Finding the right contractor or new hire for your business isn’t something to be taken lightly.

Bring the wrong person onto your team, and you could hurt company culture, create conflicts between teams, or worse — waste money on a low quality, completely useless deliverable.

So how can you vet these potential new team members? We’ve put together a list of must-haves before you make an offer.

Look for a Solid Portfolio

Contractors and candidates with portfolios that showcase a body of work can help you get a closer look at specific skills, as well as to spot red flags. An ideal new hire will have high-quality, polished examples ready for your review, as well as experience within the industry (even if it’s limited). Asking for this element early in the vetting process will speed up hiring, as it lets you take a magnifying glass to what they can do.

Ask About Past Results Produced

If you’re hiring someone to produce specific results for your business (as in, to increase sign-ups, to drive sales, etc.) ask the candidate what his or her track record is like — and if they’ve produced these results in a past context.

Hard numbers and stats that prove the contractor can do what he or she says she can do are a surefire way to ensure you’re hiring the right person for the job. You want an experienced person to take the lead — not someone who’s still learning.

Evaluate Testimonials

If the contractor or new hire you’re looking at can’t offer any testimonials or recommendations from past clients, that's bad news. You need these elements of social proof to not only validate the candidate’s skills and abilities, but to spot the benefits that working with a particular provider can provide.

For example, if your company values quick turnaround time and communication, your candidate should have testimonials and recommendations that speak to this on their website or within their application. A general, “She’s great to work with” isn’t going to cut it. Look for specific, results-oriented testimonials.

Put Them to the Test

If you want to vet a contractor and new hire in real time, give a small assignment that’s geared toward validating his or her skill set. Maybe it’s a writing assessment or a design challenge — just a small test that will allow you to see what they can create within your given parameters.

This is also a good way to be sure your interviewee hasn’t created a phony portfolio. A short deadline and highly specific subject matter means he/she has to produce something all their own — and fast.

Work from Referrals

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re investing time in worthwhile candidates is to work from the referrals and recommendations of your peers. Before casting a wide net, ask your connections if they know of a candidate or contractor who would meet your needs.

They’ll be able to give you honest feedback on what it's like to work with these specific candidates, or can at least vouch for their work. For you, that means less time wasted sorting through applications, and more time spent talking to candidates who you know others trust and respect.

Vet Your Contractors and New Hires: Hiring the Best

With these pre-qualifiers to help you vet your candidates, you can be sure you’re hiring fantastic, skilled help (and not throwing away money on someone who can’t deliver results.)

This process may take a bit longer, but going slow means taking the time to find the right contractor or new hire — not just any candidate. Do this, and you’ll reap the benefits.