By Dixie Somers

Filling key positions—and even ones that aren’t so key—is one of the biggest decisions a manager will ever take. Hire the wrong person, and you will wind up wasting a lot of money and time. Make a great hire, and your business could reap the rewards for decades. Here are five questions hiring managers should ask as they look at a résumé of a prospective employee.

Is there a lot of job changing?

One red flag hiring managers should look out for on résumés is whether the prospective employee has done a lot of job hopping. Such behavior can indicate a person who either has trouble getting along and fitting in somewhere, or it could be a sign of someone who just gets bored with his or her job easily. On the other hand, depending on the similarity of one job to another, they may have simply changed jobs to further their career.

Are there résumé gaps?

Another big red flag on a résumé is big gaps between jobs. Such gaps could have logical explanations, such as leaving work to stay home with children or returning to school full time. If you are considering a candidate with such employment gaps, make sure you get a full explanation during an interview and do your own independent verification of the stated reasons.

Are employment positions progressive?

When you are considering résumés of potential candidates, look for work histories that show a strong progression of employment, whether it is with the same employer or different ones. You want candidates who leave their jobs to move up to positions with more prestige or responsibility. A history of making too many lateral moves or moving down is not a positive sign.

Do skills match?

Hiring managers often get caught up in whether a candidate has experience in a similar position or industry, but what can be most important is whether the person has skills that match. For example, a candidate with education or training in a particular field may have the right skills for the job even if his or her previous employment didn’t give them the chance to utilize those skills.

Do the résumé and other materials provide what you asked for?

It’s important when considering candidates that you focus on those who follow directions. If a candidate failed to follow the directions in your employment ad for the résumé and cover letter, it could indicate an indifference to details or, worse, an attempt to hide something. Valuable employees are ones who pay attention to instructions and follow them carefully.

A lot of hiring comes down simply to judgement calls, but following these tips can help speed up the process by narrowing your selection and focusing on only the best candidates fit for the job. You might consider speaking to someone with an online masters of business administration for more tips, or, if you’re interested in furthering your own education, this particular degree would be a valuable one to pursue.

Dixie Somers is an Arizona-based freelance writer. Follow her @DixieSomers.