Best Questions to Ask at a Career Fair

A career fair is a convention of employers, hiring managers, and job seekers. This event facilitates discussions on open positions, career success, growth opportunities, and other professional development concerns. A job fair can open career paths that employees and company leaders may not find in a regular job search.

A career fair is only a preview of the actual hiring process. Typically, a company narrows its choices to only 2 to 5 potential new hires by the end of a job fair. Since the competition is steep, applicants should find ways to stand out and secure great offers at job openings.

Standing out is easier said than done. The best way to do so is by being substantially knowledgeable. Gather insights on career trends, company culture, and other relevant matters helpful to a job search.

Be practical with your data collection by knowing what questions to ask first. Here is a list of ideal questions to ask at a career fair.

women at a career fair

1. What is the hiring process?

37% of companies look for employee diversity, 35% implement soft skills assessments, 34% utilize innovative interviewing tools, and the list goes on. These records provide critical hints during a job search, but it is impossible to predict every company’s hiring process. Every company is unique.

Instead of spending too much time on external research, ask direct questions. Be bold and inquire with company representatives to get as many details about their hiring process.

Knowing the specifics of a hiring process helps career seekers prepare themselves and have realistic expectations. Sometimes, a hiring process can be incompatible with one’s personality and skills. Due to this challenge, it may be more practical to pursue another open position.

The pressure of a job search may cause crippling anxiety. Applicants should know what questions to ask to alleviate stress and anxiety, especially during the hiring process. Learn Skill Success tips on overcoming job search anxiety.

2. What is your company culture?

This question will help employees know what to expect regarding a company’s work environment and pacing. After all, applicants must gauge whether they could be compatible with a potential employer or not.

Company culture represents the overall character of an organization. It embodies the norms, principles, and standards that employees and the management observe. 

Positive company culture keeps employees. According to a survey, the turnover rate is only 13.9% when employees receive dynamic growth opportunities and other perks that promote personal development.

Characteristics of good company culture

Ask companies at a job fair if they possess the following:

  1. Happy employees
  2. Employees are participative in company activities, even non-mandatory ones
  3. Diverse employees in terms of age, gender, sexual orientation, and race
  4. Safe and comfortable workspaces
  5. Varied options for professional development

Applicants can harness their true potential when working in nurturing company culture. Employers should look out for and address the unique needs of employees.

3. What are recent trends in the industry?

Job search trends are everchanging. Within a short period, the quantity and quality of new hires can drastically differ, making it challenging for all stakeholders to predict what is happening next in hiring practices.

Of all questions to ask, this query aspires employees to be abreast with the most relevant developments inside and outside the workplace. Depending on the changes, the hiring process can be unpredictable. Applicants must educate themselves to learn how to compete despite the existing career settings.

Recent hiring trends to look out for

These are the emerging trends in the hiring practice for the last few years:

  1. Virtual recruitment, often via Skype or Zoom
  2. Utilization of advanced technology and programs
  3. Social recruiting
  4. Recruitment through automated systems
  5. Reliance on artificial intelligence

Analyzing these trends will be crucial for applicants. It will set preparations for the interview phase. Revisit this checklist when you have an upcoming job interview.

4. What does your company do?

The questions to ask at a career fair need not be the most complicated queries. Applicants may pose inquiries that can easily relate to their future on specific career paths. Asking what a company does is basic but necessary.

About 20% of employee turnover occurs after the first 45 days since hiring. These employees fail to find meaning in their jobs and realize a mismatch of skills and expectations. Many did not have enough knowledge about their jobs and the company profile. 

The disconnect that a new hire can experience with their employer can lead to disastrous employment. This possibility should warrant applicants to know their target companies well.

Things to know about a company

Here are essential things to know before applying for a job:

  1. Company’s products, services, and operations
  2. Affiliates and other partners
  3. Mission, vision, and goals
  4. Work expectations
  5. Company culture

Researching about a target company should be part of your job hunter checklist.

5. What are the company visions and goals?

Company mission and vision statements serve as guidelines that shape standards, operations, and organizational structures. Both push employees, managers, and other stakeholders to work toward a common purpose. These intangible rules ensure that a company can have an outline for its workforce to maintain efficiency and productivity.

Asking about the company’s mission and vision may be a stretch for some, but these factors can be a good indicator of work compatibility. After all, these two can shape company culture. Applicants should look for workplaces where they will feel comfortable and motivated to avoid burnout and other labor-related issues. 

Inquiring about the company’s mission and vision can also create a good impression on interviewers or hiring managers. It will show that an applicant is eager and detail-oriented. Employers would prefer thorough employees rather than those that would not go the extra mile to make the most out of a specific situation. 

6. What does a day at work look like?

Besides knowing what a company does, one of the most crucial questions to ask would be how a typical workday occurs. This question is practical and direct to the point. Applicants should ask for more details to imagine themselves working in a particular role. 

Inquiring about day-to-day tasks does not detail actual work. However, this line of questioning sends a message to an interviewer or hiring manager that an applicant will be keen when hired. Based on what a company would say about daily tasks, applicants may assess their technical and professional compatibility.

Some applicants forget that they can also be choosy. There is no use in applying for a company you do not see yourself working in. This situation will only lead to long-term suffering for both the applicants and employers. 

Learn as much as you can at job fairs because the circumstances in real life are much harsher and more demanding.

7. What kind of training program do you offer?

Employment is not a one-sided affair. It is not about employers taking full advantage of employees and working them to death. Responsible employers should provide as many growth opportunities to their workers, both new hires and tenured employees. 

Training programs are constant. It is a critical strategy that helps companies grow along with their workforce. It also keeps employees feeling supported and cared for.

Training programs ideal for new hires 

Here is a list of training programs green horns can expect after being hired:

  1. Company introduction and onboarding
  2. Company policies and guidelines
  3. Role orientation 
  4. Career development and other programs for skill improvement
  5. Work standards and performance evaluation
  6. Team building and inter-department cooperation
  7. Sanitation and work safety

Good employers care about your career. Applicants should find a company that has this intention. This way, it will be easier to last within the same workplace for a long time.

8. What are the best parts of your company?

Instead of being an individual entity, the term “best” company should be a category. A company is considered best when it offers competitive compensation, implements fairness, pursues innovative processes, etc. These positive attributes contribute a lot to employees’ professional development. 

Asking what is best in a company relates to how much an employer would benefit an applicant. This direct inquiry keeps applicants informed of what they can acquire in exchange for their hard work and loyalty. 

After hearing what a company representative says, applicants can double-check the truthfulness of the given details. Sometimes, companies sugarcoat things to entice the most ideal candidate into working for them. 

As an applicant, take some time to research. Look at news articles or gather valuable information from peers with direct knowledge about the company. You may find both good and bad things about a future employer. This two-pronged assessment will help you create a more informed decision about pursuing an application or not.

9. How can I contribute to your company?

The questions applicants ask at a career fair should also consider the interests of employers. Every company has unique reasons for creating a job search. Applicants should be sensitive enough to employers’ needs to land a dynamic and interactive position in the future. 

A job fair helps applicants with brand awareness and networking. Especially for newbies, job fairs provide applicants with a more in-depth understanding of how companies interact and their treatment of potential employees. 

Applicants can develop a deeper understanding of what companies may need from them by attending career fairs. By having sufficient knowledge, applicants can realize more career opportunities outside job posts and open positions. 

Without knowing the things that one may contribute to a future employer, applicants may commit mistakes that would lower their chances of successful employment. Skill Success compiled tips on avoiding job seeker mistakes. Mastering these solutions will help generate faster employment results too.

10. What are the challenges of this position?

A job search can be a painstakingly long process. To minimize chances of delay and other hiccups, applicants should be as realistic as possible. During career fairs, applicants should ask questions that clarify multiple issues involved in a particular open position.

Get to the point. It is impractical for applicants to be indirect and unclear about what they want. Most companies prefer it if applicants are blunt so long as they remain respectful. 

Asking the challenges of a position is essentially asking for details relating to a job description. Applicants should keep asking questions that will help them discover their ideal employment conditions.

Biggest challenges when joining a new company

  1. Miscommunication
  2. Information overload
  3. Dwindling self-confidence
  4. Keeping up with deadlines and work standards
  5. Changing old work habits to adapt to new company culture

It is normal to experience workplace challenges while onboarding. Applicants should not condemn themselves for committing mistakes. Instead, they should focus on getting better.

11. What are opportunities for advancement?

Professional development is integral to keeping retention rates low. This strategy works in two ways. On one side, a company implements career improvement plans to help employees be better at their jobs. On the other, employees attain growth opportunities and develop love and loyalty for their employer. 

Especially when looking for long-term jobs, applicants should prioritize looking for employers that will give them more access to professional development opportunities. Even if an employee leaves their current employer, the learnings and skills they acquired from development programs will stay with them. They can use the experience to be better at future endeavors.

How companies support career advancement 

There are many ways a company can facilitate professional development. Here are career strategies applicants should look for while attending a job fair:

  1. Personal and technical training
  2. Mentoring and job shadowing
  3. Promotion
  4. Maintenance of work-life balance
  5. Access to educational courses (like the ones offered by Skill Success)

12. How can I be successful in this role?

Besides exploring your expectations as an applicant, it also is critical to know what employers want. Asking how one may succeed in an open position allows employers to express what they look for in potential new hires. It is a necessary conversation to build a more progressive employee-employer relationship in the future

A career fair also creates opportunities for applicants to work on their strengths and weaknesses. By asking how they can succeed in a given role, applicants can look into strategies that will boost their strengths and manage their weaknesses. Overall, being in a forum with potential employers will encourage applicants to improve their abilities and outstand from others.

Tips on improving work performance

There is no end to how much you can grow in a chosen career. Here are practical tips you can try:

  1. Set realistic goals
  2. Breakdown bigger tasks into more manageable sizes
  3. Ask help from others
  4. Learn from mistakes
  5. Finish one task first before starting another

Success is a different story for everyone. Keep working on your skills to create a more stable future.

13. What is a typical career path for this role?

A career path refers to the series of jobs and growth opportunities that will lead an employee toward their career goals. No two career paths are the same. It is also important to stress that not everyone follows a linear sequence. Asking companies about this critical matter will give applicants reliable insight.

Career paths can either be vertical or horizontal. A vertical career path focuses on promotion. It is a more common path where employees aim to acquire a role higher than their previous one. In comparison, a horizontal career path entails a job switch. An employee will transfer from one department to another but still maintains a similar status to a past position.

Never be too rash in deciding your career path. Unnecessary haste will only increase the risk of creating mistakes in a career plan.

14. Where is the workplace?

A career fair will help applicants realize that jobs can occur at different offices. Each type will have unique sets of pros and cons. Talking to companies will help applicants choose which style works best for their lifestyle. 

In the modern setup, the workplace can be physical, virtual, or both. Physical workplaces cover company and field offices. On the other hand, virtual offices involve spaces that employees access and operate digitally. Offices that share physical and virtual attributes are often called hybrid offices. 

Because of the recent changes brought by the pandemic, 85% of managers purport that remote or virtual offices will be the new normal. This statistic becomes more apparent as some companies choose to maintain remote teams despite the loosening of lockdown and social distancing orders worldwide.

15. How does the open position support the strategic business objectives of the firm?

Every company implements business objectives that reflect its goals. These results often determine the kind of work employees should perform. For example, if a company intends to acquire global leads, employees must put more effort into marketing tasks.

Business objectives are there to unify the intentions and actions of all stakeholders. This tool helps employers and employees attain more meaningful goals. Besides that, business objectives help create quantifiable standards that keep everyone in check.

Importance of learning business objectives

In addition to one’s job description, employees should also learn about the company’s objectives to make better contributions while working.

  1. Contribute relevant improvements
  2. Produce coherent results
  3. Increase the feasibility of general company goals
  4. Develop skills relevant to the company’s targets

Learn more about your desired roles to create more impactful changes after hiring.

16. How do they evaluate applicants who don’t have any experience yet?

The job hiring process is often more difficult for first-time applicants. Aside from not having enough experience to be a better choice than veterans, newbies may not have the knowledge to go through the processes of finding a job.

There is no available data on the success rate of first-time applicants in job searching. On average, experienced applicants need to send 21 to 80 job applications before receiving a job offer. Unfortunately, the odds would be harsher for first-timers.

Tips for applicants with zero work experience

The following may add value to your work experience:

  1. Internships
  2. Externships
  3. Job shadowing
  4. Volunteering, especially in renowned NGOs
  5. Networking
  6. Freelancing
  7. Training courses 

Skill Success has an array of training courses where accomplishers will receive a corresponding certificate. 

18. What are the benefits to hirees?

Company giants Google and JP Morgan & Chase pride themselves on giving competitive compensation packages to their employees. Though this strategy costs a lot of money, these companies continue with it because they know that more attractive compensation increases employees’ productivity and turnover rate.

Components of a competitive employee compensation

The most competitive compensation packages contain the following but are not limited to:

  1. Above minimum wage base pay
  2. Reliable medical care package
  3. Coverage of mandatory government insurance
  4. Performance bonus
  5. Miscellaneous bonuses and gifts

Applicants also have a preference in terms of benefits. Good work culture or job description will not be enough if the pay is low. Determine what works for you before applying to a specific open position.

19. How can I stay in touch?

Applicants attend a career fair to get connections, not necessarily to get hired. While it is possible to land a job, one should prioritize making good impressions and learning more about different companies. Find ways to expand your career options, and do not stress too much about getting hired. 

If you become interested in working for specific companies you met at a job fair, the best next thing to do is stay in touch. Have the contact details of the hiring personnel and subscribe to the company’s digital platforms.

Until new job opportunities open, applicants may focus on preparing for the interview process. Newbies may not know how to do this part right. For reference, check out Skill Success’ interview tips for first-timers.

20. How did the pandemic affect your company?

This question is unique but timely. With all that happened during the pandemic, the hiring process shifted drastically. Now, at least 84% of recruiters adapt settings compatible with remote work. Besides that, recruiters work harder to make the job search process flexible for everyone. 

Applicants should inquire if the company implemented health and safety protocols to protect their employees and clients. Pre-pandemic health protocols may no longer apply, considering how COVID-19 became so widespread globally. In the same vein, applicants should also know the health packages available should an employee contract the virus. 

Asking how bad the impact of the pandemic for a company may also give hints as to their stability. The pandemic closed countless companies and left many jobless. It is not wise for anybody to work in a company that is on the brink of closure.

Ask and you shall receive

Knowing what questions to ask at a career fair help applicants develop a more progressive mind on job search and developing one’s career. Answers to the above-listed questions should clarify misunderstandings regarding applicants’ career paths. However, these are not the only questions to ask at a job fair.

Applicants may have queries that require more specification. Give it a shot to ask about anything so long as the questions remain respectful and professional. 

Continue to expand your growth opportunities while waiting for the next career fair. Skill Success has a massive range of on-demand video courses, from tips on dressing up for an interview to general career development lessons.

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