Saturday, March 31, 2012


On the long drive from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City (13 straight hours) I had the pleasure of listening to Tina Fey's Bossypants on audio book. My interest was solely on the entertainment factor. However something caught my attention that tied in perfectly to recruitment and Social Excellence. Now I have a reason to combine my professional life and my celebrity crush on Tina Fey.

For those of you who don't know, Tina Fey studied improv before hosting Weekend Update and impersonating Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. After detailing her lessons at Second City in Chicago, she lays out for the readers the simple rules of improv comedy:

1. Say "Yes"
When it comes to improv, this shows respect for a co-worker who sets a scene. However, in the recruitment world the word "yes" opens up a lot more doors than "no".

2. Not Only Say "Yes", But "Yes And"
This shows genuine interest in what the other person is saying and provides an avenue for additional diologue. To only agree with the other person is just another conversational road block, offer something in exchange to keep things fluid.

3. Make Statements
Unless you're in the middle of a formal interview or police interrogation, its probably common courtesy to allow the other person to ask questions. This is accomplished by simply making a statement and allowing the other person an opportunity to flip roles.

4. There Are No Mistakes
Tina continues with "There are no mistakes, just opportunities". Every conversation, every question and every answer is a new opportunity to open up or learn something new about the other person. Don't regret anything and just go with the flow. Some of the best innovations in recent memory have been accidents....ask Pfizer.

Unlike the improv show Who's Line is it Anyway?, the points do matter when it comes to recruitment. Remember these simple rules to improve both your conversation and your improv skills. If you haven't experienced it yet, I highly recommend Bossypants. Just be warned it has some crude language - and if I'm saying that you should know what you're getting into.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Creating a Chapter Scholarship: Part 5

Its a little later than I would have hoped, but here is the 5th installment of "Creating a Chapter Scholarship". Hopefully by this point you have done the following:

Agree to Start a Scholarship
Create an ApplicationDistribute that Application
Follow-Up with Applicants

This final post is where all it all comes together. This is how to take a scholarship applicant and bridge the gap to get them to accept a bid. It may be vastly overplayed, but its based on the movie Inception.

For those unfamiliar, Inception is a tactic used to influence people's thoughts and decisions based on small, sometimes inconsequential, events. Another metaphor would be to "plant a seed".

The concept is very simple. Throughout some form of follow-up meeting, seek to find out what an individual can gain from joining a fraternity. In my scholarship interviews I use the following set questions to to get my answers:

"What do you hope to do professionally after you graduate?""What types of things do you need to improve on or accomplish to get to that point?"

There are a wide variety of answers to the second question that are applicable: leadership, community service, networking, getting involved... Hopefully these ring a bell as advantages of joining a fraternity. Take note, but don't make your pitch yet. I actually write these answers in the margin of my page so I can reference them later. Continue through the interview as normal.

This is where the magic happens...

At the end of the interview act like you're required to give an elevator pitch. Nonchalantly weave their answers to the above questions into your pitch. Then, you should have some form of professional-looking handout that gives information about your organization and your chapter.... again, something you "have to give them". Shake their hand and say it was great to meet them, and if they have any questions about the scholarship or the organization they can contact you.

The key is in the follow up. If the applicant contacts you, great. If not, in a day or two follow up with them via text with:
"Hey its Alex from XYZ, I was wondering if you got a chance to check out that folder?"

Chances are they respond something to the affect of: "yes, it looks interesting"
You respond with "Do you have some time to meet up this week to learn more about it?"

... and there you have it, you've just booked a 1-on-1 recruitment meeting through a scholarship. The rest is up to you to communicate the value of joining your organization and make sure to sure their answers from above. If you went through something close to the event discussed in Part 4, you should have an even bigger advantage in having a larger amount of personal connections with each applicant.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Creating a Chapter Scholarship: Part 4

Welcome back for Part 4 of "Creating a Chapter Scholarship". After deciding to start a scholarship, creating an application and distributing that application it is now time to figure out what to do with all those applications once they are turned in.

The generic answer would be to interview the candidates one on one either in person or over the phone. But the goal of the scholarship is to recruit these elite students. How can you leverage the scholarship into signed bids? What I'm about to suggest is a little out there, and requires a fair amount of effort to pull off:

What if you had a day long "interview" that incorporated multiple aspects of fraternity life while at the same time provides an opportunity to create positive relationships with all of your candidates?

This event would need to be planned far in advance, noted on the application and requires the time commitment of chapter members. To me the day would be split into three basic areas: Philanthropy, Leadership and Athletics

At some point in your day long interview take current members and the applicants to preform some act of Community Service. Find something relatively close. In my original brainstorm for this I thought of building a house for Habitat for Humanity. You can use this time to observe how applicants interact in a group setting and take advantage of the opportunity to build personal relationships.

This is the most formal part of the day and it can be broken down into two separate parts. The first is an individual interview. This would involve standard interview questions to get to know the applicant on a deeper level. The individual connection created through this interview is important when it comes to recruiting them. The interviewer is going to know that person better than most and will be in a better position to make a recruitment pitch when the time comes.

The second aspect of the leadership section could be one of two possible activities:

1) Have each applicant create a presentation in advance about a topic of their choice and present it to the applicants and members. This activity shows the applicants interests as well as presentation skills and public speaking.

2) Hold a Group Interview. There are multiple team exercises out there created to force a team to work together towards a common goal. A personal favorite of mine is to give each group a random objects to "invent" some new productive and present a sales pitch to the group. This activity allows for members to observe how applicants work in a team setting and what their strengths are.

The last portion of the interview day can be devoted to athletics. Choose large team games that allow for adequate relationship building and also make sure that there is a mix of members and applicants. It doesn't have to be anything super competitive but rather an opportunity to run around and encourage applicants to start viewing members as part of a "team". Instead of telling applicants about what a strong brotherhood you have, this is your opportunity to show it.

Sample Schedule
8 AM – Meet in Union/Breakfast
8:30-11:30 – Community Service Project
12-1 – Lunch
1-5 - Individual Interviews/Group Interview/Presentations
5-6:30 – Dinner
7-9 – Athletics
9-9:30 – Debrief/Snacks/Hand out Recruitment Materials

From a recruitment standpoint, the goal is for members to make personal connections with the applicants. They should individually follow up with those people and continue to build that friendship. If this event occurs over the summer before the applicants get on campus, make plans to do something with them in the first couple days after the arrive. Chances are they're going to need someone to show them around town.