Are You A Recruitment Gambler?

By Taylor Deer

In Phired Up’s Recruitment Diagnostic Survey, we asked an important question: Does someone in your organization have a conversation to address concerns with all potential candidates prior to inviting them to join? Of the 1300 students who answered the question, 43.3% of students said “No” or “Somewhat”.

That’s pretty crazy. To me, that means that 43.3% of chapters are handing someone a bid, closing their eyes, crossing their fingers, and hoping that people accept their invitations to join. A week later we find out through the grapevine they joined another chapter, or decided they didn’t want to join at all. Why do we do this?

I tried looking at it from a student’s perspective. He’s thinking about joining a fraternity, he had a great time at a few events. He met a few brothers, and they seemed pretty cool. At the end of the week the brothers give him an invitation to join and say “give it a few days to think about it, give it back to a brother once you sign it”. He takes that invitation, heads back to his dorm room, sits down, and reality hits him about the decision he is about to make. Scenes creep in about all the hazing he’s heard about, he worries his parents might not be supportive, and he remembers this is his first year away from home, at a school that he has barely had even a semester at. He gets cold feet and ghosts you.

Little does he know that you felt the same way before you joined. You had the same reservations, and yet you found out that after joining your chapter, you had a great new member process.  Your parents love how the fraternity gave you direction and helped you adapt to your new surroundings. In fact, joining the chapter is the only reason you stayed at the school.

That student might have missed the chance of a lifetime. You know that, but he never had a chance to talk it through with someone. You gambled by hoping he didn’t have concerns, and you lost.

Every time you don’t have an intentional conversation with a student about the concerns they have about joining your organization, you are rolling the dice and hoping that it lands on “no concerns”. You’re expecting that your future members are willing to dive head first into lifelong membership regardless of the real hesitations they have.

If you really cared about someone joining, would you really leave it up to chance whether they join or not? No? Then we need to get a bit more serious about the way we approach giving invitations to join.

Here are a few ways that you have intentional conversations with people who want to join your organization:

1) Sit them down, one on one

  • Set up some time away from the chaos of recruitment.
  • Find a place that perfect to have a comfortable and relaxed conversations with them.

2) Ask them this question:

  • Hypothetically, if I were to offer you a chance to join our organization, what would your hesitations be before joining?
  • Listen to their answer.

3) Come prepared

  • Think of all the reasons people don’t join fraternities. (Money, time, hazing, drinking, parents, etc…)
  • Write talking points about each hesitation that would help them make the right decision.

4) Be a problem finder, not a problem solver

  • After you listen to their answer, DO NOT jump into used car salesmen mode (answering right away with the sexiest answer you have).
  • Ask follow up questions to find where the root of their hesitations lie.
  • Address their hesitation(s) only when you are convinced that you have found what they are really concerned about. You will learn quickly that “I don’t know if this is for me” turns into “well, my parents don’t want me to join.”

5) Get to the true purpose

  • Say things like “This is a big decision, we want to help you make sure that you are making the right decision for you, not for us.”
  • Or “We really care about you, I don’t want to make sure you have the full picture before you make a decision.”

6) Train all of your members how to have these conversations

  • These conversations are great for early in the process to show students that you are watching out for their best interests.
  • These conversations are great for late in the process when you have your core joiners already established and want bring the relationship with them to a deeper level.