The Three Less Obvious Questions to Ask When Hiring an Expert

To be successful in business you don’t have to know how to do everything; you just have to know someone who does.

BUT you need to know enough to be able to hire the right people and to manage them in a way that gives you the results you want.

The challenge is that hiring experts can be a daunting task so you need to have the right checklist handy when doing so.

You already know the obvious criteria like checking their portfolio and references. Or like asking them for a proposal of how they plan to do the job you want them to do and, most importantly, what to expect from them. You need to figure out deliverables that are measurable.

You may not know the less obvious questions to ask when hiring. Here are three.

1. Do they have proof of resources?  

After they are hired, many experts (such as consultants, marketing agencies, web designers…) take much longer to do a job than expected or initially promised. It’s because to seal the deal they might overpromise. For example, you hire a contractor to remodel your office space. The crew shows up the next day and completes the teardown but after that, they don’t show up for two weeks. This is because the same crew starts ten other remodel jobs during that time. The manager said “yes” to all clients to line up long-term work for the crew.

Be sure to get some sort of assurance up front that the job will be completed in a timely manner without interruption.

2. Do they have the relevant experience in your specific industry AND type of job?  

This sounds obvious but industry experience is very specific nowadays.

You know not to hire an accountant to market your new dating website.  But you may not realize that a social media consultant who tweets about hot iPhone apps to his thousands of followers may not be the best one to socialize your BlackBerry app. The same goes for B2B and B2C. Someone may know how to sell flower bouquets to corporations for events but may not know how to sell them to brides for weddings.

Example. When we rebranded our business we chose a bigger agency to create our new corporate identity, because they had a great portfolio having worked for big brands.

Most of their jobs were to design various materials for marketing campaigns, and what they produced looked really good. But what they proposed to us was below average. We then realized that they were implementing existing strategies, that came from the multinationals’ headquarter, following strict guidelines in producing new designs. This is a relatively easy job for anyone who had studied design. But creating a brand identity from scratch is a completely different thing. It requires more advanced creative and execution skills. So hiring an agency that had worked for big names may not necessarily be the best decision – it may mean the opposite in certain circumstances.

3. Could you be stranded on a deserted island with them? 

Don’t just think about getting along. Think about being stranded with them in a remote place during a stressful time when your lives are at stake. Can you quickly decide who will gather the coconuts and who will build a shelter or would you instead argue about how to go about it?

Make sure there is personal chemistry with the person assigned to you and not just the person who sold you the service. One way to do this is to spend as much time as possible with that person who will be assigned to help you before you sign a contract.

Lastly, if finding the perfect human expert is too much of a burden, consider online self-service tools instead like for customer relationship management, QuickBooks for bookkeeping, and for business consulting.

You can’t hire a website to paint a room but it may surprise you how far web-based services have gone, especially with advancements in mobile computing, network bandwidth, and analytics.

Are you considering to hire a consultant or a marketing agency? Or a trainer or a mentor? 

Click here to decide.