Finding New Ways to Fill Open Positions

A recent NACS webinar explored how retailers can attract and hire team members today and in the future.

August 06, 2021

Hiring an Employee

By Sarah Hamaker

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A tight labor market means more than having fewer people to hire—it also means competing for potential applicants for those open positions. From virtual hiring to job shadowing, retailers are employing a host of ways to find and connect with potential workers.

At GPM Investments LLC, Talent Acquisition Manager Bianca LaFountain leaned heavily on virtual hiring in the Midwest region. Three months ago, the national chain expanded the practice company-wide. “We implemented virtual interviews every week,” she said during the recent NACS webinar, “Attracting and Hiring Team Members in the Next Normal.” “The first one we held had [more than 600] interviews in one day. Since then, we’ve averaged between 300 and 400 per interview day.”

Those dedicated interview days have made it easier to fill positions. “We’ve also switched to making candidates a job offer on the spot,” she said, adding that in 2020, the company hired 300 to 350 candidates a week, but with the virtual interview days, that average is up to 500 hires per week during the summer of 2021. “This gives our operational teams a relief and support for them by easing the burden of understaffed stores,” she said.

Over at TXB (Texas Born), Nathan Graham, director of human resources, created a slightly different process that has proved successful for the regional chain. “People work for people, so we’ve taken the interview process and created a Realistic Job Preview (RJP) instead,” he said. The RJP involves on-site interviews with designated store employees, plus a short period of job shadowing. The up to one-hour process can end with an offer extended to the candidate, who can start training for the position immediately.

“So far, we’ve seen a huge improvement in retention since we started this process,” he said. “Our goal is for the new employee to know half of their team members on Day One.” Interviewer employees go through coaching and role playing to prepare for the process, and stores prepare for this by scheduling interview days on the calendar. “Our goal is to roll RJP out to every store soon,” Graham said.

What both LaFountain and Graham stressed is their processes are simply different ways to find the same answer—will this person fit into the store culture and position? “We’re really trying to gauge a person’s interest in the actual position by focusing more on those softer skills and attitude,” she said. “We can teach register and food—we can’t teach attitude,” Graham added.

The next webinar in the NACS Labor Landscape Webinar Series is “Employee Value Proposition: Telling Your Story,” on Tuesday, August 10, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. Sign up for this free webinar to learn how to tell your story to prospective employees.

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Va. Visit her online at