Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Six questions to ask at a career fair

Six questions to ask at a career fair
A university career fair is very useful for meeting potential future employers and a great way for key people to get to know you. Make sure you prepare before attending so you can maximise your time there.

Firstly, research which organisations will attend the fair. Mark the ones you’re interested in and read up on what they do. Most companies will have a comprehensive history on their About Us page. If they also post news updates, have a read and note any topic you’d like to pursue further or anything that might make a good conversation starter.

Being prepared avoids idle chitchat and signals to the career fair delegates – usually human resources people – that you are serious about opportunities with them. Here are six questions you should ask while you have their attention.

1. What kind of work does a graduate do?

This answer will give you an idea of what skills and knowledge they will be looking for in their graduate intake. You can also ask about a typical advancement path for graduates and how long it generally takes to progress through the organisation.

2. What skills do your organisation value most?

The information you want here is whether your skills match that of the organisation’s needs. Furthermore, all things being equal on the qualification front, what skill/s will get your over the line in an interview?

3. What are some of your organisation’s main challenges?

Here you’re looking for the main ‘problem’ the organisation has in order to see if you can contribute to the solution. It may be a good to address how you can solve their ‘problem’ in an interview.

4. How would you describe the organisational culture?

This will give you an insight into what it’s like working there, and whether you’d be comfortable in that environment.

5. What do you like most about the organisation?

A personal question like this will draw out a response outside the ‘party line’ and allow the representative to be frank in a positive way.

6. Who can I speak to about opportunities?

This signals your interest and walking away with a business card or a name gives you a warm lead to follow up at a later date.

If you feel comfortable doing so, take notes as you go from stall to stall because it can be hard to remember each individual organisation. Remember that this process will often help you narrow down your choices as well as give you the ammunition to go into a job interview prepared, so use the information wisely.

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