One of the more costly mistakes you can make to your design business is hiring the wrong person.

Research of U.S. employers shows a bad hire can cost a company as much as much as $50,000 or more. In addition to bearing the cost of recruiting a replacement, your firm likely will suffer a loss in productivity and possibly lost revenues and damage to your brand or client relationships.

Although you may feel pressed to bring on that new person as quickly as possible, it pays to take the time to be thorough and fulfill each step in the recruiting process.

Step 1: Review and update the position description

Firms rarely wind up hiring exactly the same set of skills to fulfill exactly the same roles and responsibilities. Think about the skills and experience your firm needs now and for the next six months to a year.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking your next hire needs to be someone who has the skills or experience that the previous employee lacked. Step back and make a balanced assessment of the kind of person who will help your firm grow, and write a position description that reflects those skills, experience and qualities.

Step 2: Check references thoroughly

Before you invite a candidate in for an interview, verify that he or she has the education, skills and experience claimed on their resume. In my firm, we have seen an increase in "overstated" qualifications this year, and our clients have, too.

With so much material available on the Internet, it’s easy for candidates to "borrow" from someone else's resume or a job posting in the hopes of convincing a recruiter to interview them.

Step 3: Test for skills

Even if a candidate's references check out, you want to confirm he/she can perform at the level you need. It's a common practice in many professions, and should not present a problem for the candidate.

Do not, however, ask candidates to perform work on spec as a "test" of their skills. I encourage my clients to test for hard skills, like CAD, Revit, SketchUp, design concepts, renderings and presentations, and any type of office software that will be central to their duties.

Step 4: Interview for interpersonal skills

No matter how qualified a candidate may be, if he or she can't get along with the other employees in your office or lacks the ability to interact effectively with clients, vendors and suppliers, he/she won't last long.

Ask potential employees about previous experiences or how they would handle a hypothetical situation. You also want to probe to find out if they will fit with the culture and values of the firm.

Step 5: Offer a competitive compensation/benefits package

Once you've found the right someone, you want to hold on to him/her. You don't want your new employee heading off to greener pastures in a year or so.

Make an offer that is competitive but fair. Let employees know from the start that you value what they have to bring to the firm, and continue to reward them if they perform as expected.

Recruiting can be time-consuming and disruptive, but by following these five steps you can help ensure that the candidate you hire will be the right one and will stick around for a while. It will be worth your time and effort, and it will benefit your firm in many ways for some time to come.