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Test Management

6 Red Flags to Look for in Your Beta Applicants

February 27, 2015

When finding and recruiting the right group of people to beta test your product, there are a number of positive character traits and behavioral tendencies that you’ll want to look for. We’ve discussed many of these traits before, both on our blog and in our Beta Tester Recruitment Kit.

While it’s good to focus on the positive, however, you also need to be on the lookout for things that could be red flags. These traits indicate testers that could be unhelpful, or even downright malicious, once inside your test. Identifying these candidates before they’re in your test will prevent them from slowing you down and potentially derailing the test itself.

We’ve put together some red flags we look for when reviewing qualification surveys for our tests:

1. Poor writing skills

First and foremost, you want to eliminate testers that demonstrate a lack of written communication skills. No matter how well a tester may be able to test a product, if they can’t communicate their experience back to you, then their feedback becomes either useless or a real pain in the neck to decipher. Using all lowercase or uppercase letters, capitalizing the first letter for each word, or having no punctuation at all are all indicators that the feedback you’ll receive from them will be difficult to read or unusable.

2. Checking all of the boxes

If you come across testers that check every single box when filling out the qualification survey, you should put them in the “no” pile. Potential testers that have all of the options checked are usually just trying to meet all of your requirements in hopes that they’ll increase their chances of being accepted. This means they likely aren’t really members of your target market and even if they were, you can’t trust that they’ll be honest with their feedback during your test.

3. Mentioning other beta products

Sometimes applicants will list other products that they’ve tested in the past when applying for your test. This often violates the confidentiality requirements they signed to be part of those tests, demonstrating that they’re not great at keeping secrets. You don’t want to select people who clearly misunderstand the importance of an NDA.

4. Very brief responses

When applicants only give you one or two word responses, this is a solid indication that all of their feedback will be written similarly. While you don’t want testers to write novels about their experience with your product, you certainly need some sort of in-depth feedback to make your test worthwhile. Testers that lack detail in their explanations from the very beginning are the type that you don’t want to select for your test.

5. No specific interest in your product

We recommend including open ended questions in your qualification survey to give testers a chance to explain their interest in your specific test. Testers sometimes go on and on about other products they’ve tested and what great testers they are, but don’t actually say why they want to test your product. You want testers that aren’t just excited to test a product, but are excited to test your product. This will help you get feedback from people who value your product and the problems it solves in their everyday lives.

6. Inconsistencies in their answers

Some beta testers will try to lie their way into a beta test. They’ll answer all of the questions in a way that they think will increase their chances of being picked. If a candidate says he has a PhD and three kids, but his date of birth makes him 18, then you should question his application. Or, less obviously, if they say that they love your product and that they’re an expert in your product category, but then later on the survey they’re unable to even describe what your product does, then you should consider that a very bad sign.

Identifying good and bad candidates right away is a great way to get a targeted, reliable tester team in place. For everything you need to find and recruit the best beta testers for your product, you can download our free Beta Tester Recruitment Kit. Keep an eye on our blog for more advice on selecting great testers. If there are any red flags you’ve come across that we missed, let us know in the comments below!

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