How to Preparing for a Job Fair / Off Campus & Sample Questions to ask at the Job Fairs / Off Campus

Preparing for a Job Fair / Off Campus
Job Fairs / Off Campus are typically one day events designed to connect a large number of employers with a large number of students/candidates. Employer representatives attend these events to meet/interview individuals for immediate and future hiring needs, collect resumes, and market their company/organization.

For candidates, benefits of attending a
Job Fairs / Off Campus include: an opportunity to learn about specific companies/ organizations and their respective jobs and internships, the chance to actually talk (in person) to a company representative instead of just submitting a resume or employment application by mail or online, and an excellent way to network and make company contacts, perhaps even asking those in your targeted industry for general feedback about your resume or experiences. Candidates who are most successful at career/ job fairs are the ones who prepare.
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Smart preparation includes three stages:
1.     Before
2.     During
3.     After
Before the Job Fairs / Off Campus
  • Prepare your resume; have it reviewed/proofread/critiqued so that it’s perfect (no errors!); print multiple copies on resume paper
  • Research the companies/organizations who will be attending the event so that you can communicate intelligently with the recruiters
  • Prepare your 30 second commercial
  • Prepare pertinent questions to ask the recruiters
  • Practice responses to sample interview questions
  • Arriving at the event and before entering the career fair room, study the program/floor plan so you’ll know where each organization is located
During the Job Fairs / Off Campus
  • Wear professional business attire (i.e. suit or business/meeting attire); when in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of being conservative and over-dressed rather than under-dressed
  • Pay attention to personal grooming and accessories (i.e. very little or no cologne/scents; minimal jewellery; clean/simply styled hair/make-up; be sure breath is fresh)
  • No chewing gum; no food/drinks in hand
  • Cell phones should be turned off and kept out of site
  • Carry the copies of your resume in a professional looking folder or portfolio
  • Bring a pen and small notebook/portfolio for notes and recruitment materials
  • Introduce yourself and be enthusiastic; use a firm handshake and maintain eye contact. Clearly state your name, major/degree, and graduation date; be ready to launch into your 30 second commercial (i.e. your strengths/experiences and the type of opportunity you’re looking for); don’t exhibit a lack of direction and focus
  • Ask questions to show your interest in the company! (see sample questions below)
  • Volunteer your resume (don’t wait for the recruiter to ask for it)
  • Collect business cards from recruiters (ask for one if they don’t volunteer this); perhaps make quick notes on the back side, if appropriate
  • Before leaving each table, thank the recruiter for talking with you and for any brochures/company literature and promotional materials (e.g. coffee mug, pen) they shared; ask about follow-up activity and timeline
  • Be sensitive to others who are waiting behind you in line; realize that employers sometimes like to talk to groups (don’t be upset)
  • Don’t ask about salary/benefits
  • Don’t monopolize someone’s time
After the Job Fairs / Off Campus
  • Keep track of those you spoke with and any special notes you need to make
  • Send thank you correspondence to those you are seriously interested in and wish to pursue

Special Notes
  • The most sought after skills and attributes that employers seek are: communication and interpersonal skills; intelligence; enthusiasm; flexibility; leadership/team work; energy level; maturity; and a willingness to learn and grow. Even though time is short at career fairs, try to show or share evidence of these if possible.
  • When researching companies/organizations before the career fair, try to learn at least the basics which include: company mission; products/services; location(s); place in the industry (e.g. competitors, niche, specialties); job/internship opportunities; work/corporate culture; etc.
  • Prepare questions to ask the recruiters that demonstrate you’ve taken time to research their organization but now need more information (See sample questions below).
  • Don’t be discouraged if some companies tell you to apply online. Use this opportunity to start a dialogue with the recruiter and ask specific questions about their company and positions they have.
    This will help them remember you when they see your online application. Write down the recruiter’s name so you can follow up with him/her after the Fair.
  • Some companies may be here to promote their company and may not have a specific position open in your field at this time. This is still a good opportunity to learn about the company, what types of education and experience they are looking for, and make a contact you can use later when they do have an opening.
  • Don’t forget to smile! ☺
Sample Questions to ask at the Job Fairs / Off Campus
1.     Please tell me about the mission and main function of your organization.
2.     Tell me about your products and/or services. Who are your customers?
3.     What type of opportunities is typically available to graduate students?
4.     How many people are employed within your organization?
5.     How many people are employed within your ____________ department?
6.     What specific skills/qualifications does your organization look for in its candidates?
7.     Are there specific courses or other requirements you look for in prospective employees?
8.     What is the hiring process at your company?
9.     How do I find out about job openings with your company?
10.                        What are the projections for future changes within your organization?
11.                        How does your organization train its new employees?
12.                        Please describe what initial assignments in the area of _________ might be?
13.                        What opportunities does your company offer for individual professional development?
14.                        What is a typical career path to the higher level position of _________?
15.                        Where does your company have branches or offices?
16.                        May I have your business card?
17.                        What is the best way for me to follow up with you?
18.                        Tell me about your job. What do you like and dislike about it?
19.                        What is unique about your organization?
20.                        Can you suggest anything I can do to improve my chances of employment with your Company?