Job fairs are a great way for employers and job seekers to meet face-to-face without having to spend a lot of time and effort coordinating a typical interview.
However, for the job seeker, the convenience of being able to meet with multiple hiring managers at a predetermined time and place doesn’t mean that preparing for the interviews will be any easier or require any less effort — in fact, it’s just the opposite.
Better for Them, Tougher for YouIn the minds of the hiring managers who attend a job fair (and often pay a fee for the privilege), the more potential candidates they are able to meet with, the better. They understand that the more people who interview for a specific job, the more selective they can be and the more likely it is that they’ll find the perfect fit.
Unfortunately for the average job seeker, the odds are most definitely not in his favor.
The hiring manager at the job fair will be meeting with dozens of potential candidates for a few open positions. He will also be on a tight schedule and only be able to spend a few minutes with each person.
This means two things:
- You have less than a minute to make a strong, positive first impression.
- The majority of the work must be done before and after the meeting.
Before the Interview
- Research. Learn everything you can about the company, its customers, its products, and its competitors. Even learn the names of a few of its top executives or managers. Know where the company is and where it does business.
During the Interview
- Keep it short. You do want to make sure the interviewer knows about your skills and accomplishments, but keep the discussion short and sweet. What he really wants to determine is whether you can help his organization today.
After the Interview
- Collect and capture. As soon as the interview is over, take a few minutes to quickly jot down some notes from the meeting. Pay attention to small details, including the questions you asked, the answers the interviewer gave, and any other interesting facts or ideas that came up during the conversation.