TIPS FOR COLLEGE & PUBLIC CAREER FAIR INTERVIEWS

DURING the Event:

  • Allow yourself adequate time. Come as early as possible. You may need to return between classes, based on your schedule. Typically, fairs are the busiest right when they open, or during a lunch hour if it spans from morning through the afternoon. Be aware that fairs close promptly at publicized ending times to accommodate employers' travel arrangements, so don’t plan on coming towards the end and expecting the employers to stick around to speak with you.

 

  • Get your bearings. When you arrive, take a few minutes to review the map and directory for the fair. You may feel more comfortable if you quickly locate and walk by the employers in whom you're most interested. This will confirm their location and alert you to any crowds or lines of other students waiting.

 

  • Balance your time. Remember that your time is limited, and employers of high interest to you will likely be of high interest to others as well. When calculating your time in order to meet with all of the employers you are interested in, assume that you will need to wait in line to speak with recruiters, so plan accordingly.

 

  • Follow your plan, and if time permits, continue meeting with employers you had not listed. When you have met with all of your targeted employers, continue seeking out those of moderate interest, and if time allows, try to meet with those you are less interested in or may not have scheduled on your list. Sometimes you can meet with an employer you had eliminated and learn during the interview that their open position is one that would really make a good fit for you. However, if you start running low on time, reorder your list of employers to make sure you speak with the remaining ones of the highest importance.

 

  • It’s your turn! Introduce yourself and be ready to give your 30-second intro. Extend your hand, say "hello" and state your name. Welcoming the representative to Northwestern College also adds a nice, personal touch. Be sure to have your resume in hand, ready to give to the employer as you begin your 30-second intro. Do not be frustrated, though, if the employer representative prefers to ask you direct questions instead of hearing your pitch. You may be asked about your career interests, academic and extracurricular experiences in order for the employer to gauge your skills and strengths, so be prepared to respond.

 

  • Be flexible and polite. The fair directory provides a brief summary of employers' opportunities and most likely was not submitted by the representative you will meet with at the fair. Some positions may no longer be available, and other openings may have been added. No representative can be knowledgeable on all positions available, especially in a large organization. It is likely that the representative may not be involved in the hiring process but is there to answer questions about the organization and their experiences as an employee there. If the employer representative cannot answer your specific questions, kindly ask for the name of someone who might have more knowledge to help you.

 

  • Don’t be afraid to take notes.  Though you only have a few minutes to speak with a representative at the fair, do not rely on your memory for the points that are most important. Have a pen handy and jot down a note should they give you a name and contact info for someone who can better answer your questions, a projected hiring or start date, or the next steps in the hiring process. If you don’t write it down, you will not be able to take advantage of the information or opportunities later. If time does not permit, take a moment after you walk away to jot the information down before moving on to the next employer.

 

  • Be respectful of materials and/or giveaway items on employer tables.  Always check with employers before taking any materials or “giveaways” from their tables. While it may appear that everything on the table is there for students/job applicants, some employers bring fewer print materials and use them during one-on-one discussions with students, or merely as displays at their tables. Never take materials still packed in boxes near the table, for some employers could be there for multiple days of fairs and have set aside those materials for remaining days.

 

  • Be courteous! While you are there representing yourself in hopes of garnering future employment, keep in mind that you also represent your Program and the College. All of the employers and organizations at the fair are there because of their interest in hiring Northwestern College graduates and students. Do not show your irritation at having to wait in long lines to meet an employer, or when another job applicant asks multiple questions – you never know who is watching. Conversely, try to keep your own questions to an employer brief so as to be sensitive to other students waiting to speak with them. Do not be afraid to ask the employer if you could continue the conversation with them at a later time, out of respect for the long line of others behind you waiting. This not only shows that you are courteous but demonstrates the confidence you have in yourself.

 

  • Ask the representative for his/her card. It is a good idea to obtain the business card of the representative you speak with. Most importantly, this provides you with the proper spelling of their name, their title, and contact information so that you can follow up after the interview. This allows you to ask additional questions you were not able to ask due to time constraints. It also provides you with a contact at the company weeks or months later if you are still interested in employment opportunities with their organization.

AFTER the Event:

  • Send a thank-you note. Take some time to send a brief thank-you note to the employers you spoke with during the event, especially the ones of the highest importance to you. While a handwritten note is the most personal, an email note is appropriate as well. Thank them for their time and advice, and reiterate your interest in being a part of their organization.

 

  • Make a mental note of what worked and what you would do differently. If you felt like you did not have enough time to get out of your 30-second introduction, plan to shorten it to 20 seconds for the next time. If you got good responses from certain points you raised, or puzzled looks after other points, make a note of what to reinforce or change next time. Every employer you talk to becomes “practice” for the next employer you approach. Learn from both your mistakes and your home runs!

Other Helpful Links:

-4 Tips to Negotiating Salary During Economic Uncertainty

-9 Signs You Aced the Interview 

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