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July 30, 2020 vs. User Interviews: A Detailed Look at Two User Research Recruitment Platforms

Respondent & User Interviews are very similar at first glance. We dig into the details so you know how each impacts your recruiting efforts.

Kiera Abbamonte and User Interviews are two platforms that make it easier and faster to recruit participants for research studies by taking many of the time-intensive (but necessary) tasks off your plate.

While there are certainly similarities between Respondent and User Interviews, differences in screening tools, panel locations, participant quality curation, filtering and sorting options, and more add up to a notably different experience between the two platforms.

In this post, we dive into what it’s like to find and manage research participants on each platform. We’ll cover...

  • Participant sourcing, vetting, and quality control
  • Features for conducting research with your own participants
  • Pricing.

Read on for our detailed breakdown — or, if you’re in a hurry, you can reference the summarized comparison in the table below.

Note: To build this comparison, we had a writer unaffiliated with User Interviews create an account on both platforms and read through help desk information on both sites. It’s based on the best information we have access to, but there may be behind-the-scenes processes (like extra vetting) we’re not aware of.

Since and User Interviews are similar on the surface, it's important to dig into their functionality closely to decide which is best for your team.

You may have noticed we’re writing a comparison that involves our own recruitment platform. While we’d love to work with every researcher out there, we know our platform isn’t the perfect solution for every single research study. That’s why we’ve done our best to give a fair review — so you can make an informed decision about which tool is really best for you.

If you’d like to try User Interviews out for yourself, create an account and get your first three participants free.

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Comparing Key Features for Respondent vs. User Interviews

As participant recruitment tools go, both Respondent and User Interviews cover all the main bases. Each platform helps researchers:

  • Recruit research participants (for both in-person and remote studies)
  • Track and manage current and previous participants
  • Schedule interviews, focus groups, product tests, and any kind of research
  • Pay out incentives.

The biggest distinction between these two platforms arises in how those objectives are met. That how creates a different experience for researchers and may affect how quickly you complete your research. Below, we detail three of the most impactful differences between Respondent and User Interviews.

Participant Screening

When you source participants via Respondent, you can define your target audience across several factors, including:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Industry
  • Job title
  • Location
  • Past participation via Respondent platform.
Screener questions can include: gender and education.
Selecting demographic screener criteria on Respondent.

Respondent verifies these participant details and will automatically disqualify people who apply for your study but don’t meet your audience criteria.

If you’re targeting by job title, then you’ll get respondents from their “industry professional” pool. These folks have tied their LinkedIn account to their Respondent profile for confirmation of their profession. If you’re targeting a profession that often isn’t well represented on LinkedIn (such as nurses), then you can target the “general population” pool and manually verify that they work in the field they claim to.

User Interviews allows researchers to recruit participants based on the same dimensions as listed for Respondent, as well as several additional targeting criteria. Keep in mind that User Interviews does not require verification via LinkedIn for industry professionals; you’ll need to confirm their expertise using a screener. Here are the additional out-of-the-box demographics you can target on User Interviews:

  • Computer operating system
  • Computer with webcam
  • Employment status
  • Homeowner
  • Household income
  • Income type
  • Internet browser
  • Living situation
  • Marital status
  • Parental status (and age of children)
  • Smartphone operating system
  • Tablet operating system
User Interviews: Choose Characteristics such as employment status, type of income, and level of education.
Selecting demographic screener criteria on User Interviews.

Both platforms allow you to write your own screener questions based on any criteria you choose, be it additional demographic or geographic information, behavioral insights, or psychographics.

When participant responses come in, you can choose to reject or accept candidates based on their answers. On User Interview’s platform, you can automatically accept candidates that meet your criteria, if you wish.

"Movers and Shakers" Research Study Possible Participant Pool
Viewing potential participants in the User Interviews’ Recruit platform.

Double Screening Participants

When research interviews depend on participant quality/specificity, researchers may want to do a pre-call with participants who make it through the screener survey.

On Respondent, you can use their messaging system to contact the qualified participants and ask for permission to do a quick call before making your decision on whether to admit them to the study. If they say yes, then you must obtain their phone number and arrange to speak to them at a convenient time.

On User Interviews, double screening is an add-on (see pricing details later in the post). You will be given the participants’ email and phone number to ask more screening questions and verify the person’s identity and trustworthiness before scheduling (or not scheduling) your research session with them. You only pay for completed sessions.

Participant Vetting and Quality Assurance

Once your project is launched, Respondent publishes it and allows interested respondents to apply for your study. From there, you’re responsible for vetting and approving participants who look like a good match. The average time to find and schedule participants for a study on Respondent is three days. This is, of course, dependent on how specific your criteria are and how many respondents you need.

At User Interviews, we have a pool of over 350,000 pre-vetted participants, so we specifically match potential respondents that are the best fit for your research — and you can approve or disapprove of each matched participant based on your criteria. The median time for us to find your first matched participant is just two hours.

Both platforms find participants via similar methods — recruiting on LinkedIn, running Facebook ads, and word-of-mouth referrals. Participants can use referral links to invite people they know. Both platforms share full participant profiles (excluding personal information such as phone numbers, except in cases of double screening), screener survey responses, and social media profile links. One of the key differences between how Respondent and User Interviews approach participants comes down to quality control once they’re on the platform. 

Note: Respondent does make phone numbers available to the researcher once a participant is booked for a Respondent study.

Once a session has been scheduled, Respondent asks researchers to note whether or not the participant attended. This affects whether the participant is paid (and the researcher is charged) for the session — but it’s also the main way Respondent maintains quality control of their participants. No-show marks penalize a participant’s account, making it less likely future researchers will choose them.

Please provide feedback on John Smith: Would you like to star this user so you can easily find them in the future for potential follow up sessions? (Yes or no)

At User Interviews, we take it a step further to ensure your study is booked with reliable, trustworthy participants, too. Many people turn to research participation as a fun way to make money online or in person, but unfortunately, some people try to guess the right answers to your screener survey just so they can earn the incentive. We try to keep them out of your studies in a few ways:

  • A strict policy that flags no-shows
  • Automatic checks for any discrepancies between a participant’s screener responses
  • Participant ratings and feedback from researchers after every session.

These participant quality checks enable us to monitor participant quality and recommend only the best participants for your study; if people don’t show up or they get consistently bad feedback, we stop surfacing those participants. We also use technology to monitor for fraud. Things like multiple accounts created from the same IP address or constant job title changes will flag that there may be an issue. We believe these checks are a big part of why our customers report that User Interviews participants are high quality and well vetted.

You can also work to improve participant quality by keeping the exact purpose of your study under wraps and writing non-leading survey questions. 

Note: Like what you hear about us? Find your first three participants for free.

Running a Research Study with Your Own Participants

Both Respondent and User Interviews offer researchers the option to bring their own existing list of participants to the platform. If you choose to bring your own participants to Respondent’s platform, there’s no charge for the session. The only cost you pay is a 3% credit card processing fee for incentive payments.

While that can bring down participant recruitment costs, it’s because they only offer simple functionality. You’ll get support for:

  • Creating participant screeners
  • Session reminders and integration with Google and Outlook calendars
  • Storing participant information in one place and adding some custom tags and fields
  • Manual incentive payment processing.

Here’s what their interface looks like for managing your own users:

Respondent dashboard: Projects, Participants, Messages, Billing, Reports, etc.

When you bring your own participants to User Interviews, Research Hub is built to take care of the rest. It’s free for the first 100 participants (with monthly plans kicking in for over 100 users imported to the platform) and comes with more powerful data management options than in Respondent’s platform. With Research Hub, researchers can:

  • Create and share unlimited screener surveys and participant opt-in forms
  • Reduce back and forth by automatically letting participants schedule themselves for times that work for you
  • Send triggered or one-time updates and reminders (to individual participants or the whole panel) via the Research Hub Messages tool
  • Automatically keep track of survey answers, research history, messages, and incentives payout (plus any custom fields you add) for each participant
  • Segment and filter participants as needed
  • Automatically or manually process incentives (in the form of Amazon gift cards) upon completion of a session, unless you choose to distribute incentives yourself.

Also, if you’re struggling to determine what an appropriate incentive is, we have a calculator for that. In general, the more you ask of someone and the higher their job pay is, the more they’ll expect for the exercise to be worth it for them (for example, having specific industry professionals answer questions for an hour requires a much higher incentive than having a consumer take an unmoderated usability test for 15 minutes).

Respondent vs. User Interviews Pricing

In addition to the features and services that set Respondent and User Interviews apart, there are also different pricing structures and plans at play.

Respondent Pricing

Respondent Pricing depends on whether the participants are sourced by you or them.

Respondent offers two types of research pricing: 

  • Participants sourced by Respondent
  • Participants sourced by you.

If you want Respondent to recruit and source participants for your study, the price is structured as a 50% service fee based on the amount of your incentive payments. So, for example, if you recruit 10 participants and pay each a $100 incentive fee, Respondent’s service fee is $500.

(You can reference the calculator on Respondent’s pricing page to get a sense of what your research project will cost. For an estimate of what your project would cost on User Interviews, use this calculator.)

In addition, if you pay incentives through Respondent via credit card, you’ll also pay an additional 3% credit card processing fee. You can pay via account balance from a PayPal account to avoid this fee.

Bringing your own participants to the Respondent platform is free — but you will still incur the 3% processing fee to pay incentives via credit card.

User Interviews Pricing

At User Interviews, we offer two packages:

  • Recruit (participants sourced by User Interviews)
  • Research Hub (participants sourced by you).

With Recruit, you have the option to pay as you go with a flat, per-session price or to choose a monthly package of 15 sessions (with unlimited rollover). Either way, the price you pay is the same regardless of the incentives you pay out to participants. User Interviews charges a 3% fee for all payment processing methods on incentives.

Here’s the pricing breakdown for Recruit:

Our Audience: Pay As You Go, Essential, Custom
  • Pay as you go: $40/session as needed
  • Essential: $250/month for 15 sessions with unlimited rollover
  • Custom pricing.

And for Research Hub:

Your Audience: Free Forever, Essential, Enterprise.
  • Free forever: $0
  • Essential: $125/month for up to 5,000 contacts and additional features like custom branding, email domains, and data consent forms for GDPR compliance
  • Custom pricing.

In Summary

To wrap up, and User Interviews are both great options for fast, flexible participant recruitment that avoid some of the issues of working with an agency for research recruiting. Which will work best for you really comes down to your research team’s needs and processes. 

Whether you’re looking for focus group participants for market research or hoping to walk through your user flow one-on-one with your target audience, you’ll find ready participants for many types of studies on either platform.

With Respondent, you always pay a per-session service fee based on the incentive amount — regardless of how many sessions you complete. You also need to build in additional time to manage several aspects of the research process manually, including inviting participants to schedule a session and processing incentive payments.

User Interviews, on the other hand, is built for research on a larger scale: streamlining the end-to-end workflow with automation and charging one flat fee, regardless of the incentive amount. That makes User Interviews a more cost-effective and less time-intensive option in many use cases.

It’s completely free to set up an account, so we encourage you to explore our platform for yourself. As an added bonus, we’ll find your first three participants for free. And you can always add one hundred of your own users to Research Hub for free, giving you time to decide for yourself how you like the experience.

Kiera Abbamonte

Kiera is a content writer who works with SaaS and eCommerce companies. Located in Boston, MA, she loves cinnamon coffee and a good baseball game. Catch up with her @kieraabbamonte or

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