How To Ace A Career Fair

With so many potential employers in one spot, you definitely want to make a good impression, right? So, when thinking about your approach to an upcoming career fair, it may help to start by putting yourself in the shoes of the campus recruiter. In other words…


  • You are meeting a lot of students in one day. (A lot of students!)
  • You have a series of interviews stacked on top of each other in 30 minute blocks.
  • You are not looking for “good” students - you want to find rock stars!
Related: Top 8 Tips For Job Fair Success I’ve been involved in lots of interviews and most are pretty perfunctory. For example, nine times out of ten the student being interviewed is professional, eager to please, and will probably do fine in the workforce. As a recruiter, though, I don’t want “fine” – I want GREAT. I want someone that will make me spit out my coffee and hire them on the spot.

How To Ace A Career Fair

How can YOU become one of the “greats?" Here are some tips:

1. Have A Plan

Don’t even think of going into a career fair without knowing a) who’s going to be there and b) who you want to speak with. Recruiters don’t want to feel like you just stumbled on to their booth. They want to feel like your TOP choice, even if you’re still playing the field.

2. Have A Clue

Research, research, research. These days companies have put themselves out there so much on the web and through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) there’s really no excuse for not knowing basic information such as core services areas and key players. Also, if you can find out who is doing the on-campus interviews for one of your top picks, don’t be afraid to call them in advance to introduce yourself. (Hint: No one does this!)

3. Understand How You’re Being Evaluated

To make the recruiting process more objective, most employers simply fill out a simple ratings sheet for each person they interview. These sheets are pretty standard and will usually cover things like personal appearance, professionalism, knowledge of the business, GPA, and so on.

4. Have Your Elevator Pitch Down

The elevator pitch is your answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself.” It needs to be under two minutes and should include some general background information, demonstrated leadership, and what you will bring to an organization. For example:

“I grew up in Seattle, but moved here to attend university. I’m a junior this year with a major in accounting and a minor in communications. I know accounting today is much more than numbers in a box so I felt my communications courses would prepare me for the demands of client service. I’m a member of student government serving as co-chair of the community outreach committee, and in that role I’ve organized projects for the United Way and Habitat for Humanity. I’ve researched your company and I know you offer the resources of a ‘Big 4’ with the personal touch of a smaller firm and I believe that combination will give me the best opportunity to contribute and grow my career in the long run.”

The best way to perfect your elevator pitch is to practice. You should be able to recite this in your sleep. Check out this list of 50 other standard interview questions you might find useful.

5. Be Confident

One of the fastest ways to turn off an interviewer is to appear overly nervous. If you can’t handle the interview – how are you going to handle clients? Naturally, you will be nervous. The trick is to appear as if you’re not, e.g. look people in the eye when you speak, be secure in your delivery (Note: This comes from practice – see above) and watch how often you use filler words like “um, ah,” and so on.

6. Carry Your Resume In An Executive Padfolio

This not only keeps your papers neat, but makes a spiral notebook or binder look like small potatoes. Also, bring at least five copies of your resume because you never know how many people will be in the interview and you definitely don’t want to come up short.

7. Demonstrate Leadership

You are also being judged on your leadership potential. Since you probably don’t have any real career experience yet, this will be evaluated by how you’ve spent your time on campus. Have you assumed any leadership roles within a student organization? Do you have any volunteer experience? What interests or passions do you have outside of your classes that could demonstrate leadership ability (e.g. mission trips, sports teams, an so on)? Employers know if you can lead in any of these capacities, then those skills readily translate into the office environment.

8. Etiquette

Finally, candidates who ascend to “Rock Star” status understand the basics of etiquette. This is not just about showing up on time. It’s about standing to shake the hand of your interviewer(s), addressing them as “Mr. or Ms.” and – very important – following up with a post-meeting thank you note or e-mail. These days success is heavily-reliant on interpersonal skills, meaning having superior manners is more than just a courtesy. It’s good business.

Related Posts

10 Tips For Success At Job Fairs How To Screw Up At A Career Fair How To Prepare For A Job Fair   Photo Credit: Shutterstock

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Diane submitted. She has recently worked with a co-worker on a group project. When it came time to present the project at a meeting, Diane let her co-worker present. While it went great, the co-worker proceed to take credit for nearly all of Diane's work. Frustrating to say the least!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if your co-worker took credit for the work you did...right in front of your colleagues AND boss!

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Cam submitted. He's been working at a job for awhile, but recently overheard a hiring manager making fun of a candidate with autism right after an interview-not only awkward, but VERY unprofessional!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if witnessed a hiring manager at your organization making fun of a candidate who they had just interviewed who had autism.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

Starting a family is one of the biggest milestones in a person's life. It's in those first few months when a parent can really bond with their newborn and make lifelong memories. However, for some new dads, it can be difficult to juggle being a new parent while remaining dedicated to their career.

Fortunately, some companies have generous paternity leave policies that give new dads the ability to take time off of work to stay home with their child.

SHOW MORE Show less

There are LOTS of questions around resume dos and don'ts. There's so much advice out there that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what's the correct answer.

During our weekly live Office Hours on YouTube, two of our coaches, Ariella Coombs and J.T. O'Donnell, answer questions live from viewers related to their job search, career success, on the job situations and more.

We complied a simple list of what we find to be the most common questions our coaches get about resumes. We hope you find this helpful.

Let's start with the basics...

SHOW MORE Show less

Back in March, we made the hard decision to change our private Facebook group of over 37 THOUSAND members to a fee-based only platform.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if a recruiter called you a day EARLY for your phone interview (and you were NOT PREPARED!)

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less