Basic Recruiting Skills: Become the Expert

basic recruiting skills

This article is Day 23 of the series: 31 Days to Better Fraternity Recruitment.

We all have that member, the one we are embarrassed to allow them to talk to recruits. You know who they are; in fact, you are picturing their face right now! Maybe we hide her in the kitchen during formal recruitment, or we ask him to run the grill out at our barbeque. We think by giving these members other jobs and separating them from recruits we are protecting our chapter. Wrong! Recruitment happens every day, and there is nothing you can do to keep these members from talking to people on campus. Instead of pushing the problems of these members under the rug, let’s do the right thing and help them! The core purpose of Greek life is to make people better people, and therefore it is our responsibility to help these brothers and sisters with this life skill rather than to ignore their needs.

Teaching our members to have great conversations, to build relationships, and to show the benefits of fraternity and sorority membership, allows us to achieve our recruitment goals.  However, if your members are having awkward conversations, trying to “sell to” recruits like a used-car salesman or are unable to build real relationships, it will be very difficult to recruit high-quality new members.

In Recruitment Boot Camp skills training, we focus on four core areas. By improving the skills of your average and below average communicators, you are drastically changing the impression your chapter makes on recruits. But it isn’t just enough for you to know how to improve your own skills, you need to understand how to teach them to your members. In each of the core areas, you’ll find tips on how to teach these skills to your brothers and sisters.

Basic Recruiting Skills: Four Core Areas

1. Non-Verbal Communication

The way you look is more important in communication that what you say.  No, we aren’t saying you need to be attractive in order to recruit, but a professional, accessible, clean appearance is important! Some of the crucial behaviors include your attire, handshake, posture, eye contact and the overall language of your body.  All of this leads to either a favorable or unfavorable first impression by new members, therefore it is crucial that your entire chapter takes care to send a positive non-verbal message.

Training Your Chapter:  Practice a solid handshake, maintaining eye contact in a conversation, and developing an open posture and body language.

2. Asking Great Questions

Many members make one of two mistakes when it comes to asking potential members questions – either they ask the same boring questions every chapter asks (major, hometown, etc) or they don’t ask any questions and simply try to “sell” the potential member on joining.  By asking great open-ended questions you are getting a chance to know the PNM on a deeper level, showing them you are genuinely interested in them.

Training Your Chapter: Brainstorm great open-ended questions as a chapter and create a ‘cheat sheet’ of questions for all members to refer to during recruitment.  Great questions should not only engage recruits in a quality conversation, but will also tell you pertinent information about their values.

This is a great opportunity for your chapter to incorporate values into your recruitment conversations, without being awkward. Your questions should help you to assess if the recruit has similar values to your chapter and if he or she meets your membership eligibility criteria, but will also send a message to recruits about what your organization values!

3. Sell the Benefits

How has your chapter impacted you? We often see chapter members giving the same basic responses to this question, but the key to truly selling the benefits of your organization is through story telling.  Each of your members should be able to demonstrate the benefits of membership through their personal stories. Also, each member must have a solid list of “top benefits” for why a recruit should consider your chapter.  When having recruitment conversations, a member should be able to customize each conversation to the interests of the recruit. For instance, if a PNM indicates their primary reason for joining is to get a job, your members should illustrate how your chapter has assisted others in professional networking and career development.

Training Your Chapter:  Simply create a list of benefits your chapter provides and have members share examples of how they would discuss that benefit through story telling. Each member should share their story with the group.  These benefits and a quick way to sell each of them is another great item to add to your ‘cheat sheet’.

4. Handling Common Objections

What are the primary reasons recruits say they can’t join?  Typical responses include time, money, parental concerns, hazing and others that provide a challenge when recruiting someone, but are by no means insurmountable.  These objections are easily handled by simply taking the time to craft a short, honest, and direct response that offers insight and solutions to recruits.  For instance, if a potential member says they don’t have enough time, explain how their time management skills will improve by joining your chapter and some of your best leaders are more than happy to share how they manage all of their activities and leadership positions.

Training Your Chapter:  Work with your members to develop a list of common objections and a quick response for each of them.  You can also include this on your ‘cheat sheet’.

Want to learn more about how to teach your chapter members recruitment and conversation skills? We have more ideas on this topic and many more in our RBC: Fall Webinar Series Please visit for information about purchasing these affordable and exceptionally helpful educational resources for your community. Or contact us about our online train-the-trainer program RBC: Skills Training Online.

Recruitment Boot Camp educates chapters to implement a year-round, networking based, recruitment system through a variety of educational means including webinars, campus programs, keynote presentations, and chapter coaching. For more information please visit or follow us at @recruitordie.

About the Authors

Tom Healy (@TomHealySays) is a full-time Recruitment Specialist for CAMPUSPEAK, Inc. He is a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and before joining the interfraternal movement worked as a financial advisor.

Laurel Peffer (@lpeff) is a full-time Recruitment Specialist for CAMPUSPEAK, Inc. She is a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and has worked as Fraternity/Sorority campus advisor at Bowling Green State University and Lafayette College.

To learn more, check out our most in-depth article on fraternity recruitment: The Complete Guide to Fraternity Recruitment.

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