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How do I Become a Focus Group Moderator?

By Tess C. Taylor
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Market research is a growing industry offering exciting employment opportunities for focus group moderators. Moderators work with qualitative research managers to get focus group participants engaged enough to start talking about their ideas and other pertinent study information. In order to become a focus group moderator, it is important to understand what the job entails as well as the special skills and training needed to be successful in this occupation.

Focus groups are effective tools for measuring the opinions and values of consumers about various products and services they use. Market research companies utilize skilled facilitators called focus group moderators to guide these groups in order to gain cooperation of participants. In addition, focus group moderators work closely to make sure that the necessary data is obtained in order to better understand the minds of consumers, which leads to better development and services.

As a general rule of thumb, focus group moderators come from a background of wanting to understand people on a deeper level. In order to become a focus group moderator, it is essential to have an interest in market research, human resources, and interpersonal studies. A focus moderator’s job requires being able to effectively interview group respondents using a range of techniques and getting them excited about talking about their ideas in a group setting.

While an actual college or university degree is not required to work as a focus group moderator, it can help to have a background in psychology, research or human resources in order to have higher developed skills. Focus groups can be challenging; therefore, it takes an intuitive person to manage the entire process as a moderator between the market research company and the subjects. In addition, being able to recruit quality participants can be a crucial aspect of being a focus group moderator.

In order to become a focus group moderator, a period of training with a market research firm is generally recommended. Learning solid skills, market research methodology, and effective techniques for facilitating groups of people are all important aspects of this training. Focus group moderators can also choose to work in teams during their first few groups in order to work in tandem with other more experienced focus group moderators.

Some people become a focus group moderator by working in other forms of market or social science research. These jobs can include roles such as telephone surveyors, research recruiters, data analysts or online research associates. Over time, as focus groups are conducted, inexperienced moderators can shadow other, more experienced moderators to develop the skills to do this on a permanent basis.

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Discussion Comments
By honeybees — On May 29, 2011

I live in a large city where there are several companies who have state of the art market research facilities. They have focus groups going on all the time, and the moderators play a big role in the success of the groups.

A successful moderator will be able to ask questions that give you the opportunity to state your opinion and give the company the information they are looking for. If I was looking for a job as a focus group moderator I would want to spend some time watching and learning from an experienced moderator to see how they handle many different situations.

By SarahSon — On May 27, 2011

Understanding how people think and act is an important part of a focus group moderators job. Many times when people feel very passionately about their opinion, they can sometimes sway group opinion without even realizing they are doing it.

That is when a moderator has to keep the group focused on what the client is looking for. The participants don't usually know specifically what the client is looking for - other than they want to know what certain demographics of people feel about their product.

By bagley79 — On May 26, 2011

I can understand how having good people skills and an understanding of market research is important to be a successful focus group moderator. I have been involved in market research groups that had some very lively discussions, and it is the moderators job to get the information the client is looking for from all the differing opinions being shared.

They are also very good at knowing who is a little bit shy about sharing, and make sure that they get opinions from everyone in the group - not just those who could never stop talking the whole time.

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