Lifehacker’s Guide To Not Getting Screwed By Your Survey Recruiter

If you’re getting a call from a survey recruiter, don’t hang up the phone! There are real companies out there who need your opinions about their products and services. 

But like any job, it’s up to you to make sure you’re not getting taken advantage of. Here are some tips for assessing whether or not a survey/mystery shopping job is right for you

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1. Understand the recruitment process for surveys to avoid potential pitfalls.
2. Prioritize clear communication with survey recruiters to ensure mutual understanding.
3. Be cautious of scams and verify the legitimacy of survey opportunities.
4. Protect your personal information and data by practicing online security measures.
5. Research the reputation of survey panels and recruiters before getting involved.

Always Know The Full Name Of The Company You’re With

Make sure you know the full name of the company you’re with. This means that if your recruiter’s email is “[email protected]” and they’ve referred you, it’s not enough to know “CareerBuilder.” You need to know what the company is called: “”

This will help you identify if there are multiple companies using the same name. 

It also gives you an opportunity to make sure they’re legitimate if their website doesn’t have a phone number or address listed, or if it looks like a fake website (like one that has lots of grammatical errors), then it’s probably not a legitimate job posting site at all.

Building a successful career in marketing research often starts with understanding how to get paid to create marketing research that delivers value. By learning the right strategies, you can not only contribute to companies but also earn from your insights.

Never Take A Survey Without Knowing The Compensation Upfront

Compensation is the money you’ll get for completing a survey. It can be in cash, gift cards, or other rewards.

You’ll need to know how much compensation you’ll receive before you take each survey so that it’s worth your time. Some surveys pay less than $1 which means they’re only worth taking if you have nothing else to do and want some extra pocket change. 

You should also consider how long it will take to complete the survey and whether there are other ways of making money faster (e.g., using apps). 

Incentives are additional bonus points that can be earned as part of a reward program or lottery system run by a survey site or app developer.

Know The Difference Between “Estimated” And “Guaranteed” Compensation

When you see a survey recruiter, you’ll likely hear a lot about the “estimated compensation” they’re offering you. This is a flat rate that can be anywhere from $0-$200, depending on how long it takes to complete the study and how much of your time is needed.

But keep in mind that this estimate is just that: an estimate. It’s based on several variables, including how many people are participating in the study overall and how long participants typically take to complete each survey (which varies depending on which study). 

For example, if there are 100 people in a study and it takes 10 minutes per participant average completion time, then your estimated compensation would be $10 per hour ($100 total). 

But if there were 200 people and they each took 20 minutes on average to complete their surveys and thus required double the amount of time as before your estimated compensation would only be $5 per hour ($100 total).

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Understand What You’re Signing Up For When You Accept A Gig

If you’re taking a survey gig, it’s always good to understand what you’re signing up for. For example, are the terms of the gig clear? How much will I be paid for my time? How long will this take me to complete? What do I need to know before I start working on this project?

These are just some questions that come up when accepting a job offer or an opportunity. It’s important that any company offering these types of opportunities be upfront with their candidates about what they’ll be doing and how much they’ll be earning in return.

Never, Ever Work For Free

As a general rule, you should never work for free. The reason is that if you do a job for free, then someone else is paying for that job to get done. 

That person may be your employer (if it’s an internship or apprenticeship), or it could be someone else who is getting screwed by your employer (like the government).

The only time I think it’s acceptable to work for free is when you are offered compensation in the form of experience or training and even then.

Make sure there’s some sort of limit on how much time they can take while they learn from you! If this sounds familiar at all, chances are good that what they’re asking isn’t legal; there’s no way around this except by saying “No.”

Never, Ever Hang Out In A Recruiter’s Office

While it’s tempting to spend all your time in a recruiter’s office (because they have free coffee and snacks), don’t. It can be hard to resist the lure of free coffee, but hanging out in a recruiter’s office will often result in you getting talked into things you didn’t want to do. Let me explain:

If you spend too much time with your recruiter, he or she may start treating you like an old friend. 

This makes it easy for them to convince you that taking one more survey wouldn’t hurt; after all, they have so many surveys that they aren’t worried about filling up their quota today anyway! 

But before long, those few extra surveys add up and suddenly your income from surveys isn’t worth what it used to be, and the only reason why is because YOU DIDN’T HAVE A PLAN FOR THIS TO HAPPEN!

So what should we do instead? First off, never let a recruiter talk about how great life is on the other side of completing this survey by doing so he or she will trick us into thinking there are no consequences for taking another survey without having earned our fair share first.

Delving into the world of marketing research requires acknowledging the inconvenient truth: not all research processes yield immediate results or are without challenges. Learn from the insights shared and prepare to navigate the realities of marketing research.

Stay Away From Recruiters Who Refer To Themselves As “Screeners”

Screeners are not recruiters and should be treated as such. They’re the people who ask you for information about yourself, which is then passed on to a recruiter. 

Screeners are completely useless and can’t help you in any way they’re just there to get your basic info and pass it along to their higher-ups. 

The only time they might be helpful is if they have connections in other organizations who have openings at their company (but even then, I’d be suspicious).

Screeners are not your friend or ally. They don’t want anything from you except access to your resume, which they’ll use as free labor while they try to find someone better suited for the position a situation that’s rarely in anyone’s best interests but theirs alone.

Don’t Let A Recruiter Bully You Into Doing Something You Don’t Feel Comfortable Doing

If a recruiter is pressuring you to do something you don’t feel comfortable with, remember that it’s not your job to please them. It’s your job to get as much information as possible from the survey, then provide that information back to the company. 

If you’re in a situation where you don’t feel like this is happening because of pressure from a recruiter, leave the market research world forever and never look back.

If it takes longer than expected to complete an assignment because of interviewer’s behavior that makes completing it difficult or unpleasant for me (for example: if there are several questions asked during an interview that are unrelated or seem inappropriate), 

I will contact my recruiting agency immediately and ask them what they think should be done in such situations (for example: whether or not I should continue working with this company).

Always Get Your Money At The End Of Each Session

If a recruiter says they’ll pay you at the end of the survey, do not take it. It’s not common for them to say that, but if you do get offered that option and think about taking it, don’t. If a recruiter won’t pay you right away, then there’s something wrong with the offer. 

They might be trying to see how desperate you are or what your time is worth at that moment but whatever their reasoning may be, it doesn’t matter. 

You should always get paid immediately after completing each session so that there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that they’re paying on time and accurately (or else they could just say “sorry!”).

Different marketing research objectives call for different methodologies. If you’re curious about the different types of marketing research and which ones suit your needs, this comprehensive guide will help you navigate the landscape effectively.

If A Recruiter Tells You That Another Group Got Bumped, Avoid Them At All Costs

If a recruiter tells you that another group got bumped, avoid them at all costs. They’re trying to get an advantage over the competition by lying to you about something that has nothing to do with your experience or skill level. 

Don’t let yourself get caught up in this kind of nonsense. If a recruiter is trying to manipulate a situation like this.

It’s probably because they know exactly how much money they can make off of you and don’t care if it screws over other people who might have been able to fill those positions just as well (if not better).

If someone tries this on you, don’t panic or get angry; just walk away from them completely and move on with your life.

If You Don’t See Results From The Study, Leave The Market Research World Forever

If you don’t see results from the study, leave the market research world forever. It will not change. They are not going to improve their process or their practices, and they’re certainly not going to pay you any more than they already have promised. 

If they can’t deliver on what they promised when they promised it, why would you continue working with them? 

Take your time elsewhere there are plenty of other companies out there where you might get paid for your efforts and opinions! (And if one of those companies turns out to be shady too…well, then maybe it’s time for a career change.)

It’s Ok, To Be Honest About Your Lack Of Familiarity With A Subject

Now, this is a tricky situation. You want to get hired as a survey taker, but you’re not sure about the subject matter of the survey. The recruiter asked for your opinion regarding something, and you don’t have one but he’s not going to be happy if you tell him that.

In general, it’s OK, to be honest about your lack of familiarity with a subject when responding to questions in any kind of interview or survey setting. 

If someone asks what kinds of things make you sad or happy, or what types of people are irritating to be around (or even something more straightforward like “What do you think about x?”), it’s fine to answer honestly: “I don’t know much about x.” 

However, this can only go so far: Make sure that if there are obvious right answers available (e.g., “The weather makes me sad”), then give them instead otherwise stick with honesty rather than trying to guess what might impress the interviewer/recruiter most!

Allow Yourself To Be Fully Transparent During A Survey So As Not To Screw Up Its Results

When it comes to surveys, the most important thing is to not screw up your response. Why? Because there’s a lot of money on the line. 

You might respond incorrectly and not get paid for your time or worse, you could unintentionally provide incorrect information that could be used by marketers or survey companies against you in future studies.

Luckily for you, there are a few simple ways you can prevent this from happening:

Be honest about what you know and don’t know along with any questions or concerns that arise during your survey experience. 

Don’t lie! Instead, just politely make clear what kind of help would be most useful here and ask how best to fill out certain sections (such as demographic questions).

If something seems confusing or unclear at any point during the survey process, ask! Don’t let yourself get stuck halfway through an answer when another question pops up without giving any indication.

As to what its purpose was; instead, go back over everything one last time before completing it so nothing slips through the cracks (and then follow up on anything left unanswered).

Get To Know Your Recruiters By Name And Ask Them Lots Of Questions About Their Jobs

When you first start working with a recruiter, it’s important to get to know them. A good way to do this is by asking them questions about their jobs, their families and hobbies, or their interests. 

You can also ask them about their favorite books or movies! This will help you build rapport with your recruiter and make the relationship feel more personal.

Crafting surveys with open-ended questions can provide invaluable insights. Discover how to effectively use such questions in your research process by checking out our guide on using open-ended questions in marketing research.

If It’s Taking Longer Than Normal To Fill Out A Survey, Do Some Research On The Companies Mentioned

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

If you feel uncomfortable with the recruiter’s answers, don’t be afraid to go back and ask more questions until you’re satisfied with what he or she tells you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Hang Up If You Don’t Feel Comfortable

If a situation makes you uncomfortable, it could just be a personality clash in the interview process, or it could mean that something is off with the company itself and its practices so don’t hesitate to hang up if necessary! 

You can always call back later and try again (or even email them) after speaking with another representative from that company who might have better answers for your specific situations/needs (and/or give tips on how best to approach this particular interviewer).


We hope we’ve helped you understand the survey recruiting process a little better, and taught you some tools to be a more discerning participant. 

If you’re looking for more ways to make money on the side, check out Lifehacker’s guide to making extra cash or our guide to making money with your smartphone.

Takeaway: Use these tips as a guide when deciding whether or not you should participate in market research studies.

Further Reading

Explore these resources to deepen your understanding:

GDPR Compliance Guide for Recruiting Learn how to ensure your recruiting processes are aligned with GDPR regulations. This tutorial from Workable provides insights into maintaining compliance while collecting and managing candidate data. Read more

Guide to Effective Recruitment Process BambooHR’s blog post offers a comprehensive guide to refining your recruitment process for better outcomes. Discover strategies to streamline hiring and attract top talent. Read more

Discussion on Irish White Privilege Delve into a discussion exploring the topic of Irish white privilege. Gain insights into perspectives and experiences related to this subject. Read more


How can I ensure GDPR compliance in my recruiting practices?

To maintain GDPR compliance in recruiting, ensure you have clear consent mechanisms, transparent data handling practices, and proper documentation of candidate data processing activities.

What strategies can I implement for an effective recruitment process?

An effective recruitment process involves defining clear job roles, leveraging various sourcing channels, conducting thorough interviews, and providing a positive candidate experience.

What are some insights on the topic of Irish white privilege?

The discussion on provides diverse perspectives and experiences related to Irish white privilege, shedding light on this complex societal issue.

How can I optimize my employer branding during recruitment?

Enhance your employer branding by highlighting your company culture, values, and employee benefits. This can attract candidates who align with your organization’s ethos.

What are the key components of a successful onboarding process?

A successful onboarding process includes providing clear role expectations, offering training and mentorship, facilitating team integration, and fostering a welcoming environment for new hires.