Hey everyone (and hopefully M&M),

I've been listen to the interviewing series over the last few days. Great material, and well worth it. I will have an opportunity to try closing for the first time next week, when we have our semesterly career fair at Iowa State University.

I was wondering if anyone including M&M might have anything special to say about career fair networking and interviewing...where you might very well have a previously unplanned interview within 24 hours, and everything is a hurried process. I have been attending career fairs here since 2002 when I started my undergrad...but never had the MT approach before!


jhack's picture

No experience with career fairs, but I would certainly do the preparation work that M&M say is the #1 most important part of the interview series. You'll have your accomplishments ready for any conversation.

You may also need an "elevator pitch" version of the "tell me about yourself" question.

Don't forget: energy, enthusiasm, smiles and confidence will make you stand out from the crowd.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Sure, I have thoughts...but on what?

What specifically do you need help with?



BJ_Marshall's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I guess what I'd be looking for is what to expect at a career fair. I just went to my first professional career fair, and I didn't quite feel prepared. I wouldn't say I was [i]unprepared[/i], as I still relied on the MT interviewing series tools to hack my way through, but I just didn't know what the protocol was.

First, I went to this entrance table where a guy took my resume, asked me what kind of position I was looking for, and then directed me to the proper section of the conference room. Then I waited in a line until I got my face time with the Project Management recruiter. Did the quick introduction, he asked for my resume, and we had a quick conversation. Real quick, like five minutes.

I must have done enough of the right things, because the recruiter told me he wanted to bring me in for an interview. But I never got asked the "Tell me about yourself" question or anything like that, and I was all set to deliver it.

Extra step, and I offer this to anyone else who might find value in this advice. Prior to the career fair, I had been speaking with the head recruiter weekly to follow up on a previous application. (I got her contact information from the switchboard.) While at the career fair, I asked if she was around, because I wanted her to be able to put my face to my name. Someone found her, and I introduced myself and thanked her for setting up this career fair.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

In my experience careers fairs (as both a recruit and on the recruiter's stand) are a cattle market, probably very much like speed dating (never been to a speed dating event but I've heard descriptions and they're close to my experiences of careers fairs).

Based on my experiences when attending a careers fair:

* Get there early.
* Wear a smart but comfortable suit and smart but comfortable comfortable shoes, you're going to be on your feet in a hot and stuffy stuffy room for anything from an hour to several hours depending on size, the number of stands relevant to you, and how busy it is.
* Take along plenty of copies of your resume.
* Carry a conference file with a pad and plenty of pens in it. This means you can take notes (e.g. people's contact details) easily and will have something to lean on to fill in application forms when all the tables are taken or covered with coffee spills
* Take plenty of business cards with your contact details
* Network, network, network. If you're standing next to someone in the queue for coffee strike up a conversation, get their contact details and give them yours.
* Smile!
* If you're there for more than a couple of hours aim to visit the bathrooms about every 90 minutes to check clothes, hair, make up (if appropriate) and any signs of traces of food or other marks that may have appeared. If you eat or drink anything follow up with a quick check in a mirror. I remember one fair where an attendee could not get anyone on the stands to speak with him. His finger tips were covered in newsprint ink (from the newspaper he'd been reading whilst waiting for the doors to open) and he had a black smudge on his face where he'd obviously rubbed it with his ink stained hand. A quick trip to the bathroom and suddenly people were talking to him!
* Research the companies that will have stands as best you can and try to memorise a few key facts. Don't leave out companies you don't think would be interested in you or are 'too small'/'not prestigious enough'/'too big'.
* Find out the format of the fair. Some are real speed dating type where you do little more than say hello and hand over your resume whilst at others the companies may be doing first interviews.
* Prepare a short opener that gives someone your name and a reason for wanting to keep talking to you. If you've done your research then tailor it to the company, else pick something off the displays on their stand that draws you to them. You want to be remembered and give the impression that you are actually interested in them rather than just trying to get your resume in front of as many people as possible in the hope that one of them will give you a job. It's like a romantic seduction, interested is interesting.
* Shake hands, M&M have produced a [url=]ten step podcast[/url] on how to do this effectively.
* If a stand you want to visit is busy go to a less busy one and come back later.