Ohio University Office of Career Services


Prepare For Success: What you need to know in order to interact successfully with employers at the career fair by Christy R

You’re standing outside the door of the career fair ready to enter. You’ve printed your résumé, researched the employers, donned your business attire, and drawn up a list of what you need to accomplish in the next couple of hours. Now it is time to put your plan of action into effect. A few tips should help you interact professionally with the employers you’re about to meet.

1. Make a good first impression.
You will most likely have only a short while to speak with each recruiter, so you must make every minute count. The first impression you make will go a long way. In order to accomplish this, just
remember these four things:

  • Eye-contact. Show that you are confident and at ease.
  • Firm handshake. Don’t offer a limp hand, but don’t crush any bones either.
  • Relaxed smile. Be friendly, but avoid gushing with too much enthusiasm.
  • Elevator speech. (See previous post on how to prepare one.) Introduce yourself in a strong, clear, natural voice, at the same time being careful not to shout.

2. Ask questions.
This goes hand-in-hand with doing your research before going to the fair. Employers are impressed when you already have a basic understanding of the company and can ask intelligent questions.

3. Don’t treat the fair as a social event.
It can be easy to become too relaxed and start sharing aspects of your personal life that are not appropriate for this professional environment. Always keep in mind that you are being evaluated on your potential to perform in the workplace.

4. Get contact information.
Most recruiters will either give you their business card or have some out on a table. If you don’t see any, be sure to ask them for their specific title, name (spelled correctly!), and contact information, both phone and email.

5. Follow up.
The very last question you should ask each recruiter is “What is the next step?” Find out which method of follow-up the recruiter prefers, phone or email. Ask them when you can expect to hear from them again, or when they would like you to contact them. Is there anything else they need from you (work samples, portfolio, etc.)? Also be sure to thank the recruiter for their time before you leave.

6. Take Notes.
You can write down key information during the interview if you like, just don’t spend the entire meeting scribbling furiously. That’s why it might be a better idea to take a moment AFTER the meeting to jot down some notes about your conversation. These reminders will be helpful in the follow-up process.

7. Network.
Your most important job at the fair is to network with employers, but don’t forget to network with other job-seekers as well. This way you can share support, company information, and job leads with one another.

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