When hiring, LaRosa’s, Inc.’s philosophy is, “Good people know good people.”
That’s why they make sure to tap their current employee base to help find additional great talent, says Steve Browne, Executive Director of HR at LaRosa’s. (LaRosa’s is a chain of pizza restaurants located in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee.)
“When we have openings, we go to our team members first and ask if they know of people who would be interested in working for us. It’s not a referral program, it’s a way to connect and acknowledge the talent we currently have,” says Steve.
“This works on the front line as well,” says Steve. “If people enjoy their work and their work environment, they’ll recommend people they know.”
Using current employees to find new talent is one way to have more successful recruiting and hiring. Here are 4 additional tips for hiring top talent.
1. Get Clear On What Great Talent Really Looks Like
Be sure to start with a strategy when you recruit and hire new team members. “Have a talent strategy to know what you want and expect from every role in your company, from your executives on down,” says Steve.
Creating a comprehensive picture of what you want and expect from all your team members may seem daunting, but it will help you hire people who are a true fit for the company culture and for the position itself. “You’ll move away from ‘plugging holes,’ and instead, you’ll be finding great people who will make the company perform, thrive, and succeed."
Shawn Busse, CEO and Founding Partner of Kinesis, says he uses a tool called “My Dream Employee,” an exercise that bridges the gap between culture, marketing, and HR. (Kinesis is a marketing and business consultancy firm located in Portland, Oregon.)
Going through the exercise internally gives people a chance to capture what an ideal candidate really looks like: their attributes, values, things they care about, and other notable psychographics. This helps them define:
- What kind of skillset does the ideal candidate have?
- What kind of experiences does the ideal candidate have?
- What is their persona like?
For example: Do they handle complex problems and lots of decision making with grace and ease, or do they struggle when faced with lots of decisions and complex challenges? “We've discovered over the years that the way you answer those questions really has a direct impact on how successful the person will be in their job,” says Shawn.
Shawn says he often starts with a current, top-performing employee when using the tool. “We fill out the worksheet around her profile. Then when we go to hire in the marketplace, we're looking for others that share those similar characteristics and attributes."
2. Get Your Employees (More) Involved During Hiring
Another strategy that is successful for Kinesis: getting current employees highly involved in the entire recruiting and hiring journey.
“We always want to involve the employees who are going to be working with the person they're hiring very early on in our hiring process,” explains Shawn. “We spend more time up-front to get the right people, and we involve many of our employees in the process,” he says.
For example, if Kinesis is going to hire a marketing strategist, they would pull together a small team that would include a senior team member from the department, a mentorship position from the department, and an employee who would be a peer to the new hire. After one-on-one interviews with those team members, the candidate also meets the employees they would be working with directly.
The last interview is a group presentation where the candidate presents an idea to the entire staff. This can help show how a person prepares, communicates, and other intangibles that aren’t always easily seen in an interview setting. “You're getting a chance to see: How did they fit in with this group? Does the team engage with them? How do they handle an environment with lots of variability in it?” explains Shawn.
Mari Wenrick, Chief Champion of Culture at Value Added Packaging (or VAP) agrees that the best hiring decisions are those that are not rushed. (VAP is a custom corrugated box manufacturer that believes in changing the way customers buy packaging, helping them to improve their internal processes and reduce their total costs.)
“It is so important to VAP to hire slow because we want to look at how this person will impact our team, good or bad,” explains Mari.
Candidates can look great on paper or have the skills necessary for the position, but not have characteristics that align with The VAP Way. That’s why VAP first looks at a candidate’s character to see if they are a cultural fit.
“We first test their character by asking questions around our seven, key characteristic traits that every potential team member must carry to even move to the next part of the interview process,” says Mari.
For VAP, the key characteristics they look for are empathy, respect, humility, calm, non-judgment, teamwork and excellence. “Anyone who joins our team has to have both the right character and skill set, or the capability of learning and growing on that skill set, to become an ‘Official VAP Team Member.’”
4. Think ‘Quality Over Quantity’ During the Process
LaRosa’s uses several traditional methods to identify potential candidates, but it still comes down to having a consistent, thorough screening and interviewing process to see if the candidate is a cultural fit and to see what the candidate offers the company.
“The traditional methods of job boards, recruiters, or job postings are not as effective because you’re competing against so many other companies for a limited group of people,” argues Steve. “It’s a shotgun approach that yields many resumes, but little talent. These approaches appear to get results because you have a volume of people to consider and choose from, however, quantity doesn’t equate to quality. Ever.”
Understand Your Impact on Culture
Becoming a more conscious, authentic, and consistent leader, in the long run, can help you attract talent that aligns with your values, and your company's values. Attend the upcoming Understanding Your Influence on Culture workshop to raise your consciousness around how—and why—you act and react the way you do. During the one-day workshop, you will also learn ways to be more intentional about adding to your team and organization’s culture.
A version of this post originally appeared on Forbes.com.