Don’t wear your school clothes.
The old adage of “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” goes for career fairs: This is a professional event, and you should wear professional attire. First impressions matter — in fact, researchers found evidence that a single glance was sufficient to form a first impression — and your clothes are one of the first things people observe about you.
Also keep comfort in mind: Check your coat so you’re not dragging it through the event, and wear shoes that look professional but won’t hurt your feet from walking around all afternoon.
Do create a game plan.
When you walk into the event, you’ll likely get a map of the employers’ booths. Figure out where the employers you’d most like to work for are located and decide in what order to visit them.
Instead of trying to get to every booth to maximize your exposure, narrow down your visits to the top three to five to really spend more time with these opportunities.
Don’t forget to properly introduce yourself.
State your name, major, career interests, and what kind of job or internship you’re looking for. Smile, have a good handshake (firm but not a death grip!), and maintain eye contact — studies show you’re more attuned to faces whose eyes are focused on you than faces whose eyes are looking elsewhere.
Do ask thoughtful questions.
“A pet peeve of mine is when students show up and want the recruiter to drive the conversation,” Stewart says. “We look for students who have an idea of what they’re looking for, what they offer, and have their elevator speech ready.”
You’ve done research on these employers so you should have some specific questions in mind. Some basic open-ended questions include:
- What does a typical day look like for the open position?
- What training do you provide?
- What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
- What is the office culture like?
- What are the next steps in the recruitment process?