Oftentimes, HR professionals use job boards, career fairs, and even college recruitment to source the best hires. Although these are all great methods, do they really bring in the best and the brightest? It depends who you ask.

If you were to ask 60 in-house recruiting leaders from companies such as HBO, Cornell University, Liberty Mutual, J. Crew, and PwC what method they’d chose, they’d go with employee referrals as their recruitment method of choice — and, in particular, they’d go with a platform called Zao.

Recently, a group of HR leaders were presented with the following question at Recruit Camp’s New Venture Pitch-Off: If your department was allotted $5,000 to spend on hiring efforts, how would you use this money? They went with Zao, is a social employee referral management platform.

“We’re always hearing that the number one source of hire is employee referrals,” said Ziv Eliraz, Co-founder and CEO of Zao. “Zao automates this process by pairing a great hiring strategy — referrals — with social recruitment, gamification, and extended rewards, all of which are known to engage current and future employees.”

The Zao difference is simple: It pairs employee referral programs with social recruiting, which makes sure only the most qualified candidates are presented to an organization. The result leads to higher engagement with referrals and applicants. The platform also ensures secure access to this social networking data, so current employees don’t have to worry about their privacy.

So, how did Zao beat the other three New Venture Pitch finalists? By being grilled by top recruitment leaders and then offering solutions to their questions. These questions ranged from describing the business or service, to coming up with their competitive advantage,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       to addressing the market size. In the end, the judges went with Zao, giving them some pretty solid bragging rights, as well as free sponsorship to the next Recruit Camp NYC and RIDE (Recruitment Industry Dance Event), held in Amsterdam.

“Zao won because sourcing candidates through other methods does not typically yield the same results. However, employee referrals almost always result in better hires. Zao makes the process easy on everyone, from the HR leader, to the employee, to your extended network. So, not matter what job you’re looking to fill, Zao can assist each person involved in the hiring process,” Eliraz said.

For more information about Zao including some helpful resources, check out their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

What do you think? Would you use Zao?