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5 Job Fair Tips for Employers + Top Questions to Ask Candidates
Man and woman welcome candidates to their booth at an IT job fair.

If you’re like me, job fairs are exciting events that offer great opportunities for identifying ideal candidates. However, the lead-up to them can be stressful if you’re not fully prepared. The fact is, your company has to take each job fair it participates in seriously if it wants to see good results from its efforts.

I just recently attended the Denver Startup Week Job Fair – and had a blast, by the way! I’d like to share some of the best practices I observed at that event when it comes to effective preparation for a job fair (plus some I’ve learned from personal experience). I’ll also mention some of the best questions to ask candidates that approach your booth or station. Read on to learn more!

How Your Company Can Prepare for a Job Fair

1. Do Your Research

Before you commit to any job fair, it’s important to know if they’ll attract the candidates you want for your opening(s).

Ask yourself questions like: How many attendees do they typically have? Which industries do they represent? Also, what does their setup look like? If the job fair has Wi-Fi available, not to mention tools like a candidate-tracking badge system, then your preparation workload won’t be quite as heavy. But if those amenities are not available, you need to know well in advance.

2. Select Your Company’s Reps Wisely

Of course, you need to have enough reps from your company on hand to keep the booth well-staffed at all times. At the same time, you need to be selective about who will represent your company at the fair.

For example, your IT engineers may have a wealth of knowledge that they can use to answer highly technical questions from candidates. But will most of your candidates really ask such questions? And if your engineers tend to be introverted, will they be able to represent your brand the way you prefer? You want to staff your booth with reps who have sufficient knowledge to answer most candidate questions, but also have an engaging, friendly personality that will make your company look more attractive to prospective employees.

3. Use Branded Products That Make Your Business Look Professional

By “branded products,” I’m talking about Stuff We All Get (aka, “swag”) like T-shirts, notebooks, stress balls, pens, and so forth. Of course, you should also have printed “collateral” on hand, such as a list of open roles within your company, or a one-pager that checks off all the main points you want candidates to know about your business. In addition, you should have plenty of professional-looking business cards in stock to distribute to interested prospects.

These may seem like little things, but trust me, they can make all the difference when it comes to conveying your professionalism to candidates. And since swag and collateral take time to design and order, you’ll need to plan for them well in advance.

4. Leverage Your Marketing Skills Both Before and During the Job Fair

Well before the day of the job fair, it’s a good idea for you to spread the word that your company will be participating. You can do this on your social media accounts, in your email newsletter, and on your official website. That way, candidates who are specifically interested in your company will be motivated to attend.

What about the day of the job fair? Consider different strategies that will attract the most candidates, and leave a lasting impression on them. For example, consider giveaways or raffles. Feature a gift card to a popular retailer, or a portable speaker, and give it to someone who fills out and submits your lead capture form. Make it fun! 

5. Be Organized and Consistent

This is a really important point, since all the good you accomplish at a job fair could go to waste if you don’t have an organized, consistent data collection process. Select a candidate tracking tool that works well for your company, whether that’s a simple signup sheet or a digital candidate intake form. It goes without saying that you should know which positions you’re trying to fill, whether now or in the near future.

In addition, prepare a list of questions that each rep can ask candidates that stop by your booth. Not only will this ensure consistency among your reps, but it will also help prevent those awkward lulls in conversation that pop up from time to time. 

Above all, always keep the why of the job fair front and center by means of specific goals and KPIs. For example, how many people do you want your team to speak to during the event? How many intake forms do you want filled out? How many resumes should be collected? Make sure your goals are both realistic and well-defined – that will give your reps a clear target to shoot for.

Sample Questions to Ask Candidates

Now that you’re well-prepared for the job fair, it’s time to craft a list of questions to ask potential employees. Of course, no two businesses are exactly the same, so you may need to adjust the following items according to your specific needs. That being said, I’ve found that these questions are really effective when it comes to filtering out the good candidates from the great ones:

  • Have you heard of our company? If so, what do you know about us?
  • What type of role are you looking for? How would you describe your ideal role?
  • What type of culture are you looking to join?
  • How long have you been actively job seeking?
  • What do you do?
  • Are you currently employed? If so, why are you looking to leave your current role?
  • What questions do you have about us?
  • What type of benefits are most important to you?
  • Can we exchange business cards/connect on LinkedIn/swap contact info?
  • Would you mind filling out our contact form?

In summary, if you do your due diligence when preparing for a job fair, and select the right questions to ask candidates that approach your booth, you’ll be in the best position to identify potential employees with a high upside – and your business will benefit as a result!

For more tips on optimizing your recruitment strategy, contact The Doyle Group.