As an executive recruiter, I hear from clients that the candidate they like just “has the right feel – and know in their gut.” This sounds great. How can you be sure that this person will perform? You must be sure when over 40% of external executive hires fail in the first year. The candidate needs to have the ability and the desire to meet your needs and must fit in with the rest of the team to perform.

Here are four things to help make sure your gut feelings don’t lead you astray and improve your odds of making a successful executive hire:

1. Know what you must accomplish and define it within the position description. Make sure your candidate covers at least 80% of your requirements. Is this person truly capable of meeting or exceeding your job requirements?

2. As yourself: will this person fit into the existing team? What is it about this candidate that confirms how I feel about them?

3. Listen carefully to the feedback from other interview jury members and your team. Take any dissension seriously and explore further with the candidate and the team.

4. Validate all of your findings about the candidate with references. You must be sure you get at least one prior manager, one or two peers, and one or two subordinates. You want to know what this candidate likes to work with from all angles.

Trusting your gut is good, as it is typically a function of collective experiences. Validating your gut instinct ensures successful hiring. It is very hard to explain to your board of directors that you feel great about this candidate without substantiation. It is too risky.

Working with our team also ensures you won’t make the mistake of hiring someone who cannot perform well within your team –or who has a checkered past. Our role is to see all sides of a candidate, keep your hiring decisions objective and ensure your success by hiring top talent.