Making the right hire is like putting the last piece of a puzzle together. You know how gratifying that is. You’ve finished. You’ve helped someone get a job that will improve their life, and you’ve brought on a new person who completes your business picture.

But hiring in today’s environment is not easy. Sometimes it is complicated and time-consuming and can weigh heavily on top leaders who know how critical each employee can be to a business’ success. To get it right, it’s helpful to understand how to develop the right criteria for your needs and processes to identify the best candidate who will make a positive difference to your organization for years to come.

Develop the right criteria for your needs and processes

I’ve spent years helping companies make the right match, going to plant sites, talking with owners about where they want to be, what’s not working, their needs and what they envision by creating a new position or replacing one. Through this, I’ve developed a series of questions that are particularly helpful in zeroing in on the right candidate.

Have a clear understanding of what you need.

First, you must have a clear understanding of what you need and what you want the person to accomplish. This is critical. Many companies have a job description, but it’s worth thinking about whether what you’ve written down accurately matches your needs.

Clearly define high priority skill sets.

You should clearly define the skill sets that are your highest priority. If you are considering hiring a person whose skill set falls short in some areas, do you have someone able to cross-train or mentor them, and are you willing to commit the time and effort? If you’re a startup, hiring can be even more urgent. If you hire someone without the right skill set, it could put you further behind where you need to be. Sometimes, people hire family members because they know and trust them. Make sure you consider their skills objectively and how they will help your company grow.

How much industry knowledge is needed?

Industries are different, and you need to make sure the job applicant is capable of adding value. Do they understand what your company does? Your competitors? Have they researched it?

What softs skills are needed to be successful?

What capabilities, outside of defined skill sets, does the person need to be successful? For example, what are the soft skills they need? Are they collaborative? Are they goal-oriented? From a team perspective, how will they complement the skills of your existing employees?

Is the candidate a good cultural fit?

In the end, you want someone who adds value to your team and helps your business thrive and grow.

Ask open-ended questions about their accomplishments and see how they answer. Can they provide concrete numbers about what they achieved in their previous jobs?

One question that can help you understand if someone is a good fit: Can you see the new team member as a “true” business partner with yourself? Is this someone you feel could meet with one of your clients and present themselves as you would — with professionalism and business acumen?

You may handle all of your hiring needs in-house or you may seek out a recruiter. But whatever option you choose, one adage I keep with me is this: Having a good team is OK to get by. Having a great team is better and more enjoyable. Having an excellent team reduces stress in the office, at home, and makes you more productive as an employer or an employee.

Jeff Otto is a recruiter with LBMC Staffing Solutions, LLC, in Chattanooga. He specializes in maximizing efficiencies for employers seeking contract and direct hire employees as well as candidates seeking employment. He can be reached at 423-755-0746 or