At its most basic, a focus group screening guide highlights demographic and psychographic characteristics of the people you want to recruit for your focus group. Screeners are essential tools for recruiters to find and select people to participate in your qualitative research study. Typically, the moderator writes the screener and sends it to the recruiter, although it isn’t uncommon for moderators and recruiters to develop a screening guide together, especially for specialized studies, such as B2B or healthcare.
Screening guides help sort qualified and unqualified respondents, and given the number of ‘professional respondents’, recruiters often double-screen, just to make sure all participants are genuinely qualified to take part in the study.
Screener Criteria for B2B, Consumers, and Experts
Screening guides include questions about demographic and psychographic criteria, as well as product or industry experience and knowledge. Let’s explore some typical screening criteria for B2B, consumer, and expert studies:
B2B Screening Criteria
B2B-focused screening guides will often include questions about company classification and size; location or region; job title; job responsibility; decision-making authority; and, product-category experience. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but most B2B screening guides include these categories, and more.
Consumer Screening Criteria
Consumer-focused screening guides often include more demographic-related questions. The moderator will know which demographic characteristics need to be included in a study, and may include questions that ask about age; gender; income; education level; employment; marital status; ethnicity or cultural background; location or region; prior qualitative study participation; product-category experience; purchasing influence; specialized knowledge or experience; and, work experience in advertising or marketing industries.
Expert Screening Criteria
Expert-focused screening guides may include medical/healthcare professionals, executives, policy makers, and specialists, to name a few. Since expert studies tend to have smaller numbers to recruit from, it’s unlikely the screening guide will include demographic questions. Expert screening guides tend to focus on job title/position; job role/responsibility; expertise; time in the industry; product category experience; and, decision-making powers. Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but most expert screeners will include most of these types of questions.
Throughout the screening process, recruiters stay in contact with the moderator to alert him/her of any challenges or issues coming up in the screening guide. Sometimes the screening guide is so specific that it’s hard to find any qualified respondents. On the flip side are screeners that are written too loosely, and let too many unqualified people into a study. There is a fine balance for each screening guide, and no two are alike!