How to Prepare for a Career Fair


Fri, Nov 28, 2014

Attending a career fair is far more than just walking through the door, and requires a little bit of effort and preparation up front before showing up to a row of booths dressed in your best Sunday.  Potential employers will be watching your every move, examining how you interact with others, reviewing the skills you describe to them on your resume, and determining if they should call you in for an interview based on what they discover.  Determine what you will need to do to prepare for a career fair before you even mark the date on your calendar.

Dressing for success is of the utmost importance, but overdressing or underdressing can kill your chances for success.  Individuals seeking out work as a laborer should not show up in a suit and tie, but like someone who is looking to fill a role as a professional should avoid wearing anything that would be considered less than corporate casual. If you can justify it, wear a suit with polished or clean shoes.  Hygiene is crucial regardless of the position that you are applying for so make sure that your hair and skin are clean, and that you brushed your teeth or at least chewed on something minty immediately before walking through the door.

Practice networking with a friend prior to attending the event. Pretend that you don’t know this person, and work on developing a list of questions that you can ask when approaching someone new.  Build up your confidence by walking up to individuals who are always happy to help such as fast food restaurant workers, or retail workers.  Ask them challenging questions, or even better, ask the guy at the burger joint if he can make you a pizza.  Most people are more afraid of getting a negative response, so purposefully eliciting one can help you to overcome this barrier. Remember that the employer will be watching what you do, and listening to how you interact with others so professionalism is mandatory, even if you run into someone you know outside of the office.

Your resume should be polished to perfection with no spelling or grammar errors. One error that many people make when searching for a job is to cram as much print as they can onto each page.  Human resource professionals will receive hundreds of resumes at most career fairs, so make sure that yours is easy on the eyes.  There is no hard set rule for how many pages your resume can be at any given time, so focus more on your skills than the length. 

Prepare yourself to answer challenging interview questions at a moment’s notice. Practice with a fellow professional before attending the career fair and ask them to treat you as though they had never met you before.  Review the most common and the most difficult interview questions prior to attending the event, and make sure that you have an answer to each one. 

The best way to prepare for a career fair is to work on your self-confidence when networking a room. Make sure to stand up straight with your shoulders back, arms down at your sides, and hands out of your pockets. Remember that you are there to leave a positive lasting impression, and do your best to be as confident and professional as possible as you shake each employer’s hand, and walk from booth to booth.