Number one rule when hiring a coach – vet them very carefully by asking the right questions.Coaching has fast become a dominant force in personal development. The latest statistics from the CIPD, in its 2008 annual learning and development survey, show that 71% of UK employers use coaching in their organisations – compared to 63% in 2007. But is its growth moving unchecked? The same survey revealed that just 8% evaluate the effectiveness of coaching via a formal or regular evaluation process. The CIPD's adviser on learning development and coaching John McGurk warns it is time for organisations to wise up. "Unless coaching is managed and designed effectively, the results may not measure up to expectations," he says. Of course safety measures need to be put in place from the beginning. Organisations need to know that coaches can deliver what they have promised, that their performance will be monitored regularly and that communication procedures are water-tight. Gillian Ince, head of training and resourcing at Claire's Accessories, warns that it is crucial to get it right from the start. First, perfect the coach selection process, and always do your detective work. "I look for word-of-mouth recommendations from fellow professionals," she says. "I trust them to tell me the truth." A face-to-face visit is always essential early in the process. "In this respect think of coach selection as the same as choosing any external trainer or company," she says. And make sure those first-stage questions are right, says City University's Professor Stephen Palmer who also runs the Centre for Coaching. "Organisations should ask a number of questions, depending on who they are interviewing – whether a consultancy or individuals," he says. If recruiting an individual coach, ask them about their experience as a coach and understanding of the business area. "It is important to look for detail about experience," says Palmer. "Simply asking for a reference or a testimonial is not enough, as this could be old and out of date." "And ask about how they have helped clients to achieve their goals," he says. A second line of questioning is to establish whether the coach has professional qualifications and if they continually update them. "Quality control," says Palmer, "means that they need supervision, also known as coach mentoring. From this question move on to ask how qualified the supervisor is."