What is a career fair? A career fair, also commonly referred to as a job fair or career expo, is an event in which recruiters and employers meet with job seekers who are finding different job openings. Job seekers must prepare insightful questions to ask at a career fair. These questions help you understand a company and determine whether you are suitable for the position. Asking questions also shows employers that jobseekers are engaged in the hiring process and have a genuine interest in the position.
Face-to-face versus virtual career fair
Face-to-face or in-person career fairs are usually held in huge halls or auditoriums where each employer sets up booths or tables. HR team members are also present. Employers or HR team members collect resumes, conduct first-level interviews, explain the current job openings, application process, and exchange business cards. Job seekers can also relay their prepared questions to ask at a face-to-face career fair. These types of career fairs are crowded places with good competition. Therefore, job seekers should be prepared physically and mentally when attending this type of career fair to make a lasting impression.
A virtual career fair, or online job fair, is similar to a regular career fair but instead uses virtual platforms so that job seekers and employers interact virtually. Instead of meeting in physical halls and auditoriums, both parties meet in a virtual space via video, teleconference, live chats, webcasts, email, and even downloadable materials to exchange information about the job postings.
Advantages of career fairs
There are many advantages of attending job fairs for job seekers, whether face-to-face or virtually, including:
- Access to meet multiple employers at a single place
- Immediate reply on your job application
- Boosts your confidence as there are a lot of options on the floor
- Saves time on sending applications as you can give your resume to the employer and get interviewed on the spot.
- Give you a chance to build your network with employers, HR professionals, and recruiters.
Best questions to ask at a career fair
Whether you are attending a face-to-face or virtual career fair, being prepared allows you to leave a good impression and increase your chances of getting hired. Preparing for a career fair is also like preparing for an interview. Therefore, you should dress appropriately and prepare good questions to ask at a career fair.
Here are questions you should consider asking the employer to help you get your list started. Asking these questions increases the chances of impressing the employer and enables you to land the job of your dreams.
Ask about how the employer’s hiring process works.
It is wise if you ask the steps for the hiring process at the end of the interview or conversation with the recruiter. By doing this, you will have the chance to learn about a specific company’s hiring process and establish your timeline and expectations.
Try asking these questions:
- Can you tell me about the different stages of your hiring process?
- What does the hiring process look like for this job role?
- What are the next steps in the process?
- Is there anything I can provide you aside from the requirements I have given you?
Although most recruiters won’t give you the specifics, they will often provide you insights and what to expect from the job. But having the initiative to ask about the process demonstrates your interest in your application. Of course, you want to let them know how invested you are in this application, so you show them you are curious about the typical hiring process.
Ask about the specific or job responsibilities.
A rule of thumb is not to ask anything that has already been addressed in the presented job description. Instead, spend time learning about the employers’ job responsibilities and looking for a candidate for a specific position. You could research this beforehand if the career fair organizers posted the list of companies joining the event.
You can also go directly to the employer’s booth or table during the event, learn about the job role first, and prepare a list of detailed questions about the position.
- What does a typical day look like for this job?
- What do you think will be a challenge for a person in this job?
- I noticed something quite confusing (a vague item) in the job description. Can you tell me more about it?
- Can you describe an important project I would be working on?
- What would I be expected to accomplish in the first six months? The first year?
- What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
- Are there essential qualities needed to be successful in this role?
- What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
- Who is the direct report for this role?
- I don’t have an in-depth background in (function), but I have experience working on (relevant work). Will that be a good fit for the position?
By asking any of these questions, you will demonstrate your interest and evaluate if you have the right skills or experience to become successful in the job position. Knowing the answers to these questions will also enable you to decide right there if the job is worth pursuing. Suppose the responsibilities don’t excite you, at least you know right away because you got the answers now.
Ask about the company, experience, and culture.
Before going to a job fair, you should have done your homework, finding out as much as possible about the company. Look for information, such as their culture, history, services or products, achievements, and the important people in the company.
Researching about the company provides some significant benefits and can boost your chances of getting hired. First, it shows that you are prepared by taking the initiative of gathering the information instead of relying on the recruiter to provide you what you need to know.
Also, it shows that you have a strong interest in the company and allows you to prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. Below are some sample questions:
- What’s your favorite part about working here?
- Tell me about the biggest challenges facing the company/department.
- What is your work culture like?
- Where does your company see itself five years from now?
- How would employees describe the company and its leaders?
- What benefits and perks does the company offer?
- What are some of the department’s long-term goals?
- How would you describe the work environment here?
Ask about growth opportunities.
Growth and development opportunities are always non-negotiable. Asking this question during the career fair interview will let you know if the company has promising opportunities waiting for you.
Here are some of the questions you may ask in light of the potential growth opportunities:
- What does growth and development look like in your company?
- Do you provide any training to support employees?
- How do you upskill your existing employees?
- How are you gearing up your employees toward technological innovations?
Ask about how you can stay in touch.
Before ending the interview, think of the aspects they may not have been covered yet. Then proceed to ask them how you can stay in touch.
Here are some simple questions to ask when asking about what to expect after the interview:
- What is the ideal way to stay in touch?
- What is the next step of the process?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
- Who can I follow up for the role??
There are many helpful articles with lists of questions in Skill Success. Here are some:
- The Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer
- Questions to Ask When Interviewing for Human Resources
- 13 Perfect Questions to Ask In Your Interview
You can also take the Recruiter Reveals: Job Interview Formula online course to learn the basics of how to answer common, difficult, and tricky job interview questions, the common mistakes that candidates make in job interviews, and the best ways to answer the most challenging questions.
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