Job Fairs and the Speed Interview

By Scott Kee

Attending a job fair can be a very efficient way in which to interact with several recruiters at one location. It allows you to speak to many potential employers and get your face and name out there for all to see.


In many ways, job fairs are like speed dating, in the sense that you only have a limited time to interact and make a favorable impression.  How you prepare for the job fair should mirror your preparations for an actual interview.  There are several things you will need to do prior to the job fair if you want to be effective and have your resume put on the “potential hire” pile.

So, what do you need to do prior to the job fair?  Here are some pointers:

  • Find out which companies will be represented and focus on the ones you are interested in speaking with
  • Do your research on those companies and find out what types of jobs they have available
  • Develop several meaningful questions to ask the recruiters
  • Update your resume and print out several copies to take with you (only print on one side of the paper so it can be scanned effectively, and no staples).  Make sure your name is on all pages
  • Get a small notebook to use for taking notes
  • Have a business card printed up with your contact information on it (even if you are currently unemployed)
  • Put together a conservative business outfit in which you feel comfortable and focus on personal grooming

Now that you have the basics put together, let’s take a look at a strategy for maximizing your job fair experience.  If you’ve never attended a job fair before, it can be a little overwhelming.  There may be hundreds of potential candidates all vying for an opportunity to speak with specific recruiters.  This is why you need to get to the job fair before the doors are opened and be one of the first candidates to enter the room.  Prioritize the companies you want to speak with and approach them in that order.  Make a bee-line to your number one company.  Have in mind the specific points you want to make with the recruiter regarding how you are a prime candidate for their company, and how your education, experience and potential make you the one they want to hire.  You may only have a couple of minutes to make your case, so put together your pitch… and practice it!

After hitting your top choice, move on to the next one.  As the time goes on, be prepared to stand in line to speak with the more sought-after recruiters.  Use this time to review your notes and think about what you will say to the next recruiter.  Just as in a regular interview, be sure and get a business card or contact information from the recruiters, so you can follow up with them later.  You may also want to send a thank-you note to certain ones.

After several hours, everyone will begin to tire and candidates will have a tendency to begin looking and sounding the same to the recruiters.  This is why you will want to get to the job fair early; while you and the recruiters are still fresh and alert! Want to score some points with a specific recruiter? Toward the end of the day, take them a cold water bottle.  They will be thankful and will remember you!

So…… get out there and attend a job fair and get ready to do some “speed interviewing”!

This article was reposted with permission from Interviewonomy: The Study and Mastery of the Job Interview. Also check out the author’s Interview Checklist to help you prepare for your next interview.

Put your speed interview skills to good use at the next Corporate Gray Military-Friendly Job Fair!

About the AuthorScott-Key
After serving for 27 years in the U.S. Navy and another 20 years in the defense industry, Scott Kee is excited to share his experience in the areas of career and interview coaching with fellow veterans and others who are joining, or rejoining, the job market. Get more interview advice from Scott at


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