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Scout Selection 101: How to Find Your Best-Fit Participants

Emily Kuhn, CXR Lead Research Advisor, shares her must-know tricks and tips for participant screening. 


Hi there, I'm Emily. Today we're going to be talking about selecting scouts. It's important to plan out your scout selection, ideally before you even launch your screener. But even just before you get started, it's helpful to kind of put a plan in place so that you're not super overwhelmed when you pop into your screener and see the thousands of applications that you've probably got. So today we're going to be talking about that, get ready.

When you're thinking about scout selection, three main things that I keep in mind, or that I want to start with that we're going to talk about in this video, their scout mission fit, scout quality, and then your study logistics. And we'll start with study logistics because that you probably can't impact at the point at which you're watching this video, but it's going to have a really big impact on the way that we talk about and think about the other two steps to scout selection.

So when I'm talking about study logistics, I'm thinking about things like how long do you have built into your timeline for scout selection? And how many scouts are you trying to select? If you're looking for two hundred scouts and you have less than a business day to do it, your approach is going to necessarily be pretty different than if you have 20 Scouts to select and you've built three days into your timeline for it. We'll touch on both aspects in this video. You can't always control your timelines. But as you're thinking about it, that's a great place to start with thinking about scout selection, is when you're still planning out your study.

So scout-mission fit is probably what you default to thinking about when you're thinking about selecting scouts. It's the really basic, does this participant fit the qualifications to get into my mission? And there are a lot of ways to accomplish this, of course. In dscout you can start on this path before you even launch your screener. So hopefully you've been able to make use of some of these pre-screening filters that dscout provides to you.

For example, if you know that you're only interested in adults, having adults in your research, you can set this age toggle to adults only, for example. If you're going to be in a rush, if you know that your scout selection time is going to be cramped, use the balance toggle. It presets a good graphic mix of participants in your pool. So that you know when you're looking at your pool, that you're going to have a good mix of demographics.

Don't use this toggle, just as a caveat, if you are working with a niche recruit or with segmentations, as it's going to limit your pool unnecessarily, and you're going to be doing a little bit more of a manual scout selection anyways. So you won't meet that quite as much.

Hopefully you've included a few closed-ended questions in your screener, we generally suggest around five to seven. In dscout you're going to be able to use those closed-ended questions to filter applicants after your applications have come through, but they're also going to be where you set your knockouts. And knockouts, you might know as terminates, disqualifiers. These are the questions that if the scout answers incorrectly, they're automatically and immediately removed from your pool of qualified applicants. Saves you and your participant a lot of time if they have to answer something in this question. If they answer none of the above, then they're out of the screener, you don't have to look at their data. They don't have to spend the rest of the time in this screener. Super useful.

Between knockouts and closed-ended questions, finding the kind of balance of knocking out on things that you really can't compromise on, and leaving the knockouts off on closed-ended questions where you might be able to flex if needed, and you can just filter your applications, that's something that your research advisor can help you with.

That was a little bit about what you've hopefully done to kind of set yourself for success in designing your screener, and kind of before your screener is launched. Now let's pop over to applications, and look at the actual applications that we have rolling in. And so in this screener we asked scouts basically about their pizza preferences, pizza-related screener is always fun. And we had 643 applications come through, 148 of which qualified. So just some kind of orientation to what we're looking at in this screener.

So most important thing, we've kind of talked about using closed-ended questions. Most helpful thing for using those closed-ended questions to find scouts that fit your mission qualifications is using our filtering capabilities. So on dscout, for any closed-ended question that you've written, and for demographics which we'll go into next, you can filter by any set of responses that you're interested in. So in this screener, we might be most interested in talking to scouts who ate pizza really, really recently. So we can filter down to Scouts who've eaten pizza within the last week. We might also know that we want a certain age range, 35 to 44 year olds. Now with just those two kind of filter sets, I've really narrowed down our application set.

So if you're working with segmentations, the same logic applies, it just gets a little more complex. So you're going to use the same set of filters to narrow down to your ideal segmented scout. Imagining that we were looking for a segment that was 35 to 44 years old and consumed pizza in the last week. Imagine these 39 Scouts are our segments. You'll use scout groups to kind of separate out your segments.

So I've selected all of my Scouts who fit this criteria, this set of criteria. I'm going to click add to group, and I'm going to create a group for perhaps my pizza aficionados. I can't spell aficionados but that's okay, I don't need to. I'm going to add them all to that group, and now I've got my pizza fans segmented out, and I can come back to this segment later to review them for scout quality. Which we'll get into next.

Okay. So now we have our 39 qualified applicants, who we know are going to be good fits for our mission. Or who fit the qualifications that we've set up in advance. So now let's talk about finding quality applicants. Which is the hard part, isn't it? So here we're going to talk about scout quality a little bit.

So first things first when I'm selecting scouts, once I find my group that I think I know I want to select from that really fit my qualifications, I usually go ahead and select by clicking into that check box in one of the applications, all of those applications, and move them straight into the potential fit category rating. At dscout we use these category ratings to help you categorize your applicants. Scouts don't see these ratings, so totally safe for you to use them however you would like.

By default, dscout is going to sort terminated or knocked out applicants, as we talked about, into the bad fit category. And applicants who don't make it past our expressiveness algorithm, which we'll come back to and talk about a little more in a second, will go into the low quality category. So by default then, your qualified applicants, according to dscout, are making it into unlabeled. And as we just talked about and went through, you are going to manually from there sort them into this possible fit category, where you really know that those applicants are qualified, and now you're looking at quality.

dscout is great for video and for open-ended responses. So hopefully you've included a video prompt, and at least one to two open-ended prompts if you're running screener on dscout. These two types of questions aren't more important than your closed-end questions necessarily, but they're definitely equally important.

Your video question is going to be a chance for the scout to prove to you that they shine on camera, that they can speak articulately out loud, and that they're going to be able to speak on the topic at hand. Your open ended prompt then, in follow up, is a great place for Scouts to prove that they're articulate in writing. And that they can kind of use their thumbs, since they're probably using the dscout app if they're taking a grader.

I love to make these two types of questions work together. So in this screener, we asked scouts to tell us about why they loved pizza. And then in this follow up open-end below, we ask them to tell us more about the toppings that they like on their pizza. That's totally reasonable, and a totally great way to use these prompts.

When I'm constructing a screener, a lot of times what I'll like to do you is use the video prompt to get scouts talking about their feelings. See their faces, see their emotions, get some really powerful, impactful data on the topic of my research. I'm already getting that in the screener. And then I like to use the open-end, the follow up open-end, to have scouts kind of start ideating on solutions.

I like to do a flow that's like, tell me why you feel this way about pizza, and tell me how you would change pizza to make it better for you. For example. That's a silly example, but an example of how you might use those two types of questions together. This is a really great way to kind of know that scouts are going to be able to talk about your topic, know that they're going to be able to give you great data in your mission, and really help you already start to answer your research questions before you've even started your research, which is awesome.

Nothing is going to replace really watching the videos to see how scouts act on camera, get to know their facial expressions, get to know your participants in that way, and reading the open ends too. Nothing is going to replace that, there are ways to make it faster. So let's talk about expressiveness.

As you're sorting through your application, selecting your scouts, it can be really helpful to get a head start on your analysis by taking advantage of some of the other features that dscout offers to you in screeners. So the first thing I'll point out here is, notes. On this right hand sidebar, you can take notes about your applicants. They're not going to see them. And this can be a great way to keep note of things that you want to remember for later, perhaps an interesting application. Perhaps they said something about pizza that you weren't expecting, and you just want to share that with your team later. Notes is a great way to do that so that you don't have to remember where that came from, or find the sticky note that you left on your desk a week ago.

If you know that you're going to be creating a video highlight reel, or if you even think you might want to, a great feature to take advantage of that's really small is this heart icon in the top right corner. That favorites an application. Once you've favorited applications, it's really easy to come back and filter by your own favorites. So you can always come back and really easily find just those videos that you really loved.

All right. So we've talked about using filters to find scouts that really qualify for your mission. We talked about expressiveness to find scouts that are going to be high-quality participants. So now let's talk a little bit more, one more time, about logistics.

As you're selecting Scouts, keep in mind that on dscout, inviting a scout to a mission is sort of like a promise that, if they participate and follow instructions, they're going to receive their incentives. So make sure you're only inviting scouts to your mission who you really want to be there.

Also with dscout, you always have the ability to add more scouts to your mission, though a lot of times you're operating under a timeline where you need your Scouts to be done at a certain time. So over-recruit, we recommend on dscout, over recruiting by 10 to 15%. That's usually about the drop off rate we see in D-scout diary missions.

And dscout live, I should just add as a quick caveat to that, we generally only see one or two no-shows, if that. So live is a little bit easier to over-recruit for.

And of course, if you have any questions about scout selection, you want to launch a screener of your own, you want to talk more about it, reach out to your dscout account team. We're here to help.

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