Interviewing at career fairs

When applying for jobs at career fairs or job fairs, you need to approach the hiring event differently from a traditional job interview. You may have time to stop at only a few of the companies’ booths, so you need to walk around quickly and see which companies interest you the most. Then approach the companies you are most interested in first, in case you run out of time and can’t visit all of them.

Have several copies of your resume ready, so you can hand one to a company representative (who may or may not be a hiring manager). Also have a short version of your interests & job experience ready to talk about clearly (above the noise of the room). State whether you are applying for an intern position or a full-time position. Give the name of your degree and when you will be available (or plan to graduate). If you are completing an advanced degree or a double major, make sure you state this early in your talk.

It helps to think of the brief conversation with a company representative as an “elevator pitch.” Imagine yourself riding up an elevator with just you and a senior manager at your company, and they ask you for a quick update on your current project (while still in the elevator). You only have a few floors to go, to very concisely give them a progress report. In fact you may be cut short if someone else comes onto the elevator after only a few floors. This is how you should prepare to give a concise summary of your work background and qualifications to a company representative at a hiring event. You can practice your “elevator pitch” with a roommate or friend, prior to the event.

Try to relax and be yourself when talking to a company representative. Try to make a connection with the person, and get their business card or any literature they hand out, so you can follow-up later (by email or by phone). Listen carefully to what they tell you, including any follow-up activities they request, such as having you apply to a specific job title online using their company website.

The ISE jobs and internships page makes it easy to learn the dates for upcoming career fairs and job fairs on campus. Some hiring events may be sponsored by the ISE department or the UW Student IISE Chapter.