There usually isn't a lot of pizzazz to a hiring event, but that's not stopping Yum! Brands' (YUM 1.38%) Taco Bell from pulling out all the stops to get potential employees excited about working at the fast-food chain. Yum! Brands will be hosting hiring parties at nearly 600 of its company-owned stores next week. 

There will be free food, games, and even step-and-repeat photo stations at these unlikely parties. Folks are encouraged to have a good time and take home some Taco Bell swag, but these fetes are ultimately about bumping up Yum! Brands' talent pools at a time when unemployment rates are near historic lows. Applying for a job isn't required, but anyone swept up with inspiration can fill out a form and even interview for a future at Taco Bell at the party itself.  

An after-prom party at Taco Bell with seven well-dressed attendees.

Image source: Yum! Brands' Taco Bell.

Lettuce entertain you

These afternoon hiring parties -- they're scheduled between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the lull between lunch and dinner crowds -- may seem outlandish, but there's a method to the Yum! Brands' madness. Taco Bell's marketing approach has often been about playing up festive events, so why wouldn't it think outside of the taco shell for its hiring strategy? 

This isn't the first time that Taco Bell has done this. The hiring-party concept was tested out at four company-owned locations last summer. The chain wound up hiring a little more than half of the 75 applicants at the four parties, and another 300 people would go on to complete online applications as a result of the virtual party promotions.

Taco Bell knows what it's doing. The country's unemployment rate stands at 3.8%, and finding entry-level help isn't easy when there are more job listings than folks looking for work. Hiring parties are unconventional, but they also help the brand stand out for young job seekers. It may seem like a novelty to the people approaching these events as a way to grab some free grub and mockingly hoist Taco Bell props for Instagram selfies, but a lot of these people will wind up being swayed by the chain's growing starting salary and employment perks

Taco Bell is the star pupil at Yum! Brands these days. Systemwide sales rose 9% in Taco Bell's latest quarter, fueled by a 3% increase in the number of units and, more importantly, a 6% surge in comps. Sales and core profits are growing faster than sister concepts KFC and Pizza Hut.

The chain's innovative menu additions and status as a late-night fueling station are resonating with consumers. These hiring parties are brilliant, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see other quick-service concepts follow suit.