HC talked to Elizabeth C., founder of sorority sugar, a blog and resource for Greek women, about the ins and outs and spring recruitment, which can come in two forms: formal and informal. Formal recruitment is highly structured: You meet every chapter on campus for several rounds (think typical fall rush, but in the spring). Informal recruitment, however, is only for chapters with membership openings. There are often fewer rounds, and it is usually more casual. Most colleges do formal fall recruitment and informal spring recruitment, but many colleges do the opposite.
Regardless, though, the game’s the same. Read on for six surefire ways to dazzle at formal or informal spring recruitment!
1. Be your most radiant
First things first: Sororities are not judging you on looks alone, and any sorority that suggests otherwise is probably not one you want to join. That being said, your appearance is going to define the first impression you make when you walk into round one. Wrinkled clothing and un-brushed hair may signal to the sorority that you really don’t want to be there.
“The goal is to be well groomed, naturally glowing and attired in the required fashions for each round,” Elizabeth says. Most schools will have several rounds of recruitment, and there may be a dress code for each night – usually the last night will be more formal than the rest. Talk to your school’s Panhellenic council for the specifics, as this can depend on your school and whether or not your recruitment is considered formal or informal.
“If you look and feel your best, it reduces stress and allows you to be more self-confident,” Elizabeth says.
The goal is to look polished. Now’s not the time to try bright purple lips or a wacky, cool hairstyle. Keep it basic, but still you. Elizabeth recommends “simply styled hair, light makeup, manicured nails and figure-flattering clothes.”
2. Have a story that makes you stand out
During recruitment, you’re going to talk about yourself—a lot. “There will be questions regarding your achievements, activities, travels, family background, home state, etc.,” Elizabeth says. But keep in mind that each sorority is going to talk to and listen to hundreds of girls over the course of a week—so your goal is to be remembered.
“Have a few funny stories and several poignant moments from your life ready to share,” Elizabeth says. “Making a lasting impression on each sorority sister you speak with is vital. Have your personal package of information squared away in your head, and it will help you greatly.”
Figure out your talking points, and practice, practice, practice! Before you even walk into the sorority house or recruitment room, have a few stories ready to go. Did you found a super-successful business or club in high school? Talk about that. Are you from a foreign country? Talk about that. Anything that you can imagine that makes you stand out in a positive way is going to grab their attention and make you unforgettable!
3. Small-talk your heart out
If there is one make-or-break quality that sororities are looking for, it’s that you can hold a conversation comfortably and confidently. Sororities are looking for girls whom they could see themselves being sisters with, and that means looking for a certain amount of chemistry.
Elizabeth says, “The structure of a recruitment conversation goes like this: You will be asked a question by a sorority sister, you answer in a charming way while she listens, she will then relate to what you've said and hopefully you have something in common, then the two of you discuss the topic.” The sister you’re talking to will likely ask some follow-up questions, which can lead to new topics.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be super outgoing to shine during recruitment, but you’ll probably need to practice. Elizabeth recommends enlisting a best friend or roommate to practice these conversations. If you know your resume, you’ll already have talking points. Nod, look engaged and have great body language. Keep your arms uncrossed, make eye contact and nod often!
One absolute no-no? Yes/no questions. They’ll kill the conversation quickly. If one slips out, ask another open-ended question and drive the conversation elsewhere. Check out the top 18 things NOT to say during recruitment.
4. Don’t compare yourself to other potential new members (PNMs)
Formal recruitment can be very stressful—and the last thing you want to do is psych yourself out. We’re not gonna sugarcoat it: The other girls rushing are competing against you in a way, “but every PNM is unique in her own way,” Elizabeth says. “There is a sorority home for every type of girl, so being intimidated by others is not productive. Focus on your own attributes and make your own choices.”
Keep an open mind during recruitment. Push past any gossip or reputations you’ve heard about the sororities and try not to go in wanting only one chapter. Look for the sisterhood that you see yourself best connecting with. “Each PNM's experience will be different, so walk your own path and don't let other girls’ looks, opinions, successes or failures get in your head,” Elizabeth says.
You may end up in a sorority you never expected you’d end up in—but remember: Those are the girls who loved you during recruitment. Those girls thought you’d be a perfect match. Don’t be concerned with where your best friend ends up—chances are, you’ll love the sisterhood you’ve been matched with if you give it a chance!
5. Highlight what you can offer the sorority
Ask not what your sorority can do for you, but what you can do for your sorority! You already know going into rush what you’re going to get come bid day: tons of new sisters, some pretty awesome swag, a big, etc. But what are you going to give them? If you’re a valuable asset to a sorority, you’ll instantly stand out as a PNM.
“In conversation, share what talents you can bring to a chapter,” Elizabeth says. “How can you help them? Share your interest in leadership, your talent for finance or your experience in fundraising.” These are the sorts of tidbits you can insert during small talk.
Make it clear to the sisters you’re talking to that you have interesting and useful talents that could potentially help the sorority. “For example, talk about your experience managing the social media for a local charity and how you would be thrilled to do the same for the sorority you join,” Elizabeth says. “If you are a talented artist, let the sororities know how much you would love to paint their banners and lawn letters.” Showing what you can offer the sorority will make a great impression.
Sorority recruitment is a lot like applying to college: You have to accept a certain lack of control over the situation. You prepare your app, nail the interview and have great teacher recs—but at the end of the day, even if you were totally qualified for X University, you may have not made the cut. If you go into recruitment fully accepting this, you’re likely to be a lot less stressed.
Recruitment is a two-way street, meaning that you rank the chapters and the chapters rank you. However, there very well may be cuts that can’t be explained.
“As a PNM, you will be mystified by why a certain house didn't invite you back after a fabulous conversation with your favorite sister,” Elizabeth says. “A legacy may get the bid you wanted in your number one choice chapter. Your GPA may not be high enough for another sorority.”
All sororities have their own ways of choosing sisters, and you’ll only ever be privy to the rules of the house you finally end up in.
Elizabeth’s biggest advice? Trust the system. “Let the Panhellenic sorting hat do its thing and relax,” she says. “The PNM who accepts what happens each round shines brighter.” If you’re not on the invite list for your first choice house for round two, accept it and move on. Trust that you’ll love another chapter just as much, if not more.
Formal or informal, recruitment is stressful, but when it’s done, you’ll end up in a sisterhood that loves you! Take a deep breath and present your best self. You’ll definitely end up in the right place.