Do These 7 Things at Every Career Fair Booth

In an earlier post, I wrote about the importance of looking at your career fair from the perspective of the company representatives. 


I suggested that every company rep has a primary goal…to FIND GREAT STUDENTS to extend interview invitations to.

Unfortunately for the reps, and for you, they have very little time in which to determine who might be “great” for their company, and who might not.

As a result, they end up with limited data with which to make their decisions. They have the face-to-face conversation at their career booth with you, they have the resume you left with them, and some may have impressions that your LinkedIn Profile made on them (if they looked at it).

Given these limitations, your career booth “performance” becomes a critically important part of your efforts to generate interview invitations.

In order to maximize your success at each career fair booth you visit,

and thereby increase the likelihood that you’ll receive numerous interview invitations,

I urge you to do these 7 things…



Smile as you approach every booth. Smile while waiting your turn to meet and talk with a rep. Smile during your conversation. And smile as you thank them when saying good-bye.

Of course, I’m talking about an authentic smile that says, “I’m happy, confident and excited to be here.” Not a manufactured smile that’s cold and insincere.


Introduce yourself with a firm, confident handshake. No wimpy stuff allowed. Simply match the firmness of your shake to that of the rep. 

The tactile nature of a handshake makes it an especially memorable part of your short time together. Make sure it’s a good memory for both of you.

I’m reminded of this quote from Helen Keller, “I can feel the twinkle of his eye in his handshake.”


Eye to eye contact is vital. It sends a host of messages. Most importantly, that you’re listening, that you care, and that you’re confident.

At the same time, break it off periodically for a second or two so it doesn’t become weird.  


Always have a few succinct, relevant questions to ask the rep.

Given the time constraints, though, your questions shouldn’t require long answers.

Note: Overstaying your welcome at a career booth is not a way to get an interview invitation.

Also, your questions absolutely must not be questions that could have easily been answered by spending a little time on the company’s website.


Be a mini storyteller. In other words, share some personal tidbits or stories that will give the reps a better sense for who you are, what you care about, and why you might be a great fit to their companies.

For example, I always shared that I was an Iowa farm kid who loved hands-on work with heavy equipment. For the companies that I wanted to work for (e.g., John Deere, CAT), that kind of information was a perfect fit.

Of course, you’ll also share with each rep your finely-tuned resume, and I always advocate sharing a personal business card too.


Listen with your ears, your eyes and your body. Don’t be thinking of your next question while the rep is talking. Give him/her your full attention.

This way of listening will probably be different from what you do in class or with your friends, but make sure it happens with the company reps.


Be sure to shake hands again, and extend a sincere thank you to the rep for his/her time as you close the conversation and say good-bye.

The ability to show appreciation is a characteristic companies look for in their employees. This is your chance to show them you know how to care for others, and that you have good manners.

Your Career Fair is the “First Door” Where Success is a Must

As I’ve written in the past, a career fair is the first of five doors in the College Recruiting Process.

In other words, the fair is your starting point on the journey to securing internships during your college years, and to receiving multiple full-time job offers right before graduation.

This is why I’m so adamant that you take the engineering career fairs very, very seriously, and that you prepare properly.

I want you to achieve amazing success!

Here are some other articles that can help you be a Career Fair Superstar:

Bonus TIP:

Just prior to ending the conversation, ALWAYS express your interest in an interview (if you truly want one). In sales this is called Asking For The Order.

In my recruiting experience, Asking For The Order is something that far too many students fail to do. If you seriously want one, you have to ask for the interview.


Make sure your phone is turned off (powered down completely) when you are on the career fair floor. Your chance for an interview will drop to near zero if your phone goes off when you’re talking to a company rep.


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A SUCCESS MANIFESTO FOR 21st CENTURY ENGINEERING STUDENTS: 8 Actions To Help You Rock Your Engineering College Experience and Land a Top Job After Graduation

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