Asking the right questions at a job fair could help to ensure that you make the best possible impression on recruiters and company representatives.
While job fairs can be great opportunities to discover new employment options and begin the process of charting your career path, they can also be extremely intimidating. Sure, you will have taken the time to prepare your resume, develop an elevator pitch that highlights your most relevant skills, and even select just the right outfit to emphasize your professionalism. But do you know the best questions to ask at a job fair to make the right first impression?
To help you avoid that possibility, this post will explore some of the best questions to ask at a job fair if you want to highlight your interest in a company or job. We will also examine why each of these questions could help you begin a conversation that sets you on an exciting new career path.
12 Questions you should be asking at your next job fair, and why
Each of the 12 questions we selected for this post has the potential to help you catch a recruiter's eye and could eventually land you that interview you need to get your career on the fast track. Read each question, internalize the reasons why it has power, and then go forward to your next job fair with the confidence you need to make a stellar impression.
1. “Can you tell me about the company culture?”
Only ask this question if you are talking to an actual hiring manager or someone who works in the company's offices, since recruiters who work off-site may not be able to provide any accurate information. If you can elicit a useful response, be sure to reply with examples that highlight how your skills and experiences align with that culture.
2. “What type of growth opportunities can I expect working at your company?”
Whether you are a student or just using a job fair to help locate a new career path, this question can highlight your desire to do more than just land a job. Companies that are looking for long-term employees want people who care about their own growth and development. By asking about opportunities for advancement and new skill development, you signal that you are just the type of long-term employee they might be looking for as they plan for the future.
3. “What is your favorite part of working for [company name]?”
This question is another company culture query but may elicit more specific details by asking about the hiring representative's own experiences. Just remember that the people who are sent to job fairs are there to represent the companies they serve, so the answer you hear may be an exaggeration. On the other hand, even excessive praise for an employer can tell you something about its broader culture. To really dig into the subject, you can follow up by asking them to name their least favorite part of working for their employer.
4. “What type of hiring process should I expect if I submit an application at [company name]?”
When you are seriously interested in moving forward with a company, you will likely want to know what to expect during any hiring process. This is one of the best questions to ask at a job fair to gain insight into that process. You can ask about the various stages they use as they screen job candidates, how long each stage typically takes, and the company's timeframe for filling any new position.
5. “What specific skills and experiences would help improve my chances of being a valuable member of your team?”
This question can demonstrate that you are interested in matching your skills to the company's needs. It is a simple way to determine whether you have the talents and knowledge that the company is seeking in its new hires. If asked early in the discussion, it can provide important information that you can use to shape your responses to any questions the recruiter might ask you. Most importantly, it shows that you are interested in providing value—something that every company prizes in its new employees.
6. “How extensive is your training and development process, and does it provide the support needed to ensure that new hires quickly get up to speed?”
When you ask this question, you highlight your commitment to improving your skills and performance in any job role. It demonstrates an understanding of the importance of training, ongoing development, and support from the rest of your team. In addition, the recruiter will better understand that you are serious about meeting expectations in the job role as quickly as possible.
7. “How does this position support the company's broader mission and add value to the organization?”
With this question, you can highlight your interest in the job role and also show that you want to be a valuable addition to the team. Recruiters and employers are always looking for dynamic job candidates who want to make valuable contributions and will tend to prioritize those candidates over people who just want to land a job. By emphasizing the things that you can provide for the company, you can differentiate yourself from rival candidates for the position.
8. “What does a typical day at work look like for an employee at [company name]?”
When you ask this question, you can give the representative an opportunity to provide details about the job role that you might not have learned from reading the job description. The question can also spark a broader discussion about skills that are used throughout each day and give you a chance to explain how your skill set is a fit for the position.
9. “What would you say are the most challenging aspect of the [job role] position?”
Every job has its challenges, so it is important to acknowledge that fact in a way that shows that you want to be prepared for every obstacle you might encounter in that role. Depending on the challenges they outline, you may be able to draw upon your own experiences to explain how you expect to manage those obstacles if you are hired.
10. “How many people do you typically hire from job fairs like these, and what can I do to maximize my chances of being among their ranks?”
In addition to highlighting your interest in working for the company, this question also enables you to get a better understanding of your chances of receiving a job offer from them. If a company makes a point of participating in job fairs but rarely if ever hires anyone it meets at the events, your chances of beating those odds may not be good. On the other hand, a company that regularly finds new talents at these events could represent a great opportunity to find your dream job.
11. “I would love to work for your company. Who should I follow up with to learn more about moving forward in the hiring process?”
Don't forget to ask direct questions if you are genuinely interested in pursuing a job with a given company. Unfortunately, many job fair attendees lack the confidence to directly express their interest in a position and often expect companies to make job offers on the spot. By asking this question, you signal your intent to continue the candidate selection process beyond the job fair. If the person that you need to talk to about moving forward is the same person who answers this question, be sure to get their contact details and instructions for furthering the hiring process.
12. “I would love to leave my resume with you and exchange professional contact information if possible. Are there any questions that I can answer for you?”
The one thing you never want to do when you are asking questions at a job fair is neglect to leave your resume with the companies you interact with. When you are interested in working for someone, it is imperative that you give them a copy of your resume. In addition, ask for a business card or some other form of contact information so that you can follow up with them after the fair is over.
Finally, always try to end your questioning by asking if the company representative has any queries for you. That helps to show that you are committed to selling yourself as a candidate for their open position and is a respectful way of ensuring that the dialogue is as interactive as possible.
Questions you should never ask during a job fair
Now that you know which questions to ask at a job fair, it may also be helpful to know which questions you should avoid asking. Fortunately, this is a relatively short list:
Never ask questions about how much you can make at the company.
Never ask questions about what the company does to make money. You should have already researched that information before attending the fair.
Do not ask whether the company does background checks or drug screenings. That gives the impression that you are afraid you might fail those tests.
Never ask any question that could be considered common knowledge or publicly available information. Try to sound prepared, professional, and focused at all times.
Tips to help you be successful at any job fair
As you plan which questions to ask at a job fair, it is important to make sure that you are fully prepared to participate in the event. The following tips can help guide you to success:
Make sure you are registered to attend. Many job fairs require pre-registration, so do not wait until the last minute to take care of those details. You may also be allowed to provide the event with copies of your resume to be shared with company attendees.
Take stock of which companies are participating in the event and try to identify several that you might be interested in talking to about open positions. Make a list and spend some time researching them online to learn about what they do, which markets they serve, and what type of career path you might enjoy.
Even if your event provides companies with your resume, you should still bring copies to hand out. Mistakes happen, and you should never assume that anyone else will take care of that detail for you. In addition, bring other relevant supplies like a notepad and pen or your business card, if you have one.
Arrive earlier than necessary so that you can be among the first to meet with your preferred companies. Wear suitably professional attire — business casual is generally acceptable for these types of events.
To help you with your interactions, write down the questions you want to ask each company. That way, if your memory plays tricks on you during the fair, you can refer to your list for a refresher. And don't worry about referring to your notes; most company representatives will be impressed that you took the time to prepare for the interaction.
Be prepared for an informal interview at all times. This doesn't happen often, but you should be ready if it does.
Always get contact details for the companies you meet with. You will need that information to follow up on each contact with a thank you message. That message can be short and sweet as it thanks the representative for taking the time to speak with you during the fair. That simple courtesy can help to ensure that you make a lasting impression in that person's mind.
Job fairs can be a great way for you to learn about potential job opportunities, but only if you are properly prepared to make the most of the experience. One way to do that is to make sure that you know the best questions to ask at a job fair and how those queries can help you make the connections you need to land your next great job.
Finally, make sure that your resume is ready for prime time by getting a free resume review today! And be sure to check out the many ways that our professional resume writing team can help to ensure that you have the compelling resume you need to make that first great impression!