Tips for Career Fair Success for Students

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.
  • Update your resume and have it critiqued through an advising meeting.
  • 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.
  • Prepare a list of questions in advance that demonstrate your knowledge of the company. View list of questions you can ask employers.
  • Develop a 30-60 second elevator pitch. View more on developing a great elevator pitch with examples.
  • Remember that it is not typical to come away from a career fair with a job offer. Other positive 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.

During Fair

  • 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?