In today’s world of work, having a mission that is crystal clear and has the capability to inspire your employees is akin to business’s golden ticket. While it doesn’t guarantee success, it does get you in a great starting position to eventually find it. While much of that responsibility falls on you as a founder to clarify and solidify that mission and the associated processes, the rest of it falls on your team.

And who ends up on your team? That’s also up to you. Choosing the right people to fill key roles early in the process is key to getting a fast start out of the gate and growing your vision to be everything you dream of and more. Here are 3 steps to avoiding hiring a round peg to fit in your square hole.

Decide who you are. Simply put, you can’t decide what kinds of workers you’ll need if you don’t know what kind of system you would like them to function within. This goes beyond the naming of tasks (programmer, manager, coordinator, writer, whatever) and gets down to atmosphere, work-life balance, creativity, flexibility, etc. You need to define as specifically as you can not only what you’re going to do, but how you want it to be done. 

Create the interview process. Don’t go into an interview with the expectation of simply “having a conversation.” There are many people you’ll find pleasant and engaging but who may not be right for the role you have in mind. Draft questions, the answers to which will reveal something direct and specific about how well the candidate will perform in the system you have laid out above.

Insert peg in hole. Finally, trust your gut. Though it’s good to have some quantitative information behind your ultimate decision to hire someone, it doesn’t replace the need for you to have a good gut feeling about it. If you think you’ve got someone great, hire them! And then see how well that “peg” fits into the hole you have defined. If you see problems and inconsistencies in those results, that may be an occasion to retool the interview process.

Obviously these three short steps are no guarantee to avoiding a disappointing hire. But I find them to be a useful baseline checklist to make sure you are doing all you can to find the right person the first time.

photo credit: Light beam inside Pantheon, Rome, Italy via photopin (license)