Tips for Career Fair Success

Prepare, prioritize, engage, and follow up.

Before Any Fair

  • Clarify your career goals and identify your career fields, industries, and companies of interest well before the career fair.
  • Research companies prior to speaking to employers at the fair. Know what the company does, their career opportunities, and any recent company news. Most career fair websites provide a list of registered employers.
  • Prioritize your top companies. Waiting to speak with employers is common at career fairs, both in-person and virtual, and you are unlikely to have enough time to speak to all possible employers of interest.
  • Remember that it is not typical to come away from a career fair with a job offer. Outcomes can be new contacts in your network, an invitation to apply or interview for a specific position, a better sense of what opportunities are currently available, and greater confidence in speaking with employer representatives.
  • Consider career exploration. Career fairs can be useful for career exploration as well as for looking for specific job or internship opportunities.

Virtual Career Fairs

Technical Considerations:

  • Test your system in advance to ensure the video and audio capabilities will match what is needed for the platform. Many platforms have test links available in the help pages (see below).
  • Use a desktop or laptop - not all platforms are mobile-optimized. 
  • Have earbuds/ headphones with a mic ready for video chats.
  • Wear business casual attire (at least from the waist up!)
  • Set yourself up in a location that has good lighting. Have lighting directly by your face instead of to the side or behind you. If you can, sit facing a window for good natural lighting. 
  • Have a non-distracting background for your video call, and use a private / quiet space. 
  • Ensure that your laptop is charged and preferably plugged in throughout the fair. 
  • Test our WIFI stability, set-up closer to your router or hotspot.

Communicating with Employers:

  • For text-based chats, have your short intro (elevator pitch), and answers to a few common questions written out in advance so you can cut-and-paste this information into the text chat box to save time
  • Be positive and supportive of others in the chat rooms or open group discussions with you. Avoid making negative comments.
  • Be cautious of having multiple chats open simultaneously so that you are able to respond to individual recruiters quickly with accurate information.
  • Review the content publicly shared for the employer booth, chat room, or open discussion to get higher level of detail to complement the information already provided. 
  • Thank the recruiters for their time when leaving the chat, and be sure to get contact info so you can follow-up with questions and a thank you note within 48 hours of the event. 

Tech Support on the Day of the Virtual Fair:

Most platforms offer help pages that often include contact information for technical assistance and a FAQ. Here are the help pages for some of the platforms that have been used for virtual career fairs at MIT

Articles on Virtual Career Fairs for More Tips:

In-Person Fairs

  • Dress professionally for your industry of interest.
  • Appearance matters: shower, comb, and brush! Iron clothes and use a breath mint.
  • Get the career fair map and plan your attack. Take a look at the guidebook (physical or digital) to look for any changes to employers of interest.
  • Collect more than free stuff. Ask for business cards from reps. Bring resumes to give to them.
  • Practice your handshake with a friend.
  • After the fair, apply to positions promptly and follow up with reps to let them know you have applied. Send a tailored email to them and reference specifics from your fair day conversation.

Possible Questions to Ask Employers at a Career Fair

These are general questions you can ask. Remember to also tailor specific questions to the companies you plan to target at the fair.

  • How long have you worked at your company?
  • Does your company hire on a continual basis or only at certain times of the year?
  • What are the most important qualifications your company looks for in an employee?
  • Are there particular personality traits you look for?
  • Are graduate degrees important? In what areas within your company?
  • What kinds of courses do you suggest in order to be a successful candidate?
  • Is there a GPA cut-off for your recruiting process?
  • What kinds of positions exist within your organization that would be open to someone with my background?
  • What is the training process like at your company?
  • Is senior management grown from within or does your company hire from the outside?
  • Do you sponsor non-US citizens?

View more examples How to Prepare Questions for Virtual Career Fairs, With Examples on the Handshake blog.