Whether you’re hiring somebody at the office or at home, or deciding whether to partner with someone for a charitable cause, there are times when you need to size another person up in a matter of minutes. Here are a few rules that I rely upon:

Listen to your gut. The most important factor is the hardest to define—when you speak with or interview the person, do you feel comfortable? Or are you eager to end the interaction?  If you don’t feel a good vibe from the get-go, I find it’s hard to develop one later, and probably a sign that the person isn’t a fit.

Look for signs of dishonesty. They say that when people lie they always give it away with some physical sign, like blinking or twitching or touching their face for no apparent reason. So when somebody is answering your questions, use your eyes as much as your ears, and look for these signs.

Get a sense of their needs. Even if the person really wants the job, anticipate whether it will work for them for real. Is the commute really tough, do the hours not work with their family life? When a person is interviewing, they will usually say whatever is necessary to get an offer, but try to see past your interests and their eagerness to anticipate whether the job would be a good fit for them. Because if they take the role and it turns out not to mesh with their lifestyle, it will be no good for either of you.

For sensitive hires, use an agency. If you are hiring somebody to look after your children regularly (not just an occasional babysitter), take care of an elderly relation or do household tasks that involve exposure to your most personal business, it often makes sense to go through an agency. A good staffing agency will do background checks and more involved interviews than you probably have time for.

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