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Questions to Ask at Career and Job Fairs
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
If you're planning to attend a career fair, we suggest reading our article, The Ten Keys to Success at Job and Career Fairs.
As with any situation where you find yourself with a potential employer, job-seekers must be prepared to ask insightful questions of recruiters at job and career fairs.
There are four categories of questions you can ask recruiters at career and job fairs. Each category of questions has a specific strategy. Which questions should you ask? It depends on the recruiter, on your interest and knowledge of the company, and how much time you have with the recruiter.
Strategic Comeback QuestionsThese questions are designed to give job-seekers the chance to respond to the recruiter's answer with a positive spin on how you perfectly fit (and ideally exceed) what the company is looking for in an employee.
- What kinds of skills and experience do you look for in the employees you hire?
- What are the characteristics of your most successful employees?
- Are graduate degrees important to advancing within your organization? Which ones?
- Which courses or experiences do you suggest to be a successful candidate?
Strategic Planning QuestionsThese questions are designed to give the job-seeker more information and knowledge about the hiring process for each particular employer.
- What kind of entry-level positions (or internships) exist within your organization?
- Does your company hire on a continual basis or just at certain times of the year?
- How long does the hiring process take? What does it consist of?
- What percent of applicants are eventually hired? What is the retention rate?
Key Company Information QuestionsThese questions are designed to provide you with critical inside information you need to know when making a decision about the attractiveness of each potential employer. Remember, a job fair is a two-way street and you should be evaluating these companies as much as they are evaluating you.
- Are there specific career tracks within the organization? In other words, what can a typical employee (for the position I am seeking) hired in your division expect to be doing 2, 5, or 10 years after hiring?
- What is your organization's culture like?
- For how many years does the typical employee stay with the company?
- Are there opportunities for ongoing training through your organization?
- Do you expect your employees to relocate? How much travel is involved?
Recruiter Information QuestionsSome experts advise not asking the recruiter personal questions relating to his or her job, but especially if the recruiter is an alum of your university -- or you have some other personal connection -- these questions are fine. Even if there is no connection, these questions can be asked -- and their answers can provide you with some critical insights.
- What made you choose this company and why do you stay?
- How long have you been with the company?
- What's the one thing that most surprised you about this company?
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com.
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