Interviews can be intimidating, and the only time you get to exercise your skills is when you’re sitting across the table from the hiring manager. Career fairs, however, can offer an opportunity to interview for jobs and practice your networking and interview skills in a low-pressure environment.
If you are a job seeker or just curious, it is essential to have a strategy to get the most out of the career fair experience. Meeting with an employer should be an open dialogue that allows you to learn more about the recruiter, organization, and the position while they learn the impact that you could have in their organization.
Pack your resume—here are some strategies to help you practice your networking and interview skills at a career fair:
Visit your favorites, then a few that are in the same work setting, and finally, some that are in your desired or dream location. Spending some time with different organizations allows you to compare and contrast what you do or don’t like about them. This also allows you to get feedback on how well you interview, helping to get rid of the jitters when you interview for your dream job.
Your elevator pitch is your way of telling your story on the fly. It should be 30 to 60 seconds and should highlight your skills and goals. It should be tailored to your audience and should solve a challenge for them. Make sure to be persuasive and leave the listener wanting to know more. Try to include the following:
Who are you?
What is your passion?
What is your purpose, and what skills/traits help you achieve it?
What is your something “extra”?
Example: Hi, my name is Samantha Speech, and I am a school-based SLP with 5 years in practice. I am passionate about helping children reach their academic goals and obtain college readiness. My passion stems from watching my brother struggle and become discouraged about his academic potential in school. Thus, it is my mission to help middle and high school-aged children reach their full potential through team-based collaboration with their parents and teachers. Can you tell me how someone with my experience may fit into your organization?
It is important to be conversational and express interest in who you are meeting. Try asking:
How did you begin your career?
How did you become interested in this field?
What do you like most about your work/organization?
How would you describe the company culture?
What are the primary responsibilities of an audiologist or SLP in your organization? What is a typical day (or week) like?
How many audiologists or SLPs work for your organization? How many externs or clinical fellows are there?
What advice would you give someone who is considering this type of job?
What skills do you look for most in a candidate?
How long is the application and interview process, and what does it consist of?
At the end of most interviews, there is time for questions. However, most applicants don’t use this time to their full advantage. Try out some of the burning questions you need answers to, or use the opportunity to learn more about the employer.
Even if you are not wild about the employer or the recruiter, it is always important to leave the conversation on a high note. Always ask, “May I contact you with further questions? Do you have a business card?” Although you may not want a job with that organization, the recruiter can be a great contact and reference with whom you can ask questions.