So you've worked hard on your songs, and are ready to record them. Who are you going to enlist to help you make your record? If you want your songs to be everything you envision them to be, you have to get the right person to help you produce and engineer them. Here's a few things to look for...
You want to find someone who loves the music they are making as much as you do. This type of person obviously wants to get each song right, and won't rest until they do. Even if they aren't being paid for the extra time.
A humble producer/engineer is willing to admit that they were wrong. They will consider getting something wrong a learning experience, not a chance to force it in order to look good. This person will always defer to the artists desires above their own.
One thing that you may not know to look for is an engineer who auditions gear. In order to make every part sound great, you want someone who takes the time to audition microphones, preamps, effects, etc. until they find the one that sounds best. Don't hire a one trick pony who uses the same gear for everything.
Does the person your hiring know how to use all the gear they own? Can they work efficiently in their software without constantly googling how to do things? Can they play their instruments skillfully and musically?
Good musicians know that other people have great ideas too, and they are willing to work with others to make better songs. Your producer or engineer may have the ability to play every part on the album, but would much rather let someone else's creative mind add to it.
To make sure that you don't sound like everyone else, it is critical to find someone who is willing to try new sounds, instruments and parts to make your work unique. The ideas might not work, but they are willing to fail to find what works for the song.
You don't want a time waster. Momentum at the right creative times is key, and you don't want someone who is holding up sessions by browsing the internet, texting their friends, getting drunk or high. Find someone who values your time.
This type of person plans ahead and makes good choices based on what is best for the music. They keep moving forward when things are coming together, and knows when to take a break in order get away for a fresh perspective later.
Take a look at the books your engineer or producer is reading, ask them what training resources the use. Find out what other genres of music they are diving into to expand their musical palette. Someone who is always learning is someone who wants to do a great job at everything.
Finally, hire an engineer and producer who are punctual, present and always prepared to work.