Before we get into things, it’s important to remember that while it may sound like fun to try and recruit as many characters as you can to your house, it may not be the best idea. Sure, there doesn’t seem to be a limit – but there is a limit to how many units you can deploy in a mission – which generally ranges from 9 to 12 over the course of the story.
Once you complete the first few chapters and start getting a feel for life at the monastery, you’ll find that when talking to students of other houses, you have the option to recruit them to your side. Of course, they won’t really show interest until you have enough of a certain skill and stat. Each student has different interests – but regardless of which, you shouldn’t expect to recruit them right away.
Most students prefer you to have at least a C rank in the skill they like, and anywhere from 15-20 point in the specified stat. Some students may even request a skill as high as B – which appears to be tied to skills that your character already has an affinity for – like Swords and Authority. There are a few exceptions to this rule: You can’t recruit the leaders of opposing houses – or the characters that serve as their retainers: Dedue, Hubert and Hubert, while Hilda cannot join the Black Eagles.
Your own character doesn’t get to raise their own skill levels as much as their students, as you’ll be the one teaching, and skill experience in battle is fairly limited – but you’ll need to level up in battle to start getting better stats. In order to get more levels in skills quickly, you’ll want to invest in Faculty Training when exploring the Monastery. Characters like Manuela, Seteth, Rhea, and even Jeralt can all train you in various skills – but each will take up one activity point during exploration, and each faculty member can only teach you once per free day. This means you’ll have to carefully choose which skills to invest in, as you won’t have enough time to increase them all, and you also don’t want to make your character a jack-of-all trades who excels in nothing.
When picking students to try and recruit, try for what makes sense. Many students are impressed by skills that they themselves are proficient in, like Felix and swords. Think hard about what your team is lacking, and if it’s worth side tracking your own skills to get someone to fill that slot. However, not all characters necessarily want you to have skills that mirror their own, which can work to your advantage. Both Dorothea and Ignatz, who can fill mage and archer roles, admire Authority, which Byleth will learn naturally. You can also earn a bit of authority and faith skill experience when taking part in choir activities.
You should also check to see if the skills or stats a student is looking for are close to another student that you can also impress, like Petra and Marianne both looking for something with Riding skill.
Of course, you also may want a character just so you can build up a relationship with them – which is fine, but if they want you to have a skill that’s way outside your wheelhouse, you should also look into building a relationship with them early. By giving potential recruits gifts or items they’ve lost, you can help increase bonds enough to at least get a C Support rank with them – which can lower the threshold needed to recruit them. For instance, though Dorothea would normally want you to have a B in Authority, you can recruit her with a C+ if you’ve already gotten a support rank with her before she joins your team.
Even if you are unable to expend enough skill experience to meet a character’s goal – there are other ways to increase your clout. By increasing your bond with a character up to a B Support, you can drastically lower the threshold for most students so that they will want to join you even if you don’t have great skills, but you will likely have to sacrifice a lot of gifts in the process. Be sure to maximize your time gardening to harvest flowers that double as gifts.
An added perk is that even if you aren’t keeping a close eye on every character’s interests when it comes to recruitment – if you meet the requirements they desire, they’ll actually seek you out during a week of teaching to express interest in joining. You can always say no, and recruit them later, as you’ll find that Characters across the Monastery all level up independently of your team each month, so you shouldn’t have to worry about a character coming into your team at a really low level. At certain points in Part One, they’ll even certify themselves and promote to new classes, so you should only really try recruiting early if you want to influence their training away from their default goals.
Lastly, it’s important to note that over the course of the story, you’ll also have the chance to ask the faculty and certain knights at the monastery to join your team as well. These Characters don’t care about certain skills – they’ll just want you to usually be level 15 or higher when they start becoming available to recruit. Keep this in mind when trying to figure out what you’re total roster is going to look like down the road.