Sourcing user interviews - Part 2: Potential users
3 min read

Sourcing user interviews - Part 2: Potential users

This is part 2 of a two-part series about how to source for user interviews. In part 1 we covered how to find existing users to interview.

A short reminder from part 1:
If you do not interact directly with customers, you as a product team lose the ability to advocate for their needs. Receiving customer feedback only secondhand will decrease effectiveness in making customer-centric product decisions.
The product team should ideally aim for 1-2 customer interviews per week outside of dedicated research projects. But how do you find users to interview on a regular basis?

One important thing before jumping in on how to recruit potential users. You will be asking people to give you their valuable time, so make sure you are making it worth it. Provide them with an appropriate incentive or fair compensation.

Not all of these tactics explained below will work for any audience. Make sure you find the right channel and incentive that works for the audience you are trying to recruit.

Recruiting potential users

When recruiting potential users and customers, make sure to screen candidates beforehand so they fit your target segment and your research goal. This could be focusing on people who use a specific competitive solution or work in a certain type of industry or companies, etc.  This is often done in form of a screener survey. Some tools provide this out of the box. Where not available, use short surveys, or follow-up with a couple of questions to ensure you are getting the right people.

  1. 3rd party products
    Interview recruiting tools like or can drastically simplify and speed up the recruiting process. You will get fast and easy access to consumers. Using these tools might be the fastest way to get regular interviews scheduled but they are not cheap. Make sure to have a good screener in place to get the people that fit your target segment/research audience.
    One caveat with these tools is that they are much less effective to get professionals in leadership roles (Director level, VP, C-level).
  2. Recruiting Firms
    Recruiting firms can be used to get access to professionals on a leadership level for a higher price per interview than 3rd party products. They often you with the option to survey a certain demographic, roles, job types, company types, or schedule interviews based on custom-defined criteria.
    Usually leveraging recruiting firms can also take a bit longer to get started, due to the need to discuss and define the details for the recruitment and the quoting process itself.
  3. Sourcing on LinkedIn
    LinkedIn is great for sourcing professionals for user interview candidates yourself. You can search for job titles, members of specific companies, industries, etc. It is a great way to find candidates based on demographic information.

    Make sure your outreach message is personalized and provides the right incentive. Depending on your success rate you can also upgrade to LinkedIn premium to use "Inmail" to increase your chances your message is seen. I found that I can get a 15-20% success rate with an appropriate incentive even without the premium version of LinkedIn.
  4. (Online) Communities
    There are a lot of online communities out there, e.g. Reddit, Slack, Discord, Facebook, LinkedIn groups, etc. as well as communities that meet in person. Communities are great to find user interview participants based on interest. Be respectful of the rules in these communities. Since you are already there, why not engage and provide some value back to the community.

    You can also get more creative by running ads at places where your target audience hangs out online. This could be industry newsletters, podcasts, LinkedIn, Google ads, etc.
  5. Involving the sales team for lost sales
    A great source for feedback is lost sales. People who decided against your solutions are difficult to reach but whenever possible these interviews provide great insights into the decision-making that goes into purchasing your product or competitive solutions. This can give you insights into the competitive landscape and the strength and weaknesses of competitors as well as opportunities for your product to increase market share.
    Work with the sales team to set up a lightweight process that allows you to engage with lost sales opportunities. The chance might be slim but if you are lucky you can get incredible insights.

Setting up processes that allow you to have regular user interviews with existing users and target users is critically important for efficient and effective product discovery. Experiment with what channels and methods work for you and then aim to automate and simplify it step by step to make it as frictionless as possible. Aim to set up a continuous stream of interviews week over week.