stands to reason that a poor quality recruit will lead to poor quality insights and so we as recruiters know how important it is to get it right. A good recruiter will manage this stress for you and ensure your quotas are on target.

Key issues that arise

  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of context
  • No input into screener writing
  • Unrealistic quotas

Quality recruitment is vital to success

Your recruiter should understand your HF requirements are different to general market research, it is not just about getting bums on seats. If they don’t understand this, it is important to explain it to them. Build a good relationship with your recruiter, ensure they understand the FDA’s requirements and how important your quotas are.

Before writing your brief, consider these points

Designing your study without a recruiters input could set you both up for failure. For example, asking for a proposal for 20 asthmatics is very different to then presenting them with a brief and screener to recruit 20 female, left-handed, severe asthmatics, aged between 25-30 years and who use a specific inhaler so give as much information as you can at the proposal stage. Similarly, if you ask your recruiter to recruit 20 asthmatics you will get a mix of severity, likely mostly mild to moderate, if you haven’t told them that you really need them to be severe as the device you’re designing will be used in conjunction with a drug only indicated for severe asthma.

Get your recruiter involved as early as possible. When you get your RFP from your client or are starting to think about the design of your study, give your recruiter a call, let them know that you will likely want a proposal from them soon and take this opportunity to get their initial thoughts. If you’re planning to research an injection device specifically designed for a drug for Cushings Disease and you’ll be wanting to recruit 50 then your recruiter may advise of the difficulty of this and be able to advise of other patients who take similar drugs or have similar symptoms. If you want to recruit HCPs in Paris for a certain time scale your recruiter will be able to advise of any holidays or planned strikes around that time. You may want to recruit people only using a certain inhaler, your recruiter might be able to advise that although it has been on the market for several years that the incidence rate is very low. This could inform your study design.

A good recruiter will share insight and experience and offer solutions to achieve your goals, i.e. recruiting to multiple locations, including other targets, reducing numbers. Your recruiter doesn’t want to fail so try not to set them up to.

When you are writing your brief

Give your recruiter context. It is so important for us to understand why you want to recruit who you do and why your quotas are set as they are, this will help your recruiter to feel more invested and give them the confidence to make decisions on recruits on your behalf, leaving you to think about your research. Be clear about who really should be excluded and should never be held as a hold but without being unnecessarily restrictive. Decide how often you’d like to be consulted and updated and communicate this to your recruiter, ensuring you are on the same page.

A Recruiter's job doesn't stop once you are in field

During Fieldwork, keep your recruiter updated of issues, especially if they are managing multiple locations for you. They can then make decisions about replacing no shows to ensure your quotas are on track. If you plan to turn recruits away once you have seen your targets, let the recruiter know. In some countries this is seen as rude, your recruiter can advise you about local customs or rules. It can damage a recruiter’s relationship with their participants if you, as a researcher do not adhere to local customs and therefore damage your future recruits so it makes sense to take their advice.

Following fieldwork

After Fieldwork, debrief your recruiter, what went well, what didn’t? It is important to learn from any mistakes and to strive to do better so do share any feedback you have. If your recruitment partner managed your facility and moderators amongst other things they will want to know if you had issues so that they can perhaps use a different venue next time or brief the moderator more effectively on your behalf, ensuring a smoother study next time.

At CMR we like to feel like we’re part of your team and that we’re all working towards the same goal. Building a strong relationship with our clients, ensures we’re fully invested in your study and that we will deliver quality participants that meet all of your criteria.

If you’d like to chat through a study call Hayley on +44 (0)1473 832211 or email