Hiring well qualified, skilled and experienced people can be one of the greatest challenges for non-technical business people. In the majority of cases, it is mandatory, obviously, to contract someone to build your website, customize databases, or design your company’s look – all the better if you have an idea what that person does. But how could a small business contract an individual for the work if they do not even know what it takes to get the work done in the first place?

What can you do? Here ares some tips to help you smooth out the process.

Ask for recommendations
If you want to find the right people then you should start with your social network. Talk to your buds and fellow contemporaries for recommendations of businesses they have dealt with in the past. Would you buy from the car dealership down the street or eat at that restaurant you heard about? See who bought what and how much it cost. Ask why they bought it and if their experience with the business was helpful.

It does not matter if you employ someone full-time, rather than a here and there freelancer, you can always ask from your peers and from the employee’s peers. Forte communities such as LinuxQuestions.org (a forum for Linux developers) and CodingForums.com allow members to talk shop with one another. There are other sites, such as Graphic Design Forum (a forum for graphic designers, duh), can give you a feel for what is the current standard in the industry. Also, do not be afraid to seek recommendations from your designers and developers straightforwardly.

Keep asking questions
You should always make asking questions a critical part of any interview, but it's really important when you are looking for someone to fill a demanding position you have no idea about on a sub-atomic level. When interviewing freelance help, be sure to ask about their process. When do they work their best? How will payments be made? How will work be assigned? Understanding how a freelancer works beforehand and staying away from miscommunication will save you money in the long run.

You should also make sure you realize what programs the freelancer uses and how their projects will be submitted. If your developer emails you more completed work when you require it, you will know ahead of time if they can follow through with the unique specifications you ask for. There is one more distinction, for example, you will be able to tell the difference between a site founded on WordPress and a custom design by a freelancer. The latter might give you more room, the former will be easier for another developer you hire in the future.

Talk about what you demand, and focus on asking candidates to go through things you do not fully understand. If he/she cannot explain to you what they are thinking in a simple way that eases you, that's probably a good sign that you need to keep on looking.

When you want to fill a full-time position, have a list of the requirements in mind. The main point you should watch for in a new employee is passion. You hire the one that is enthusiastic about design and development, whose heart beats faster when he learns new technology or techniques, and still does it in his/her free time.

Teach yourself the fundamentals
You are hiring this person for a reason, but it is still mandatory to teach yourself the fundamentals. Knowing the difference between Python and Ruby, or when to use CSS/HTML and when to stick to Flash will determine who the right person will be.

You probably would not get in a heated argument over the value of C++ and C# with your potential workers, and that is OK. But you should know what they are talking about when your project demands one language over the other – you should be alright with bringing down the hammer on a decision like that.

There are plenty of sites on the net where you can teach yourself more than you need to know about graphic design or web development. If you are contracting a designer, for example, you should teach yourself the first 300 pages of Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book. Now that you know the fundamentals, you will be better armed to put a potential worker through his/her paces (and your lie detector will vibrate at a higher frequency).

Seek Help
Even if you have a clear picture of the fundamentals behind design and development, it is nearly impossible for a boss to check code for bugs or mock up a whole site design. That is why it is critical to have an associate with you that acts as another perspective and assist you in choosing the right applicant.

Look for a mentor in the field you already love if you are not sure what you are looking for. It is always helpful to have someone ready at the go, so to speak, who can help you during your most important times.

Obviously, we do not have access to help like that who knows anything about checking project quotes or verifying applicants. If you do not have someone backing you up or willing to help you, one way to get in contact with such a person is to go to meet-ups in your area. You could even find more people to save you time and forget about going through the middleman.

Feel free to add your own tips in the posts below.